Tokunbo AremoOdua, (NIGERIA MOMENT).
Southwest Nigeria: The Yoruba Nation
The Western Region of Nigeria, otherwise known as the Yoruba Nation, has been a nation known for landmark achievements that has placed it ahead of the others and has transformed it into an egalitarian society that it is today.
Towards the tail end of the Nigerian Colonial rule the Yoruba have left none in doubt about its readiness to pioneer development strategies that would liberate the region from the quagmire of illiteracy, poverty, deprivation and poor healthcare system. With the advent of self-governance the region’s free education scheme which, unarguably, was the first of its type in the African continent was introduced. Suffice to say that not a few of the leading lights in Nigeria today are products of this initiative.
The corollary of this initiative is the establishment of the foremost tertiary institutions in Nigeria namely:
- The University of Ibadan, and
- The University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University),
- As well as the first Teaching Hospital in West Africa;
- The University College Hospital (UCH).
- The Western Region also boasts of the first Television Station in Africa;
- The Western Nigeria Television (WNTV) established ahead of many European countries, including France.
How about the first skyscraper in Nigeria; The Monumental Cocoa House, the first modern Stadium; The Liberty Stadium, the first five-star Hotel; The Premier Hotel, just to mention a few. It is pertinent to note that in those glorious years the Western Regional Government paid its workers higher wages than other Regions, and even higher than what the Federal Government offered its workers. With the establishment of farm settlements to boost agricultural production the economy of the Region boomed, thereby promoting prosperity and well-being in both rural and urban areas of the region.
The late Premier of the Region, a Nationalist and Statesman par Excellence, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, was the moving spirit behind these laudable monumental developments.
Unfortunately, the laudable march of progress which was destined to propel the old Western Region into, as it were, a Superpower was truncated by a prolonged military rule, as well as actions or inactions of some political leaders of the Region.
However, the restoration of democratic rule on May 29, 1999 brought renewed hopes of a reenactment of those glorious times of old but this is yet to translate the age-long vision into reality. This is where the collective effort of all the states constituting the Southwestern Nigeria namely; Ekiti, Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Osun and Oyo States is needful.
This is the fulcrum of the Southwest Regional Integration Programme, otherwise known as the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN), under the institutional management of DAWN Commission.