FROM OKE MOKOLA, TALES AT DAWN
Mokola is very strategic in the annals of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, and of the old wild wide West, presided over by the enigmatic Obafemi Awolowo as premier in the pre-independent Nigeria and early years of the first republic before he ventured to leave the premiership for his deputy, Sir Ladoke Akintola to seek national mandate, but ended up as Leader of opposition.
You can't miss Mokola on your way to Nigeria's premier university, the University of Ibadan, where by default I am an associate. For , it is within the walls of UI that I had my primary education, at Abadina School. One major landmark that stalks you on your approach to Mokola is this white elegant shimmering structure standing on a hill surrounded by a forest. The Premier Hotel. In the early 70s as I took ride daily with Baami on his Mobylette from Oke Foko to UI, I marvel at the majesty of that structure. the numero uno happening/event place in Ibadan in the 60s built from proceeds of cocoa and other produce trade of the Western Region Government then led by the first premier of the region, Obafemi Awolowo through the Western Nigeria Marketing Board, WEMABOD.
Other landmarks that grew from the Cocoa trade using the Oodua Group conglomerate as the investment arm of the government were the Cocoa house in Ibadan, the Western house in Lagos, the WEMA Bank and perhaps the former National Bank and possibly too, the Cooperative Bank, the Airport Hotel Ikeja, Lafia Hotel, Ibadan, the Lafia Canning Factory, the Onward Paper Mills, the Wemabod Estate, the Ikeja GRA and the Ikeja Industrial Estate. The list of ventures that sprouted from the wisdom of the government of the region is quite long as a lasting legacy of a visionary leadership.
I did not get to enter the precincts of Premier until 1987 when I was an intern at BCOS as a mass comm. Student of Akoka. Premier was on song again last month when movers and shakers of south west politics, particularly of ACN stock, gathered to launch what they consider would return the geopolitical zone to its glorious past, its premier frontline position in the nation's polity. The three day workshop organized by a private concern with the collaboration of The Nation newspaper offered a new dawn to shape a promising future for the south west. They wanted a reincarnation of the Awo spirit to drive the regions development.
As each speaker mounted the rostrum, there were tales of woes and lamentations about how things have awfully gone bad since after the demise of the first republic. They regarded the forum as an opportunity for a fresh start with the launch of Development Agenda for Western Nigeria. They assured that it was not an attempt to balkanize the nation, but a home grown and carefully thought out initiative which does not contradict our federalist structure. They predicted that it will lead to better things not only in the south west but all other regions in the country.
As I reflect on the prospects and of the promises at Oke Mokola where sits the Premier from the belly of which DAWN was born, I realize that it is not an entirely new initiative. It is taking courage to put flesh on what has been done in the past, not only in the south west. It is not different from what the Arewa governors and leaders, the Niger Delta advocates or the MASSOB champions have done.
There were talks redefining our federalism, reviewing the revenue allocation formula, seeking alternative ways of funding government with cost efficiency but better delivery, reconstructing our constitution and rebuilding our nation. Our challenge is not the absence of a vision, but a predilection to pull wool over our eyes or scoop dust into our eyes to result in a blurred vision that views development with the binoculars of separation.
Solanke writes from Lagos