So I read this story the other day about Mamu village in Gbongan area of Osun state. The narrator is a student of Obafemi Awolowo University. He seems shocked that there is a place in such a state of disrepair in Osun. From what I gathered from the story, here are what the author found unacceptable:
- the village has no working borehole, villagers rely on nearby stream/river for drinking water
- Primary/middle school in the village was founded in 1955, now has no trace of recent maintenance and number of students dwindles daily
- Health care centre in the village opened 21 years ago now closed due to lack of funding/medical staff.
The narrator was clearly amazed by the level of underdevelopment.
One can not be any patriot than this, being able to share their experiences with other people on the uncomfortable reality of living standards that our own people are reduced to live in the village.
Mamu village is a mirror image of most of our villages in Yorubaland – remember the old man with Prof Osinbajo in one Ogun state village during his campaign?
During elections, politicians will crawl to all the villages for supports but they rarely look back to fix roads or schools.
Mamu school was built around the same time as my village school, 1955. It is safe to say our leaders pre independence worked closely with the colonial administrators and strategically placed schools in key villages so people within three to 5 miles radius can have education close to their homes.
It is easy to blame the decay on the present or immediate past government of the state/nation but with a bit of reflection, we can see that many villages in the state have not seen any substantial development even before the Osun state was created 25 years ago – this is largely due to our very weak institutions nationwide, state level aren’t any different.
No template for future development. Osun state was created out of Oyo so it is easier to manage because some areas were lagging behind seriously in terms of simple basics of life i.e schools, health centres etc. For close to 20 years, all these villages were out of any infrastructural budgets – focus was only on the towns.
To be fair our towns especially the inner parts are not any better, this is no secret, we can all see.
Beyond government intervention is the issue with the way we prefer to see village people. We are superstitious people, sometimes to the point of insanity. Life is often seen as black and white. Good and bad. Our village is synonymous to poverty, dark stuff, witchcraft and all kinds of rituals.
So many people who didn’t grow up in the village find it hard to have bright picture of village live in their minds – many parents go out of their way to create scary pictures of begging relatives, daylight flying grandma (aka witches) and the scornful relatives who are there to poison them. As silly as these sound, they are few of the many reasons people stay away from our villages, let alone think of giving back.
The Elders, the royal families have a lot to answer for. Have you ever heard of a royal family who boasts of any knowledge of his own area and openly fight for quality education for rural areas around his domain? I don’t remember any instead we get treated to our Obas exchanging heated argument on their perceived importance, their wealth, and their rankings. The only exception here was Oba Oladele Olashore of Iloko Ijesa who used his wealth to lift his village through quality schools.
Things are changing now because slowly people are seeing that one of the biggest factors that sets our village apart from the town/city is the complete neglect of basic facilities such as decent public schools in rural areas.
What to do? Timing could not have been more perfect than now. Everyone talks about ‘grow Nigeria, buy Nigeria’ products, they want youths to go back to farming. One way of encouraging this is to extend funding meant for rural development to these areas to make it easier for youths that are contemplating the idea of returning to farm make up their minds. If their kids can get good education similar to town’s, say access to healthcare, more people might consider the option of rural living.
Good luck to Mamu village folks. I hope that this revelation might encourage the state government to have solid plan to refurbish village schools across the state.