Gains have been made since our victory through the Ó Tó Gẹ́ movement which brought Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq to power in Kwara State. However, the youths must not go back to sleep; we must channel that same energy towards supporting the AbdulRahman administration to deliver the goods and clear the rot of yesteryear.
Ifelodun Local Government Area of Kwara is said to be the largest municipal authority by land mass in Nigeria, almost same in size as Lagos, but can the same be said in terms of standard of living? Having spent years from the cradle to adulthood in Kwara, having been born to parents who have been active participants in the politics of the state and the nation in their own right from Adio Babanloma in Ifelodun local government, I have over the years followed the turn of events in Kwara closely, specifically in Ifelodun Local Government Area, and I can say that a lot still needs to be done.
The fact is all those who fought for the actualisation of Ifelodun as a local government out of the defunct Igbomina Ekiti Local Government Area before it came to fruition in 1976 are either long gone or are now on the reclining chair. And it is understandable that the law of diminishing returns is at play. The question then arises, where are the youths in whose interests they took on these struggles? Were they to have remained docile, would we have gotten the political standing we have achieved since then? The answer stares us in the face. Complaints and grumblings have stood as potent weapons for youths on things that we feel can be better done, but how far has that taken us?
Ogun àsọtẹ́lẹ̀ kìí pa arọ; that is, a war foretold well in advance need not kill the lame; so says a Yoruba adage. The statistics both at the federal and state level are not looking good. Reliance on oil can no longer pay our salaries not to talk of funding infrastructural projects. It is in this light that the youths of Ifelodun must choose to channel their own course and decide what they want their future to look like.
The onus is now on the young generation to leverage on their vision to bring government closer to the people by stepping in to fulfill the big picture. History tells us that every time a great leap is made in a society, it is the youths of the population that stirred it. From Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Modibo Keita of Mali, Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt, SekouTouré of Guinea, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Ben Bella of Algeria and Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, who fought for the liberation of African states to Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Anthony Enahoro and Tafawa Balewa, crusaders of Nigerian Independence, there is one common denominator among them: they were all youths at the time they brought glory to their people.
Small and Medium scale Enterprises are the lifeblood of any economy. The people of Ifelodun are hard working. A stroll to Ganmo, Amoyo and Kara market would certainly put any argument on that to rest. However, can we say we are meeting up to our best potential in the manner business is being handled in these commercial centres? The answer is evidently no! Especially when we take into cognizance Governor AbdulRahman’s master plan for agriculture in the state, which I am opportune to have knowledge on having served on the inauguration committee of Governor AbdulRasaq.
We must find ways to make the agriculture sector attractive to private capital through easing processes for business registration in partnership with the state government. Double taxation needs to be expunged; tax holidays would also serve as a strong incentive, while information must be made available for easy dissemination. There is no reason why we can’t have a one-stop shop for business documentation advice at the local government secretariat in Share.
With this and more through strategic partnerships with business advisory firms, who says one cottage industry each can’t be built in Share, Agunjin, Idofian, Igbaja, Ile-Ire, Oke-Ode, Omupo, Ora, and Oro-Ago?
The jobs would naturally flow in for our people and even improved industry-specific skill acquisitions would follow suit.
At JimbaOja, Cam wire is a good example of what can be improved upon. A strategic intent on replicating such developments should be a creed we hold onto. That is one sure way we can meet up with engaging the many idle hands seeking job engagements. We must not stop at producing garri and shea butter as we are currently doing; value should be added, and it does not take rocket science to make this happen. In some instances, just drying the cassava better and enhanced packaging would do the trick of increasing revenue by over 200 per cent. So, what’s our excuse?
A healthy mind is a wealthy mind. The Nigerian 1999 Constitution as amended gives the core mandate for primary healthcare to the local government but a lot still needs to be done in that stead. The state government is doing well with supplying the basic infrastructure such as buildings, beddings, medical supplies etc. The local government then needs to complement this by creating the enabling environment for these instruments to thrive through more funding for environmental officers, creating cell groups for grassroots mobilization against viral diseases.
One of the lessons the COVID-19 virus has taught us is the need for non-pharmaceutical preventive procedures in order to conquer all forms of infirmity; good hygiene cures all sickness.
An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. Today, STEM learning is core to the development of any serious society and we must not be left off-guard on that. The foundation years where the local government takes part in delivering basic education in partnership with the state government is critical for the development of Ifelodun in the coming years. Attracting educational aid agencies should be a major avenue to support lack of funding in the short term.
Meanwhile, nothing stops the local government from creating incubation hubs for learning of soft skills in the ICT sector where demands for remote jobs are prevalent. This can also be a source of revenue for the local government, thereby making it a win-win solution.
The School of Nursing at Oke-Ode is a viable platform to sponsor the training of indigent indigenes who would not have been able to afford such skill acquisition. These trained individuals’ skills can then be marketed for offshore jobs in and outside Nigeria, generating foreign exchange and increasing internally generated revenue (IGR).
As far as education is concerned, we should be looking at harnessing human resource as a kind of investment drive with measurable returns over time.
If you see a future of endless possibilities before us, let us begin the work that needs to be done. We can’t continue to sound diplomatic on the issue at hand.
Opeyemi, an engineer, wrote from Share, Kwara State.
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