So Oyo State is a mining state, Ojoo, Ibadan is the largest gemstone market in Africa! Really?
By Ayodeji Fadugba
The list of wonders in Nigeria multiplies daily and so is the extent of the fraud that we have become. While we were grappling with Edu-gate and despairing over the spate of kidnappings on our highways and in our cities, we were treated to yet another sign that the State in Nigeria has never been interested in working for its citizens. The quiet city of Ibadan was rocked by an explosion that was felt all over the ancient city. I am a resident of the city of Ibadan, in fact I also part grew up there.
At about 7:45, we felt a powerful movement of the earth beneath us as windows started to tremble and a rumble sped through the compound. What was that? My family investigated by going outdoors, but then concluded it was a tremor and promptly went back to our various occupations. Thirty minutes later, I saw newsfeed of an explosion in Bodija area of the city. Many houses were flattened, security agencies were dispatched to the area to keep the calm and preserve the crime scene.
Since then, a lot of revelations and questions! Ibadan is a mining city? Where are the miners? The gemstone market in Ibadan is the largest in Africa! Really? Where are the products of the mines? How can a local Ibadan or Oyo State person get involved in the trade? What value chain vacancies were deliberately created for locals? Is Oyo state getting derivation from the Federal Government for these mines? How much was taken out of Oyo State last year? How much did Oyo State get as derivation from the mines? If our mines in Ibadan are so important, has the Minister-in-Charge in this administration been here on a visit? Are there processes put in place to ensure the welfare of the workers at the mine and ensure that the mining process follows best practices?
We have been told that the trade is dominated by foreigners most especially from MALI. Mali is a member of the Economic Community of West African States, so its citizens are entitled to work in Nigeria legally. They live in Bodija area of Ibadan, the scene of the tragedy of that evening. Was the State aware that explosives were being used at the mines? The Governor of Oyo State informed the public that they were illegal miners; we have now been told that the mining activity was not illegal but licensed by government. If this was a legal operation, what are the safeguards used to protect citizens around the Ojoo axis. Are these kinds of explosives usually operated by artisanal miners? We are not ready for the rot in the mining Industry. I am sometimes amazed at the rot as if it was new.
Ask people in Ibadan or tell them Ibadan is a mining city and the largest stone mining market in Africa, they will be bewildered. Where is the effect on the streets? On employment? On training? On craftsmanship? If we are a mining city, should we not have gemologists in Ibadan? Should we not have jewelry stores selling the stones? Should Ibadan not be a growth pole for jewelry dealers from around the world?
Tanzania found a stone called Tanzanite. They packaged it and everywhere you go, you will see Tanzanite jewelry. People come there to buy rough stones and polished ones or others at different stages of finishing. Locals wear rough cut ones as beads and proudly too. Here our children have no clue that we are in fact a gem mining city. We buy plastic beads from China in the market while foreigners make away with our gems because people are unaware that there is mining activity at all!
Rich Nigerians, especially the political class, will go abroad and buy the finished product, our children will buy the same stones in finished jewelry at exorbitant prices. Dubai is a favorite destination in that regard. What we did with petrol is exactly what we are replicating with gold and gemstones. What stops us from endowing University of Ibadan with a good gemology not only geology department? If Ibadan is the largest gem market in Africa, Why is it impossible for us to become jewelers for the world? We have the gold, we have the stones; all we need is committed and accountable leadership. Perhaps then, we will have more to spend on securing lives and property for the average Nigerian. Too many questions, no acceptable answer!
We Nigerian Citizens are just TIRED!!!! Who wants to wake up to bad news every day? Two more hostages killed because ransom was delayed! Citizens dragged out of their homes while they slept and kidnapped! 150 people killed at Christmas! Explosion in Ibadan from dynamites stored in a residential area of a usually sleepy University city! Government was unaware that dynamites were being brought in and stored there? Where is dynamite sourced? Is there no regulation on storage?
Suddenly, the city shook, by official accounts, 5 dead and more than 77 injured!!! An 80 year old University Professor and his 75year old wife lost their home. Some 29 students managed to escape unhurt from their hostel, right in front of the storage facility. Their hostel was completely gone. Imagine! All of us are waiting in distress, what next!!!
Citizens are angry! Have you seen the big allocations of budget and security to the National Assembly and political office holders? This in a country with security challenges? Our leaders allocate so much security personnel to a handful of people leaving the rest of us with a ratio that is simply unacceptable. There is such dissonance between the leaders and the led. Kidnapping assumed serious proportions during Christmas and the New Year, By mid-January, the news headlines showed us pictures of our President at a security meeting with service Chiefs; I will contend that it is not newsworthy at all! After the orgy of violence that welcomed 2024 for Nigerians, the attempt to show a President at work was too little too late. Mr. President, when can we hope for a reprieve?
Illegal miners of Gold in Zamfara State made a shadow of what was once a thriving, peaceful community; now miners of gemstones have access to dynamites in the city of Ibadan? The impact was enough to cause the earth to shake under our feet in the entire city, and the government does not know they were hosting people using explosives? How about when terrorists get the same access to explosives? Our lives are in danger, our investments, work, trade, etc. are losing value daily too. The failure of leadership has been expensive to us as citizens for so long.
Let Mr. Bola Ahmed Tinubu wake up to his job description. We are just tired!