Aside being called a preacher of the gospel of God’s salvation, there is hardly any other identity I relish more than my Okun ancestry. Just as I do cherish Nigeria – as long as we let it last.
The Okun nation borders with Kwara and Niger States, while Ekiti and Ondo are her neighbors to the southeast and south respectively. Within Kogi where the Okun forms one of the three major ethnic groups, we border with the Ebiras to the northwest while the Lokojas are to the northeast.
Okun has six local governments areas namely;
Yagba West and,
Our population is almost a million.
It is important to also note that Oworoland, the seat of Obajana cement industry which is captured in Lokoja Local Government Areas of the state is Okun.
We are indeed blessed by the Most High with a neighboring of very very terrific people groups – there is no history of disaffection between us and our neighbors. We also cohabit peacefully with settlers who have needs to pursue their life’s goals and aspirations on our soil.
For the purpose of hindsight, the Okun nation is essentially Yoruba in culture, values and tongue. Our ancestry, without any controversy is linked to the Ilé-Ifè – the cradle of Yoruba race, the cradle of life.
In fact, this consanguineous affinity with the larger Yoruba nation kept many sons and daughters of Okunland in various Yoruba states even after the creation of Kogi State in 1991; this was while other people groups like the Igalas and the Ebiras were trooping in excitedly and proactively to explore and appreciate the opportunities that the new state would offer.
A nascent Kogi; its civil service, politics and other things had to be managed; and managed by those who made themselves available.
I do not believe in the delusion of one race or people being superior in leadership to the others. In fact, if there is any thinking which should not survive or cross over to our twenty-first century, such a thinking is. I believe everybody, and people, made by the Most High posses the needed abilities and responsibilities to decide their own destiny; and, interestingly the destinies of those who would not stand up to their own lives, and their life’s realities. In Okun land, we cannot with all confidence say we have stood up to destiny. Especially as it affects our sociopolitical and economic destiny.
I shall attempt to analyze how the fact above proved to be the Okun man’s undoing.
Without trying to massage our egos, I give it to okun man as very fair and equitable in his dealings. As a result of his high sense of integrity, an Okun man always sticks to the rules even at the expense of his appointment. It is not auncommon to see an Okun man resign his appointment over matters bordering on personal conviction and/due process. The implications of this is often borne by him alone; the weight falls heavily upon his shoulders because he rarely takes the concepts of peer or social mobilization seriously. He is usually a lone ranger.
Sadly, strategic political and economic planning and lone ranging do not go together. A critical mass of strengths must be mobilized for complimentality, strength and counsel. Moreover, the bible insists on a mysterious formula of one chasing a thousand and two chasing a ten thousand. Unlike his Yoruba kinsman, there is no serious evidence that the Okunman has much interest in strategic planning or serious collaboration. His much knowledge, notwithstanding
I have been an adult Okun man for more than a decade, nothing of note has been put forward as a legacy that the older, educated Okun generation designed. At individual levels parents would almost go naked to ensure the children and wards attend good schools. Education to us is what should make anyone truly confident. And give it to the Okun man, he is very confident. And insanely contented. But as with any virtue which does not seek to leverage on others’ for a common good, it’s impact cannot be formidable enough to bring home much good. The force of impact expires pretty quick.
In one of the meetings I was privileged to co-organize as an undergraduate, one of the guest speakers spoke eloquently about the number of great intellectuals the Okunland has.
Similarly, in the mid 2000s Mr. Tunde Arosanyin, an LG Chair aspirant, who was at that time already a PhD, admitted that Okun nation possessed a huge intellectual base. Again, I must point out that he came alone from faraway Yagba to Anyigba. He lone ranged. It bleeds my heart that our daddies and mommies do not give a hoot about the need to connect; deliberately connect and strategically mobilize for our common good. This low side is somewhat sadly typical of the Okun nation.
Sen. Smart Adeyemi had recently put the number of professors of Okun extraction at over five hundred. He said this on a live TV (politics today). That live session is one of the most disgraceful interchange to be aired. It was between him and Sen. Dino Melaye and anchored by Seyi Okinbaloye, the regular host. Though his argument was deeply flawed, Mr. Adeyemi certainly didn’t lie about that estimate. It is true. No one will dispute it.
Everywhere you turn to, the fact that Okun is scholars-rich remains incontrovertible.
BUT education is not power! It is merely a potential power. And the affectation of ‘lacking-in-nothing’ that much education leaves in the psyche of the Okun nation is evidently dangerous.
Our version of contentment is gross negligence. If not myopic.
Truth is, a highly educated population that is unwilling to experiment with its knowledge is merely potentially powerful; powerless if we must be frank.
Okun has only been potentially powerful. Let me be blunt; we have not been truly powerful – economically, politically and socio-culturally. Our giant has been sedated with a dangerous dose of ungodly contentment. We are too much at ease.
My appeal, do not forget, is primarily to our academics. For it is they with whom actionable thoughts and ideas are domiciled. We want you to chart the course. The youth population is vibrant and abundant. We are willing to experiment with the blueprints you will hand us.
Like I love to note, a highly educated population who sits idly by while others are in an arms race of consistent summits, conferences, seminars, purposive unions etc. for their socio-political and economic greatness is on the precipice of political and economic exclusion and woe.
You see, the somber nature that greets you each time you are in Okunland speaks to the truth that our education which we take so much pride in has not delivered. It may have delivered some good at individual level, as we see in the numbers of professors and academics we have, but we are not truly prosperous until the glory of our successes becomes communally visible. And this dream will remain an illusion until there is a deliberate and concerted effort to make our education deliver.
I asked Nigeria a few weeks ago exactly “where her economists read their econs?” (read here). I will not ask my Okun academics such question. In fact, there is no basis for that. I know, as does everyone, that they actually studied. They read. But my question to them is why it is taking them so long to pool ideas together to chart a strategic course for our socioeconomic transformation and prosperity?
Our scholars sit behind thick glasses offering invaluable advice to diaspora elites and governments – when exactly are we ever going to give back the ghetto that made us? Okun is that ghetto that gave her all to make you who you are.
Nígbà wo ni a ó pèsè fún ilé wa?
The timeless reality of an enduring prosperity is not of people who possess the knowhow, no! it is for those who Go There! Building Okun is the Going There.
My professor, my doctor, wouldn’t you rather go there? Will you call your other brothers across the length and breadth of the global academic community to brainstorm and setup an Okuncentric intellectual force; a force that will transform our hitherto declining lot?
Would you get your fellows together to establish highly subsidized institutes for the development of Okunland?
We can cheat nature, I agree. But not for long! We have exhausted our idle window. The time to pretend that all is well is over.
Aside the terrible and successive maladministration of the state, particularly by the incumbent, one of the dominant subject of discuss of an average ‘enlightened’ Okun man is the marginilisation by the majority ethnic group – specifically the Igala. I highly sympathise with them. I sympathatise with them not because I have respect for this claim, but because the supposed leader of thought who should have fashioned a workable economic blueprint on that would free him of this mental slavery has not done his bit. A blueprint which should show him a path a prosperity that would free him from the curse of excessive reliance on the civil service is lacking.
I must point out that I do not support the insensitivity of Kogi power architecture. In my opinion, I believe that all available good should equitably go round. At students level, the SUG presidency of my Alma Mata, the Kogi State University remains an exclusive preserve of the majority. Frankly, I believe this should change. (I have a solace in friends of Igala descent whose minds are equitable enough to see this for what it is.) Truth is, collectively, the generation before us appeared to have failed in inculcating the right values; while Okuns are negligent, Igalas appear to have more appetite than is good for equity.
This said, I must commend the Igala nation for their consistency in redeeming the day and the days to come. I urge you my Okun reader to Google Igala economic summit. I bet you will see why you cannot aspire to the same prosperity as they deserve. No, it is no magic. Igala Economic Summit, Igala Education Summit, Igala Youth Summit are all diligent, determined, intentional paths that this serious nation has agreed to chat for their today and tomorrow. They have found the path and they have taken steps to run their race along with their bests. You Okun man, how many people have you mentored?
How, many students from your Okun nation can approach you in your office. The internet has now killed distance; have you done your bit in making the upcoming generation take the right launch into the 21st century realities? The Igalas doing it. They are fantastic.
Senator Smart massaged our ego by telling the world that we belong to a formidable intellectual stock. But I feel dubious of his position. In fact, I call it flattery. He probably just scammed us!
Aside the fact that his argument on that discussion did not hold any water whatsoever, can our academics ask him why he had not summoned them to any discourse regarding how to better our homeland. Or didn’t he believe in the deliverables of a genuinely earned PhD?
As we have seen with the Obajana calamity, the resources put beneath our soil as blessing by the Almighty can turn into a vile curse if man would not diligently extract the one of the mind. This is why I have refrained from mentioning the unlimited deposits of minerals under our soil.
In fact, the rogue politicians that we currently have with their traditional collaborators would be all-too-willing to sell-off our people’s birthright should we not first engage the richness of our minds.
Notwithstanding the many challenges our individualist approach has left us, I believe that the extent of our prosperity is huge if our professionals, particularly our academics will rise up and articulate an Okun agenda.
The Integrity of your counsel is esteemed and desperately sought.
My peers are are waiting. You have our support. Our vast energies and adventures are waiting for a blueprint, a guide that you are coming up with.
We cherish and trust you, do not allow us wait in vain Sirs/Ma
– Oshaloto Joseph Tade