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Save our community from environmental degradations

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By Johnson Ogundare

IN 2005, Ilaji-Ile, a serene, agrarian community in Iwajowa Local Government of Oyo State, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with ABNAB International Ltd, later renamed AAY International Mining Company, for exploration of solid minerals. The land covers over 23 Km. The agreement, conceived to be renewable, was for an initial period of three years.

Though the agreement was never renewed by the firm, the community continued to allow them to operate to drive economic development in line with our hospitable disposition. Despite the many unfavourable acts of the company, the indigenes remained good hosts.

However, since 2017, the company has stopped explorative activities without any explanation or justification. On the large expanse of their operating fields are uncovered huge pits, which have been real threats to farmers and passers-by. Not a few have been rescued, in emotionally traumatic circumstances, after mistakenly falling to the pits, which are not marked or protected.

Aside from the massive physical threats of the pits, the situation has also created environmental hazards hitherto unknown to the community. The pits, coupled with the heavy duty equipment of the company, have exposed our community to flood and possibility of landslides and other environmental dangers.

The continuation of exploration, leading to economic gains would have minimised our pains but that is not the case. While we continue to lose economically, it would be unfair to always keep suffering environmental dangers.

On several occasions, restive youths have been pacified by our revered monarch to keep the peace and not descend on the company’s properties.  Many of them are wondering if their patience is being taken for granted. We have tried long and hard enough with the hope that exploration would resume to no avail.

In the event that we do not hear from the company by December 2020, we won’t be in a position to guarantee their return to our land or resumption of exploration. We won’t watch idly and allow unfeeling business interests to continue to impact negatively on our environmental sanity.

  • Ogundare is Chairman, Ilaji-Ile Community Development Association (CDA)

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