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EKIMOGUN DAY AT THIRTY: KUDOS TO THE FOUNDING FATHERS

When the idea of Ekimogun Day celebration was conceived three decades ago, not many people would have seen the  wisdom behind it. The idea was  triggered by some circumstances which for historical reasons, I will like to document here.Prior to the inauguration of the Ondo Development Committee(ODC), in 1986, Ondo Community was confronted with numerous challenges prominent  of which was the abject neglect of Ondo town and the marginalization of its people by the government. But then, the reason for it was not far-fetched.

In all civilized societies of the world, public service is supposed to be selfless community service, worthy of participation by  all. As long as it remains a statement of fact however, the reverse was the case for the Ondos. Anybody familiar with us will not contest the fact that we showed little or practically no interest in public services.

Immediately after the creation of Ondo State in 1976 for instance, statistics showed that (the Ondos) had the least percentage of workers in the service of the newly created State. We only accounted for four percent (4%) of the workforce of the Ondo State with more than seventy percent (70%)  below the  middle level bracket.

The question then is, with the above statistics, even if we wanted our sons and daughters to be General Manager, Director General, Secretaries of Boards and Parastatals, where were they in the service? That accounted for the major reason why we were neglected and marginalized. We were not just ably represented where policy matters and money meant to have affected our lives and  community were being formulated and implemented . When we were busy dominating businesses, industries and commerce, amassing wealth, therefore, others were concentrating and consolidating on having a formidable team, top government policy makers, the shakers and the movers of government businesses. As a pay-back on our side, even though, we as individuals succeeded  in our respective fields of endeavour, that individual success failed to reflect on Ondo Community  in terms of development, the summary of which was that, our low flair for government jobs resulted in our inadequacy in public services which eventually created a discomforting vacuum in the hierarchy of the Ondo indigenes  in government services, hence, the acute neglect and marginalization witnessed by us in years past.

One other major identified challenge in the past was the no-love-lost relationship between Ondo and its neighboring towns and villages. There was a practical demonstration of hatred on the Ondos by most of its neighbours to the extent that biased , distractive and sentimental history of our relationship with them led to the persistent trampling on our age-long rights, customs, tradition and landed property. And sad enough, all these, they did in connivance with some highly-placed government functionaries in the State who were bent on using their official position to the detriment of Ondo Kingdom.

Again, the reason for all these is what I will like to state here:

Naturally, the Ondos love elegance, there is no denying it. We wish to be seen and heard every where and we also love to be at the fore-front in whatever endeavour we found ourselves. It will probably take others double the efforts put into a venture by the Ondos before we could recognize such people. One may blame us for being egoistic because many evidences abound which lend credence to the reason why the Ondos should assume some air of superiority over others. This, many regard as pride of the Ondos rather than accepting it as part of our cultural tendencies. These cultural tendencies made us look less concerned about government jobs which can only get us some peasant earnings. All these became a subject of concern, worry and irritation for our people until some patriotic leaders of the Kingdom saw the urgent need to come together to brainstorm on how to tackle all the numerous problems confronting the Kingom. That was when the idea of forming a cohesive group required for  championing the cause of the Ondos and at the same time, enhance the growth and development of the Kingdom became imperative.

An attempt at forming the group was first mooted by the Late High Chief S.A. Oladapo, the then Lisa of Ondo Land in 1977 during a meeting he held with some members of Ondo Club 75 but all efforts made then failed to see the light of the day.

The situation persisted until 1986 when some highly placed and influential personalities in the Kingdom decided to take the bull by the horn. They met and agreed on creating a broader-based group which would revolve not just the traditional authority system that was then the total dominance of the society but groups of people who would use their combined endeavour to move the community forward. These patriotic Ondo Indigenes then led by the incumbent High Chief Odofin Ebun Olawoye went and spoke with the Osemawe-in-Council then comprising:

Oba Alayeluwa His Highness, Robert Itiade Adekolurejo –  (Osemawe of Ondo land)

High Chief S.A. Oladapo                              –       Lisa of Ondo Land

High Chief W. Ogunye                                 –       Jomu of Ondo Land

High Chief G.M Akinyosoye                          –       Odunwo of Ondo Land

High Chief S.N Agunbiade                            –       Sasere of Ondo land

After several meetings, a consensus was eventually reached to constitute the required body hence, the birth of the Ondo Development Committee (ODC). The inaugural meeting of the committee held on October, 25th,1986 was presided over by the Late Oba Robert Itiade Adekolurejo with all the Eghaes (High Chiefs) in attendance. There, Chief Ebun Olawoye (Now High Chief) was appointed as the pioneer  Chairman of the new  Committee comprising eminent Ondo men and women and traditional Chiefs cutting across the various traditional groups with Chief Samuel Akinwande (Late) a seasoned Administrator, as the pioneer Executive Secretary.