Leaders of the Okun people in the six Yoruba-speaking local government areas in Kogi State rose from their first national summit in Kabba with a resolve to henceforth resist political, religious and other mechanisms fashioned to create divisions among their people.
In a 21-point communiqué issued at the end of the three day summit organised by the Okun Development Initiative (ODI) in collaboration with the Okun Development Association (ODA), the leaders said the unity of their people was not negotiable and pledged to work together to check the exploitation of the divisions among them by external forces to deny the people of their rights.
They also called on voters in the area to insist on the best leadership qualities among those seeking election into office to ensure that such persons, when they assume office would truly serve Okun people and promote the ethics and values that reflected their heritage.
Politics in Okunland, they stressed, must enhance growth and development as well as be in furtherance of their values, hopes and aspirations.
The Okun leaders said leadership should emerge through the people’s free choice as against being driven by the personal ambition of political actors and enjoined leaders to subject themselves to the counsel and decisions of the people in pursuing their political aspirations.
The communiqué decried the erosion of the age-long respect for age and traditional authority among the youths and called for urgent cultural re-orientation among the people to restore the lost values and norms of the people.
The leaders called for the articulation of a well thought out Integration and Development Agenda for Okunland (IDAFO) and directed that a high-powered committee be set up immediately to develop the blueprint of the agenda.
They also called for the establishment of an Okun Educational Endowment Foundation to promote the educational advancement of Okunland and appealed to the state government to relocate the College of Medicine of the Kogi State University to the area in line with the multi-campus system proposed for the institution by the government.
On the serious security challenges facing the area, the communiqué called for the strengthening of community policing and neighbourhood watch capacity in Okunland as well as the establishment of an Okun Neighbourhood Watch Organisation (ONWO) in all the communities to support the police and the other security agencies.
It also called for the convening of the Okun National Congress next month to elect new executives to run the affairs of the Okun Development Association (ODA).
To hasten the realisation of the potential of women and youths in the area, the communiqué said the leaders had resolved to encourage the establishment of information and communication technology (ICT) solution centres across Okunland in order to build an army of skilled women and youths determined to face the challenges of the 21st century and to also curb poverty and unemployment.