Tuesday 9 August 2022

Osun: Why the Adelekes are desperate for power..... By Hezekiah Oyinlola


WHAT would make a single individual spend as much as N50billion to prosecute a governornship election in a financially struggling state like Osun? An Osun that is gasping for breath on the account of inccessnt negative statutory revenue? Osun that its monthly IGR, though has considerably improved under the current administration, is not enough to take care of its expenses let alone be enough for any political buccaneer to milk? These are some of the troubling questions one is confronted with in his quiet time after being regaled with stories of how Deji Adeleke emptied his treasury to ensure his godson became the next governor of Osun.

Deji Adeleke needs no introduction. He is the father of ace singer, Davido and the elder brother of Osun governor-elect, Senator Ademola Adeleke. Ademola owes his living and meteoric rise in politics to God and to Deji, his brother. Without Deji, it is believed there would not be any Ademola. Deji contributed immense resources to activities leading to his emergence as Osun governor in expectation, rumour has it, that he would run the government while Ademola would run around as the titular head.

Dr Adeleke’s foray into Osun politics did not start today. It goes a long way back, some thirty years when Isiaka Adeleke, his flamboyant elder brother, was installed as governor of the newly created Osun State. He is credited as the main spender in the election; and expectedly, he was mightily compensated with juicy accounts of the state government which were lodged in a merchant bank owned by him and his two other friends, Folorunso “Folli” Adeoye and Kayode Aderinokun. Both Adeoye and Aderinokun were special consultants to Isiaka Adeleke during his governorship and are said to be the think-tank of the administration.

Specifically, the N38million state fund, meant for settling pension and gratuity of Osun workers, developed wings in the Pacific Merchant Bank owned by the trio of Deji, Adeoye and Aderinokun. This is a story for another day.

So what is Deji’s motivation this time around…?

Many say it is Osun GOLD. Osun has enormous gold reserves within its territory. According to a professor of geology, Olugbenga Okunlola of the University of Ibadan, in his 2017 research finding entitled “Riches Beneath Our Feet: Mineral Endowment and Sustainable Development of Nigeria,” the gold deposit in Osun is worth $5 billion, which is N2.5trillion (at current CBN rate).

Multiple sources in Nigeria’s mining sector and the Adelekes’ camp confirmed that Deji Adeleke is the main investor in the Segilola Gold Project in Atakumosa. And that his two friends, Folorunso “Folli” Adeoye and Kayode Aderinokun, and others, who are shareholders in Thor Explorations Limited, are merely holding the fort for him.

The Segilola Gold Project is Thor’s flagship project. It is believed to be the most advanced gold exploration project in Nigeria. The property comprises mining licence ML41 and exploration licence EL19066. ML41 covers an area of (17.2km2; 1,720ha) and is wholly contained within the larger EL19066 covering an area of 135 Cadastral Units (27.0km2; 2,700ha). It comprises a proposed open pit gold mining project based on an indicated mineral resource defined by a comprehensive drilling programme including 157 drill holes totalling over 12,200 metres to define 555,000 ounces of gold at an average grade of 3.8 grams per ton (at a cut-off grade of 1.0 g/tAu and applying a top cut of 50g/tAu).

The sources also confirmed that the ongoing project is not Deji’s ultimate target: his targets are said to be mining licences owned by the state government of Osun. Currently, the state owns 10 solid minerals exploration and 7 mining licences from the Federal Ministry of Mining and Solid Minerals. Seven of the exploration licences are for Gold fields in Osun, Zamfara and Niger states; two are for Lead and Zinc exploration in Ebonyi and Kogi. Three of the mining licences are for Gold in Osun State while the remaining four are for Feldspar and Quartz in the north. The licences when successfully explored are worth billions in dollars.

Already, Thor Explorations Limited has made millions in dollars within one year of mining in Iperindo, Atakumosa East of Osun State. In the first half of 2022 alone, the company produced 45,128oz of gold. An operation cost per ounce of gold cost $950 while each ounce was sold for $1700 on the average. After doing the maths, the company would still be left with a profit of $30million ( N13.5 billion profit at N450 exchange rate).

The company has made so much money that it repaid, in a short span, $14.5m of the loan it obtained to set up the venture, reducing its loan by 29%. Unfortunately while Osun gold is mined and the operators smile to bank, the state gets nothing in return. The Company is on 3-year Tax holiday. And the holiday may be extended for additional two years by the Minister of Mines. What this means, invariably, is that Osun will be getting nothing on the Thor Explorations’ mining activities until 2026 when the company begins to pay due taxes to the relevant agencies.

Meanwhile, in 2019 alone, the state government of Osun received N100 million as a sign-on fee from Badger Mines for the exploration and development of one of the State’s mining titles. The partnership between the state government and the Badger Mines has shown a lot of prospects but all these are at risks when the Adelekes take charge of the government in November because they have vowed to terminate the contract, and similar contracts, and gift all licences to companies where they have vested interests. The threat to nullify all the contracts regarding mining titles was issued on August 1, 2022 by Mallam Olawale Rasheed, Ademola Adeleke’s spokesperson. Industry players fear that the citizens of Osun may be the worst-hit in the arrangement if vicious characters with conflict interests are made to be in absolute control of the people’s Commonwealth.

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