Elders of Ijesaland and the problems of ‘priority and selfishness’

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Recently, some elders of Ijesaland visited Governor Gboyega Oyetola at the state secretariat. These elders travelled to Osogbo, the capital of the state to beg the governor and requested for the upgrading of the college of education in Ilesa to university. These elders argued that NCE certificate is old, diminishing and therefore, they see no reason why the college should exist. The governor instantly set up a committee and asked members of this committee to look into the possibility of their demand.

They ordered their boys to send these pictures across indigenous groups on social media with different captions depiciting victory. Those who do not know these elders of Ijesaland and things they have done in the past would be extremely disappointed in their actions. Truly, there is no town without peculiar problems but these problems have repeatedly served as clogs in the wheels of infrastructural growth and development of the ancient town. These elders and their priorities are the problems of Ijesaland.

I was not disappointed at all. I never expected something better or different but I was troubled when I looked at the persistency and consistency that come with their failures. Two years ago, Ilesa was a home of terror. Young boys who are the future of the town waged war against the peace and harmony of the town. Both residents and natives witnessed hell in the hands of terrors and several people who were victims of these attacks have not gone to bed.

In the quest for peace, they appealed to these boys to handover their weapons and asked them to come and drink ‘water’ at the palace. These boys honored their invitation and they vowed to make them responsible by empowering them. They promised to train and educate these boys so that they would become useful to the society. These boys trusted them, surrendered their weapons, drank water and peace returned to the ancient town. Two years later, majority of these boys still wander aimlessly, posing great threat to the sanity and security of the town. These elders failed them because they did not see them as a priority.

While these boys wander aimlessly, anticipating for fulfilment of promises, these elders supervised the construction and beautification of N250 million palace within two years. They erected a palace worth N250 million in a town dominated by jobless youths with visible signs of poverty and hunger. The future of these repentant youths is not a priority to them and these elders do not involve in project that comes with less pride. Unlike the construction of N250 million palace where names of facilitators would be boldly written for references, if these elders work towards the rebuilding and rebranding of these youths, there is possibility that it would not come with expected rewards these elders work for. In building the N250 million palace, they reportedly exhausted the treasury and begged for funds from prominent sons and daughters of Ijesaland but they could not beg to fulfill the promised made to these young boys who surrendered their weapons and vowed not to engage in violent acts.

There are six state owned tertiary institutions in Osun state namely, Osun State University, Osogbo; Osun State Polytechnic Iree; Osun State College of Education, Ilesa; Osun State College of Technology, Esa-Oke; Osun State College of Health Science and Technology, Ilesa and Osun State College of Education, Ila-Orangun. Three of these six state owned institutions are situated in Ijesaland. Two colleges in Ilesa while the other is in Esa-Oke.

There are three state owned institutions in Ijesaland and these colleges are barely surviving. They are in a very distasteful state, lacking every infrastructural facility any college should be proud of. There is no functioning public toilet in these colleges even the supposed college of health primarily set up to teach and promote sanitation and good healthy living has no public toilet or water supply. These college can not boast of 1km tarred road and there are visible signs of failing buildings used as lecture rooms. When admitted, there is no hostel to house fresh students and the security of these colleges is zero. These colleges are ‘centres of hell’ made in earth.

What have these elders done to ameliorate the sufferings of students or to put these colleges in good shape? Atleast we have some colleges that can boast of infrastructural facilities such as lecture rooms, ICT centres among others built by indigenous associations or prominent sons and daughters of the host community. These elders can only raise funds to build a palace of N250 million but they can not raise funds to build functioning public toilets or lecture rooms in these schools. When was the last time these elders raise funds to buy fertlizers and seedlings for farmers? They will not work on ways to ameliorate the sufferings because it comes with less pride, praise and recognition. To them, any project of primary benefits to the people has no value.

They did not demand for upgrading of college to university because they love education. They demanded for an upgrade because they want to be heros. If they truly love education, requesting for the complete rehabilitation of these colleges would be a priority. It is quite disappointing that these elders visited the governor to demand for an upgrade at such a critical time for the zone. This shows that these elders have no interest of the masses in their missions.

The college of health in Ilesa is in a very deplorable state. An investigation was conducted by WITHIN NIGERIA, an online newspaper which exposed the rots and failing state of the college. An autonomy bill was proposed and the processes were done at a faster rate purposely to rescue the college from ruins. The bill is sitting comfortably on Governor Oyetola’s desk waiting for assention. These elders could not lobby for the signing of the autonomy bill that may possibly rescue the college from ruins and total collapse because it is a college of health. They have no sons and daughters who are students. They only have sons and daughters who can become lecturers when college of education becomes university.

The rate of unemployment in Ijesaland is sickening and nauseating. It is no doubt a true reflection of the country’s woes. It is quite unfortunate that these elders could not discuss ways to create employment for the teeming youths via agriculture owing to large expanse of lands in Ijesaland. There are visible signs of poverty everywhere. From a community to another, it is a story of hardship, difficulty and poverty. These elders have not a time discussed the sufferings of the people nor proffer solutions.

Let me state it clearly that the demand for upgrading of college of education to university is not a product of good thought. The only varsity in the state recieves little or no attention from the government. This varsity has one of its campuses situated in Ipetu-Ijesa, one of the ancient towns in Ijesaland. There are signs of neglection in this campus and other campuses experience same. Other colleges including the state polytechnic suffer same fate.

These institutions suffer neglect from the government. A state that could not meet up with regular payment of subventions to existing institutions should not establish another. A state that can barely cater for six institutions does not deserve to have another one. Yet the elders of Ijesaland want the state government to upgrade the college of education to university. Upgrading is cost driven and requires increase in workforce. This no doubt would add up to the expenses of a state struggling to pay salaries. If it starts well, maintaining it would be difficult. Hence, it becomes a public-private institution.

The effects of gold mining is not a priority to them. Degradation witnessed and neglection natives and residents of these host communities suffer mean nothing to them. Have you ever visited one of the host communities where exploitation of gold is in progress? When these mining companies buy farmlands, they do not only explore and exploit gold, they make these lands experience degradation and leave with no plans for the host communities. There is no corporate social responsibility in place. They just leave these host communities to face the troubles that come with gold exploitation. Yet these elders feel comfortable about it and never took the advantage of their visitation to lobby for percentage in rebuilding host communities or request for government intervention to address decay these host communities witnessed. Indeed, it is very unfortunate.

Lawal Sodiq Adewale Chocomilo writes from Ilesa, an ancient town in Osun state.

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