The Oke-Ogun region of Oyo State is one of the materially richest part of Nigeria, one that has a lot to contribute to the development of Oyo State and Nigeria but which, for many reasons has remained undeveloped and one of the most marginalized in the country.
In this special interview, former member of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Honourable John Olaleru, disclosed that it is high time for the people of Oke-Ogun to put behind their differences and come together to develop the region.
Olaleru ,who represented Kajola state constituency at the 8th Oyo State House of Assembly explained that Oke-Ogun has always played a major role in the governance and development of Oyo state as a whole since the start of the current democratic dispensation in 1999.
Sir, there are growing concerns that Oke-Ogun is being marginalized in Oyo state, what is the way out?
I have to be honest; there are a whole lot of issues among our people. The political elites in Oke-Ogun must unite if we want development in the region.
Oke-Ogun comprises of ten local government areas and several communities, we need to look inward to see how we can unite all political actors so we can have a very strong voice.
Our political representatives need to be well equipped as well as experienced. They need to be a force to reckon with among their counterparts.
Since 1999, Oke Ogun has played and will continue to play a major role in governance in Oyo state, but we have not maximized the opportunities. This is because our politicians fight themselves to the detriment of the development of our community.
We also need to allow youths to be part of governance. I am sad that the youths of Oke-Ogun are all divided along Parties lines.
Is there cordial relationship between the political appointees and the Elected in Oke-Ogun?
Sadly there is little. Politicians and appointees must work together; mostly the political appointees do not work together with legislators. It is unfortunate that the civil servants and career officers from Oke-Ogun are fond of hiding their true identities.
They do not disclose it. Civil servants often have access to information than politicians because they work directly in agencies and ministries. So, they ought to have good rapport with their representatives either in the legislative and executive.
They will be able to give information about activities directly so that the political office holder can lobby for anything that will be of progress to the people.
You were a member of the 8th Oyo Assembly, what roles did you play for Oke-Ogun?
First of all, we must be able to differentiate between the roles of Legislators and the Executives.
The major constitutional roles of a legislator is to make Laws,represent his or her constituency and carry out over sight functions.While,Executive, as name implies, engages in d business of execution
To God be the glory, I represented my people well during my time. In fact, I personally sponsored about 16 motions on the floor of the House for the betterment of Oke-Ogun in particular and Oyo state in general.
1. Motion on the need to curb Examination Malpractices in Oyo state.
Why I moved this motion was that in Oke-Ogun, I was shocked to discover that lots of examination malpractices go on in our zone.
Findings revealed that most people come from the City center to our zone to establish what they described as ‘Special Centres’, where examination malpractices take place, and this continues to affect our students.
Drop outs will just pay a fee and then get an ‘A’ during exams, but they won’t be able to defend it.
That prompted me to organize the first Education Summit’ in Kajola local government. I was prompted to move the motion on the floor of the house that it must be curbed.
I did that in the interest of the future of our children. Immediately, the state government through the Oyo State Ministry of Education issued a circular to warn all the stakeholders including the students that anyone caught in such dastardly act will be punished.
2. Need to foster peace and harmony between Fulani herdsmen and farmers.
At that time, it was a big problem between herdsmen and farmers in Oke-Ogun. There were lots of killings which were of great concern to me. I sponsored this motion on the floor of the house and at the end of the day representatives of both warring parties were invited for dialogue during one of our plenary sessions.
It was so serious that we invited the leaders of the herdsmen as well as the farmers, including the then commissioner of police in Oyo state before sanity was partly restored. I know the situation affects us more as we are in an agrarian area.
3. Motion on the need to institutionalize vigilante in Oyo state
I now sponsored a motion on the need to institutionalize vigilante in the state in a bid to improve security. The vigilantes are at the mercy of the local government and this affects them in the area of welfare.
According to the state law in the creation of the vigilante, this security outfit ought to be supervised by the Chief Security Officer to the governor so that he can inform the governor of their activities directly. If this had been rightly implemented, including training and funding there might not be any reason for Amotekun.
4. Co-sponsor of the bill for amendment of survey law in Oyo state.
As at then, there was no functional survey plan for Oyo state; the existing one has been doctored by politicians in a bid to favour their respective communities. I had to co-sponsor the bill to prevent communal clashes in Oke-Ogun.
5. Motion on the need to beef up the security outfit within Oyo state secretariat to prevent incessant theft.
There was an incident that occurred at the Oyo state secretariat sometime ago when the Oyo State Post Primary Schools Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM) had their verification exercise. During the exercise, a motorcycle was stolen right in the premises of the secretariat.
In fact I was so furious and when I even discovered that the victim was an indigene of Oke-Ogun, I decided to take it to the floor of the house that security within the secretariat must be tightened. It was after my motion that the issuance of Tally started at the entrance of the secretariat. Till the end of the tenure, security at the secretariat was not taken lightly.
6. Motion on the need to resuscitate Oke Ogun Radio (BCOS) for effective transmission.
As at 2017, when the agency presented their budget to the house, their Oke-Ogun Radio office was excluded. When I heard about this, I and my friend, the then Deputy Speaker Honourable Abdulwasi Musa challenged the decision.
They explained that they wanted to broadcast from Ibadan directly. That Oke-Ogun radio could not meet up with the expenses of running the business, and that the income generated was not enough to power the Station. I then sponsored a motion that it should be resuscitated.
More so, we can solve the power problem if they can source power directly from Okaka Town ,where the enjoy electricity to Alaga area where the radio station is located, it was my self in collaboration with Honourable Abdulwasi that ensured that the Radio station in Oke-Ogun still remains with us.
7. Motion on the need to consolidate the Agricultural initiative of Oyo state government through tractors distributed to some Local Government and prevent it from collapse.
Thanks to former Governor Ajimobi who bought ten tractors for each local government area in the agrarian area for it to be leased to farmers during his first term in office.
Unfortunately, people from the city-center came to buy them, in fact, some were taken outside Nigeria like the Benin
Republic, Niger and these activities affected our own farmers.
Many did not even remit money into government coffers and there were no tractors for our farmers. So I sponsored the motion and requested for the details of all tractors that were issued about four years back.
It was enforced and those that failed to pay were made to pay into the government purse, while those that sold or leased it elsewhere were made to return it to our farmers. This,was to ensure easy farming.
8. Motion on the need to reward excellent performance in public schools in Oyo state.
I remember when we were younger; students with good performances were rewarded. I moved this motion just to ensure they are encouraged and rewarded for better performance at the end of every session
9. Need to relocate the headquarters of the Oyo State Agricultural Development Program (OSADEP) from the state capital to Oke-Ogun
During the tenure of Governor Rashidi Lagoja, the headquarters of OSADEP situated in Saki was moved to Ibadan.
As a result, all OSADEP activities within Oke-Ogun got paralysed. However, in collaboration with the then deputy speaker, Honourable Abdulwasi Musa, we both sponsored a motion that the headquarters be relocated to Oke-Ogun the agrarian area where it is most needed and it has now been done.
10. Need to provide off-takers by the Oyo state government
We need ready-made buyers for our Farm products. The prices if Farm products are not stable and the farmers are always the victims that run at lost. there is need for government to make environment conducive for off takers
11. Need to create additional Oyo State Post Primary Schools Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM) zonal offices in Oke-Ogun
There are six zones already in place in the entire Oyo state. One, in Ibarapa, One in Oyo, Two in Ibadan, One in Oke Ogun and One in Ogbomosho.
However, Oke-Ogun which is made up of ten local government areas, has only one, compared to Ibarapa which has just three local government areas where they have one zonal office. Ibadan that has eleven local government areas has two zonal offices. Ogbomosho which has just five local government areas has one.
Oyo which has 4 local governments has one zonal office, and so why will Oke-Ogun have just one despite having ten local government areas. This made life unbearable for our teachers in resolving their issues. I sponsored this motion for them so that there will be two zonal offices namely Oke-Ogun I and Oke-Ogun II.
Finally, government is a continuum and most of the notable motions that were sponsored have been implemented while some are yet to. It is expected of the government of the day to implement them in the interest of the people.
Also, in the area of representation, I was always available to represent and fight for the right of our people. My empowerment programmes then captured, Religion, Education, Security, Health, Sports, Agriculture and others.
To achieve our desired want in Oke-Ogun, we need to embrace love and peace and shun politics of bitterness..