By Mosunmola Ayobami, Ilorin
A whopping N500 million target has been set by indigenes of Oro, an ancient community in Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State to uplift their town.
The community has been the beneficiary of major development projects from government in recent years at both the federal and state levels. But it strives for more.
Realizing the importance of self-help and the need to uplift their town, the sons and daughters of the soil spread across all walks of life came together during the year 2023 Oro Day celebration to bond and also chart the way forward for their community.
Infrastructural projects targeted by the indigenes are tarring the network of roads within the town, completion of the Oro community center, installation of solar powered street light, rehabilitation of serviceable boreholes and construction of speed breakers on major roads.
The two-day programme started on Friday, 28 April with Jummat prayer at Oro Central Mosque and a novelty match between Smart City FC Lagos and Kwara United, which took place at Kwara State College of Education ground, Oro.
There were other activities like environmental sanitation where the nooks and crannies of the community were tidy up, the Fanty themed carnival where children between the ages of six and 22 years, numbering about 100 participated, clad in beautiful lemon green attires. The carnival featured horse riding and other bonding and funfair activities.
The main celebration, which was held on Saturday, 29 April took place at St Andrews Catholic Church premises where various compounds from the community had canopies with the inscription of their family names for identification, with accomplished sons and daughters clad in Aso ebi, specially chosen for the day.
Some of the families with canopies are; Ile Olubu (compound of Lai Mohammed, Prof James Bababode Bojuwoye, the National President of Oro Community, Adekaz and immediate past VC of Unilorin Prof Sulyman Age), Ile Olukotun, Ile Asanlu, Ile Balogun, Ile Aro, Ile Oniwere, Ile Baale.
Others are; Ile Olubisi, Ile Onisan, Ile Onikoyi, Ile Olora, Ile Onijala, Ile Odo and Ile Onikeke.
Speaking at the event, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who is the Minister of Information and Culture, commended the committee for organising a befitting programme, which he said, brought about reunion, cementing togetherness in the community.
“The Oro Day is more than launching; it is about reunion. Anyone that enters the community since the commencement of the day will see the radiance and the beauty of our heritage,” he said.
The minister donated N2.5million for community development, while his wife, Hajia Kudirat Mohammed supported her spouse with N1million donation.
National President of Oro community, Prof. Bababode Bojuwoye, in his speech, went down the memory lane on how the celebration of the Oro Day began and the successes recorded so far.
He said: “The first Oro Day celebration took place in December, 1976, organized by Oro Development Association under the leadership of Dr (Sir) Michael Funso Bojuwoye. The proceeds of that fundraiser were deployed towards the implementation of monumental projects such as tarring of our town’s major internal roads, provision of electricity supply with street lighting in our town, construction and equipping of Oro General Hospital which was later handed over to the Kwara State government in the early 1980s, provision of pipe-borne water supply in conjunction with the Iludun Oro community.
“The second Oro Day celebration was in the year 2005, where awards of various categories were presented to sons and daughters of Oro who had distinguished themselves in the private and public sectors and had contributed their individual quotas to the development of our community.
“Here we are today, for the third in the series of Oro Day celebrations. Over the past two years of my tenure as President of the community, our town has witnessed laudable developmental strides from the federal and state governments.
“From the federal sources and through the patriotic facilitation by our distinguished son, the one I choose to describe as the ‘Asiwaju of our town’ in the person of Alhaji Lai Mohammed, our town has benefitted from the following; the rehabilitation of our major internal roads by the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) under the supervision of HE Babatunde Raji Fashola, construction of an 80-bed Mother and Child Hospital with staff quarters under the auspices of HR Adejoke Orelope – Adefulire, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), attraction of building projects funded by TERTFUND to Oro College of Education, provision of an ICT laboratory to Oro Grammar School, ground breaking ceremony on Thursday, 16th March 2023 of a gigantic TCN project 132/33 KVA step-down substation in our town at a cost of over $8million plus more than N3billion, facilitation of employment of qualified sons and daughters of Oro into the federal public service.”
He also reeled out some of the state government’s projects in the town under the administration of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, noting that Oro has never had it so good.
According to him, the projects implemented in the town by the state government are the comprehensive renovation of Oro Grammar School, tarring of Oro Grammar School access road, ongoing renovation of Oro General Hospital, a flagship project which successive administrations in the state had promised but failed to implement.
“The governor intends to make the hospital to be a Specialist Hospital and a coordinating hub for all the primary health facilities in our district.
“Other interventions are building of a block of classrooms at Notre Dame Secondary School, Oro, provision of a Grant of N70million to Oro College of Education for accreditation of its programmes.,” he added.
Bojuwoye noted that realisating the fact that governments alone cannot cater for all the needs of a community, in April 2021, the community held a fundraiser internally where over N8million was realized. The N8million, he noted, is being deployed on such projects as reroofing and replacement of ceiling boards of the community centre and plumbing works at the centre.
In addition, he said funds were also raised internally for renovation of nine out of the 10 rooms with their adjoining toilets in the upper floor of the community centre to be rented out as shops to generate revenue for the community.
Part of the fund was also used in fencing the community centre with a gate donated by Club ’76, payment of remunerations of ad-hoc staff for Oro General Hospital at N50,000 per month from December 2020 to date.
The president added that in preparation for this year’s Oro Day celebration, the organising commisttee decided that charity should begin at home and accordingly, a levy of N10,000 per male adult and N5,000 per female adult was imposed, to be paid by all indigenes of the town with additional free donations also accepted. So far, as at 23rd March 2023, over N7million has been realized from the voluntary donations.
In his welcome address, Chairman, Central Planning Committee (CPC), Col Ajibade Olabanji (rtd) said the Oro Day celebration, as was done in the past, was not just for merry making but to showcase the unity of purpose of the community in its quest for development and progress.
Later that Saturday night, popular Fuji musician, Alhaji Abass Akande (Obesere) thrilled sons and daughters as well as visitors from 9pm to 3am at Lakele Square, Oro.
And the two-day event was wrapped up with thanksgiving at St Andrew’s Catholic Church, Oro.
Over N20million was realized as at the time of filing this report while more donations were being expected from those who made pledges during the event.