By Dayo Johnson, Regional Editor, South West
AKURE—NEWLY elected National President of the Egbe Omo Ilaje, the umbrella body for Ilaje people in Ondo State, Prince Iwamitigha Raphael Irowainu has raised the alarm over alleged marginalisation of the area by successive administrations.
Irowainu, speaking at the swearing-in and inauguration ceremony of the new National Officers/National Executive Committee, NEC said: “We have been politically marginalised, we are much aware that we are economically marginalised, we are very much aware that we are infrastructurally marginalised.”
The new elected national officers include the Vice- president 1, Chief Felix Ademola Mebawondu, Vice- president 2, Bolaji Orioye, Vice-president 3, Felix lpentan, Secretary, Rev Edamisan Robinson Ogunfeyijimi, Assistant Secretary, Sola Martin ldiogbe, PRO, Dr Babatunde Emmanuel Eniola and Treasurer, Adekunle Demehin.
Others are financial secretary, Rev. Felix Oyesaanu, Director of Socials and Culture, Dr Folorunso Odidiomo, Welfare Director, Mrs Oluwafunmilayo Obadiah, Auditor 1, Olujimi Legbe, Auditor 2, L .O Aladetan, chief whip, Adeniyi lranlowo and ex-Officio Johnbull Erejuwa.
Irowainu said it was regrettable that the only council across the state, which made it qualified as the 5th oil- producing state in the country, was suffering despite being the “hen that lays the golden egg.”
Lamenting the plight of the Ilaje people, Irowainu said: “For over 30 years, Ilaje has been in total darkness. Ilaje, as a local government, does not have a general hospital. What they are referring to as General Hospital here is adjoined to the General Hospital in Okitipupa because it is being controlled by the Chief Medical Director, CMD, in Okitipupa. As big as the local government is, it has no general hospital.
He also lamented that “the local government has no judicial presence, no judicial division. We are seriously marginalised. If you go to the riverine areas, that has over 250 communities, they have no health centre.
“We are going to engage the government constructively, we are not going to be violent because we are mature and pursue our concerns legitimately. We are not a militant group.
“Education is even worst. If you go to the riverine area, the schools have no teachers, no facilities; the schools have no life at all. We are going to ensure that these things are addressed.
“There are a lot of factors that are responsible for the insecurity level in this area. The political leaders are involved, the traditional institutions are deeply involved, and the corporate individuals are also involved. They engage these guys as bodyguards; they pay them and even engage them during elections to cause problems.”
Also, he promised to improve the plight of the Ilaje people by engaging the leadership.
He said: “We are going to engage the leadership on the need to desist from these acts. We will educate our people on the need not to create thugs or militant groups. Once you create them, they will establish themselves and you that created them will not be able to control them again and that turns out to be a problem to the society.
“We are going to speak to them on the need to put an end to it and go about their activities without embracing thuggery and militancy.”
Speaking on the aims and objectives of the group, Irowainu said it includes promoting, protecting and projecting the socio-cultural heritage and tradition of Ilaje nation.
Monarch tasks Ilaje leadership
The paramount traditional ruler in the area, Olugbo of Ugbo, Oba Fredrick Obateru Akinrutan pleaded with the new officers not to let the people of the oil rich communities down in their efforts to bring development to the areas.
It also noted that the group serves as credible platform for training future leader, platform for reconciliation and settlement of disputes within Ilaje and beyond and making representation in intra or international communities matters affecting any section of Ilaje nation.
Speaking through Chief I. A. Demehin, the monarch lauded the peaceful emergence of the new leaders of the apex socio-cultural organisation in Ilaje land since its formation in the 1920s.