I start, this time around, on a congratulatory note. Your re-election was one some people thought was impossible largely because you voted for what you have constantly referred to as ‘unity’ in the presidential election. But, this is the least of my concern.
Sir, during the electioneering period, the Oriyomi Hamzat-owned Agidigbo FM, thanks to Radio App which cut the distance between me and Nigeria, regaled me with details of your achievements. I also saw your interview with Kola Olotu, where you spoke extensively on what you have done.
I am happy that you have increased funding to the education sector to improve the quality. Your goal to make Oyo State the hub for education tourism in Nigeria seems set to take off. I will be glad to see that.
This letter is, however, about what you have not done, which I called your attention to in my January 2000 letter.
If this reads like a repeat of that letter, it is because I believe you should do these things and lift the Oke-Ogun belt, which has a lot to offer but, for a myriad of reasons, its goldmine remains untouched. There is a town which I am sure you are aware of known as Ado Awaye. It is about 20 kilometres west of Iseyin in Iseyin Local Government Area. In this tucked-away community lies one of nature’s greatest gifts to man. It is a suspended lake nestled on one of the crests of rocks, which surveyors love to call “sleeping lion”.
Your Excellency, to get to this Wonder of Oke-Ogun, you have 350 steps to climb from the base. All you need is about an hour. But as you go, there are ‘consolation prizes’ in the forms of historical shrines and others on the way. Once you climb up, Benin Republic border beckons. You have a full view of the border into this neighbouring country and a breath-taking view of a range of hills. Many who have got to a point called “Esekan Iku” (the verge of death) have their names etched permanently on the rock with pieces of stone.
Sir, the inhabitants rely on the lake for water. The lake does not know the dry or wet season. It retains the same volume of water all year round. The thick vegetation remains evergreen all through the year. Sir, the suspended lake is just one of the many good things about the Oke-Ogun axis of Oyo State, which are waiting to be fully put to profitable use.
Mr governor, apart from the suspended lake, other tourism potentials include the Royal Forest (Igbo-Oba) in Igboho; Old Oyo National Park; Asabari Hill, Saki; Rock formation (Agbele hill) in Igbeti; Ikere Gorge Dam, Iseyin; Akomare Hill, Igangan; Samuel Ajayi Crowther’s birthplace, Osoogun; and Imofin Hill. Of the state’s 33 local government areas, Oke-Ogun has 10. These 10 local governments boast of land which is suitable for agricultural and agro-allied uses, but 70 per cent of the population is engaged in subsistence farming and related activities.
Oke-Ogun is not just about land alone; inside the land, nature deposited mineral resources, which unfortunately still lie unused. These minerals have been found in commercial and mineable quantities. I believe you can work with the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development to make the best of the marble and dolomite in abundance in Igbeti, Olorunsogo Local Government and in Alaguntan, in Orile Local Government.
I understand also that Tourmaline is found in quantum in Budo Are and Komu, Itesiwaju Local Government. They should not be left to artisanal mining. Sir, you can choose to start with tantalite, which I understand is in huge deposit in Olodo, Egbeda Local Government and Seperati in Saki East.
Also, there are large quantities of feldspar in Atiba Local Government and in Itesiwaju Local Government, quartz is in commercial quantity.
Other resources include Bismuth in Iwajowa; agate in Iwajowa and Itesiwaju; cassiterite in Saki East; columbite in Itesiwaju and Saki East; talc in Ona-Ara; kaolin in Ado-Awaye in Iseyin Local Government; and coloured Granite in Irawo, Atisbo Local Government.
From what I know sir, there are no exploitations of these resources on a commercial scale to yield abundant wealth. No value is added to the abundant raw materials to generate jobs and wealth. Farming is still done at the subsistence level, making it impossible for the cycle of poverty to be broken.
I have, with due respect, pointed your attention to Oke-Ogun because it seems to me that successive administrations have treated other parts of the state with some sort of disdain. Oyo State is not just Ibadan. There are goldmines outside of Ibadan that must be tapped for the good of Oyo State.
Also, Sir, like many states in the country, Oyo’s healthcare sector does not command respect. So, it will be great if you turn hospitals to “state-of-the-art facilities that provide top-notch services to our people”. The renovation and equipping of the hospitals and primary healthcare centres must be done with dedication. The hospitals should be such that you and members of your family, and members of your executive council, can rely on for treatment when the need arises.
I usually laugh when a governor claims to have built ultra-modern hospital but jets out of the country to treat the simplest of illness.
My final take: As you are set to begin your second term, I want to remind you that a man’s true success is in starting well and finishing great. Starting well and messing up along the way always erases the gains of the early days. So, the emphasis should be on being consistent until the end and doing things that will be indellible. Lifting Oke Ogun, among others, are things I want Oyo to remember you for.