No government in Nigeria has ever had enough funds for the development of towns, communities and villages in its domain. As a result, some communities take their destinies in their hands by embarking on community projects. BABATOPE OKEOWO reports that Ilara-Mokin, through the Egbe, has been on the vanguard of developments in the town.
It had been a trend for most of the Nigerian communities to set aside a day for indigenes home and abroad to come together for communal feasting and public celebration.
One may not easily recollect how it started among Yoruba communities; however, it must have evolved out of necessity to find a forum that would bring indigenes together in a neutral setting irrespective of political leanings, religious beliefs and creed.
But that of Ilara-Mokin, a town in Ifedore Local Government Area of Ondo State is not only an avenue for social gathering alone but an avenue for the communities to raise funds for its development.
Just as was the case with many other historical settlements, Ilara-Mokin progenitors moved out of Ile-Ife, the cradle of Yoruba civilization, in search of freedom, kingdom and hegemony. According to oral history, Alara Onitipin, a direct descendant of Oduduwa, led the Ilara-Mokin team out of Ile-Ife. Alara Onitipin left Ile-Ife and moved eastward in the company of Edinmo, Sao, Olujare, Selemo, Odofin, Onisinkin and Elegiri and an elder designated as Osogbon.
As they moved along, the Olujare withdrew from the group and went to form its settlement known as Ijare.
Since it was established in the 13th Century by Alara Olutipin, the community has produced 28 monarchs. Ilara-Mokin, which prides itself as Deputy Capital (DC) of Ondo State because of its proximity to Akure, the state capital, came together under the auspices of Egbe Omo Ilara-Mokin to raise funds for its development.
This was because governments at all levels appeared to have abandoned the community to fend for itself. The road, bank, police station and university in the community were constructed through the community and individuals’ efforts. Leading other prominent indigenes, who have contributed to the community’s growth, is Chief Michael Ade Ojo.
The octogenarian businessman was responsible for the construction of the Elizade University, the major road linking the town to other communities and the only bank in the community.
Others included the Bakare family who are responsible for the construction of the road linking the town to the king’s palace. Virtually all the social amenities in the town including the post office, police station and school renovations were done by individuals in the community.
Speaking during the celebration of this year’s Ilara-Mokin day, the monarch of the town, the Alara of Ilara, Oba Aderemi Adefehinti sought the cooperation of the indigenes for the development of the town as government alone cannot bring the much needed development. He said the police station and the Divisional Police Officer’s residence were constructed by the community.
Similarly, he said the Magistrate’s Court, renovation of schools and building of a library were the efforts of the people of the community. The monarch appealed to the youths, and residents of the town not to attack government facilities when they are protesting as what they see as government’s projects were done through community efforts.
In his speech, the Chairman of the Planning Committee, Comrade Bunmi Falodun, popularly known as ‘Gadhafi’, said there was need for the people to help the community to develop because virtually all the projects in the town were donated by the indigenes. He tasked individuals, families, and professional groups to come to the aid of the community. Falodun said his committee has developed a model that would enable each family to adopt a project for the devel-
opment of the town. Such a project, he would be named after the family. His words: “There is another concept we adopted in this year’s Mokin Day Celebration. It is that individuals, families and professional groups should donate a project of interest to the town. We have a family that renovated the secondary school in the town.
In the school, the e library was donated. It has been a yearly activity that we should come together to launch, donate for the town, our development is community driven.”
Falodun said the government has many communities to fend for and development may elude any community that could not raise funds for its development.
According to him: “Everybody depends on the government; but the government cannot do it alone. We decided that we must give development to people, we constructed the bank, the General Hospital and the Post Office, and we now invited the government to help us put staff in the facilities. We have done some neglected projects like the broken bridge around St Peters’ Road. We renovated the palace and the road leading to it.”
In his contribution, the President of Egbe Omo Ilara-Mokin, Mrs Oluwayemisi Olorunshola said Mokin Day is a special day in Ilara Mokin earmarked for the celebration of Ilara Mokin sons and daughters and the celebration of the faithfulness of God for the year.
Olorunshola, who is the first female President of Egbe Omo Ilara-Mokin, said the Egbe in the last six months has embarked on 11 projects at the cost of N62 million.
She said some of these projects have been completed and have been commissioned while octoothers are at advanced stages of completion. Her words: “These achievements are possible by the grace of God and unflinching support of our sons and daughters.
While I am proud to say that I have enjoyed the support of Mokin sons and daughters from all over the world, I must mention the contributions of some distinguished sons and daughters who have contributed in no small measure in the last six months to the development of Ilara Mokin by funding projects.
“The project funding initiative was born out of my wide consultations with Mokin sons and daughters and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I found out that it is a great way to involve everyone to actively participate in our community development by identifying and funding projects as individuals, families, clubs, associations, and relationships.
Project funding also allows people to participate according to their financial capacities.” She commended the monarch, the chiefs, led by Chief Lisa Ayo Abiye Ojpo and Alara in Council for making the community conducive for development and providing all the necessary support for achieving set objectives.
While commending Chief Ade Ojo for the giant developments in the town, Olorunshola said: “Going down memory lane, Chief Ade Ojo has been at the forefront of major developments in our community, a benevolent spirit which has touched the lives of Ilara Mokin indigenes and Ilara community in general. Ilara Mokin is on the world map today because of his great contributions and huge investments in the community.
We are proud of Elizade University, the Smoking Hills Golf Course, well paved roads in Ilara Mokin and other projects which have elevated Ilara Mokin far above its peers in the community.
We thank you for equipping our e-library and for saving our community from the hazards of the flood with the reconstruction of the collapsed bridge and the rechanneling of River Isokun waterway. We are indeed very grateful and I pray that the Lord will grant you many more years in good health in Jesus name.”
Apart from Chief Ade Ojo, the President of Egbe Omo Ilara said God has blessed the community with sons and daughters who are willing vessels for the actualization of the vision of the new executives of Egbe Omo Ilara Mokin.
She appreciated the children of Pa Tafa Gbadamosi for embracing and giving life to the project funding initiative by undertaking the renovation of a block six class and admin rooms at Mokin community comprehensive high school.
Also, she appreciated the children of Pa Adelola Ojo, led by Dr. Oluropo Ojo for the improvement of the security system by funding the construction of a fence around our police station