For Equity, Akure Should Produce Next Ondo Governor, Says OSCA
A leading socio-political pressure group in Ondo State, the Ondo State Consultative Assembly (OSCA), has requested the intervention of all political parties in Ondo State in ensuring that their gubernatorial candidates are selected from the Akure-speaking communities in the central senatorial district of the state.
In a letter addressed to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the National Chairman of the PDP, his counterpart in the APC as well as those of the Labour Party and the SDP, the group stated that it was only Akure among all the major ethnic groups in the state that had never produced a democratically-elected governor since the creation of Ondo State.
According to OSCA, “It has become expedient to let the powers that be know the gravity of the injustice being visited on the Akure-speaking communities and towns in the Central Senatorial District of Ondo State since the return to democratic rule in 1999 and much earlier.
“The marginalization of the Akure people has become palpable over the years despite all the support that the people of Akure have given to their brothers and sisters from other parts of the state.
The group stated that “there are about 6 principal ethnic groupings that form what is known as Ondo State. They are easily recognized by their distinct languages and shared history. For instance, we have the Ondoid people comprising eminent sons and daughters of Ondo town, Ile Oluji, and partly Idanre with similar local language or variants of dialects (whereby Ileoluji and Ondo share a common ancestry through Queen Pupupu); the Akokos who occupy the Northern part of the state; the Ifon/Owo people made up of Ipele, Owo, Ifon people among others; the Akure-speaking people comprising of people from Ilaramokin, Igbaraoke, Ijare, Iju, Itaogbolu, etc; and the riverine Ikale/Ilaje people in the Southern senatorial district with the minority Ijaw and Ijaw Apoi people. Of all the ethnic groupings listed above, the only ones that have never produced a democratically elected Governor of Ondo State are the Akures, the Ijaws, and up till late 2023, the Ilajes”.
Going down memory lane in order to situate the context, OSCA stated that “when viewed against the original ethnic divisional groupings that formed the state excluding Ekiti (which is now a separate state), the people of Akure have suffered the most injustice. The original political and administrative divisions of Ondo State were Akoko Division, Owo Division, Akure Division, Ondo Division, and Okitipupa Division. Akoko division produced Governor Adebayo Adefarati. Owo division has produced two governors: Governor Adekunle Ajasin and Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.
“The Ondo division produced Governor Olusegun Mimiko while the Okitipupa division produced Governor Olusegun Agagu. Akure Division, however, despite being the largest in numerical strength and despite its reputable brotherly support for persons from the other divisions to become governor in the past, has never produced a democratically elected governor since the creation of Ondo State”.
The letter was signed by OSCA president, Dr. Bolarinwa Omotosho, and its General Secretary, Bar. (Mrs) Odunola Ogunmola-Daini asserted that the claim of zoning by Senatorial Districts was only being clever by half.
“We noted with dismay the ongoing attempt by some claiming they have zoned the Governorship to Ondo South. Some have even claimed that Ondo State people have this as an ‘unspoken agreement’. This is nothing but a ‘gbajue’ and a clever lie with the sole purpose of deceiving and permanently marginalizing the Akure-speaking people.
“If zoning by senatorial district is adopted as the standard, it means an Ondo town person would compete against an Akure person when it is the turn of the Central senatorial district. After all, there are currently aspirants from Ikale who are competing with the Ijaws and Ilajes among those who have signified interest under the banner of Ondo South senatorial district. This will only further the injustice being perpetrated against Akure-speaking communities,” it said.
In its passionate appeal, the OSCA representatives wrote “Our plea therefore is for the leadership of all the major political parties to zone their Governorship tickets to the old Akure Division comprising Ilara, Igbaraoke, Ijare, Ipogun, Iju, Itaogbolu, Oba, Idanre, etc. We particularly appeal to the national leadership of the PDP and the APC to ensure their Governorship candidates are from the Akure-speaking communities”.
Sounding cautious, OSCA added “we know that professional politicians can easily compromise since they are all queuing up to become commissioners and SAs. The Akure-speaking communities however prefer to produce the next Governor. Even if we argue in support of rotation according to senatorial districts, the first cycle of rotation went to Ondo South after Ondo North (from Adefarati to Agagu), it is simply fair that this second round of rotation goes from Ondo North to Ondo Central (for the consideration of solely those communities in the old Akure Division) in the spirit of equity. The ticket would after that go to the Ilajes and the Ijaws in the South. This is true equity because equal rights, fair play, and justice, are all like the air: it is either we all have it, or none of us has it. That is the truth of life.”