The countrified town of Ora in Ifelodun Local Government in Kwara State no doubt is politically significant in any electoral contestation in the politics of Kwara State. Ora represents a microcosm of the State of Harmony and the town reminds us of a serene and peaceful environment adorned with greenish farmland that is highly fertile for agriculture but which lies under fallowed. This is this instant reminder for any first timer visitor to Ora… its unfortunate its gory image of a town that has suffered years of abuse, neglect, marginalization and political exclusion in the hands of the political class in the politics of Kwara State.
Ora is a town in Ifelodun Local Government Area of Kwara state which arguably is the largest Local Government Area in Nigera with its headquarters situated in a small town called Share where the current governor of Kwara State Alhaji Fatai Abdulahi hailed from. Ifelodun Local Government Area in Kwara State according to National Population Census has well over 1, 000 towns and villages with its population unevenly distributed among the 9 districts and 18 political wards that made up the Local Government Area. But in this demographics above is Ora , a major district town with over 8 to 15 communities under its authority. Ora people are majorly known for subsistent farming and petty trading of such farm produces like: yam, cassava, maize, soya beans, locust beans and groundnuts.
The electoral significance of Ora in the entire Ifelodun Local Government Area cannot be over emphasized and cannot also be compared with other districts in her local government area. This is evidence in Ora’s demographics which hovers between fifty to hundred thousand people, arguably the highest population that any major district has in Ifelodun Local Government Area today.
Ora town is one of the most naturally endowed with divine resources in Ifelodun Local Government Area in particular and Kwara State in general. The tallest mountain in the entire Kwara State is found in Ora, there are also claims of unmined precious stones in commercial quantity in this town. Ora’s has one of the best fertile land in Kwara State that virtually any crop can be cultivated on it, the serene environment and its beautiful landscape view are untapped tourism economy for Kwara State and Nigeria in general just to mention but a few. Ora’s indigenes are some of the highly educated in the entire Kwara State, highly placed in many professional endeavours. The current king of Ora, Oba Adebayo Akolade is highly educated and was a retired Assistant Comptroller General of Nigerian Immigration Service before his ascension to the throne of his fore bearers. But with all the economic potentials, political significance, tourism potentials and natural endowment of this countrified town called Ora, it is a town best described as being politically and economically marginalized in the politics of Kwara State.
Despite the historical, economical, natural and political strategic positions of Ora, the town from the past till present does not only suffer political marginalization but currently stands in political obscurity in the political permutations of Kwara State. It will be worth to note that since inception of Ifelodun Local Government Area in 1976, no single Ora indigene has ever become the local government chairman either by military government’s appointment or by any democratic means, not even an appointed local government caretaker chairman or a sole administrator has come out from Ora since the creation of Ifelodun Local Government Area in 1976. Worst still at the state politics, it is yet to be known of any Ora indigene who has ever been appointed a commissioner of any ministry in the state government or has there ever been any Ora son or daughter that was considered for any appointive position at the state lever either as Special Assistance or as politically degrading a position of a Personal Assistant may be in any prominent political office. At the national politics, the political actor in Kwara State seems not to have found any competent Ora indigene to field for any of the political offices available in Abuja.
As the political exclusion of Ora goes on in Kwara politics, so also is her economic deprivation. The economic potentials inherent in agriculture in Ora if well harnessed by the state government is viable enough to generate reasonable Internally Generated Revenue for the state and equally able to provide hundreds of jobs for the people of the town and its communities under her. Currently, Ora cannot boast of any presence of industry or any major commercial company that could inspire productive economic engagement of her youths. The majority of the youths in the town do not have meaningful means of livelihood, jobless and fill with aspirational frustrations not because they are not educated or underqualified but because of lack of government presence in the town and the inability of both successive government and even the current administration has not also deemed it fit to proffer solution to this youths unemployment menace in the town. It is pertinent to say that among the teeming population of Ora youths are many educated professionals in diverse fields but whose academic and professional trainings are yet to be engaged by different levels of government in the state for the purpose of the state’s economic development.
The only major road that serves as a link between Ora township and Abayan, a road of about 8-10km that connects another 8-12 other villages and communities is still in a deplorable stage since inception of Kwara State fifty years ago. This road if constructed, could have helped the local farmers to conveniently convey their farm produce from their farmlands to the city thereby inspire these local peasant farmers to produce more. Today, Ora’s farmers are seriously marginalized, there is absence of any government supports in terms of farm mechanization either through provision of tractors or supply of fertilizers to boost farm production unlike what is obtainable in Ilorin metropolis a city that is just 30km away.
The cultural office of Ora, an embodiment of her heritage, tradition, politics, ancient beliefs, history and authority is no doubt also suffers marginalization as it is prevalent in her economy, politics, social and infrastructural development, agriculture etc. The Oba of Ora unlike some of his counterparts in other similar towns with similar historcal status is still a second class Oba. A case in mind in this politics of traditional stool is the unequal status between Oba of Igbaja and Oba Adebayo Akolade of Ora, the two towns share similar historical status but while Oba Adebayo Akolade remains a second class oba the former is in first class category.
In the area of social and infrastructural development, Ora has never had it so good either. Ora town as of today cannot boast of good and stable pipe borne water system from the government. In today’s 21st century, our people still put on their cherished local pots on their heads and grudgingly walk to distant streams in faraway forest to fetch water in order to drink. This is due to the non provision of hygienic drinkable water by government. The only government educational institutions that were established about 30 years ago… the primary and secondary schools are in deplorable state. Currently, there is virtually absence of well equipped medical outpost or primary health institution in Ora. The town unlike many other towns in the state still has records of astronomical increase in maternity death rate.
Finally, it is often said that the growth of people and development is the highest form of leadership. The current plights of Ora town, in Ifelodun Local Government Area, Kwara State needs urgent attention by the political class of Kwara politics. The pathway to the great future for Ora town and indeed for all in Kwara should include an articulated policy of political inclusion. If Ora people are fairly included in the politics of Kwara State, this will create an avenue through which economic growth, social justice, tourism and agricultural sector development and most of all political inclusion can be achieved for all, it is until then we can say boldly that we are in the state of harmony where everyone is included in the political permutations of our dear state.
Adebayo Ademola Ololade is an indigene of Ora, in Ifelodun Local Government Area of Kwara State. He is a political scientist by academic training & Telecom Expert by profession.