As civil servants in Osun State continue to gnash their teeth over the inability of the Governor Rauf Aregbesola-led government to pay salaries, investigation reveal that exploration and mining of gold has begun in the state.
Gold gold deposits discovered in Osun, as far back as 2008 is valued at over $5 billion, according to a geologist, who works in the state, and spoke with The Trent on conditions of anonymity.
It would be recalled that during the tenure of former Governor Olagunsoye Oyinloa, a Chinese firm, Yan Tai Non – Ferrous Metal Company of Shanghai, arrived the state to “commence business” with an initial N1 billion investment .
In June 2014, current Governor Rauf Aregbesola announced that the ‘first raw gold’ would be mined from the state before the end of the year after he signed an MOU with an Australian mining company,
News reports in 2015 revealed that gold mining had indeed commenced in Osun. Also, that local communities where the mining activities are on-going have not been compensated in any way, whether by the state or federal governments or by way of Corporate Social Responsibility on the part of the mining company.
Recent finding by The Trent further shows that the said gold has been explored with the company given the license making tremendous gains, with their stocks said to have skyrocketed within such a little time.
A source close to the state government – which is getting heavily paid for the licensing – availed that all the licensing money was going into yet-to-be-identified wallets.
This makes the inability of the Governor Aregbesola administration to pay staff salary for about seven months quite astonishing, as the Federal Government, is reportedly receiving nothing from the multi-billion dollar transaction.
The non-payment of salaries is even more surprising given that Governor Aregbesola came out to give reasons why the payments have not been made, saying the state is debt-ridden and the situation was “beyond his control.”
Another report by The Guardian, a tour of some communities where gold is mined, there has been a surge in mining activities – legal and illegal, mostly around the gold-rich soils of Atakumosa.
A miner from Niger Republic, Haliru Mohammed, who plies his trade in Igun Community, he was told to come to Osun State by a friend, Adamu Hammed, and they make as much as N10,000 per week.
He said: “Oga (master), this job no get certainty o. Sometimes, we fit make plenty money from mining and some other times, we will work and dig far into the ground without recording much success.’’
In Owu-Epe community, where there is large deposit of gold, the environment has been totally degraded owing to the mining activities in the area.
A Senior Chief in the town said: “Help us to tell Governor Rauf Aregbesola that we are still waiting for the promise he made to help us.
“They have totally destroyed our land and our livelihood.
“They have reduced us to nothing because of this crazy mining activities. Is it not ridiculous to see that what we inherited from our forefathers have been damaged by strangers and marauders, who came here in the name of business to steal all our fortune while we remain in poverty day in day out?
“Our roads are not only in bad condition, we also do not enjoy anything in form of social amenities in our town. The government has abandoned us after we have voted for them. Out of their carefree attitude and neglect, illegal miners have destroyed our land, our heritage and pride. As a result of their activities, our sources of water have been contaminated, including the wells from where we fetch water to meet domestic needs. The situation is more disturbing, especially, in dry season.”
A prominent residernt of Ijana community, Sunday Faturoti said the result of the mining activities have left the community in a bad shape.
He said: “God gave us good and rich land here to do farming and take care of our families, but the coming of miners to this community has defeated that objective. ‘’The merchants, who employ those who scavenge for gold on our land in return, cannot compare what we are pay to the magnitude of destruction done to our land. Gold deposit found in our town is expected to bring positive changes, but what we have in return is lamentable.
Faturoti further enthused that the land was blessed with gold “but we have not benefited from this fortune. Why must owners of the land suffer while unknown people come here to steal our property giving to us by God?”
Oba Sunday Ajilore of Igun town said the Osun State government had failed the community as they had promised to transform the community.
He said: “People of my age in this community grew up finding out that we were blessed with large deposit of gold. This realisation raised our hope that in no distant future, we will reap the reward of availability of gold in our land. That time they promised to provide us electricity, potable water, good roads but all these turned out to be empty promises.
“It’s been over 25 years and our people are still waiting to see those promises. Our land was invaded and destroyed by the mining companies and now the illegal gold diggers won’t allow us to have rest and have peace. They have contaminated our water sources and we can no longer drink from them, because they have become poison.
“About 14 years ago, the mining company, which worked in this area, embezzled the money the Federal Government gave them to develop the community, they wanted to carry their equipment from site but we prevented them from doing this. They told us that they would return to develop the area but we have not seen any of them till today. They made away with our wealth and ran away.”
“They are the ones, who encourage and aided these illegal miners, by selling tickets to them on daily basis. That’s why they can’t do anything about the inhuman activities which have taken over our land.”
Another fuming community leader said the government had abandoned the people when they had thought the presence of oil in the community would bring about development.
He said: ‘’Yes we have gold deposit in commercial quantities, but what we have discovered is that this has not translated to wealth. We have watched helplessly the exploitation of precious stones in our land with reckless abandon by strangers. But successive administrations at every level of governance have done nothing to address our problems.
“If government is sincere, our community would have been very beautiful going by all the promises they have made to us. We have benefitted nothing from the government over the years despite all the wealth that has been taken from our land.”