Guest writer, SUNDAY ADEPOJU, reflects on the contributions of the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values, Honourable Segun Dokun Odebunmi, to his constituency and Ogbomoso at large.*
It is a truism that Ogbomoso, an ancient city in Oyo State, South-West Nigeria, is blessed with men and women of timber and caliber who have made headway in their chosen careers. In fact, the city has produced a number of Aareona-Kakanfos otherwise known as war generalissimos of Yoruba land and notable personalities who have made invaluable contributions to the land and beyond.
Across all strata, prominent among the illustrious enigmatic leaders the land has produced include, but not limited to: former Premier of the defunct Western Region, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola; former Inspector-General of Police, Chief Sunday Adedayo Adewusi; Commodore Salawudeen Akano; Colonel Ibrahim Taiwo; a Civil War hero, Brigadier General Benjamin Maja Adekunle; Colonel Shittu Akanji Alao; Oladayo Popoola; former governor of State, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala; former deputy governor in the state, Barrister Olatunji Muhammed; business tycoon, Adebayo Amao Alata; Chief L.A. Gbadamosi; minister of sports and youths development, Mr. Sunday Dare; Senator Ayo Adeseun; former majority leader of the House of Representatives, Honourable Mulikat Akande-Adeola; Senator Abdulfatai Omotayo Buhari; Senator Ayantayo Ayandele; Senator Brimmo Yemi Yusuf.
Others are Honurable Temilola Adibi; Honourable Segun Ogunwuyi; Honourable Banji Folaranmi; Honourable Ajao Jacob Adejumo; Dr Samson Adegoke (Maigida); Chief Bayo Babatunde; Chief Tunde Aremu (Irorun Agbe); many other House of Assembly members and local government political functionaries as well as other business owners hailing from the land.
All of these have contributed, in no small measure, to help the land. In history, far and near, some of the legacies left by notable leaders are good road networks; Ogbomoso waterworks project at Yaku, the gigantic LAUTECH Teaching Hospital, Ogbomoso; the Nigeria Navy Secondary School, Iresaapa; Federal Low-Cost Estates at Samaday; myriads of water and electrification projects in urban and rural centres; capacity building /trainings and empowerment programmes; job opportunities for graduates; just to mention a few.
Another star that lightens Ogbomoso is the present chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values, Honourable Segun Dokun Odebunmi (Bunvic). Though an oil and gas magnate, Odebunmi’s sojourn into politics is clearly an indication of preparedness and zeal to render selfless services to the land.
Graduating with a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) in Business Education from the University of Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State in 2002, Odebunmi, popularly called Okanlomo and Ogo Ilu, veered into active politics and was elected as executive chairman of Surulere Local Government Area in 2004 and subsequently became the caretaker head of the council towards 2007. He was later appointed as a full time commissioner in the Oyo State Civil Service Commission.
During 2011 general election, Odebunmi, an amiable grassroots political enigma, was first elected to represent Surulere/Ogo-Oluwa federal constituency at the Green Chamber of the National Assembly and has consecutively remained in the House till date owing to his excellent performance and understanding of the dynamics and peculiarity of his constituency. In the state, it was Odebunmi and Honourable Muraina Ajibola of Ibarapa zone that first broke the jinx of third term representation in the legislature.
Little wonder he is so blessed to achieve the feat; he combines diligence with hard work, love of his constituents, exemplary leadership, selflessness, native intelligence and grassroots mobilization to soar like eagle politically. As a sign of humility, one hardly recognizes the gap between Odebunmi and his teeming followers when at political gatherings. He is, therefore, simple but not a simpleton.
The essence of this piece is, therefore, to celebrate his contributions, even, far beyond his constituency. From his love for his constituency and experience comes the justification of his great, eventful and impactful representation in the House. He has, over time, understudied the art of good governance and adopted the phrase “living to put smiles on the faces of my constituents.” One of the gigantic impacts of the glorious representation is the Ogo Ilu 89.3 F.M., a branch of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), which he facilitated as his constituency project and sited in Oko, Surulere Local Government Area, Ogbomoso, Oyo State. In the same vein, he has recognized and given preference to private radio broadcasting. Just opposite his Resource Center in Igboole, along Iresaapa, he has almost completed his private radio station which, according to him, “will help provide employment opportunities for youths as well as help to discover and develop talents.”
Speaking at the inauguration of the Ogo Ilu 89.3 F.M., Oko, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, extolled the virtues oftdebunmi especially in his pragmatic approach to information ministry and numerous agencies and commissions under his control. While congratulating the facilitator of the project recently, Honourable Odebunmi, and the people of Ogbomoso and its environs, Alhaji Muhammed commended the law-maker for working assiduously in bringing the radio station, as part of his constituency project, to his home. “My chairman (Odebunmi) has been supportive and he would always advocate enough funding for information agencies at the level of the House. This radio station was made possible under the constituency project of Honourable Segun Odebunmi.
“This is the first and only radio station that is a product of constituency project in Nigeria, I, therefore, congratulate the chairman for his foresight,” Muhammed said.
In the same vein, the traditional rulers, clergymen, groups that were at the inauguration ceremony gave commendations to Odebunmi whom they described as a true patriot of the land.
A recipient of numerous awards and chieftaincy titles, Odebunmi has been named ‘Mr. Jobs for the Youths’, having successfully facilitated countless lucrative Federal Government jobs for the youths of Ogbomoso and beyond. These are jobs in many of the nation’s ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), including universities, institutes and, particularly, in information and media constituency. Pundits in the land have said that Odebunmi is taking after the former majority leader of the House, Honourable Mulikat Akande-Adeola, who had secured about 300 jobs for youths in the state and beyond.
For optimum representation, Odebunmi has demonstrated that he must be answerable to his constituents. He has made it a duty to successfully embark and complete a lot of projects in his constituency. Some of them include: rural electrification, drilling of boreholes in various towns and villages, building of modern blocks of classrooms, solar street light, ICT centres, provision of transformers, facilitation of trainings and empowerment programmes.
The law-maker is undoubtedly responsible and responsive to the welfare and development of his constituents and, even, beyond. ab initio, he has taken this as point of duty. Very recently, he organized training and empowerment on cinematography and film production for his constituents separately in the two council areas, where he invited veterans from creative industry. Participants of the training were drawn from every village and town in the constituency.
When rain storm destroyed houses in his constituency, he facilitated relief materials from National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to provide succour for the people. On the day, Iresaadu shook. Is it on COVID-19 palliatives? Odebunmi did his best. Is it on his unrivaled philanthropic gestures to the haves and have nots? He has left indelible imprints. Suffice to say that his house is a Mecca to all and sundry.
*Why experience counts in the National Assembly*
A member of the House has once said that first-timers in the House are mere spectators. All of his achievements were made possible because Bunvic, as he is fondly called, was re-elected in 2019. If the constituency had elected a newcomer, these and many other dividends would have eluded the zone. Maybe this is a reason the likes of the present Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila; former Senate President, David Mark have been re-elected for reasons of development of their district and constituency coupled with youth empowerment and facilitation of lucrative job opportunities.
Is it not a good idea if we have elected representatives who will use experience and connection to bring development to our land than dwelling on primordial sentiments to elect learners who will be on excursion in the House?
*Adepoju, a journalist with the Nigerian Tribune, writes from Ogbomoso.*