Osogbo — At a recent forum in Ijesa, Osun State, non-indigenes look back at their many years of residence in the state.
They were in ecstasy as they danced to the traditional music provided by a cultural group. Of course, they had every reason to be happy. Most of them have lived and worked in Osun State for close to 30 years and they are successful. Hundreds of people of Igbo origin under the aegis of the Non-Indigenes Forum in Osun State converged in a hall, chatting, eating and making merry during the inauguration of the Ijesa Zonal Chapter the forum.
The non-indigenes could barely hide their excitement. From the way they were rejoicing, even the blind would know that they are happy living in the State. The Forum was formed to promote cooperation among the non-indigenes in Osun state and defend their interests. According to the forum, the non-indigenes constitute about 40 per-cent of the population of the state, and have been partaking in the electoral process and many other activities in the state.
The President of the Forum, Chief Tony Onyewesi in a chat with Daily Trust said that membership of the forum comprised indigenes of South-South, South East and North Central, who are currently living in Osun State. He said all of them have become indigenes of Osun by naturalization. Onyewesi said the forum was founded in 2005 , and that it had been in the vanguard of promotion of peace and harmony between the indigenes and non-indigenes of the state.
His words “among the non-indigenes in Osun State, we have professionals from all walks of life who are adding value to the socioeconomic development of the state ,and also making significant contributions in political activities. I have spent all my life here and I also have property here.
Likewise many others and in any market in the state, you will certainly see the non-indigenes and many of us have big shops and businesses.”
He urged Osun State governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola to carry the non-indigenes along in his administration by appointing members of the forum into his cabinet, saying such appointment would encourage the non-indigenes to feel a sense of belonging in the affairs of the state and motivate them to do better.
“We want Governor Rauf Aregbesola to carry us along in his government so that we can also participate as citizens. We usually partake in electioneering activities and we vote during elections. We shall continue to assist the state government by supporting developmental efforts of the government. The bible teaches Christians to remain loyal to leaders and pray for them, and that is exactly what we are doing in the Non-Indigenes Forum in this state. In the last administration of former governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, he appointed one of us, Dr Umoh Bassey Umoh from Akwa Ibom State as Special Adviser to the Governor on Inter-Community Relations and Ethnic Affairs. We want Aregbesola to do the same.
For Chief Solomon Nwajiobi, the Onowu Ndigbo of Ijesaland, who is also the patron of Non-Indigenes Forum in Osun State, safeguarding the interests of all members of the forum is the number one priority. Nwajiobi who is a prominent businessman in the state, said Osun remains a peaceful place, and that the non-indigenes are enjoying the peaceful coexistence among the Yoruba people.
“The non-indigenes have become stakeholders in this state and we are comfortable with our relationship with the indigenes. They have never treated us like strangers in this community. For instance, I am a traditional title holder in Ilesa. As the patron of the non-indigenes, my responsibility is to protect the interest of on-indigenes, and I’m committed to discharging this responsibility at any time.”
The chairman of Ijesa Zonal Chapter the body, Oliver Akunaeziri, wants the voice of the forum and its members to be heard. He also savoured the peaceful atmosphere in Osun State and commended the state government for providing an enabling environment for the non-indigenes to live and do their businesses in the State. Speaking on the insinuation of possibility of election violence, Oliver advised the non-indigenes not to entertain any worry.
We have been sensitizing the non-indigenes in Osun State not to entertain fears over the forthcoming elections. The election would be peaceful by the grace of the Almighty. We encouraged our members to collect their Permanent Voter Cards and exercise their franchise during the elections. We encourage our members to vote based on their conscience, without imposing any candidate on anyone,” Oliver said.
Other members of the Forum including the Vice Chairman, Okon Udofia, the Secretary General, Ladan Simon and the youth leader, Ngozi Blessing, were unanimous in their separate remarks, as they all praised Osun indigenes for being accommodating. They also charged governor Aregbesola to adequately incorporate the non-indigenes in the affairs of Osun state.