BITCOIN

See 5 Things The Olowu Of OWU Has Done In 12 Months

The Olowu of Owu Kingdom, Oba Saka Adetola Matemilola has just celebrated his 1st year coronation in a grand way.

He deserves to celebrate. He has done a lot for his people.

City People visited him a few days back and saw how the Olowu has reawakened activities in his domain.

As he begins the 2nd chapter of his journey as Olowu, he reveals the things he has done so. Below are excerpts.

“When I arrived in Abeokuta on 1st August 2022, to take up the role of Olowu of Owu Kingdom, I was not sure how activities and events would pan out over the following months. All knew was that I .was fully prepared in my Vision and determination to make a difference in the lives and well-being of my people. I was clear about where I wanted to lead Owu. I had my goals all mapped out, and how I was going to measure our achievements as we progress. Right from the seclusion period in Ipebi, at every opportunity I made it clear to everyone what my priorities were: Human capacity development of our

people; and socio-economic development across our communities. Each time that I talked about this, I made sure to also quickly emphasise that the foundation for achieving these goals is hinged on our ability to unite as a people, and how well we are able to build good relationships with our neighbours.

I had no insight as to what structure was on ground, nor on the resources that would be available to work with. However, I had a fair idea ofthe key stakeholders. I also knew that part ofthe critical factors for achieving success, is effective engagement of the primary stakeholders. The vision must be co-owned by the major stakeholders. We also need to jointly co-create the solution, as well as the road map to delivering the solution. I was pleasantly surprised how quickly and easily we were able to get everyone that mattered onboard. Indeed, a good product will sell itself, provided people need or want it, and it has features that people can see working.

We have some adages in Yoruba that: “Bi mo ba boju wehin ti mo reni mi, Inu mi a dun, ara mi a ya gaga. Eeyan laso rni” (meaning – when I see my people behind me, I am filled with joy and happiness. My people are my support). Also, “Bi aja ba leni lehin, a p’obo” (meaning – with the right support, you can surmount any obstacle). These wise sayings couldn’t be truer, considering what I have experienced since my ascension to the throne as the 14th Olowu of Owu Abeokuta. We have achieved a lot of important milestones, for which I am proud. And I have the confidence that we can achieve a lot more in the future. We have received enormous support for our initiatives, both from home and abroad.

My experience over the last 12 months, has confi rmed my strong belief that when the conditions are conducive, Nigerians are generally good natured. They will contribute towards the progress and development of their people and communities. Certainly, credit for the successes which we have recorded so far, is due to the good support and contributions that we have received. From people who believe in our vision and trust in our plans, and who have supported us with resources to actualise our programmes. I would like to dedicate all our achievements to these good people, all overthe world.

So far, we have been able to touch the lives of our people in many positive ways. Some of it are as follows:

EDUCATION

(1) Olowu Scholars Foundation was launched as part of the coronation events held in October 2022. Since November 2022, the Foundation has provided and paid for teachers in 8 different subjects. The teaching centre is situated at African Church Grammar School, Ita-Iyalode, Abeokuta. The classes have prepared students for their School Certificate and Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examinations. The Foundation also paid the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and JAMB examination fees for 60 scholars, that are selected from 4 schools – African Church Grammar School, Ita-Iyalode; Gateway Secondary School, Ita-Iyalode; Methodist High School, Ogbe; and St Peter’s College, Olomore. We plan to expand the coverage of Olowu Scholars programme by establishing a teaching centre in Ewekoro local Government in September 2023, and granting of scholarships to students in the area.

(2) Solace Foundation is another Olowu Initiative, which has been collaborating with SixthSense Foundation on Literacy Development projects, to improve the reading, writing and speaking skills among school children.

(3)The Owu Community Library (OCl) was established within the palace premises,

Discussions are ongoing with the Nigerian Union of Teachers, Ogun State Branch, for use of the library’s e-facilities to train teachers on Information and Communication technology, with a view to enhancing their capacity to teach their students.

(4) We have initiated and facilitated collaborations between a consortium of Nigerian higher institutions (comprising University of Ibadan; Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta; Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye; Bells University, Otta; Crescent University, Abeokuta; Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta; Gateway ICT Polytechnic, Saapade) and a collection oftop rated institutions in the USA (Princeton University, NJ; Rutgers University, NJ; Pennsylvania State University, State College; University of Maryland, College Park; AES Abroad, Chicago). Areas of collaboration include research, teaching, students exchanges, curriculum development, agricultural support partnership, etc. The trip to UK and USA was made possible by the generous support and donations from our people.

(5) Solace Foundation has instituted and organised regular excursion trips to key industries, for senior secondary school students. This is designed to complement their classroom training and to provide the students with awareness and exposure to real life industrial activities and the role of professionals. It is also a way of guiding them on possible future career paths, as well as an opportunity for students from different schools to network among themselves. So far students from eight schools (Baptist Boys High School; Saje High School; African Church Grammar School; Gateway Secondary School; Methodist High School; St Peter’s College; Abeokuta Grammar School; lisabi Grammar School) have benefited from such trips to three different establishments (Apples and Pears – an Agro-Allied & Food Industry; Federal University of Agriculture school farms; Purechem Cement manufacturing plant). The programme is designed to cover all secondary schools in Abeokuta districts.

(6) Water facilities and computers were provided to Abeokuta North Local Government Primary School, Oke Ago-Owu, Abeokuta. The school is located directly opposite the Owu Palace, and they have been a major beneficiary of most of the literacy development support organised by the palace.

(7) Solace Foundation has facilitated awareness about Scouts Association and Girls Guide in schools within Abeokuta. They have also facilitated registration of students into both associations. This is a way to expose the students to community and social development activities and provide them with character-building experiences.

HEALTHCARE

(1) Igosun Primary Healthcare Centre, Abeokuta, has been upgraded and provided with basic facilities to enable it function properly. This includes new mattrresses: pillows; repar and painting of beds, pillows; repair and painting of beds; baby care items for visiting out-patients. From its previous dysfunctional state and lack of patronage, the Igosun Primary Healthcare Centre now attracts patients from far and wide of Owu areas. Nursing mothers now regularly bring their children for immunisation. The facility also regularly records large attendance for talks on wellness and well-being, most of which have been facilitated by Solace Foundation. Arrangements are ongoing for a major expansion of the healthcare centre, to provide additional rooms and key medical equipment. Discussions are ongoing with Aro Psychiatric Hospital for co-management and operational support for the facility.

(2) Health awareness talks and medical screening events are regularly held in the palace. This includes screening for breast, cervical and prostate cancers, blood sugar, blood pressure tests, optical tests, and provision of free medical eyeglasses. The events have been held in collaboration with other Foundations, such as: Sarah Ayoka Oduwave Foundation; Nigerian Scouts Association; Nigerian Girls Guide Association and The Obirin Owu Initiative.

SKILLS ACQUISITION & ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT

(1) Solace Foundation has continued to organise workshops and seminars on various skills and trades. Some of the sessions were conducted in partnership with like-minded organisations such as: Obasanjo Farms, Owiwi; Mr Fish Foundation; Priceless Jewels Foundation; MA Egberongbe Foundation; and God’s Promise in Action Foundation. At different times, trainings have been held in the Palace, or within the premises of our partner Foundations, in the following skills areas.

(a) Fish farming and aquaculture – efforts ongoing with the Ogun State Association of Fish Farmers, and OKD Agro-services Ltd., to access World Bank Assisted Programme for empowerment of the trainee groups. (b) Shoe making (c) Fashion designing (d) Graphics designing (e) Soap making (f) Cake baking (g) Head-ties and make-up skills

(2) The palace has so far donated 40 (nos) of improved coal pots and parasol to traders and local snacks vendors, as a form of empowerment. These traders who normally set-up and trade their wares in open spaces across Abeokuta, now sell more hygienic roasted corn, plantain, and other food items. The parasol also provides them with cool shades, to keep them comfortable during the day.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT & SOCIAL WELL-BEING

(1) In many parts of Nigeria, access to basic utilities, such as potable water, is a major challenge. This is particularly so in several of our communities in Abeokuta. In Q1-Q3 Of 2023, we were able to sink 10 (nos) new boreholes in some of the Owu townships within Abeokuta. The palace also provided 2 (nos) overhead storage tanks and stands, to accompany each bore. The beneficiary townships include: Sokori, Apo, Erunmu, Olomore, Ogbe, Surulere, Ita-Iyalode, Oke Egunya and Oriyanrin. We were able to achieve this partly, through the magnanimity and support of such as Dr. Bola Akindele and Dr. Kazeem Lawal. There are many more townships where we still need to provide boreholes, and efforts are ongoing to achieve this.

(2) There are lots. of indigent people living below the poverty line in most of our communities. Some of them are either physically challenged, too old and frail, living with debilitating health conditions, or simply indigent people. Absence of social welfare services has made life very difficult for this category of people. At different times, the palace has provided food items and relief materials to them, through our welfare support unit. These include festive periods such as Ramadan, Eid, Easter, and Christmas seasons. Additionally, food items were presented to the Stella Obasanjo Orphanage at Ibara Hosing Estate; Borstal Institution, Adigbe; and Juvenile Correctional Centre, Asero, all in Abeokuta. Discussions are ongoing to provide support to the Joint Association of Persons Living with Disability in Ogun State. This is geared towards helping them improve their standards of living, by encouraging more participation in empowerment programs and encouraging their inclusion at all levels and spheres of life. The philanthropic support of Alhaji Moruf Akanni Toluwaloju has been instrumental to some of our charity efforts.

(3) War Against Drugs Abuse (WADA) is an initiative of the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement and Administration (NDLEA). As part of our efforts to stem the menace of drugs abuse, misuse, and addiction in Owu communities,Solace Foundation has actively collaborated with NDLEA on WADA campaign, by providing opportunities to engage with children and mothers in our communities. In a related effort, Solace Substance Abuse & Mental Health Advocacy was inaugurated on June 23rd, 2023. It is an ongoing collaboration with the NDLEA, Aro Psychiatric Hospital, and Positive Youths & Family Life Mission Centre, Mawuko, Abeokuta. The partnership is geared towards creating awareness on the problems of substance abuse and the related personal health risks, as well as social dangers.

Discussions are ongoing to include the Nigerian Police, Immigration and Customs in the collaboration arrangements.

(4) Solar Street Lights were installed along the entire stretch of Olowu Palace Road, and this has since transformed the night life in Oke Ago Owu community. This was the first community project that was carried out, even before the coronation ceremony in October 2022.

(5) Solace Foundation has continued to encourage an Owu-based Theatre & Film Production outfit (Morakinyo Adesina Film Production) in the production of stage plays. Titles: The History of Owu Kingdom; and Drug Abuse &Addiction -a Malaise in our Society.

ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION (ADR) SERVICES

(1) We are currently discussing with the Ogun State Judiciary and The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), to provide formal training on Alternative Dispute Resolution methods. This is with a viewto setting up a fully functional and staffed dispute resolution unit in the palace. In the meantime, we have continued to provide human resources to assist in managing and settling community disputes, as such issues arise.

Our journey so far, has certainly not been a “Walk in the park”. But the pain of labour usually pales when the child delivery is successful. We are excited aboutthe good progress that we have made so far, in transforming the lives of our people and the steady socio-economic development in our communities. The overwhelming support we have received have been instrumental to these successes. Our hopes are high for what we can still achieve in the near and midterm. However, we must remain focused and united as a people,and achieving our grand vision will be just a matter oftime.

I must acknowledge with deep appreciation, the strong roles played by Owu Council of Chiefs in our journey so far. Under the leadership of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, our Owu Chiefs have individually and collectively, demonstrated uncommon commitment, as well as unalloyed dedication to our common cause. It has been a joy working with such a wonderful team.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my committee of friends, who, on the strength of their confidence and trust in me, have invested tremendous amount of their resources in the cause of Owu.

I thank you all for your trust in me and investing so much in my people. There are lots of individuals who have played prominent roles at different times, and whose contributions have made a huge difference in our projects. It is difficult to list out all the names, but I acknowledge everyone of you with thanks.

I have enjoyed tremendous support from my immediate family, as well as the extended Matemilola Heritage family. Indeed, what we have achieved together as a family over the years is premised on our

unity, and they have served as major sources of inspiration and motivation for my personal dedication

to the greater cause of Owu. I could not have wished for a better family, and I thank you for being my

source of strength.

But then, none of-all these good things could have been possible without the mercies, guidance, and support of our creator. So, all thanks, praises, and adorations are due to Him alone.”

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