Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has described the quest by the Okun people, like the Yoruba in Kwara State, to align with the South-West Yoruba people as the best thing that can happen to them because of the overall benefits.
Obasanjo made this known when he received the leaders of the Okun people of Kogi State who were at his residence in the Ogun State capital, Abeokuta, on Saturday, to invite him to the 2019 Okun Day celebration.
He applauded the Okun people for their initiative, recalling that he advised two illustrious sons of the state, the late Silas Bamidele Daniyan and the late Chief Sunday Bolorunduro Awoniyi, of the need to properly situate the cultural identity of Okun people as main stakeholders in the country.
Stressing the need for the people to hold firmly to their roots, Obasanjo said the issue of cultural identity remained paramount to encourage a sense of belonging among the diverse ethnic population.
Earlier, President of Kabba Development Union (KDU), Lagos branch, Princess Ladepe Omonale, in her speech, complained about marginalisation and frustration of the Okun people in the scheme of things because of being carved out of the South-West.
She restated the quest of the people to join their brethren in the South-West, stating that the organisation was formed in 2017 to bring together the Yoruba-speaking minorities in Kogi State and align themselves culturally with their brethren in the South-West.
She reminded the former president of the role of many illustrious sons of Okun nation that served under his administration, including Chief Daniyan and Awoniyi, who Obasanjo said he was well acquainted of the people mentioned and in fond memories of their association.
On the planned 2019 Okun Day cultural celebration, she said it had again received blessing of the Ooni of Ife, and they deemed it proper and necessary the need to approach Obasanjo, who she described as the father of modern Nigeria.
The delegation, which was jointly led by the president of the Lagos State chapter of the union, Princess Ladepe Omonale, her Abeokuta branch counterpart, Joseph Santa and a member of the Lagos branch executive of the union, Wole Hinmikaiye, comprised two consultants – Oluwaseun Ngonnase and Shehu Bankole-Hameed, who is also an author.