HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT
Ayegunle Gbede is located at the North-Eastern part of Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State. Ijumu Local Government Area is on coordinates 70 51’N, 50 58’E. Ayegunle Gbede is the second largest and most populous town in Gbede land. The town is a nodal town in which five roads from different villages and towns intersected at the heart of the town. Ayegunle Gbede shares common borders with Oleh Bunu, Ayeh Gbede, Ayetoro Gbede, Iyah Gbede, Idoyi Bunu, Iluhafon Gbede, and Ayedayo Amuro. It is a settlement essentially on ridges of mountains. Thus, it is a much cooler town to live than all the neighboring villages and towns. The neighboring villages and towns are Ayetoro Gbede, Iyah Gbede, Iluhafon Gbede, Agringbon-Oke Gbede, Okoro Gbede, Ayeh Gbede, Odokoro Gbede, Araromi Gbede and Iluagba Gbede. Ayegunle Gbede community settlement in her present location started on 1st August, 1927. On this date, the then nine (9) communities known as “Aku Mehan” in Gbede, who were hitherto living scattered on separate lands agreed to come together since there was need for total protection from the intruders who often invade their land at a meeting point under an “Ohon” fruit tree believed to be central to all for convenience. On this fateful day, the portion of land surrounding the Ohon tree was cleared and was agreed to be used as a market to be named Ohi-ona market (foreshortened as Ohona market) where all shall meet every five days. The name Ohi-Ona (Ohona) was chosen because the land cleared belongs to Ohi and Ona in parts. Thereafter, residential plots were assigned for clearing and issuance of economic trees such as palm trees, iroko and awo trees i.e. mahogany were also resolved by the Forestry Officers, Mr. Jacob Ojo, Late Rev. James Osadare Olorunyomi, and Olu Maiyaki Ibimodi of Igah Quarters. On the 16th August, 1927, late Olorunyomi went along with Mr. Ojo to Olu Ibimodi at Igah village on the subject of the forest clearing that was required at Ohon Market.
The following day, 17th August, 1927, the aforementioned villages began to clear the site of their new settlement around the Ohon Market Square in present Ayegunle Gbede. On the 6th September, 1927, at a meeting conveyed by Late Olorunyomi that was held at Olu Ibimodi of Igah residence attended by all the Chiefs (Ijoye) of the nine villages, the Christian heads and the Muslim leaders, where an irrevocable decision to continue with the clearing work at the resettlement site was taken. Igah people who hosted this meeting fed the people present with pounded yam contained in twenty giant calabashes. On December 2nd, 1927, the District Officer, Mr. P.G Harris and his entourage in the presence of Chief (Oba) Elewa of Odda and a multitude of people who came to Ohi-Ona measured and shared plots of land to all the uniting communities. January 31st, 1928, was historic day when Muslim Ummah (Faithful) made the first public call to Salat (prayer) and thereafter, observed first Salat at the Ohon Market, new settlement.On 31st January, 1928, the name “Ayegunle Gbede’’ was adopted as the name of the combined community. Late Chief Osu Momodu Emetan of Akure made the proclamation. However, the market name Ohona persisted for years. This name derived from ‘Ohi-Ona’ which was the name for a group of villages. The villages are: Akure, Agbara, Okeleti, Iluesho, Agoh, Esseh, Eguru, Igah, and Ofede. To date, the unity and sense of purpose persisted to the glory of Ayegunle Gbede. On the 16th February, 1928, Bojuwon from Igah started his own house at the new settlement, closely followed by Olojo and Moraiyewa, the trio from Igah as cited in “The Baptist New Light–Pastoral and Community Development Work of Late Rev. James Osadare Olorunyomi by Pastor Seth Esan Olorunyomi”. According to oral record, Okeleti Quarters was the first quarter to move in group to the present Ayegunle Gbede due to the wildfire disaster on their building at the old Okeleti.
Ayegunle Gbede people are well educated, generous, knowledgeable, principled, courageous, intelligent, kind, peace-loving, religious, and accommodative. According to Professor Umaru A. Pate, a Professor of Media and Society from the Faculty of Communication, Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria in September 29, 2017, “Without doubt, reading through the text, one cannot but commend Ayegunle Gbede community for significantly contributing to the process of development in the country. Certainly, in writing the history of Nigeria, the name of Ayegunle Gbede and its people are likely to appear in gold. It is a community strategically located in the Centre of Nigeria, thus connecting the north and the west and the south. Not so many communities enjoy such geographical advantage or can boast of an array of stars in academics like Ayegunle Gbede. A few among them are: Professor Suleiman Moh’d Nasirudeen, Botany Professor of Federal University, Lokoja, Professor Joash Amupitan (SAN), Law Professor of University of Jos, Professor Sulaiman Ola Idris, Chemistry Professor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Professor Kashim Isah Bolaji, Industrial Design Professor of Federal University of Technology, Akure, Professor (Dr.) Momoh-Jimoh Salami Eyiomika, Mechatronics Engineering Professor of International Islamic University, Malaysia, Professor John Adesiji Olorunmaiye, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Vice Chancellor of Crown-Hill University, Eyenkorin, Ilorin, Professor Abdullateef Olorunfemi Onundi, Professor of Structural Engineering of University of Maiduguri, Professor (Sir) Mujtaba Abdullah Muhammad, Professor of Business Administration and Vice Chancellor of Afriford University, Cotonou, Republic of Benin and many others”. Other prominent Ayegunle Gbede sons and Daughters of note are Dr. Habeeb Abdullah Yaqeen, Chief David Shola Aiyedogbon, Architect Salman Idris, Chief Femi Ajisafe, Miliki Abdul Idris, Oladele John Nihi, Engr. Adam Amupitan Onundi, Dapo Olorunyomi (The Publisher of Premium Times), Alhaji Sumaila Olaniyi Aminu, Elder Elijah Edubi, Alhaji Ismaila Jebe Elega, Pastor Seth Esan Olorunyomi, Alhaji Musa Olorunkemi (The Imam of Ayegunle Gbede), Hon. Stephen Bamidele Abodunde (Former Member of the Federal House of Representatives, Lagos), Alhaji Hudu Abdulsalam, Mrs. Bernice Bamitale Adebo-Oladele (Dallas Texas, United State of America), Alhaji Ahmad Jebe, Babayemi Olorunfemi (Canada), Fatai Ade-Ahmed, Dr. Yisau Adekunle Abdulkadir, Engr. Nafiu Sadiq, Dr. Haliru Alhaji Umar, Alhaji Abdulkareem Onundi, Dr. Nasir Naeem Abdulsalam, Yusuf Adeyanju Yisau, and so on.
Farming is a predominant occupation in Ayegunle Gbede. The community is blessed with massive arable land for agricultural cultivation of both food and cash crops. Prominent among the agricultural products are cash crops like coffee, oil palm, cashew, kolanut, cocoa, rubber etc; food crops like yam, cassava, cocoyam, sweet potatoes etc; legume crops such as groundnut, melon etc; citrus crops such as orange, pineapple, plantain, banana, mango, peas, beans etc, and cereal crops such as maize, guinea corn, millet, wheat and rice are also grown. In Ayegunle Gbede, agriculture contributed more than 75 percent of export earnings before 1970. Since then, however, agriculture has stagnated, partly due to government neglect, poor investment, and partly due to ecological factors such as drought, disease, and reduction in soil fertility. Fruits, mangoes, oranges and pineapples are produced in abundant during the raining season. Also produced are hot peppers of various types. The vegetation is suitable for a variety of crops.As at today, about 60% of Ayegunle Gbede people are involved in farming or agricultural-related occupation and the farming is practiced during the raining and dry seasons without irrigation. Ayegunle Gbede is the largest producer of pepper and tobacco in the area till date. Other sources of livelihood of Ayegunle Gbede people include: commerce, petty trading and small scale business enterprises such as bakery, soap-making, pure water production, block production, honey production, oil palm production, poultry business, tailoring, brick-layering, carpentry work etc. Ayegunle Gbede is blessed and endowed with both human, solid mineral resources and mineral substances of definite chemical composition formed by the inorganic process of nature that could be harnessed for development if properly utilized.
Before the advent of Christianity and Islam on our land, Ayegunle Gbede people were known to be ‘Idol and Masquerade Worshippers‘. Some of their popular idols and cults were Ofosi, Imole and Iworo. According to Alhaji Yusuf Ibrahim of Okeleti Quarters and Mallam Abdulsalami Ologe (Baba Gata) of Agoh Quarters, the people of Ayegunle Gbede have their own idol(s) which each community do worship based on their own arrangement. Egungun (masquerade) especially Ojigido were also paraded on certain occasions. While the Imole and Egungun Cult groups are for men, women also had their own cult group i.e. Ofosi. Ofosi Cult group usually spoke in different languages that was not understood by all and sundry. Ofosi Cult was believed to have power to be able to call people home by the use of spiritual means that transcends human imagination and understanding. However, Islam and Christianity are the two main religions being practiced by the people of Ayegunle Gbede as at today. Ayegunle Gbede people seem to tolerate one another to a large extent. There is intermarriage among the two religion adherents.
Ayegunle Gbede heroes past includes Late Rev. James Osadare Olorunyomi, Late Hon. (Dr.) Kashim Olarewaju Ndako (Former member of the Kogi State House of Assembly), Late Zacchaeus Abere-Ona Alabi Late Oba Umar Olorunmaye Lapinni (Olu of Ayegunle Gbede), Late Joshua Olorundare Nihi (Former Caretaker Chairman of Old Oyi Local Government Area, Old Kwara State), Late Prince Rotimi Yakub Obadofin, Late Solomon Taye Asaju, and Late Dr. Emmanuel Bolaji Eleta etc.
The town enjoys basically two seasons (short dry season November to February and long rain season of March to October). There are also the proliferation of mountains, hills and other resources of different size and shapes all over Ayegunle Gbede land. There are some resources which are visually in large commercial quantities, yet to be harnessed or untapped from the soil.