The need to put cultural and language differences aside and work as one in moving Akoko-Edo forward was the centre of discussion at the first edition of Akoko-Edo Summit held May 1st, 2021 at Filani Hotels & Suits, Ososo comminity in Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo State.
The summit with the theme: ‘Evolving a New Socio-economic Order’ was for people of various disciplines in the area to ruminate on issues bothering on development of Akoko-Edo; analyse the problems from non-partisanship perspective and suggest ways for sustainable development and inter-ethnic/religious unity. It was also to X-ray the investment potentials of the local government area and suggesting ways of financing such investments.
The Summit held under the distinguiship chairmanship of Dr. Kingsley Ekundayo, and His Royal Highness, Oba E.A. Saiki, the Otaru of Igara as father of the day, also attracted no few than twelve other Royal Highnesses in the area as the Hall where the event held was filled to capacity, giving credence to the fact that the people have resolved to come together to build the area. Akoko-Edo in diaspora were not left out as they hooked up to the summit via the internet (zoom) and had opportunity of making their contributions to the discourse.
Akoko-Edo, with an area of 1,371 km2 and a population of 262,110 (according to 2006 census) is made up of different languages and blessed with over 56 mineral resources such as: Limestone, Fedspar, Dolomites, Sharp-sound, Laterites, Bentonite, Kaolin, Granite, Gypsum, Salena, Tantalite, Germstones, among others that could bring development and more wealth to the over 57 communities in the local government, and change the lives of the populace if fully invested on. But the narrative seems not to be so. This seemingly worrisome situation probably prompted well-meaning Akoko-Edolites to as a matter of necessity put heads together and convene the summit with a view to utilising the God-given mineral resources for the benefit of all and sundry in Akoko-Edo.
Speaking on the sub-theme: ‘Self Denials and Marginalisation: Way Forward in Akoko-Edo’ one of the guest speakers, Dr. Kingsley Ekundayo said Akoko-Edo has the best of granite in the axis of Igarra with expanse of land in Dangbala community and some other areas but unfortunately these God-given gold are being mined uncontrollable (illegally). Dr. Ekundayo who doubles as the chairman of the occasion opined that granite alone, out of the abundance mineral deposits, has the potential of generating over N200bn annually to the area if fully utilised and invested on.
He said, “Akoko-Edo has the best stones for granite in the axis of Igarra, Somorika, Uneme-nekwa, Ogbe and Aiyegunle. What of the expanse of land in Dangbala and some areas where gold is being mined uncontrolled (sic)? The annual demand for granite for the purpose of construction in the South-South of the country is in excess of N200bn. What is the source of Petra and Heartland companies?… It is supplies of granite of Akoko-Edo(sic). We have this in abundance. We can raise the needed capital to establish a Quarry to take advantage of this.”
Speaking from the political perspective, Dr. Ekundayo lamented that Akoko-Edo has not gained much when compared with other local governments particularly in Edo North District. According to him, of the other local governments in Edo North District, only Akoko-Edo has remains the way it was back in the early 50s while its contemporaries have been splited thereby bringing more development to the local governments in question, while Akoko-Edo remains as one LG 71 years after. The implication of this seemingly “indivisible LG” is enormous to the local government and her people in terms of development.
He admonished political leaders in Akoko-Edo to at least take advantage of the proposed delimitation of state constituency/creation of additional polling units/voting points by INEC to increase the polling units and demand for restoration of four (4) state constituency like that of the defunct Midwestern Region where Akoko-Edo had four House of Assembly members at the parliament.
To bring speedy development to Akoko-Edo and her people, the Guest Speaker suggested establishment of a Centre for Communities Integration (CCI) where community, religious leaders, institutions, government policy makers, academia, concerned citizens and activists meet periodically to share information and exchange ideas as it relates to each comminity to evolve an Akoko-Edo broad-based agenda for common good for all.
He added, “There is a need for a joint effort by way of constituting an Akoko-Edo Development Committee made up of patriotic indigenes cutting across our socio-economic and political belts (residents and diasporas) with quality contents of professionalism to draw a sustainable development agenda for Akoko-Edo.”
The chairman craved partnership across ethnic blocs in the local government and the need for all to see themselves as one. He also appealed to Akoko-Edo sons and daughters both home and abroad to donate generously towards the development of the area saying, “we must not keep all our wealth outside the shores of Akoko-Edo; let is relocate some back home by way of cash and investment.”
Another Speaker at the event, Dr. Bamidele Agbadua decried the slow pace of development in Akoko-Edo. He was, however, optimistic that the challenges for the slow pace in development was surmountable if all come together and unite.
Dr. Agbadua who spoke extensively on the theme noted that the purpose of evolving a new socio-economic order is to alleviate poverty, improve security and engender development in the area.
He urged the people of the area to see themselves as one large and united family and eschew envy amongst themselves. He opined that the diversity should be a unifying factor amongst various communities in Akoko-Edo rather than division. He also called on political and opinion leaders to make sacrifice by carrying most people in the local government along.
“Efforts should be made by all and sundry to deemphazise difference in language; we should see ourselves as one large, diverse and united entity. Our diversity, if not for anything, should be a unifying factor amongst various communities in Akoko-Edo. In addition, to foster unity, political and opinion leaders should be ready to make sacrifice by carrying most people along.”
He enjoined all Akoko-Edo people both at home and abroad to team up with leaders in the area and take Akoko-Edo to an enviable heights.
Another guest speaker at the event, Alhaji Usman Ibrahim opined that political leaders in the area need to synergize to attract investment into Akoko-Edo.
In affirmation to submissions by other speakers, Ibrahim asserted that the area is blessed with solid minerals that can conveniently outperform that if oil and gas on a net-gain basis at revenue generation.
Cultural display by cultural troops from various communities in the local government added glamour to the event.