Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Metamorphosis of Ibadan

Oyo State is made up of many big towns and cities among which are Ogbomoso, Oyo, Iseyin, Saki, Ibarapa, and Eruwa. However, none of these is comparable to the state capital, Ibadan, a prominent Yoruba town. I am proud of my identity with Ibadan having been born and bred in the ancient city. I have done all but one of my schooling in the city. The only exception being my first degree which I am privileged to have acquired at the University of Lagos. At Nigeria’s independence, Ibadan was the largest and most populous city in the country and the third in Africa after Cairo and Johannesburg. Ibadan is a city surrounded by hills hence names of areas such as Oke-Padi (Padre), Oke-Ado, Oke-Bola, Oke-Are, while the famous Mapo Hall built in 1929 is situated on a hill (Mapo Hill) as well. Ibadan people are generally very hospitable, tolerant and selfless. When compared to Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt, the cost of living in Ibadan is cheap.
Ibadan is the political and administrative headquarters of the old Western Region and has remained so even after creation of many states. First was the carving out of Ondo and Ogun states from the region leaving the remains as Oyo State. Later, Osun State was cut out of what remained as the old Oyo State.  Right now, agitations are on to make Ibadan a state.
The beginning of the end of the First Republic was signalled in Ibadan when the violent protest against the fraudulent 1964/65 General Elections (known as Operation wetie) in the Western Region eventually led to the first military coup of January 15, 1966.
Oyo State is called the Pacesetter State having derived that from the cliché “Ajise bi Oyo laari, Oyo i se bi eni kookan”, literarily meaning “Oyo people are pacesetters and are to be copied rather than they emulating others”. However, Ibadan, which is the heart and soul of Oyo State actually won that ‘trophy’ for the state. How do I mean? Ibadan hosts a number of institutions and monuments which are first of their kind in the country, sub-region or on the continent. The first television station in Africa –Western Nigerian Television /Western Nigerian Broadcasting Service, now Nigerian Television Authority established in 1959-is in Ibadan.  The first tallest building in the whole of West Africa – Cocoa House (25 stories) is also in the Dugbe area of Ibadan. The first university in Nigeria – the University of Ibadan, established in 1948 is in Ibadan while its teaching hospital (University College Hospital popularly known as UCH is the first in Nigeria.) The oldest surviving newspaper in the country, Nigerian Tribune, established by Pa Obafemi Awolowo in 1949 is also based in Imalefalafia area of Ibadan.
Ibadan also plays host to other great institutions such as the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria, Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria, Nigeria Horticultural Research Institute, Nigeria Institute of Socio Economic Research and Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, among others. Ibadan is the home of the defunct IICC Shooting Stars Football Club now Shooting Stars Sports Club or 3SC. IICC became  the first Nigerian clubside to win an international trophy when it won the African Cup Winners Cup in 1976.
The succession order to the throne of Ibadan monarchy, the Olubadan of Ibadanland, is the most peaceful and therefore exemplary. It is a regimented process and the next king when the incumbent joins his ancestors is already known. The Ibadan kinship does not need any oracular pronouncement while the endorsement of kingmakers is a formality as longevity is the only thing a prince or chief representing his lineage or clan on the succession chain needs to become a king. The incumbent, Oba Samuel Odulana Odugade,   just celebrated his 99th birthday. He became king in 2007 at the age of 93.
Ibadan is home to many great Nigerian musicians particularly in the traditional music genre. Among them are Odolaye Aremu, Tatalo Alamu, Dauda Epo-Akara (the awurebe exponent) and Sikiru Ayinde Barrister (Fuji king), all deceased. With the demise of ‘Barrister’ the mantle has been passed to other acts from Ibadan such as Abass Akande Obesere and Rasheed Ayinde.  Most notable masqueraders of Ibadan are the dreaded ‘Oloolu’ and ‘Alapansanpa’.
Oyo State has had about 17 military administrators and governors. They were Col. David Medayese Jemibewon (now a retired Major-General), Col. Paul Tarfa,  Chief Bola Ige who was the first Executive Governor of the State, Dr. Victor Omololu Olunloyo, Lt. Col. Oladayo Popoola (now a retired Major General), Col. Adetunji Idowu Olurin, Col. Sasaenia Adedeji Oresanya, Col. Abdulkareem Adisa (now deceased), Chief Kolapo Olawuyi Ishola, Navy Captain Adetoye Sode, Col. Ike Chinyere Nwosu, Col. Ahmed Usman, Commissioner of Police Amen Edore Oyakhire, Alhaji Lam Adesina, Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja, Chief Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala and the incumbent, Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi. Out of the seven civilian governors that have ruled Oyo State, five of them are Ibadan indigenes. They are Olunloyo, Ishola, Adesina, Ladoja and the incumbent, Ajimobi. One interesting thing about the politics of Oyo State, however, is that its administrators are never twice lucky. None of those civilian governors has ever won a second term. Is this jinx as a result of non-performance? Not necessarily. Even those who performed creditably well during their term never got a second term. I think it is a manifestation of the political savvy trait of Oyo State voters.
Recently, I was in the ancient city on holiday and decided to go round the town on a sight-seeing as one of the jingles on the state radio, (Radio O-Y-O) has enjoined. I must say that I am impressed with the modest achievements of the incumbent governor in his urban renewal bid. Ibadan may have been a town of many positive firsts, it is, however, very disheartening that it ranks high among filthy cities and wears the toga of being an urban slum. This is because the core or interior Ibadan areas where the indigenes have their family houses are largely unplanned. Some of these areas include Beere, Mapo, Oje, Nalende, Orita-Merin, Foko, Ayeye, Sango, Yemetu, Ogunpa, Monatan, Ojoo, Kudeti, Odinjo, and Ijokodo.
 My visit to the city took me to some of these unplanned areas and I am happy to see the effort of the current administration to redress the defects by pulling down some of the structures either with a view to building roads or dualising the existing narrow ones. I saw the effort to resolve the traffic gridlock that usually happens at Mokola Roundabout by the construction of an overhead bridge there. I saw the transformation of the old aerodrome at Samonda to a beautiful housing estate. I saw the sanitation of Iwo Road Roundabout which used to be a den of urchins, pick-pockets and touts. Ibadan motor parks have been properly designated with stricter enforcement of road transport rules by law enforcement agents. Hawking and street trading which used to be the hallmark of Ibadan merchants have given way to orderly display of wares behind barriers built to restrict traders to delineated commercial areas.
Though the governor has been accused of being reckless with his urban renewal programme, it is to be noted that such major rehabilitation and restructuring work cannot be done without condemnation from the victims and their sympathisers. I would only enjoin the state government to fulfil all its promises by ensuring that those affected by the urban renewal project are adequately compensated. The governor should also ensure that all pro-poor projects embarked on are not starved of funds and are completed on schedule. I am happy by the way the governor has handled the menace of members of the feuding National Union of Road Transport Workers in the state. However, commercial vehicles plying Ibadan roads are too rickety and are environmentally risky. Many of them cannot stand the impartial checks of Vehicle Inspection Officers and Road Safety Marshals. It would be most appreciated if the governor could assist the transport unions in the state with a bail-out to enable them to replace their jalopies with roadworthy vehicles.