Ogun State on the march again
Created in 1976 by the fiat of the Murtala Muhammed/Obasanjo regime, Ogun State is seen by many as Obasanjo’s deserved share of the booty of the State creation bogey or drivel. Little or scant regard was accorded the more salient considerations of the people’s commonality of interests, or geography, historical contiguity or economic viability. Nor did the new state show any signs of great expectation.
What with a long line of successive ineffective leaders of government business. Ogun State was trudging or plodding along as if bogged down by some impish or implacable imprecation. Nothing seemed to work. Many of her indigenes or residents peeped across the border with Lagos State and wished they were a part of that “better endowed” clime. Some even explained their perceived sorry state of affairs regarding the state with a facile mis-reading or mis-judgment of the true intendment of the name of the State or with a presumed lack of sacerdotal reverence in its connotation and, therefore, called for a change of the name to some starry-eyed appellation.
Shorn of idle gossips and in-authentic accounts, the people of Ogun State are a monolithic whole. The major problem of the many historical accounts respecting these people lies in the proper identification of the periods of movements of the various sub-groups to their present locations. However, a little blemish in the records ought not quite to disgrace or render the beauty of a fair or objective narration impeachable. Information about the people is less confused but it is also less definite. The Egba, Ijebu, Egbado [now popularly called Yewa], Awori, etc. are definite sub-ethnic formations who trace their source or origin to a common patrilineal descent. Our firm historical ground is in tracing the story of a relationship which started from pre-historic times and has today metamorphosed or blossomed into a solid sub-polity within the Nigerian socio-political reality.
Ogun State has through its history and indigenous population distinguished itself not only by the impressive repertoire of its role call but also by its technique or “magic” of throwing up historic characters who for good or ill help chart the course of our destiny. A little more than a cursory peep into history will reveal such historic figures as the Reverend Henry Townsend with his band of European Christian missionaries who in his fervent desire to spread the gospel of modernity and of a literary culture established the first printing press in Abeokuta in 1842 and published “Iwe Irohin”, the first newspaper in Nigeria or, further back in time, the mythical tragic heroes in Lisabi, Ogunmodede, Afotamodi, etc. or the legendary heroines of different hues and varieties.
There is a tendency to bring back to memory certain important moments in history either as a source of inspiration for contemporary practice or for illustrating examples of how anti-social or un-heroic activities may be restrained. Values of justice, honesty, ardour, etc. are thereby regularly summoned or evoked to address the psycho-social and political dimensions of our existence. The proud inheritors of this eminently valuable tradition traverse the length and breadth of Ogun State and beyond. Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Obafemi Awolowo, Fela Sowande, Sobo Arobiodu, Moses Lijadu, Hubert Ogunde, Wole Soyinka, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Timothy Odutola, Adeyemi Lawson, Rotimi Alade Williams and his worthy sibling, Akintola Williams, Christopher Ogunbanjo, Olusegun Obasanjo, Folake Solanke, M. K. O. Abiola, Oba Otudeko, etc. are ornate ornaments on the epaulette of the State’s distinguished array of epic attainments.
There is in Ogun State a fitting paradox exemplified in the frictionless co-habitation of a fiercely oppositional relationship between the do-able or empirical acts of the individual or of government and the mythical or mystical regime of a living culture of gnomes, goblins, egungun, orisa, ebora, etc. Here, there is a resolution or reconciliation of all oppositions. This is one such example. Ogun State has become identical in the public imagination with the deities, their mystical mediums, their contemporary incarnation, the grim, petrifying horrors of their reality and the solid myths respecting their idiosyncrasies, rituals, magic, charms, sorcery, incantations, metaphysics, the occult and their antediluvian manifestations.
The State may well be the cultural headquarters of our pre-scientific past going by its jealous or pristine preservation of the mores, attitudes and habits of our pantheon of gods and goddesses, their formal worship or adulation and their true or sincere veneration. But Ogun State is more than that as we shall see anon.
Heart-warming official reports identifying 46 major industries with a projected total investment inflow of above $7.3 billion in various or varied businesses have been recorded as the fall-out of the first edition of the Ogun State Investors Forum. 30 other companies of varying sizes and thrusts are also reported to be at various stages of completion of formalities for their establishments in the state.
The institutional environment made possible by government regulatory administrative and legal framework within which businesses, firms and individuals interface to generate wealth or income for the economy requires ingenious or creative manouvres around legal strictures. Proper or skilful management of public finances and high quality management advisors are also required as inept or inefficient management imposes significant economic and social costs on the business environment and delays the processes of rapid economic and social development. The metaphor of a round peg in a round hole is particularly appropriate for making efficiency the cornerstone or benchmark of governance in Nigeria.
Many legacy projects conceived and completed by the Ibikunle Amosun administration including state-of-the-art model schools, world class motor roads of highways, scenic flyovers, a 10-lane picturesque boulevard, modern housing, model farms and customer-friendly market facilities, etc. are today a veritable signpost to a definite high octane performance all in our collective quest to establish the parameters for good governance best practices and for strengthening the urbanisation process which, in turn, bodes well for wealth creation, creativity, innovation, invention and ultimately economic prosperity.
•Rotimi-John is a lawyer and commentator on public affairs.
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