Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Determined to put the South West back on the pedestal of agriculture, a socio-cultural group, Oduduwa United People Association (ODUPA), has organised a special conference for cardinal investment on agriculture in the region.
The conference, which took place at the headquarters of ODUPA in Abeokuta, Ogun State, had in attendance Professor Banji Akintoye, Professor Kola Raheem of the University of Education, Winneba, Ghana, traditional rulers and other important personalities.
Founder of the group, Jimoh Olawale Taofeek, said the conference with the theme, “Restructuring via Energising and Empowering The Oduduwa Nation and Her People”, was to revive agriculture in Yoruba land, starting from Ogun State.
He explained that apart from trying to make the region a food basket of Nigeria, the scheme would also provide direct and indirect jobs to the youths in the region: “No fewer than 18,000 youth will be engaged by the proposed ODUPA farms, situated in Arubielu/Araromi Village in Ado-Odo, Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State.” The project will include rearing of a special breed of cattle called ‘Keteku’, goats, sheep, pigs, ducks, fowls, turkeys and others:
“The mission of this project is to be a model in the creation of a sustainable economic route that will eradicate poverty; traversing Oduduwa land and beyond.
“We shall encourage our interest members to be investors and get them registered in the following classes depending on individual capability and interest. A board of directors, which will soon be inaugurated, shall meet quarterly to oversee the activities of the enterprise.”
Professor Raheem noted that agriculture remained the key to industrial growth of the region. He added that to ensure food security and sufficiency, efforts must be geared towards investing heavily in agriculture.
The chairman of the event, Professor Akintoye, described the event as the number one response to the Yoruba’s call at Onala Conference held in Ibadan, Oyo State.
He expressed optimism that with the special conference on agriculture, ODUPA was poised to replicate farm settlements established by the former Premier of the old Western Region, Chief Obafemi Obafemi Awolowo.
While noting that restructuring of Nigeria was inevitable, he posited that the South West would continue to strive for greatness and work to ensure the region is further opened up for investment, especially in agriculture.
He, however, deviated to the security situation in the country and declared that the South West security outfit, Amotekun, will be greatly supported by the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Agbe Koya, Yoruba Koya, Soludero, among others, to improve security in the zone.
He also rallied the support of traditional hunters in the cities and towns to support the security initiative: “The security outfit will improve awareness and vigilance among the people of the South West and the fight against the onslaught of killer herdsmen.”
He called on the people to prepare to defend their families, communities, farmlands, villages, churches, mosques and shrines from attacks by invaders: “We must wake up and energise our existing citizen defence forces, such as Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Agbe Koya, Yoruba Koya, Soludero, etc. With each of these, we shall quickly show the killer herdsmen that Yoruba land is not the kind of land they should invade.
“We must also mobilise our traditional hunters, in all our cities and towns. We must pressurise our state governments to consider reviving the Colonial Forest Guard institution, for special deployment in our rural areas.
“We must call upon all our civic organisations from the prestigious Afenifere to the humblest of our civic organisations today in our Yoruba World Congress, or Onala, standing at over 100, representing millions of our people.
“We must activate each of these organisations to mobilize their members to be vigilant and ready to defend their families, homes, villages, farmsteads, towns and cities.
We must be able to demonstrate the full extent of our strength as the largest and most educated nation in Africa. We must win this war decisively and absolutely and we must harvest the fullest benefits from the victory.”