This was disclosed by the Chairman of the Planning Committee, Mr Moses Jolayemi in a statement made available to journalists by the Chairman, Brands and Publicity sub-committee, Mr. Tai Oguntayo, a former chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Ekiti state.
According to Jolayemi, former Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of Newswatch newspapers "Okemesi Day is an annual event set aside for the re-union of all sons and daughters of Okemesi Ekiti, both at home and in the Diaspora"
“It is in recognition of the heroic role played by the generalissimo of the Kiriji War, Fabunmi Oraralada, the legendary 18th century war hero of unparalleled record, who hailed from Okemesi Ekiti, that the Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Ogunwusi has graciously accepted to be the Royal father of the day, Jolayemi stated, adding that this is the very first time the new monarch will be attending a day celebration in Ekiti since his coronation"
The decision of Ooni to personally grace this year’s event, Jolayemi noted, is another eloquent testimony to the deliberate, indefatigable efforts of the monarch at turning the fortunes of the Yoruba people around on the one hand, and uniting the entire Nigerian state in ways unprecedented in the annals of the nation’s history on the other.
In accepting to be the Chairman of the day and Chief Launcher at the occasion, Otunba Gbenga Daniel said “Okemesi is very important to me”. Apart from its historical significance to Yoruba land, many of my friends are from there so I have no choice” he said.
The Governor of Ekiti state, Mr. Ayodele Fayose who is a special guest of honour at the occasion is expected to be conferred with a special award by this year’s Planning Committee under the auspices of the Federation of Okemesi Improvement Unions (FOIU), the umbrella body of all Okemesi Unions nationwide.
Three prominent sons of the town will also be given posthumous ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Awards for their outstanding accomplishments.
They are late Professor Kayode Osuntokun, whose records as a neuro-surgeon remain arguably unmatched in contemporary history of medicine across the globe.
Also to be honoured is late Chief Theophilus A. Oni who established Nigeria’s first indigenous construction company known as T.A. Oni & Sons and tarred the entire South-West roads as well as all the township roads in Okemesi.
Third on the list is late Prof. Lai Durotoye, the first professor of Health Sciences in the then University of Ife. The ebullient and amiable academic was also the Proprietor of one of the foremost pharmaceutical companies in the South West Nigeria, Medico Pharmacy in Ibadan. He became a professor in his early 30s thus becoming one of the youngest ever in Nigeria at the time.
Several notable and highly respected monarchs and community leaders are expected to attend this year’s celebration, according to Jolayemi.
The organizing committee therefore implored all indigenes of the ancient town, home and abroad not to be left behind in making the day a success, assuring them that: "whatever proceeds realized from this year's celebration will not go down the drain but spent on the already identified projects for the overall interest and development of the town."
Series of programmes have been earmarked for the week-long event among which are: football competition among the public secondary schools in the town, National Summit titled: "Okemesi Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" to be held at the Okemesi Grammar School and Cultural Night on the eve of Okemesi Day where the famous theatre-artiste, Chief Jimoh Aliu, aka Aworo (an Octogenarian) will be thrilling the audience with his cultural troupe.
The D-day will witness a plethora of activities including special outings by the leading masquerades in the town that are expected to display their uncommon dancing skills to excite the guests, among other programmes.