The continued neglect and marginalisation of the Yoruba people of Kogi State is a time bomb that poses grave danger to the entire state, National President, Okun Development Union, the apex socio-cultural group of the six Yoruba local government areas of the state, Ambassador Babatunde Fadumiyo has said.
In his address at the opening of the first Okun National Summit in Kabba, Fadumiyo warned that any malaise that paralysed one leg of the tripod on which the state stood would turn Kogi into a dysfunctional entity.
Fadumiyo expressed regret that total strangers had taken over the farmlands and commercial activities of Okunland and were collaborating with undesirable elements to perpetrate violent crimes such as armed robbery and kidnapping for ransom.
Owing to the unchallenged decay in the state’s educational system, he said, the products of the schools in Okunland were unemployable and were therefore taking to unconventional means of livelihood.
The ODA President also decried the poor state of roads in the area which he said had made communication among the people nearly impossible and stagnated agriculture and other commercial activities.
He further lamented that while Okunland remained the reservoir of the state’s civil service had plummeted to 10 per cent from 41 per cent in 1991 when the state was created.
He therefore enjoined the Okun leaders at the summit to reflect on the parlous state of affairs in the area and proffer feasible solutions that would liberate the people and propel them on a new track that would lead them to their destiny.
In his paper titled Effective Leadership: A Panacea for the development of Okunland, former Director-General of the West African Insurance Institute, Banjul, The Gambia, Professor Mike Ikupolati said it was time for the people to develop a blueprint on the Integration and Development Agenda for Okunland (IDAFO) and suggested that the summit should set up a committee to actualise it.
Ikupolati also enjoined Okun electorates to rise up as a people to ensure the emergence of political office holders who would truly serve them and espouse the great ethics and values of Okunland.
He advocated the establishment of a definite identity for Okun people drawn upon their history, heritage, values and talents to engender the socio-economic transformation of the people.
To address the acute security problems of the area, Ikupolati called for community policing and the establishment of neighbourhood watch to complement the efforts of the police and other security agencies towards curbing crime.
Ikupolati also recommended the setting up of Okunland Early Warning Centres as well as a public complaints bureau to enable aggrieved Okun persons have easy access to justice.
Earlier in his remarks, the acting Chairman, Okun Traditional Council and the Olubunu of Bunuland, Oba Joseph Ikusemoro decried the loss of the treasured values of the people which he blamed on the poor upbringing of the younger ones.
Ikusemoro urged politicians in the area to put the collective interests of the people above self and recommended a reduction in the number of political parties in the country to three to stem the seeming confusion in the system.
Leaders from the six Yoruba local government areas of Kogi State attended the three day summit which had as its theme “Breaking the Bonds of Underdevelopment in Okunland”.