It certainly couldn’t have been a misnomer on the part of the colonialists to have named the geographical space encompassing the present Ondo and Ekiti States as “Ondo Province” right from their time and until the creation of states in 1976, when the same entity was re-christened Ondo State. It simply underscored the trail-blazing status of the Ondos even in times of yore, when most indices of accomplishment were benchmarked by them in virtually all fields of enterprise: ecclesiastical matters; education; business; farming etc,. Either through a fortuitous geographical nearness to the sea that enabled early contact with the enlightening education of the white man, or through some rather inscrutable characteristics and traits that have now crystallized to define the average Ondo persona, the Ondo Ekimoguns, because of the assertiveness and self-assuredness that were attendant to this early exposure, have been laboring, rightly or wrongly, under the perception – even of neighbouring communities – of insufferable overbearingness if not, suffocating arrogance.
In so far as this perception of haughtiness and this feeling of self-confidence were supported by observable realities in the form of a higher standard of living and that of a general enlightenment, the Ondo Ekimoguns could get by with this controversial attitudinal baggage. However, it remains entirely in the realm of nostalgia and wishful thinking, in the light of the emerging power dynamics in the country, to still romanticize with a certain past that is not projected into the present, by the appropriate investments in the right sectors of education, politics and the civil service.It is true that the Ekimoguns still excel economically in the area of private enterprise and the professions.
In fact in academics, out of the sixty (60) National Merit Award Winners so far since the inception of this recognition of excellence started in the country, ten (10) have come from Ondo State and out of these, three (3) have been from Ondo Kingdom; Professors Sylvester Adegoke, Oladipo Akinkugbe and late Professor Ife Oladapo. Ondo Ekimoguns have more than proven their mettle too in other areas such as entertainment where there is a virtual glut of Ekimogun sons and daughters in the industry: names of people like the legendary juju maestro, King Sunny Ade, Yahootze crooner, Olu Maintain, Ara, the incredible woman-drummer and performer virtuoso, screen diva, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, TV-personality and Moments with Mo presenter, Mosun Akintunde etc, come to mind.Nevertheless, in the development trajectory of any community in present day Nigeria, the role of government cannot be discounted as the main agent for the collective empowerment of the people.
If the criticality of political power is to be recognized as the instrument for the allocation of people’s collective resources and the centrality of the civil service is to be acknowledged as the implementer of these allocations, then, the Ondo Ekimoguns must recognize the need to embrace these two important avenues of growth and development in the context of developing nations such as Nigeria. The Ekimoguns must show interest in joining the civil service both at the state and federal level. It does not always make better sense to think that the oil, telecoms, or banking industries are superior in the long run, to the civil service. Those at the top and near top of their careers in the civil service enjoy remunerative packages and job fulfillment that may sometimes make their counterparts in other supposedly high-paying jobs green with envy.
The need for political participation is now more evident than before. Despite the fact that the Ondo Ekimoguns don’t suffer from a population deficit and have what it takes to be the Chief Executive of the state, they had not been able to overcome the self-imposed liabilities in the state’s political landscape for 33 years until a conspiracy of providential circumstances threw up Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, in February of the year 2009. Apart from the unquantifiable joy and the sense of belonging it gives the average Ondo man or woman, there also is an element of added luck in the way that the administration of this Ekimogun son employs a governance paradigm that emphasizes collective empowerment over individual enrichment.
This is signposted as it were, by the Mimiko government’s many masses-centred projects in the state and particularly, in Ondo kingdom, long noted for the dearth of government presence, both at the state or federal level!
It is in the realization that the Ekimoguns need to combine their seeming intimidating manifestation of confidence, their penchant for individual strides towards excellence, and even their community self-help efforts, with involvement in the actual allocation of state’s resources through political exposure and governmental experience, that the self-assured air and the distinctive persona of the average Ondo, will not be out of place, in the face of existing developmental realities.
Written By: Hon. Taoheed Ajao