By Peter Akinbote, Osogbo
The Owa Obokun of Ijesaland, Oba Gabriel Adekunle Aromolaran, and a community-based organization, the Ijesa Minerals Resources Development Forum (IMRDF), have called on the Federal Government to site a proposed Gold Processing Plant in the Ijesaland.
They maintained that Ijesaland is richly blessed with human resourses that can support the plant to work operate effectively.
They also said that gold deposit in the area have been identified as the purest in Africa by experts.
Members of the IMRDF on Wednesday paid a courtesy visit to the Owa Obokun in his palace in Ilesa to intimate him with activities of the group and to seek his support in achieving their objetives.
Oba Aromolaran, who said siting the plant in the area is necessary, maintained that it will open doors of numerous economic opportunities for the people of Ijesaland.
However, the paramount ruler advised the IMRDF to be sensitive to likely challenges and solicit the support of relevant stakeholders in its assignment.
He said: “Just like petroleum is beneficial to Rivers State, gold mining should also be beneficial to Ijesaland because our type of gold is 98 percent pure. It is purer than that of South Africa. So, it is a very good union for this forum to come up. Gold processing has been going on in Ijesaland before now during Olagunsoye Oyinlola’s tenure as governor and Erelu Olusola Obada as his deputy a move was for a gold plant to be sited in Osu, the headquarters of Atakunmosa West Local Government. That was years ago but the Federal Government has not to cooperated with us again.
“Now that they are ready to tap into gold mining which has been going on here from time immemorial, we welcome the idea. Gold mining and processing has been going on here since the time of former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, it is not new to us. If it was sited then in Osu, what reasons will government have not to site it in Osu again.
“My advice to the traditional rulers in various communities in Ijesaland is that they cannot continue illegal mining. Before you can start mining gold, there are steps to be taken. You must obtain a Federal Government license because gold mining is under the exclusive list. No state government can go and mine anything, they have no such powers. We have agreed that the Federal Government has the constitutional rights on mining, but it is on our land. They have to cater for our people’s welfare too.”
The chairman of the Ijesa Minerals Resources Development Forum (IMRDF), Asiwaju Yinka Fasuyi, later at a press conference, said the group’s initiative is seeking to engender opportunities for the host communities without undermining the business interests of investors.
According to him, the forum will engage stakeholders in the three main communities of Iperindo, Obara and Odo-Ijesa where the main gold mining sites of Osun are located.
Fasuyi disclosed that the IMRDF will begin sensitize the people of the host communities to finding a lasting solution to the challenges posed by illegal mining and other sharp practices “that has continued to hinder the development of the area.”
Fasuyi, who is the Asiwaju of Ijesaland, said: “We are going to the field to engage all spheres of stakeholders in the community; religious, traditional, political leaders as well as the youths with a view to advocate their support in the cultivation of appropriate behavioral practices that come with the provision of lands for the miners and the security of their homelands.
“There is only one large scale miner in Nigeria which uses mechanized system is known as Thore Exploration Limited – a Canada-based firm. We have facilitated a conversation with them for engagements on how Ijesa people could leverage on its mining activities in terms of employment across board for all category of workers.
“Our objective is to facilitate fair relationship among all the stakeholders. Our desire is for the development, industrialization, foreign direct investment. There are 51 gold mining sites in Ijesaland and 3 is currently mined by the Thore exploration limited. We still have 48 gold mining sites that is unexplored so far which we can bring more people in across the world to come in and be of benefit to the people of Ijesaland.
“The vision is to make people and the stakeholders come together to ensure that Ijesaland becomes the industrial mining hub of Nigeria. We are determined to give this process our best and let the stakeholders see the multi various benefits associated with mining activities reflect in our people.“