By Kolade Larewaju
THE ancient town of Ijebu-Ode virtually stood still on Weekend as sons, daughters and friends gathered together and immediately raised about N500 million for the Awujale Palace extension which is expected to be completed in a very few months.
Topping the list of donors was the Ijebu Traditional Council of Obas with N100 million while Ogun State Government donated N50 million and Governor Olugbenga Daniel donated N10 million.
Chief Launcher of the fund raising, Otunba Subomi Balogun who pleaded that his donation should not be made public, however, said that it was an eight digit figure, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; 10,000 bags of cement, the Regberegbes; N70 million, Council of Otunbas; N5 million, Gombe State Government; N5 million, Senator Lekan Mustapha; N5 million, Chief Oscar Ibru; N10 million, and Chief Sola Adekanola; N2 million.
The Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Segun Oni who was present said the amount would not be made public but assured that it would be healthy donation.
Governor Daniel who was the Chairman of the occasion in his speech described the project as a symbol of cultural heritage, adding that it was part of the efforts to develop the tourism potential of the state.
He said when completed, the project would fully transform the Ojude Oba festival to world event, noting that it would have a large effect on the economy of the area in particular and the state in general
He said â€œthe place of the Ijebus in development of culture and tradition cannot be over emphasized. We are set to set another record with this extension which when completed will transform Ojude Oba to a world class event of international tourism dimension.
â€œThis is about marketing our state. It is not an Ijebu project but part of the tourism development that my government is trying to promote so that we can continue to feature prominently on the world map.â€
Governor Daniel seized the opportunity to tell the people that the water challenge in the ancient town was almost over explaining that the rehabilitation of the Yemoji Water works has been completed leaving only the replacement of the pipes which he said have been buried for over 30 years.
To this end, he said his administration had ordered N2 billion worth of pipes for Ijebu-Ode adding â€œwhen they are finally buried the problem of water would have been solvedâ€.