Akure plays ethnic card in Ondo 2017 guber race
CONTRARY to what some public analysts and political experts have been saying, though some with convincing submissions ahead of the 2016 governorship election in Ondo state, indigenes of Akure, the state capital, have expressed their readiness and commitment to producing the next governor of the state.
Already, this commitment is being advocated with determination to use whatever they have at their disposal; the numerical strength at the poll, cries marginalisation in the state and their resolve to put the achievement this aim above political party restriction.
Despite the political hurdles: the zoning and rotational arrangements that poise threats against what is now widely known as the Akure Agenda in the forthcoming election, and another Sword of Damocles in the second term tenure of the incumbent governor, Olusegun Mimiko, who is from nearby Ondo, located in the same central senatorial distract, they believe they can still surmount all obstacles to occupy the top seat.
Historically Akure was founded by Asodeboyede, who was said to have migrated out of Ile-Ife at the same time with the Oba of Benin to establish his own kingdom and became the first Deji of the ancient town in 1150 AD.
Since then, the community has grown in size, population, expansion and development to what is described as a metropolitan hub that also hosts the seat of government in the state; but seethed vigorously with disunity and strife which in the words of Abraham Lincoln, makes it a house divided against itself and could not get the necessary wherewithal politically to produce an executive governor since the creation of the state in 1976.
Professor Olu Aderounmu, an illustrious son of the town, said the ancient town which became the provincial headquarters of the old Ondo Division as early as 1956, experienced some social malaise that necessitated the sons and daughters of Akure origin to form numerous associations and interest groups to finding lasting solutions to the problems of the city.
During the annual Oyemekun Festival on December 4, 2008, Aderounmu presented a paper titled, “Akure: Past, Present and Future Challenges” which addressed all pressing issues militating against the development of the town and lamented the imminent vacuum in leadership as there tend to be no suckers to outlive the bananas in the social and political spheres of the people.
“From the above, it can be seen that Akure people and the environment have been debilitated in the economic and political scheme of things in Ondo State since its creation as state capital, most especially in the last 9 years or so. Akure has been and continues to be the least developed state capital since 1976 albeit the town has grown in size and in population,” he said.
Also, in his lecture during the 2014 Summit of Akure Renewal Group (ARG) titled, “Contemporary Issues for the Socio-Economic Development of Akure Division”, Aderounmu stated, “the disunity in Akure Division has bred irreconcilable communities which do not augur well for the development of the division.”
These agitations berthed the establishment of socio-political and cultural groups like Akure Development Forum led by Chief Reuben Fasoranti, Akure Division Renewal Group (ADRG) led by Professor Emmanuel Fayose, Inner Circle and several women and youth organisations with a common purpose of having their son or daughter as the next governor of the state.
Aderounmu told The Guardian that the marginalisation of Akure Division started during the closing years of military administration in Nigeria, and that despite the 484, 798 population of Akure South Local Government Area, as released in the 2006 Census, let alone the huge figures too from the Akure North LGA, the Akure people are relegated to play second fiddle in the field of politics.
The Professor, a former provost of Ondo State College of Education, Ikere Ekiti, stated that in the three senatorial districts of the state, there are five sub-ethnic divisions namely: Okitipupa/Ikale District, Ondo Division, Akure Division, Owo Division and Akoko Division.
Justifying the new clarion call, he said, “I am a member of Akure Division Renewal Group, which believes strongly that of the five ethnic divisions in the three senatorial districts in Ondo state; only Akure Division has not produced a governor.”
He disclosed further that Okitipupa Division has produced Olusegun Agagu, Ondo Division has produced Olusegun Mimiko, Owo Division has also produced Michael Ajasin and Akoko Division has produced Adebayo Adefarati, “it is only Akure Division with the highest population in the state that is yet to produce a governor.”
Aderounmu, who is also the Vice President of ARG, emphasized that ahead of the forthcoming election, “this time around Akure people in the four local governments want to speak with one voice by saying unequivocally that Akure division must produce the next governor.”
He said democracy is about fairness, justice, equity, transparency, equal distribution of resources, noting that if the people of the state really want to be democratic, Akure should be given the governorship slot because of the population, marginalisation in political delineation and appointments.
Aderounmu pointed out that Akure South LGA with its 484,798 population is divided into 11 wards while Okitipupa LGA with an estimated population of 229,565 has 13 wards, lamenting that Akure is unjustifiably grouped with Akoko South East, Ondo East and Idanre LGAs which have 82,426, 74,785 and 129,024 populations respectively.
“The resultant effect of the marginalisation is that out of the five divisions in Ondo state, it is only Akure Division that has not produced a democratically elected governor in the state, and Akure Division is the only division that has not produced a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in this democratic dispensation.”
Consequent upon successive government marginalisation, Aderounmu disclosed that Akure has grown in size but has not developed, accusing the state governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko of advancing the State University of Medical Science in his hometown at the expense of the Federal Teaching Hospital in Akure and State Specialist Hospital, which he said lacks basic equipment for health delivery.
In a concerted effort to redress the political trend and pursue the betterment of the Akure people, he remarked that the four local governments that constitute the Akure Division namely: Ifedore, Akure South, Idanre and Akure North, which account for over 44.2% of the entire population of the state would topple all obstacles to achieve the political goals.
Regarding the obstacle posed by the second term tenure of Mimiko, who is from the same central senatorial district with Akure, Aderounmu said the three senatorial districts have had their own turns in producing a governor and by the five sub-ethnic division analysis, only Akure Division has not produced a governor yet.
“I don’t see that as an obstacle taking cognisance of the fact that the three senatorial districts have produced governors, so, there is a level playing ground. Any of the three districts could aspire to produce the next governor; even in one case we have two governors from Ondo North District; Adefarati and Ajasin.
“Akure with the highest population has never produced a governor. We are talking about justice here, it is a level play ground anybody from any of the three senatorial districts can say he wants to be governor. But we are also saying for fairness, justice and equity to reign, we should take cognisance of the fact that in the three senatorial districts, there are five ethnic divisions.
“You cannot marginalize and sidetrack a major division in the senatorial districts and say that one zone is justified. All zones can aspire, but I am saying that Akure with the highest population should be given the right to produce the next governor,” Aderounmu said.
He argued that the other two senatorial districts would consider the age-long marginalisation of the Akure people and support the credible candidate, which by consensus, the Akure sub-ethnic division would present for the next gubernatorial poll next year.
“There is no division that can win the governorship race without the support of the other groups. I want to believe that the other groups will realise the fact that Akure has been marginalised and deserves the consideration of producing the next governor.”
While recounting the basis for the support from the other four sub-ethnic divisions and two senatorial districts, he said Akure supported Olusegun Agagu from the south district and “Akure has been the determining factor, supported Adefarati from the north and Mimiko from Ondo Division: they will also support the Akure agenda for fairness and justice in the political scheme.”
According to him, the laws of existentialism, which enable man to fight for survival inconsiderate of common interest has been held at bay because “for man to survive, we also need the basic things of life and those basic things must spread. This is the problem with Nigeria, where less than 1 percent of the entire population is controlling about 98.7 percent of the wealth of the nation because of unequal distribution of resources.”