Posted by on 2/6/2003 10:23:18 AM

Ethnic Composition, Languages, Culture and the Arts: The people of the state are mostly of the Yoruba race, although other Nigerians and foreign nationals coexist peacefully in the state. The most known ethnic subgroups are the Akoko, the Akure, the ljo (made up of Apoi and Arogbo), the lkale, the llaje, the Ondo and the Owo.

Generally, the people have similar customs, traditions and language although there are some variations, most observable with the ljo. In the field of arts and culture, Ondo state is among the richest in the federation in the variety and quality of its traditional sculpture.

The people are lovers of arts, music (e.g. Obitun dancers), witty sayings and poetry. The ivory carv ings, bronze works and wood carvings from Owo are basically Yoruba sculptures; excavated at Egberen Street in the town in 1971, they showed the naturalist out of the classical lfe (Ministry of Information & Culture, 1976).

Population Structure and Distribution: Although the detailed analyses of the 1991 census are yet to be done, information already provided indicates that Ondo State has a total of 2,255,728 persons made up of 1,134,703 males and 1,121,025 females. The distribution of the population according to LGAs is given in Table 28.1.

The structure and distribution of population in Ondo State have been affected by high incidence of migration of Ondo people to other parts of the coun try. Ondo indigenes are found in various services and especially in education and civil service. Some are traders in many large cities of the federation, while in recent times, many industrialists have established plants in cities in Ondo State and other parts of the country.

It is also pertinent to observe that Ondo State harbours many migrant farmers from all the southwestern states and from Kwara, Kogi and Benue states. Most of these migrant farmers cultivate cocoa, while some serve as farm labourers.

Urban Development: Like in other Yoruba areas, the people of Ondo state live mainly in urban centres. Most of these urban centres are compact settlements each with a population of over 30,000 inhabitants. During the years of military administra tion, there were consistent effort to encourage urbanisation through the creation of more states and local government areas.

Other factors aiding urban development are the establishment of tertiary institutions such as Colleges of Education, Technical Colleges, Polytechnics and Universities, industrial plants such as glass factory and services whether financial or commercial. Some of the notable settlements are Akure, Ondo, Owo, lkare, Okitipupa, Idanre, lleOluji and Ore.

Rural Development: Ondo State is primarily an agricultural state and therefore has many rural centres. Prior to 1985, there had been a conspicu ous neglect of the rural areas of the State. However, since 1985, Ondo State has been a beneficiary of concerted programmes to revitalise, develop and transform rural areas.

The most important pro grammes in this regard were those implemented by DFRRI, Better Life Programme and the NDE, including the latter's SelfHelp Programme. The role of PTF in rural development between 1994 and 1999 must also be noted. Not only did DFRRI open up many rural areas in the State by constructing feeder roads (more than 1,230km in length) (Ministry of Information & Culture, 1992), it contributed immensely to the overall development and wellbeing of rural dwellers by sinking deep wells and boreholes in many villages and suburban areas.

In addition, DFRRI assisted communities in the electrification of their areas. In terms of economic development, DFRRI encouraged the rural dwellers to establish their own banks through the setting up Community Banks. Some of the banks are still found in many LGAs with many of the rural dwellers as shareholders.

The Better Life Programme focused on rural women, and these women actively involve in pro cessing local food and fibre items such as cassava (gari), maize, rice and sisalhemp for better prices. Several years after the programme ended, most of the eighteen LGAs of Ondo State still have one form of Better Life Programme or the other, e.g. oil palm processing in Irele still in existence. The NDE programme has helped in making available onthe job training to young school leavers (both second ary and tertiary) in modern farming, trades and industry.

The programme has also helped to open up the rural areas in all parts of the state. It is noteworthy to observe that the present civil ian administration in the State has rural development and rural integration as a major focus of its policies and has therefore created a ministry for the purpose.

Problem of Urban Primacy: Akure, the state capital, has expanded over a large area, as a result of many developmental processes. Hence, it has now grown to be a primate city which continues to attract people from the rural areas and smaller towns. This primacy has led to some problems. For example, the traditional area of Akure, now the attraction of low income earners and the unemployed, has deteriorated into slums, while in the CBD, traffic holdup is a common phenomenon.

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