Members of the Oodua Progressive Union (OPU), a Yoruba socio-cultural group spread across 82 countries, recently held their annual world congress in Offa, Kwara State.
The event, tagged Offa 2021, was this year’s edition of an annual tradition during which members congregate in Nigeria from their different stations to deliberate on the way forward for the Yoruba race.
According to the organisers, this year’s event was originally planned to be a weeklong programme, featuring various activities. But the COVID-19 pandemic prevented members of the group from participating in all the programmes.
OPU was formed in 2011 for Yoruba people in the Diaspora to project the image of the Yoruba globally, among other aims.
This year’s abridged programme afforded members of Offa community the chance to benefit from the group’s generosity. A water project was inaugurated, just as there were free health services for residents.
Founder and global convener of the group, Iba Gani Adams, lauded the OPU members, stating that the group had demonstrated strong commitment and consistency in ensuring that the annual fiesta was held.
Iba Gani Adams, the Aare Onakakanfo, recalled that the Yoruba diaspora group would be 10 in November this year, maintaining also that members of the group have shown enough maturity and diligence in addressing issues.
“The reason for the annual world congress is to gather Nigerians of Yoruba origin from abroad to discuss pertinent issues relating to the progress and development of our race.
“This year’s congress is the seventh edition. It had been held in Ikeja, Lagos, Ife, Osun State, Oyo, Oyo State, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Akure, Ondo, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, and Offa, Kwara State,” he said.
The event included a visit to the palace of the Oloffa of Offa, Oba Mufutau Muhammed Oloyede Okikiola Ajagungbade.
Apart from the royal visit, there was also a lecture, a dinner and a special visit to the governor of Kwara State, AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq.
The group had also planned to visit the Erin-Oke Waterfalls, a popular tourists destination in the state.
Iba Adams explained that the world congress was a lasting project and a perfect destination for members to visit various tourist destinations in Nigeria. He urged government to resuscitate moribund tourism destinations across the country.
Coordinator of the OPU in African Union (AU), Chief Segun Ogunpitan, was chairman of the 2021 congress. He led the OPU delegation to Offa. Ogunpitan stated that this year’s congress was historic, adding that many OPU members were in attendance at the various events, with strict adherence to the COVID-19 regulations.
He said the group embarked on humanitarian services such as the unveiling of a water project in Offa and free medical exercise in which over 800 residents benefitted.
“It was a successful congress. We actually planned a week-long programme, as usual, but we had to skip some of the programmes because of the prevailing health issues in the country. But we were able to touch people’s lives by offering free healthcare service and inaugurating the borehole in Offa community,” he said.
Welcoming the guests to his palace, the Offa monarch, Oba Mufutau Okikiola, expressed delight that members of OPU had made significant impacts in the town, adding that the group would be remembered for providing basic facilities for residents.
“It is not always that you see a group from the Diaspora coming back home to facilitate an enduring legacy like this. Many of the people abroad hardly remember where they come from because they are in what I describe as their comfort zones. They are exposed to global development around the world. But that is not the case with the OPU. It is amazing that the group could raise such money to provide facilities that are purely in the interest of the community.
“I am very optimistic that Iba Gani Abiodun Ige Adams, the global convener of the group, had succeeded in building a formidable platform that can change the narratives of our race in no distant time.”
The monarch prayed for members of the group, even as he wished them well in all their endeavours.
Residents and beneficiaries of the project applauded the efforts of the OPU.
Expressing her appreciation to OPU, Alhaja Memunat Ajao, a resident, said the healthcare initiative came at the appropriate time. She added that the community would always remember the group for taking care of residents.
“I want to appreciate all members of the OPU for donating the borehole and for this healthcare service. It is a special privilege, and I am happy that we can now have clean and potable water within our reach,” she said.
General secretary of the 2021 congress, Comrade Larry Aderoju, said he was impressed at the turnout of people during the medical mission. He also expressed concerns that the recent healthcare initiative had showed that there were vacuums in the health sector. He promised that the group would continue to offer free health services to host communities during future events.”
He urged the Kwara State government to embark on grassroots free health programme, stressing that people at the grassroots should be taken care of with comprehensive health schemes. He also urged residents to ensure that the water project was maintained.
The congress was concluded with a social gathering at the Omole, Lagos, residence of the Aare Onakakanfo, where members also deliberated on activities for the next congress billed for Kabba, Kogi State, next year.
Awards were presented to countries and individuals in appreciation of their support and contributions to the success of the 2021 edition of the OPU World Congress.
Among members lauded for their roles during the congress were the welfare chairperson, Chief Funmi Olumade, Chief Rapheal Ajibare and Chief Modupeola Akewusola, secretary of the finance committee.