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OYO101: Makinde’s Response To Bodija Explosion Was Top-notch But More Needed To Be Done | Muftau Gbadegesin

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As the entertainment hub of Ibadan, Oyo state capital, Bodija is always a bubbling zone. It houses preeminent nightclubs, residential apartments, shopping malls, eateries, places of worship, government offices, hotels, and so on. But at night, the busyness of that place is always at another level — reaching a dizzying peak.

Wale Adewale had just returned from shower after a long day at work but the sudden blast and eruption of what sounded like an explosion jolted him. It was only a matter of time before the quake reached his apartment. In one fell swoop, he was struggling for his life. Uncertain of what to do, he buried his head under his pillow and prayed for divine safety.

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Hours later, the sound of police sirens and first responders woke him from a deep slumber. When he finally lifted his head to see what was happening around him, he couldn’t believe his eyes. Typical of any techies, he quickly dashed to social media to get a sense of what was happening. On X, he was gob-smacked at various viral videos flying around on the platform. Later, he was rescued and lodged in a hotel by the state government. For close to an hour, it was hard to reach a meaningful conclusion on the cause of Tuesday’s explosion.

Many fake news purveyors and misinformation merchants parroted the same old lies of terrorist attack but the swift intervention of the government bridged the information gap. Until evidence began to emerge that the explosion might be the handiwork of ‘illegal miners’ in the area.

“I can authoritatively inform you that the explosion in Ibadan is the handiwork of a Malian immigrant engaged in mining operations in the Oke-Ogun area of Oyo state,” Barrister Muideen Olagunju wrote on his Facebook page. He said the Malian by the name of Sawane Youssouf has been stockpiling explosives in a house for years. And that the explosives are for his extensive mining business.

By the time the Governor visited the site of the blast, people were already eager to know exactly what happened. As expected, the Governor jumped into action by dousing tension, calling for calm while promising to bring culprits to book. Right from the night of the blast till today, no one is in doubt as far as the Governor’s unwavering commitment at unraveling the mystery around that incident. Unlike the reactive approach of the Governor to the Igangan mayhem, he has been quite proactive in handling the Bodija blast. It is now even confirmed by the Governor that the explosion was indeed connected to foreigners.

Since the identities of the miners are known, what then makes them illegal as rumored and speculated by a section of the media? An organization registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission can never be illegal. Or can it? Barrister Olagunju in his Facebook post further alleged that the security agents are complicit in this whole tragedy and noted that the man at the center of this tragedy has been petitioned by the host communities on different occasions. “Lots of documents were found strewn on the grounds of surrounding houses that reveal Sawane to have been involved in several petitions to the police, particularly the mining host communities in Iwajowa Local Government of Oyo State” Barrister Olagunju confirmed.

More questions will be raised as the investigation on this matter progresses. Lots of cover-ups are likely going to be uncovered and different stories will emerge as investigators beam their searchlights on different players in this saga. I am particularly interested in the complexities around mining in a country where anyone can have their way with their cash. While many expressed shocks at the ways explosive devices found their way into residential apartments, I wasn’t in any way surprised. Isn’t it an open secret that our security architecture lacks the sophistication to detect whether a residential building houses explosive devices? Isn’t it true that you can’t give what you don’t have? How much do you need to tip an officer of the law on the road to let you go with anything inside your bonnet?

What does being realistic mean in this context? It means accepting that the security agents in the country have no means of identifying any building where explosives are stockpiled. Plus, when you know the number of unoccupied houses inside Bodija, you will realize it is quite easy to keep mining stuff where people live without batting an eye. As Nigerians, we rely more on divine security and safety than the one provided by the government. Those foreigners like their Nigerian counterparts know this and take advantage of it.

For those who may not know what goes into mining activities. Here is a portrait: a particular community has a huge deposit of lithium on its soil. Unfortunately, that community lacks both the means to extract the white gold and the money to bring in experts. In that case, it will rely on external forces to mine, and give cash in return. But before the whole arrangement is perfected, the government must have consented.

To have proper documents, staffers of the Federal Ministry of Mine and Steel Development must consent and approve. To get those guys to do your bidding quickly, you will need to grease their palms. Once you do that, next are the security operatives. With moneybags, your identity and nationality matter less. After you are done settling everyone, the next is to start exploration and extraction. As a wise businessman, you will not also forget to have yeomen among the locals. If the community heads have price tags, you quickly buy them for your side. And damn whatever hazards your business might pose to the people. once you rob Peter to pay Paul, you are good to go.

One day, some educated elites will rise to fight for their ancestral lands. Or one local politician will see the prospect of your dealings and set up his local army to wrestle the land with you. To find relevant examples, take a brief look at the Zamfara gold rush, Plateau tin tiff, and Niger Delta militant agitations.

The outcome of Makinde’s government investigation will either restore people’s trust in the system or dampen their resolve. Either way, the time to address the menace and atrocities of illegal mining is now, for the well-being, and safety of the State and the preservation of its rich ecological heritage.

PS: the name Wale Adewale is not the real name of one of the victims.

OYO101 is Muftau Gbadegesin’s opinion about issues affecting Oyo state and is published every Saturday. He can be reached via @muftaugbade on X, muftaugbadegesin@gmail.com and 09065176850.

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