Ondo state, known as the Sunshine state, was carved out of the old Western state as one of the seven states created on February 3, 1976 by the then regime of General Murtala Mohammed. This year, under Dr. Olusegun Mimiko who is the Governor, the state marked 40 years of existence in peace and prosperity.
Originally included what is now Ekiti state, which was split off in the state creation exercise of 1996 and Akure is the state capital.
It is interesting to note that Ondo is the only state which is arguably the most peaceful among all the Oil Rich Niger-Delta regions in Nigeria. This fact alone makes her the most viable investment destination of all times.
Located in South Western Nigeria, Ondo Ssate covers 14,606 square kilometres and is bounded in the East by old Bendel state, in the North by Kwara state, in the West by Oyo and Ogun states and in the South by the Atlantic Ocean.
The ethnic composition of Ondo state is largely from the Yoruba subgroups of the Akoko, Akure, Okitipupa, Ilaje, Ondo, and Owo peoples, Ijaw minority such as Apoi and Arogbo.
Ilaje populations also largely dominate the coastal areas; while a sizable number of the Ondo State people who speak a variant of the Yoruba language similar to Ife dialect, reside in Oke-Igbo.
The state is home to eighteen Local Government Areas, the major ones being Akoko, Akure, Okitipupa, Ondo, and Owo.
Properly refined and urbane, the majority of Ondo citizens live in urban centres.
More comprehensively, the 18 local government areas in the state include: Akoko North-East (headquarters in Ikare), Akoko North-West ( Headquarters in Okeagbe), Akoko South-East, Akoko South-West (headquarters in Oka) Akure North, Akure South, Ese Odo, Idanre, Ifedore, Ilaje, Ile Oluji/Okeigbo, Irele, Odigbo, Okitipupa, Ondo East, Ondo West, Ose, Owo.
Ondo state has a fairly large population of 3.4 million people suggesting a potential for high output. Its economy which is sixth largest in Nigeria, is dominated by Agriculture, Oil and Gas, abundant natural resources among others.
Education is accorded high priority by the state government with the state reputed as the education factory of Nigeria as a result of emphasis in this sector over the years with 541 public primary schools and 74 registered private primary schools.
No doubt, Ondo State contains the largest number of public schools in Nigeria – over 880 primary schools and 190 secondary schools.
Among the notable people whose names will remain in the books of record for the national recognition they have earned themselves are: Olu Falae, King Sunny Ade, Jimoh Ibrahim, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, the incumbent Governor Olusegun Mimiko and Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu.
Others include Robert Ajayi Boroffice, Olusola Alexander Oke, Adeyeye Mary Funmilola, Micheal Ade Ojo, Nahzeem Olufemi Mimiko, Kayode Ajulo, Bamidele Aturu, Akinyelure Patrick Ayo, Chris Olukolade, Olukemi Mimiko and Remi Okunrinboye.
Mineral resources and tourism
With major tourist sites that will cause the hearts to melt, the state’s economy is basically agrarian with large scale production of cocoa, palm produce and rubber. Other crops like maize, kolanut, yam and cassava are produced in large quantities. 65% percent of the state’s labour force is in the agriculture sub-sector.
The state is equally blessed with very rich forest resources where some of the most exotic timber in Nigeria abound.
Also Ondo has a wide range of fish deposit, which account for the core of economic activities in the riverine area of the state. The presence of a large deposit of Stock fish in Ondo is remarkably opening a new investment opportunity.
Ondo state is equally blessed with extensive deposits of crude oil, bitumen, glass sand, kaolin, granites and limestone. Therefore, the state has great potentials for rapid industrial growth in view of its raw materials base.
Granite, which is mostly found in the Northern Senatorial District, is a key export commodity for Ondo state. Other minerals available include tar sand, clay, iron ore, quartz sand, coal and marble. Many of these minerals are at different stages of prospecting, extracting and development.
The tourism potentials of the state is also high as its historical sites, long coastline, lakes, forest and cultural events can be developed for tourism. In other words, Ondo state is endowed with a variety of potential tourist attraction that are of historical, culture and artistic values.
There is a maze of creeks, rivers and lakes in the coastal area while lowlands, rugged hills and crops of few hills abound in the northern areas.
It is said to be 800 years old and reached by 667 steps with spectacular views overlooking the new town of Idanre.
The historic Idanre hills represent one of the wonders of nature and a marvellous tourist attractions. Located in the ancient town of Idanre, South-west, Nigeria, this destination is so strategically located at about 15km southwest of Akure, the state capital.
The Idanre hills, which are steep-sided, smooth and dome-shape in nature, present an awe-inspiring sight. The different hills were named after some historical figures in the socio-cultural evolution of Idanre land. Some of these are the Olofin and Orosun hills named after Olofin, the pioneer Oba of Oke-Idanre and his queen respectively.
The Aghagha hill is very peculiar because it has a very wonderful footprint named Aghgun into which visitor put their feet. It is believed that anybody whose feet do not exactly fit into the footprint is considered to be a witch or wizard.
There is also Carter Hills named after a former Colonial Governor who signed a peace treaty with the Oba of Idanre in 1891.
Ajimoba Hill was named after a gateman, while the Orosun Hill was named after an ill-fated daughter of a great warrior, who killed his daughter in fulfilment of his promise to sacrifice the first living thing that comes his way if he should be victorious in his war exploit.
The girl was buried near the Ilesun Hill and every year, there is a commemoration ceremony on the hill by children of her age. Idanre Hills in the past offered protection against invaders and are worshipped annually. The cultural relics in terms of gods, goddesses and traditional arts crafts can still be seen in addition to the old palace built around the 17th century.
To get to the top of the hill, tourists will have to climb 667 steps with five resting posts along the steps where tourists can take a rest. The steps and resting places had been reconstructed while the notable historical monuments such as the old primary school, native court, the mausoleum, the Owa’s secretary’s office, the Oloris’ quarters and the ancient palace had all been restored.
In order to complement the tourism potentials of Idanre Hills, the incumbent Dr. Olusegun Mimiko-led Government has embarked on the construction of an 18 hole golf course at Atosin-Idanre and a 40 bedroom hotel in collaboration with a private investor.
It was gathered on the State’s website, that the state Government is making arrangements with the National Commission on Museums and Monuments, Abuja to enlist Idanre Hills on the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage list.
Ebomi Lake – The Bottomless Lake in Ondo State.
Ebomi Lake- a 1.5km long expanse of water, located in the sleepy enclave of Ipesi Akoko, along the north-eastern boundaries of Ondo State, South-West Nigeria. The lake is also known as ”the bottomless lake” because of its depth which is difficult to estimate. It stretches through a distance of about 2km and is about 45m wide.
According to oral history, the people of Ipesi Akoko met Ebomi Lake at Ipesi and because they couldn’t find the appropriate words to describe their curiosity about the features of the lake, they decided to call the strangely wide body of water ”Abami’, which literally means ‘mysterious’. This name, with time changed to “Ebomi” which is the name it is being called to this day.
It was gathered that the lake, according to the inhabitants of Ipesi Akoko, has supernatural powers for protecting the villagers during the times of war. The lake is believed to have unseen soldiers that fight battles for the Ipesi people. It is also believed that the lake’s deities give the villagers different gifts such as children, fishes, fowls etc.
Common wildlife sightings around the lake which include antelopes, bush pigs, mischievous squirrels, variety of birds and fishes etc. all give photographers and nature-loving tourists an unlimited scope to savour.
A single experience of the peerless ambience of recreation and relaxation the lake has to offer will keep you coming back for more.
Coast creeks canal
Ondo state has one of the longest territorial waters in Nigeria. The beach front is excellent for boating, swimming, sport fishing, picnic, boat regatta, diving and many more. This beach front is about 142km from Akure the state capital.
Igbo Olodumare, a world within our world, robed in plush vegetative apparel, is simply a mystifying place, and just as its name implies, it is ‘Forest of the Almighty’.
The mysterious forest was first brought to notice by two of Pa Fagunwa’s great works – Ògbójú ode nínú Igbó írúnmolè & Igbó Olódùmarè; and was later translated to English language by the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka. He described the forest as the forest of witches, wizards, spirits and a hundred more mysterious things.
He wrote of giant snails and crabs, he wrote of things that make one wonder, things that sparks the fire of wanderlust in the reader’s heart. This same forest is present on the land of Oke-Igbo, at the present day Ile Oluji-Oke Igbo Local Government Area of Ondo State.
The enchanting forest is a two-hour journey from Akure, the state capital. The people of Ile-Oluji are mostly cocoa and oil-palm farmers. They also make a living through palm wine tapping which is also major characteristic occupation in south west of Nigeria.
Twenty minutes to the entrance of Igbo-Olodumare, there sits a bizarre-looking village which the people regard as the age-old ‘guard’ of the ancient forest.
A visitor cannot but get distracted by the picturesque Ògèrìwèsé Rivulet- the first attraction in the mysterious forest, which the people believe possesses spiritual ability to prevent evil creatures from entering into the village and also neutralise any form of charm evil-minded visitors attempt to take into the forest.
Igbo-Olodumare is a rugged terrain, densely punctuated with beautiful inselbergs of varying sizes in-between which thick forest covers intertwine.
Continuing along the footpath leading from the river, a t-junction leads to a place called Òkè-Lángbòdò and a place called Ìsálú Òrun- it is from these two places that one links other parts of the forest.
It is said that Ìsálú Òrun is not a place where visitors are allowed to go because the place is believed to be the residence of the spirits.
The entrance of Òkè-Lángbòdò is marked by a small opening under a big granite rock where prayers are made before entering the mystifying forest.
Also at the entrance is a sculptured figure of ancient hunter which Pa Faguwa mentioned in his novel, being a human being before he was super naturally turned into a rock. The entrance of Òkè-Lángbòdò forest was the exact point the writer described as the site of the occurrence.
The peak of Òkè-Lángbòdò has ever constituted a daunting challenge for adventurous rock-climbers visiting the forest due to its steep and slippery slopes.
Nevertheless, a visit to the forest will not be completely gratifying without an ascent of this hill. On its ascent, one is treated to panoramic views of the entire forest, enchanting landscapes bedecked by the rare ewé àkokò plants adorning the hill tops. Ewé àkokò plant is used for the coronation of a new king in the land.
Another important attraction in the mysterious forest is the Aginjù Ìdákéróró (the forest of absolute silence). It is said that the silence in this forest is so palpable that communication becomes a problem between two people standing 4m away from each other.
One of the most popular attractions in the mysterious forest is the stygian ‘Bottomless Hole’.
Some people believe that the forest is filled with all the mysterious things that had been said about it (especially in the award-winning novel), while some believe they’re all lies. Nevertheless, a visit to the Forest of a thousand demons keeps you craving for more adventure, therefore we say “seeing is believing”.
Museums and monuments
Ondo State is endowed with rich Arts and Cultural heritage. Prominent among these are the following:
Owo museum is rich in antiquities, artifacts and relics of historical and traditional value. These relics are readily available for the tourists to see for themselves. This centre is significant for educational research.
Oba Deji’s Palace
The palace of Deji of Akure has been declared the second National Monument in Ondo state by the Federal Government.
The mighty palace located in the heart of Akure, the state capital now contained 18 courtyards namely: Uha lila, Uha ajukoto, Uha Ogoga, Uha Mese, Uha Ibura, Uha ado Aya, Uha agboro, Uha Agaba, Uha Layo, Uha Leke, Uha awa Gun, Uha Jimifonnun” Uha Ikomo, Uha ado lie, Uha Orile, Ula Agbeto, Uha Ori Ojuto, Uha Ogoro.
Each of the court-yard is used for specific ceremony or for the living of the Oba’s household. For example ‘Uha lila’ is used for ceremonial occasion such as reception for important dignitaries while ‘Uha Ojukoto’ is used for the installation of chiefs and Uha Ibura’ for oath-taking.
Major industries in Ondo state include Nigeria/Romania Wood Industries in Ondo, the Okitipupa Oil Palm Mill, Alpha Industries, Arigidi-Akoko, Cocoa Processing factory, Ile-Oluji, Oluwa Glass Company, Igbokoda and the Premier Metal Industry, Ondo.
Agriculture (including fishing) constitute the main occupation of the people of the state. Indeed, Ondo state is the leading cocoa producing state, in Nigeria. Other agricultural products include yams, cassava and palm produce.
Practically considered an educationally advanced state nationwide, education is accorded high priority by Ondo state government with the state reputed as the education factory of Nigeria as a result of emphasis in this sector over the years with 541 public primary schools and 74 registered private primary schools. Also, the state has 141 public secondary schools and 18 registered private secondary schools.
While there are other four technical secondary schools, there are also tertiary institutions in the state.
These include the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo state Polytechnic, Owo; Federal College of Agriculture, Akure; Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo; Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko; Ondo state University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa; Elizade University Ilara-Mokin; Federal College Of Agriculture Akure; Achievers University, Owo; Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo; Ondo state School of Nursing and Midwifery; Ondo state School of Health Technology, Akure; Wesley University of Science and Technology,(WUSTO) Ondo; National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration(NIEPA) Ondo; Millennium College of Health Technology, Akure, Ondo state.
Investigations reveal that the developments of the state that is still in the pipeline include but not limited to: Construction of sea port and free trade zone which will stimulate economic activity, renewed Federal Government Focus on the promotion on non-oil exports and a host of others.