REPORT OF THE PRESIDENT-GENERAL OF OKUN DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION, BARR. FEMI MOKIKAN, AT THE ANNUAL GENERAL CONGRESS OF THE MEMBERS OF THE ASSOCIATION IN KABBA ON 13/03/2021
It is with immeasurable gratitude to god that i stand before you great people of okun nation today to welcome you to the annual general congress of our association, the okun development association. God deserves a special appreciation for today. That am alive and am the one standing before you to read this speech is one of the miracles of modern time. Please help me give god a special thank you.
That you are alive to participate today, i join you too in rejoicing and thanking him. We are all witnesses to the disaster that covid-19 has wrecked on many homes. What makes us better than those the pandemic claimed? Nothing.
We are all products of his mercies. Again, thank you god.
You may wish to note that one of the first commitments we made upon coming into office was a commitment to run the association constitutionally. Based on that commitment, we knew that our first three-year term in office ended on 19th October, 2020. We therefore had planned to immediately thereafter hold this congress and election for either a mandate renewal for the present national officers or their replacement with a new team. Unfortunately, many factors (sickness, covid-19 lockdown, funding, etc.) Combined to frustrate our plan. We were left with no choice other than to resort to the doctrine of necessity to enable us continue in office till today when a fresh election will be conducted.
It is my great pleasure and privilege to, on behalf of the national executive council memebers, warmly welcome you to this annual general congress.
This congress is unique in one respect. It is an annual congress in the usual sense of annual congress, to receive reports of what transpired in the last one year in office. It is also an annual congress that is the last to mark the end of our first term. It is therefore a dual-purpose annual congress.
For this reason, my report will be in two parts. The first part contains a summarty or highlights of what our answer would be to the question – if all the members of the present executive council are voted out of office in today’s election, what would they want to be remembered for? The second part will be a brief remark of our activities in the last one year. The national secretary will provide more details in this area.
When we started in October 2017 when i approached you in the months preceding the election that ushered this executive into office in October 2017, i came to you with a small pamphlet containing what i planned to focus on if elected into office as president of the association. I presented you with a 12-point agenda. I promised you i would do all that is within my capability to promote unity, oneness and team spirit adopt advocacy as a strategic imperative improve on the funding of the association focus on youths and students re-orientation pay attention to security and safety in Okunland re-awaken our cultural values.
A befitting national secretariat for the association, build bridges across to the east and to the central, engagement with elected and appointed political office holders.
Restoration of family and communal values promote the spirit of volunteerism attract attention of high profile/networth okun sons and daughters.
I listed under most of the focus areas specific strategies to adopt.
In your collective wisdom, on that beautiful Friday afternoon of October 20, 2017, you decided that the people in the present executive of the association are your choice to lead the association, with my humble self as the team leader.
It is only proper for me to again express our deep appreciation and gratitude to you on behalf of my colleagues in the team for your trust and confidence in us, and your support so far.
Stewardship in three years
If role reversal was allowed in a congress of this nature, we would have preferred for you to be the one assessing us and telling us what you think of us. After all you were the ones that put us in office. You are the ones providing the funds for our activities. You therefore have the right to issue us your assessment score card. I believe there will still be room for that to happen before the congress is over.
From our side, if anybody asked us the question, what would this executive wish to be remembered for if they are all voted out of office in today’s election?
Our response will be that we built on the legacies of our founding fathers in the following areas
engagement and inclusivity
One of the first decisions this executive took is that we will run this association as provided for in the constitution. One of the provisions of our constitution is that there shall be openness in the running of the association and the association shall endeavour to hold an annual general congress. That we are meeting here today is a testimony to the fact that this executive has placed the association in hands of the owners, which is you and you and me. We also took a decision to make our books open to all okun people. That explains why we post every alert of money paid into our account on all pokun platforms for all to see. The way the money is disbursed is explained at the annual congress as you will be hearing from the national financial secretary today more visibility through advocacy
Under our advocacy agenda, we have worked very hard in the last three years, to market okun where we have had the opportunity to do so. This has led to better visibilty, exposure and willingness on the part of other ethnic nationalities to explore opportunities with us. We have strongly registered our presence amongst various groups and royal thrones in the south west. One of our presentations went viral, even though made in 2019, it has recently and suddenly started trending again because it speaks to the national security challenges of today as well.
Discussions on the future of the nigerian project under different nomenclature, restructuring, regionlization, confederation, etc. Has been in the public domain for many years now. We, as an association, in collaboration with other eminent okun stakeholders, have continued to use every opportunity available to promote our position, which is for the government to give us our own state that will include all okuns in kogi, kwara and ekiti states. Where state creation becomes impossible or undesirable, then a realignment of territories to properly situate us with our kith and kin in the south west will be a welcome alternative.
Our advocacy effort saw us paid a visit to the aro’le odua, the ooni of ife, adeyeye enitan ogunwusi, ojaja ii. Our visit was for two main reasons. First, to draw his imperial majesty’s attention to what we considered an unfair marginalization of our yorubaness by the south west yorubas, and to seek for his intervention in the frosty relationship between our representative at the time in the senate and the state governor. Lately, we note with delight that invitations are being extended to our royal fathers to come to ile ife, the source for one thing or the other.
At the state level, because the state government is the government for all citizens of the state and not for any one party, our association took the position that it is in our best interest to collaborate with the government of the day for the benefit of our people. Our advocacy agenda therefore took us to the state government a few times. We would love to do mpore of this but for the very tight schedule of the governor.
We also had sessions with various okun stakeholders, including politicians, our senior citizens, and distinguished elites, all in our effort to explore opportunities for promoting the good of okunland
We were at the verge of landing a major breakthrough through one of the groups in the south west. We were to host a national yoruba day, following which they would seek for land to build a yoruba house with facilities such as library, skill center, tv house, etc. Our people were already mobilized for the event, they had bought the customized aso ebi for the purpose. Sadly, we lost the opportunity due to some inexplicale reasons.
While we are still very far from where we should be as an association, given the rich endowment that god has bestowed upon us in the quality of our people, one can say with some confidence that today oda commands more respect and attention amongst our people for the right reasons. Today people are falling over each other to occupy national executive council offices, even when the tenure of those in office is yet to run its full course. This was not so a few years back. Recently, we actually received what one can describe as an application for employment from an individual that wants to occupy a particular office. This is certainly good for the association if the trend continues.
Okun development association website
Technology is the language of the world today. It can never be reversed. Instead, it is going to get more confounding. The national executive council decided that okun must not be left behind.
To the glory of god, shortly after my speech, i will be inviting you to join me in unveiling the oda website for the use of all sons and daughters of okun nation at home and in the diaspora
This website, like all websites, provides us an opportunity to have a feel of home whereever one may be on this planet. The site gives us access to all the benefits that a website makes available to a website owner. Some of you here know more about it than some of us. We will say more on it when we unveil it. Suffice it to mention here that our website is http//okundev.org
oda also now has an email address, just as the executive council members are now provided with oda-linked email addresses. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org this is to give access to our members in our constituencies to be able to make their voices heard
if there is any area that really stretched us since the beginning of our tenure, it is in the area of security of the lives and prperties of our people both when they are in their homes and when they go to their farms. The threats that the herdsmen pose in this area is a national challenge and very well known to all. The free pass that the state government gave to them right at the beginning of our tenure, was a major contributory factor to the increased invasion of different parts of our territory. You will all recall that we held a very well attended meeting with key stakeholders on this matter and we unanimously reject3d every proposal that was designed to flood our place with herdsmen. Sadly, the situation did not improve. Through the security committee of the oda under mr tunde ibrahim and the very strong support of one of our leaders in okun, dr david atte, we were compelled to turn to other sources for assistance. I want to specially thank dr atte and his friend, chief mabogunje and all others that god has used to support us in this area.
The challenge is still very much alive and thriving.
One of the decisions we have taken is to explore the possibility of setting up an okun security trust fund. There is a similar fund that is operational in one of the states. We have set up a committee to study that model and advise accordingly.
For security reasons, we will not want to disclose in a forum like this other steps we are taking to tackle the serious challenge that is increasing by the day in okun land.
Notwithstanding the frightening situation, we must acknowledge, appreciate and thank the state government, and particularly the state security adviser, comdr jerry omodara, for the recent deployment of men of the police puff adder 2 to certain flash points in okun land as part of the state government strategy to deal with the situation.
Oda national secretariat (the okun unity house)
we have taken the first few steps towards the realization of a befitting secretariat that we hope to name the okun unity house. We have a two acre property gifted to us by the obaro of kabba and his traditional council, for the purpose of building a befitting secretariat that will be the envy of all. We have fenced it and we already have the survey plan. An architect is currently working on the design of the okun unity house that will also house the oda national headquarters. Through this property we were able to demonstrate one of the virtues that we promised to promote, which is the spirit of volunteerism. The land voluntarily donated. The survey plan was voluntarily donated. Fencing was done largely from voluntary donatipons. People volunteered their services, people donated cement blocks, cement, etc. In response to our passionate appeal. We can do it again.
one of the focus areas was the promotion of mutual understanding and respect among the three major components of the state, the west, the east and the central. Through the sustained efforts of the oda, the leadership of the umbrella associations representing the three zones, held series of meetings, which eventually gave birth to the kogi state coalition of umbrella development associations (kocuda). The new body was able to organize the first ever kogi state peace and unity summit in lokoja where over 400 delegates from the three zones assembled to share experiences and listen to eminent speakers on the various dimensions of peace and unity in the state, with the governor, the deputy governor and the chief of staff and other top government officials in attendance for the opening ceremony. In his remark, the governor expressed delight at the innovative idea and promised to send a bill to the state house of asswembly to make it an annual event. One of our own, prof kupolati, was the lead speaker, and as to be expected, he made us proud. He did an excellent job.
the strength of our kind of association is not in the national council. The national council can only be as strong as the branches enable and empower it to be. It follows therefore that the stronger the branches are the stronger the national council should be. It was for this reason that we committed to growing our branches and supporting them to remain very active. To make this happen, we immediately upon assumption of office set up a branch development committee under the leadership of elder samuel omotunde mesirin. The national secretary will shed more light on this.
Let me say a few things about the new oda branch (north america). Two saturdays ago, i was invited to have an inaugural meeting with them, (zoom meeting). What i witnessed was beyond my expectations. There were 48 participants from across canada and the united state of america. In attendance were professors (serving and retired), doctors, ai
PROFESSIONALS, CONSULTANTS, BUSINESS OWNERS, HEALTH SERVICES PROVIDERS ETC. IT WAS INTIMIDATING. WITH WHAT I WITNESSED ON THAT DAY, I HAVE NO DOUBT THAT BETTER DAYS ARE AHEAD FOR THE ODA
OKUN DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION WEBSITE
technology is the language of the world today. It can never be reversed. Instead, it is going to get more confounding. The national executive council decided that okun must not be left behind.
To the glory of god, shortly after my speech, i will be inviting you to join me in unveiling the oda website for the use of all sons and daughters of okun nation at home and in the diaspora
this website, like all websites, provides us an opportunity to have a feel of home whereever one may be on this planet. The site gives us all access to all the benefits that a website makes available to a website owner. Some of you here know more about it than some of us. We will say more on it when we unveil it.
ODA also now has an email address, just as the executive council members are now provided with oda-linked email addresses. This is to give access to our members in our constituencies to be able to make their voices heard
lugard house in 2024
some of the advocacy intiatives we undertook in the period leading to the election of november 2019 were for very strategic reasons. Our two candidates in the two biggest parties lost out in the primaries. We consulted very widely amongst our leaders of thought as to which way to go, given our long-term goal of a tenure in lugard house too.
We are still very optmistic.
But to realize this dream our politicians and their supporters must put the general interest of okun people above their personal interests, make selfless sacrifice for the collective aspiration of the people for which this generation and the on3s to come will be grateful. 2024 may look like some distant future. In situations like this, time flies. We must therefore intensify our consultations across the divide.
Let me close my report by highlighting the areas where we seem not to be making meaningful headway.
POLITICAL OFFICE HOLDERS
Every effort to get our political actors at both elective and appointive offices involved in oda activities have not yielded any result. Every step taken is given political interpretation. In the two other zones, the east and the central, it is the political actors that are the engine room of their social and infrastructral advancement. What our politicians will not do for us in okun land, the political actors of the east and the west get them to do for them. Why are we like this?
When i took the decision to contest in 2017, i had no doubt inn my mind that a healthy purse would be essential for us to achieve any meaningful result. The population figures i was able to lay my hands on then showed that the population of okun is a little over 800,000. I immediately knocked off 600,000 people as consisting of children, students, jobless, aged and some highm networth individuals that may not just bother about what becomes of okun people. I then reasoned that if the annual subscription of =n=5,000.00 was paid by 200,000 okun people, that will put -n-1,000,000,000.00 in the kitty. If only 100,000 people paid, it will become =n=500,000,000 annually. While the subscription is =n=5,000.00 there certainly will be those who wish to give more than that. That was the thinking that informed my ambitious projections as to where okun would be in a few years.
Alas, it remains a dream till today.
BELOW IS THE PICTURE OF OUR FUNDING SINCE WE TOOK OFFICE, SHOWING THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO RESPONDED TO OUR APPEALS FOR FUNDING IN 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 RESPECTIVELY AND THE AMOUNT SO REALIZED.
YEAR NO OF PPLE DEPOSIT AVERAGE WITHDRAWAL BANK CHARGES
2017 10 N245,000.00 N24,500 N304,000.00 N2,054
2018 84 N7,004,839.00 N83,391 N7,161,739.00 N12,114.00
2019 33 N2,046,001.00 N62,000.00 N1, 696,000.00 N3,876.00
2020 27 N490,000.00 N1,815.00 N806,000.00 N2,214.00
TOTAL 154 N9,785,840.00 N63,544.00 N9,967,739.00 N20,258.00
Okun development association needs help in this area. We are prepared to pay a commission to anyone who can help us mobilise for funds amongst our people provided such donations are paid into the oda account directly by the donor. Please anyone who wants to work on this should contact any of the national executive council members.
COVID-19 AND RELIEF EFFORTS FOR OUR PEOPLE
When the covid-19 pandemic hit the global community about march 2020, different governments and communities responded in different ways. While the governments were looking at the bigger issues, each community concerned themselves with what to do to reduce the hunger, pains and the losses suffered as a result of the massive lockdown of the economy. Oda was proactive on this. We had conceptualized our ideas on steps to take to provide some palliatives for our people to mitigate the impact of the lockdown.
About the same time, some of our elected officials at the national assembly approached us for a collaborative effort in that regard. Naturally, we were very thrilkled by their gesture. After all, we have been looking for every opportunity to attract their attention. We immediately forwarded to them the template that we had prepared for use. Today, serious work is still going on to finalize the implementation statge.
UNITY, ONENESS, TEAMWORK
I decided to make this area my last point for discussion for a reason. Unless by a combination of some strange forces pre-ordained, the single most important factor or key to our breakthrough is unity. I mean true and genuine demonstration of love for one another and a spirit of oneness. This is as true as in within local government areas, within districts; and between and amongst them.
Our mothers and fathers had, a long time ago, propounded the best theory to illustrate the validity of the above hypothesis by comparing the use of a bunch of broom and a broomstick to perform the functions of brooms.
What do we desire in our place that we can realize without unity? Is it a desire to occupy lugard house? To attract infrastructural development? To have more representation at the federal level? To attract more attention of government at all levels?
I believe evrything is hinged on unity. Not that we will not achieve without unity. It is a known fact of life that where there are divisive tendencies, progress is usually at snail speed. And we are in a hurry. The world is racing ahead. We must draw from the strength that is buried yet untapped in our unity
We all have our roles to play. men, women, politicians, royal fathers, civil servants, private sector operators, students, etc. god will give us the will and desire to do as we ought to, so as to promote unity and oneness that is badly needed amongst our people
I want to, on behalf of my colleagues, close my report by thanking you all once again for your making out time to attend today’s congress. I thank our traditional rulers, our leaders of thought, our fathers, our mothers, our sisters, our brothers, and all those that have supportd us thus far. Jehovah god, the rewarder of all, will reward you exceedingly abundantly than we can ever ask or think.
You will plesase allow me to single out one individual with a heart of gold who did so much to make today a befitting day for us. The proprietor of this event centre, general abejirin. He more or less gave us this centre to use today for free. We were only to “drop money” for diesel. Would you please kindly put your hands together for him.
I want to pay special gratitude to all our community development associations for your wonderful understanding and support. But for your willingness to rise to the occasion, this congress would have been something else. We were without a kobo. Yet we wanted the congress to hold. We therefore decided that we would hold it at a secondary school hall and we would only serve a bottle of water and a bottle of mineral. But when you started responding by paying up your dues, we knew we could do better. We are greatly indebted to you.
Please you will add one more thing to it for us. You have nominated the individuals you put forward to represent you at the national executive council. That is the easiest part of your role. Please do not ignore your monitoring role of their individual performances as they represent you. Please show more interest in how they are reflecting you in the assignment you gave them. God will help us all.
In thius congress today, we expect to hear from you as you raise issues as they come to your minds so as to help us leave here with better ideas with which to develop a work plan for our future.
WE THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH.
LONG LIVE OKUN DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION.
LONG LIVE OKUN NATION. LONG LIVE YORUBA NATION.
LONG LIVE KOGI STATE LONG LIVE NIGERIA