By Emmanuel Ajibulu
Ondo Rep, Hon. (Comrade) Joseph Iranola Akinlaja was among prominent Ondo sons and daughters who graced the ‘Ekimogun Roundtable’ event which held at Oba Adesanoye Civic Centre Ondo in Ondo Town on Monday, March 19, 2018.
The well attended event had Prof Adeyemi Adegbemisipo Aderoba, a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Afe Babalola University as the Chairman of the occasion.
Ekimogun Roundtable is a socio-economic group of patriotic Ondo indigenes working painstakingly in collaboration with existing institutions and public-spirited individuals to attract development and engender sustainable development of Ondo Kingdom. The overall aim of the platform was to facilitate employment opportunities for qualified Ondo youths in Federal and State ministries, departments and agencies as well as corporate establishment through stakeholders’ engagement.
Hon. Akinlaja who currently represents Ondo East and West Federal Constituency at the National Assembly while addressing the crowd said since inception to the parliament in 2011, promoting the 525 years rich culture and tradition of Ondo Kingdom through his mode of dressing has given him unique identity and he would ever be grateful to his constituents for the confidence and trust they repose in him as their representative and maintained that he will never disappoint them.
In his words: ‘’When I won election as Federal parliamentarian in 2011, my resolve was to go to Abuja to make laws for good governance and to promote the rich culture and tradition of Ondo people, a 525 years old culture, this is it on me now, for more than 7 years this is the way I have always dressed, I have promoted the culture of my people nationally and internationally and I am proud of doing that up till today.
He continued; ‘’All my investments are here in Ondo Town, Akiavic Nigeria Limited, Akiavic Farm and even my house. I could have built my house in Abuja and go to sleep and enjoy heavy rents from the tenants, but I didn’t do that, I built the house here specifically to beautify Ondo Town. Permit me to share this story, when I wanted to invest in hospitality business, experts who did some feasibility studies for me and advised that Akiavic hotel shouldn’t be built in Ondo if I truly want to recoup my investment on time, judging from the standard that we envisaged that time. They claimed that there is no industry in Ondo Town, therefore I cannot breakeven, but I ignored their advice. I eventually established Akiavic hotel irrespective of poor financial returns. ‘’
Akinlaja stated further, ‘’I equally established cyber café in the same hotel since 2001, even before I delved into active politics. Without sounding immodest that is the most enduring cyber cafe in Ondo Town. If it was business I really wanted to establish, it would have closed down by now, but I actually put it there for the community to use, this is in form of social service to them. We also have records of some of our digital boys who are mainly students who get their assignments and projects done at the café. Through the cafe many of our youths have benefited from American visa lottery, similarly candidates of WAEC, JAMB and so on are as well benefiting from that service. Initially the café was running for 24 hours that was before the advent of GSM, people use the internet facility to speak to their families abroad at time.
‘’And for industry to thrive in Ondo Town, like our chairman has said, I think we all need to synergize, it calls for our patriotism with sinceritnk we all need to synergize, it calls for our patriotism with sincerity of purpose, for me I see it as a collective responsibility and I believe with a coordinated effort we would achieve our desired results in no time. And for those who have been following my activities at the National Assembly, I moved the motion on oil industry bill which has been around since 2013; when finally passed it would put a framework in place that will ensure transparency and accountability, and will create an enabling environment for the petroleum sector to stimulate growth. The bill which is in phases will also take care of the interest of the host communities. I can assure you that the entire bill would be passed very soon.’’
Meanwhile, I must commend Hon Bola Ilori, a Commissioner for Regional Integration in Osun state, but one of us in Ondo Town, he spoke the truth which was completely devoid of politics and I think I must applaud him for his courage and contributions in Ondo development agenda. My profound gratitude also go to our immediate past Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko. One thing I have noticed right from my childhood is the fact that there is nothing any Ondo sons and daughters put their hands on which would not prosper. I believe we are destined for greatness.’’
Hon. Bola Ilori on his part spoke extensively about the Ondo City Vision 2015 which he stated was initiated by His Royal Majesty Oba Victor Kiladejo and that he played active role in it, pointing out that the agenda back then was to provide the community with an opportunity to participate in the creation of a living document that will guide the future of Ondo City. According to him the plans identified policies, objectives and implementation items in the following areas such as, Planned Neighborhood, Agric and Natural Resources, Leisure & Culture, Local Commerce, Market Renewal and Environmental Upgrade, Community Attitude and Leadership, Community Resources, Health, Education and Technology, and National and Regional Partnerships.
‘’I acknowledged some of the successes recorded by Dr. Olusegun Mimiko when he was Governor, but now I think we should think beyond how to plan, the vision should essentially be on how to executive those laudable plans and make them actionable in the interest of Ondo sons and daughters. Ondo is practically nowhere as of today in national politics and that is the truth , though painful.’’ He said
Also a sport administrator, Mr. Akin Akinbobola highlighted the importance of sports and film production as valuable tools which have the capacity to foster socio-economic development in Ondo Town. He gave credit to Akin Ajetunmobi, Bimbo Oshin, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde etc for the roles they are currently playing in the movie industry and for doing Ondo proud in their chosen endeavours.
Others who registered their presence at the high profile gathering were Mr. Ayo Akinkuotu, the executive editor of Tell Magazine, he was also the guest speaker at the occasion. The forum also had in attendance Hon Rotimi Olasogba, Hon Jibayo Adeyeye, Rev Damilola Akinwale (Executive Secretary, ODC), Barr. Remigius Akinbinu, market women and their leaders, leaders of various youth groups, students from various institutions of Ondo extraction, etc.