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Saturday, 6 July 2019

Onibala Speaks on Mining Activities in his Domain



Ibala is a populated Ijesa town and is located in Obokun Local Government of the State of Osun in Nigeria. Most of the indiginous Ibala inhabitants traditionally have been subsistence farmers and all resourses are put into educating the young. The literacy level has helped many from Ibala to become civil servants and business entrepreneurs in the decades .

The Looja of Ibala is Ambassador Adegboyega Christopher Ariyo, Soludero Onibala of Ibala, a retired career diplomat and former Nigerian High Commissioner to Namibia.

Traditionally, the Ijesas organised themselves into networks of related villages, towns and the paramount ruler is the Owa Obokun of Ijesaland, Oba Dr. Adekunle Aromolaran who appoints Loojas (a nobleman or mayor) to head prominent Ijesa towns and villages.

However, Ibala, Iponda, Idoko, Ijaregbe, Ere, Iregun, Idominasi and its environment in Obokun Local Government Area of the State of Osun are rich with mineral resources especially gold in large quantity which Federal Government has failed to pay adequate attention to. Hence, illegal miners mostly from the northern Nigeria are having a field day.

Friday the 4th of July Lasore Oladimeji blog was in Ibala for first hand information on the claim that the once serene town has been overpopulated by Hausa miners from the northern Nigeria.

Like most of our villages, I met that many young and/or skilled people from Ibala believe that there is no option to escape poverty than to move to Ilesa city, the urban center.

In a chat with Onibala, Looja Adegboyega Ariyo it was revealed that the Hausas have settled in Ibala and have been engaging in artisanship mining since 1930 when a Lebanese entrepreneur named Gamara brought them.

In his words: "When I became the king I discovered that there is no development in the ancient town. I met the Hausas miners in Ibala, they were mining gold. Even during the time of the late Onibala, they were mining gold. There are also members of Ibala community that are involved in gold mining. Then I decided to stop the Hausa miners ,but the women of Ibala refused because many of the Hausa's that have long resided in Ibala have married with Ibala families and that the Hausa's of Ibala have not constituted any threat. Most importantly is the constitutional rights of the people from northern Nigeria that have chosen Ibala as their place of residence, I saw the sensitivity of the situation and I know one has to be diplomatic, then I called Alhahi Aminu, the Seriki Hausawa of Ibala, and the Hausa community to a meeting and they gave me a guarantee that nothing bad will happen and to date there is no trace of any clash, crime or bad occurrence.

 " It was because of what recently happened in Ifewara that prompted Kabiyesi, Owa Obokun to call all Obas and Lojas to a meeting. Where the Owamiran of Esa-Oke was vocal on the happenings at Itagunmodi, Ibodi, Ifewara, Idoka, Iregun, Ibala whereas I have spoken that we are facing all these security threats because of political crisis between Osun PDP and APC for example, Sen. Fadahunsi is mining gold at Ido-Oko as we speak and he has practically paid the Ado-oko for all the lands in Ido-Oko.

" I expected that if Ibala should be mentioned, Ido-Oko should not be excluded. It was the Owa Obokun that installed me as Loja of Ibala and there was a group of Ijesa Obas that refused my emergence because Onibala is a beaded crown Oba. For five years they were against me. All due processes that led to my emergence were completed before I was given the staff of office. I refused to be controlled by the Owamiran of Esa-Oke or the Elegboro of Ijebujesa. This breaking of Ijesa to North and South has destroyed the respected Ijesa tradition concerning the place of Lojas. Owa Obokun is the Supreme head and I am his descendant. I am from the Biladu Iri Arere ruling house, I come from the same ruling house that produced the current Owa Obokun, so I can't stoop low. Some of them are envious of my professional attainment that I earned with sweat as I retired from the Federal civil service as an ambassador. And talking about Ijesaland development, we can only use what we have to develop our land. The era of free money by calling for donations has gone. The Ijesa youth are not accustomed to mining because it is not our trade, the Hausas are involved and we can't stop them. So what do we do? So for once I decided to get involved at least to get from the capital flight from Ibala to develop the poor town.



"I have spoken to them at the Federal Ministry of Mines that they should come for a structured mining activities, that there should be an MOU that determines what goes to the government, the miner and the land owner. But what goes on now is that the Hausa miners get all. I am not an illiterate and I am not out to destroy anybody and this should stop. I was never involved in gold mining but I saw the need for Ibala community to have a befitting Town Hall where we can receive dignitaries when the need arises. So Ibala community council of chiefs instructed the miners to contribute financially to develop the town."

In a related chat with Chief AdeYeye Ojo, the Asolo of Ibala, he confirmed that even before the installation of Onibala many of the Ibala farmers have willingly sold their farmlands to Hausa at ridiculous prizes like N100,000 and even N50,000. Later, the community asked the leader of the miner to contribute to the development of the community or leave since the government had not stopped them from mining.

He explained that the Ibala Hausa miners have a custom of eating together after work. So, when they all return from work in the evening and they converge to eat after the evening prayer it will look like they are the dominating inhabitants of the town and more so, many indigenous Ibala youth reside in Ilesa city because of basic social amenities and the nearness of Ibala to Ilesa.

Chief Oluwatise, the Odofin of Ibala emphasized on the development of Ibala town. He decried the notion that seems to tarnish the image of the Onibala that meant well for the development of the town. He mentioned that there have been signs of development and changes since his installation. He appeals to Osun government to support the Onibala and the chiefs.


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