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In true Nigerian fashion, looting fast decimating one of Awo’s legacies, The Odua Investments Company – Tola Adenle

November 7, 2014

Nigeria

This essay comes as commentary on a saharareporters.com story that attracted my attention because of its Ondo State title which points, yet again, to a Yoruba group being cheated. I’m sharing it here because of the deeper implications and consequences of a legacy of great wealth for the whole of Yorubaland being steadily eroded. It makes the story one that should be viewed as going beyond the cheating of a very integral part of Yorubaland, Ondo State.

When I arrived at Ibadan in 1966, I lived at Yemetu area near Total Garden. Although one could see the sign from the distance of up to two miles on a straight trajectory, I would climb to the top of the unfinished 2-storey building where I rented a room next to a house occupied by an “aunt” and her family, and from the vantage position, I would marvel at the distant neon-lit signage on top of the Awo-era Cocoa House.

With unfailing regularity after sun down – great wealth AND electricity outtages were still in Nigeria’s future – the signage would glow, one word at a time: Ile, Awọn , Agbẹ; then the three words would glow together to form the Yoruba translation of Cocoa House – Ile Awon Agbẹ!

A prem view

A sea of rusted tin roofs for which Ibadan is well-known, miles from the hotel, stretch for a long distance in a part of old Ibadan from a balcony of the lobby-level at Premier Hotel. – Tola
Credit: Nairaland

prem_hotel

It’s not the size of the Nigerian Independence-era Premier Hotel that makes it magnificent but it stands assuredly, a little hotel, on thousands of acres of ground on one of the city’s highest points. Tola
Credit: Nairaland

The Cocoa House, the tallest structure in Nigeria and the whole of West Africa was one of the pioneering efforts of Chief Awolowo that put Western Nigeria well above the rest of Nigeria in physical development. It was under the Western Nigeria Development Corporation (WNDC) under which were also the Ikeja Airport Hotel, the Ibadan Premier Hotel (on Mokola Hill, facing the equally-majestic Oke Arẹ Hill which is Ibadan’s highest point), the Ibadan Lafia Hotel ( Gangan), the Ibadan Lafia Canning Factory, Guinness, Dunlop Factory, and many other progressive developments came although some, like Wema Bank, Guiness, West African Portland Cement and Pepsi Cola are jointly owned by the expatriate firms that founded them in Nigeria.

COCOA HOUSE

The Cocoa House, photographed from across the road at the old colonial-era Post Office. Tola [Nairaland]

Under Chief Awolowo, Yorubaland scored many African firsts, including the 25,000-seat Liberty Stadium; the first radio and television station, Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service/Western Nigeria Television Station, the tallest skyscraper – the 26-storey Cocoa House, et cetera. In fact, the old WNTV/WNBS – now NTA had the moniker, “Africa’s first television station”.

Today, the Premier Hotel stands as still, perhaps, one of the best-located infrastructure in Nigeria, and it’s only fair (uh-oh!) that from my Ibadan, Nigeria home, I can enjoy unimpaired view of its (external) distant gleaming day or night as I once did of the Cocoa House from my humble one-room dwelling in the city I call my Nigerian hometown.

Although there were stories way back of people who tried to take over ownership, Cocoa House – built from proceeds of Cocoa mostly farmed in Ondo State by poor rural farmers, including blogger’s dad (proceeds from which made Ondo State Nigeria’s best educated state judging from its dominance of the very academic National Merit Awards) – and other areas of the old WNDC investments, have always remained a common Yoruba patrimony.

Now, that may not be for much longer. From stories that circulate within the region, there are hints of overlords chipping away at most of the properties, converting many to private ownerships.

It is a well-known fact that many at the helm of affairs at Odua in the last two or three decades or so have built huge business empires from creaming off the top of the conglomerate. There should be a way for what is left of a great legacy of caring for the masses, of wanting to make something of a people and of a political life of dedication NOT to be allowed to disappear under the weight – physical and metaphoric of greedy overlords whose interests remain self, self and self.

Now, the story here of Ondo State indigenes being deprived of their turn comes not much as a shock, even though galling. While I do not know what the state government knows about this and/or is doing about it, people from my state must speak out before these properties get “sold” at give-away prices to new “owners” by which time the idea of getting a turn at the chair or leadership of Odua would have gone forever.

Will Ondo State go to court to assert the right of the state’s citizen, a legal action that could then be joined by many others to fight beyond Ondo’s claim? Are we all going to stand by and not raise a finger – or a whimper – at the unbridled greed that is taking everything that belongs to the masses not only in Western Nigeria but in the whole of Nigeria?

What in the world is driving this kind of selfishness and criminal activities in Nigeria?

As a commentator in the saharareporters wonders, what are the state governors doing about all these?

I may also add another question: since it is inconceivable that this Group Managing Director should not and cannot be expected to be doing what he likes when each state has a governor, who does the guy answer to?

The first question – by the blogger/commentator after the story does not only need an answer but it is one that needs action by the masses in Southwestern Nigeria on the specific problem here and in Nigeria for the general corrupt practices that have taken over the country.

Below is the saharareporters.com link to the story:

The Back Story Of Corruption: Stealing The Birth Right Of The People Of Ondo State

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2014. 7:25 a.m. [GMT]

PLEASE CHECK OUT MY UPDATED BIO:
http://emotanglobal.com/2014/11/07/updated-about-blogger-tola-adenle/

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2 Comments on “In true Nigerian fashion, looting fast decimating one of Awo’s legacies, The Odua Investments Company – Tola Adenle”

  1. laiopawoye@comcast.net Says:

    The link to the story is not opening. I have read it  in the Sahara News. I am forwarding this to Bayo  Jimoh  omo Osogbo the immediate past  Chairman of Odua  Group of companies 

    Like

    Reply

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