From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Thursday December 8, 2016, was another day of glory for the three founding fathers of a common patrimony of Yoruba race, the 40-year-old Odu’a Investment Company Limited. They were not only garlanded, their uncommon attributes were also extolled for their foresight.
The trio, retired military officers, are Major Gen David Medaiyese Jemibewon, former military governor of old Oyo State; Major Gen Saidu Ayodele Balogun, former military governor of Ogun State; and Group Captain Ita David Ikpeme, former military governor of old Ondo State. Jemibewon was born on July 20, 1940, Balogun was born on April 20, 1941, while Ikpeme was born on April 5, 1935.
Among the three, only Balogun, hails from old Western Region. Jemibewon, hails from Kogi State. He later served as Minister of Police Affairs in the cabinet of former President Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999 to 2000. Ikpeme is from the South South zone.
The honours were conferred on the trio at the 40th anniversary lecture and award presentation of the company, entitled: “Reinvigorating Odu’a Group into a Global Conglomerate,” at the Banquet Hall, Premier Hotel, Ibadan, Oyo State. The event was chaired by former Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Dr. Christopher Kolade. The awards were presented by Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi. The governors of Ogun, Lagos, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti states sent representatives.
Chairman. Board of Directors of the company, Chief Isaac Akintade, described the programme as a day to “celebrate our founding military governors, without whom there would not have been Odu’a and by extension the 40th anniversary. In their thoughtfulness, futuristic instinct and with their clear vision of what tomorrow holds, the trio at ages hovering around 40 were instrumental to the establishment of Odu’a.
“This holding company took over the supervision and management of manufacturing concerns and sundry investments of the defunct Western State that were hitherto under the control of Western State Industrial Investment and Credit Corporation (IICC), Western Nigeria Marketing Board and Ministry of Finance Incorporated.”
In their separate speeches, the awardees noted that the company was established to manage the investment concerns of the defunct Western Region, after Oyo, Ogun and Ondo States were created from the region. They lauded the management of the company for honouring them, though they expressed disappointment over how some property of the company were not properly utilised.
Kolade and the guest lecturer, Prof Wale Omole, former Vice Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, took a swipe at the six governors in the South West that they have been retarding the progress of the company by not sending their best brains to represent them on the board of the conglomerate. They enjoined staff of the company and the youth not to pursue money to the detriment of excellence, instead, they should always pursue excellence and money would follow them.
Omole said: “Whether each state becomes a federating unit, or it is the zone, or the region is the federating unit, all that we need do is to recalibrate at every point.
With recession around us, with inadequate fund, salaries poorly paid and at times unpaid, with inflation surging higher and the purchasing power of individuals diminishing, a properly thought and well planned integrated package, will take us off recession that we can hardly envisage.
“All that we require is good planning. The more the success we achieve, the more the skeptics about true federalism will be convinced of the value of our endowments to individually become agents of hope, agents of hard work, so that we complain less and less, noting that all things are bright and beautiful because the good God made them all.”
Akintade said: “Our long years of dependence on Abuja and the monthly dole out of “Allocation” has made us lazy and spoon-fed. It has made us to undermine our intellectual capability to think through and deliver solutions for our socio-economic problems. This is an auspicious occasion for re-awakening and putting to practice our time tested values of industry, enterprise and creativity.”
Ajimobi stressed the need for all and sundry to make sacrifice for the development of Yoruba race, saying, “our value system must be rejuvenated.” He also urged the owner states to stop interfering in the running and management of Odu’a Investment Company Limited, so that the company would be run as a business, and not government outfit, adding that the management of the company should engage in strategic re-think, especially in the face of dwindling economy of the country, in order to reinvigorate the company into a global conglomerate.
Osun State was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Masood Adeoti; Lagos State by its SSG, Mr. Tunji Bello; Ogun State, by SSG Taiwo Adeoluwa; Ekiti and Ondo states by their permanent secretaries.
Odu’a Investment Company Limited was incorporated in July, 1976, to take over the business interest of the former Western State, now Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Ekiti states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The company commenced business on October 1, 1976. Odu’a since inception has been operating as a conglomerate with over 70 per cent of her business as investment/joint ventures with reputable multinationals.