Ota (alternatively spelled Otta') is a town in Ogun State, Nigeria, and has an estimated 163,783 residents living in or around it Ota is the capital of the Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area. The traditional leader of Ota is the Olota of Ota, Oba Alani Oyede. Historically, Ota is the capital of the Awori Yoruba ethnic group.
Ota has the third largest concentration of industries in Nigeria. It also possesses a large market and an important road junction, found just north of the tollgate on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway. Ota is also well known as the home of former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo's farm, the Canaanland compound of the megachurch Winners' Chapel, and the Africa Leadership Forum.
Traditional Awori Yoruba folklore tells that Olofin's children, Osolo and Eleidi Atalabi founded Ota after migrating south from Isheri. As the town developed, it eventually came to be locally ruled by a crowned oba, called the Olota, whose ruling privilege came from the Yoruba traditional home of Ile-Ife. Ota soon became important in the production and sale of cocoa. In 1842, the expansion of the Egba nation brought Ota under the control of Abeokuta, however Ota held a semi-independent status within the Egba kingdom, and remained the capital of the Awori people.
In the early part of the 1900s, governance and administration of justice were kept by members of the Ogboni secret society, a traditional group that made and enforced the laws. In 1903, modern police crews were introduced, and had almost completely supplanted the traditional enforcement roles of the Ogboni by the 1950s.
In 1954, the introduction of a new Federal Government taxation system led to riots in Ota. On February 4, the new tax code was announced. The Aiyepeju Society and the Ota Tax Payers Association began protesting almost immediately. The protests turned violent as aggressive crowds began destroying property. The riots, which came to be known as the "Ponpo Aiyepeju", were eventually put down by the Nigerian police. In the aftermath of the disturbances, Oba Timothy Fadina was sent into exile on May 11, 1954.
Ota began to grow into the industrial city it is today due to the economic development planning and lobbying by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and Chief Bisi Onabanjo, former governor of Ogun State. This led to the official designation of Ota as an industrial town, and the state government began to encourage industries to locate in and around the city.
Traditionally, Ota only had a few schools, and all were sponsored by various Christian religious organizations. The Muslim community responded by forming a school operated by the Ansar-Ud-Deen Society. State schools began to be formed in the late 1970s, and there are now several private schools in the area. Iganmode Grammar School is the oldest, founded in 1960. Other notable area schools include Bells Comprehensive Secondary School and Faith Academy Secondary School.
The indigines are predominantly Yoruba of the Awori dialect group. They trace their ancestry down from Ile-Ife and consider Iganmode as their patriarch. Other Aworis are located in the neighbouring Lagos State.
The main occupation of Ota residents is trading and farming. The town's proximity to Lagos and proximity to the border town of Idiroko have led to the creation of two large markets: Kayero Market in Sango and Oba T.T. Dada Market along Idiroko Road. These markets are each so large that they blend together and are more commonly just referred to as Sango-Ota Market.
Conflict between Awori and Owu residents
There have been several confrontations between Owu and Awori residents of the area. In April, 2008, violent clashes left at least six people dead when Awori and Owu fought over the Olowu of Owu's installation of an Oba in Awori land. The governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel, declared a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the Ado-Odo/Ota Ota local government area.
- P.C. Lloyd (1962). Yoruba Land Law. Oxford University Press. p. 225.
- Ruhollah Ajibola Salako (1999). Ota: The Biography of the Foremost Awori Town. Penink & Co. p. 15.
- Ruhollah Ajibola Salako (1999). Ota: The Biography of the Foremost Awori Town. Penink & Co. p. 14.
- Robert Smith (1969). Kingdoms of the Yoruba. Methuen & Co. pp. 88–89.
- Robert Smith (1969). Kingdoms of the Yoruba. Methuen & Co. p. 166.
- Ruhollah Ajibola Salako (1999). Ota: The Biography of the Foremost Awori Town. Penink & Co. p. 23.
- Ruhollah Ajibola Salako (1999). Ota: The Biography of the Foremost Awori Town. Penink & Co. pp. 16–17.
- Ruhollah Ajibola Salako (1999). Ota: The Biography of the Foremost Awori Town. Penink & Co. p. 21.
- Ruhollah Ajibola Salako (1999). Ota: The Biography of the Foremost Awori Town. Penink & Co. p. 16.
- "Bloody Clash in Ota". Leadership Newspaper / AllAfrica.com. Retrieved 2008-04-10.
- "Ota Crisis - Govt Imposes Curfew". This Day / AllAfrica.com. Retrieved 2008-04-10.