Ijesaland: Defending our homeland and Heritage

By Remi Oyeyemi

He set off a few days earlier to tread this road to Ilorin. He probably was enveloped with a sense of invulnerability as he set off. He was an army General. He was a former governor. He had been the Minister of Works and Housing twelve years earlier before he was accused of involvement in a phantom coup against the General Sani Abacha junta that he was serving. He was a typical Nigerian elite.

On the fateful day that he chose to take this road, he did not anticipate the possible treachery by this road. It did not reckon that the road could be traitorous. The possibility of perfidy by this notorious road was not even in his contemplation. He had taken the road several times before. He was conversant with it. He has had several dalliances with it. He had no fear of it. If he was confident of his ability to navigate this road, it would have been justified, no doubt.

It was one of the roads that this writer and that ace journalist of The Guardian, Tajudeen Kareem, (TJ), had pinpointed to him that he needed to fix as a matter of urgency. The road had been notorious for its shagginess and raggedness. It was an important linkage to the Federal Capital Territory. It was while we were congratulating him on his appointment as Nigeria’s Works and Housing Minister that this subject was raised. He appeared to have taken our counseling.

Whatever happened, he did not get to fix this road in discourse while in office. None of the other Ministers that succeeded him, thought it fit to fix this same road. And so, it occurred that he had a fatal accident on this same road twelve years later, in February 2005. The accident was catastrophic. It was lethal. It was tragic. It ended his life.

He had died few days after the accident, on February 25, 2005, in a London hospital where he had been rushed to. Chances were that if he had hearkened to the advice given him, he might not have died on the same road. His life could have been saved. The life of many others who have died on that same road could have been preserved. General Abdulkareem Adisa, former governor of Oyo State, died at the young age of 56.

The essence of this recollection is to remind those who are trying to undermine and undercut the planned construction of two billion Kidney and Dialysis Hospital in Ilesa, to think deeply and very foresightedly about their actions. Today, they are very healthy. Tomorrow, this hospital might be the place to save their lives. The Yoruba contemporary aphorism insists, “Aafa to ni ki iyan mu, ko ni ko omo tie lo s’orun.” Literally, “The Cleric who prays for famine, would not take his own children to heaven to feed.”

The land on which the Hospital was to be built had been gifted to the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex (OAUTH) through the Wesley Guild Hospital, Ilesa, by late Obaala of Ilesa, Chief Oyekanmi Ogedengbe. It was a land that tradition and history gave him ownership of. His vision of such a project for the good of Ilesa and Ijesa land ought to be commended. It is a solemn edification of selflessness.

No patriotic action on the part of an individual or a High Chief could be greater than this. It would be one of the most important actions taken for the progress and development of Ijesa land in recent times. It is reminiscent of what Chief James Makinde Ajayi-Obe did in 1932, when he gave the expanse of land for what is today known as Ilesa Grammar School. This school has brought so much honour to Ijesa land. It has been a great bequeathment to several generations before us and many others to come.
This gift by Obaala Oyekanmi Ogedengbe is remarkable, monumental, and marvelous. It was an exudation of unalloyed patriotism. It was a demonstration of unfettered loyalty to Ijesa land. It was an exemplary love for his fatherland. It was an extravasation of a family trait as exemplified by his great ancestor, Orisarayibi Ogedengbe Agbogungboro, the man who spearheaded the digging of Iyara to protect the City of Ilesa from external aggression. It runs in the family.

This great vision impelled by love of his people ought not to and should not be vitiated. His memory should not be violated by greedy land speculators. We should not allow the “Alapotikans” among us to derail this beautiful project because of their greed. This is because “Alapotikan o ko k’ilu tu.” The Alapotikans have no stake. They have no love except for the lucre. They have no passion except for their pockets. They have no affection except for their avarice. They do not care except for their cataclysmic contrivance.

As far as they are concerned, the progress and the development of Ijesa land or anywhere for that matter, could be retarded. For all they care, Ijesa land could be a potpourri of suffering without smiling. It could be a hodgepodge of gnashing of teeth. These land speculators are narcissistic. They are egomaniacal. They are not easily assuaged, even when they are wrong. They are enemies within. They are Agbalowomeris. They are Arijenimodarus. They are enemies of progress. They hate what we appreciate – the greatest good for the greatest number.

The land speculators, it was gathered, have been exploiting the name of our revered Owa Obokun Adimula of Ijesa land, Kabiyesi Oba (Dr.) Adekunle Aromolaran in their despicable acts, encroaching on and selling parts of this 20-Acre land. The Palace must come out to deny them and put them to shame. The Palace could not and should not allow the symbol for Ijesa land, the great stool of Owaship to be maligned and blackmailed on this matter.
The Palace should also make it clear that those land speculators who are involved in these shameful acts could be disciplined if they refuse to back off. The Palace should make it clear that no one is above reproach. There could be dire consequences for their actions if they refuse to back off. The Palace could not and should not disappoint the people of Ijesa on this important matter. It should play the expected leadership role in facilitating the smooth take-off of this project for which the equipment needed has already been delivered.

Ijesa land has been losing a lot of development projects for a while now including several private universities. The International Breweries Limited is gradually being mismanaged into the hands of foreigners. Many businesses that could have turned Ijesa land around have been vitiated by gormandizing goons in the polity. It is saddening that some rapacious elements do not really care if this project should join this obnoxious list. The edacious elements must be checkmated. It is a task that those who love Ijesa land must embark upon, pursue diligently, and executed to conclusion.

It was the great sage and avatar, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who observed that every community such as ours, “is an amalgam of saints and sinners.” We have those who are committed to the development of progress of the polity. We also have those who are avaricious and esurient. They are destructive where they are not disruptive. But it is the duty and responsibility of those who seek to build and develop to ensure that the esurient saps do not have the upper hand. Otherwise, everyone would be a loser.

Ijesa land must not lose this project. For the sake of our dear Ijesa land, everyone must come together to put on leash, these land speculators trying to hold hostage the progress of Ijesa land. It is a land to which they have no traditional, historical, or legal rights, ab initio. The ownership is properly documented. These land speculators should not be cuddled. They should not be pampered. They are trespassers. They are law breakers. They should be made to give up the land without delay.

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