In Ilu Aje community, Oyo State, there are no young people, no economic activities, no good linking roads, no electricity, and no potable water.
The community has been abandoned by the government, causing great hardship for its residents and ultimately contributing to its desolation. In this report, Jimoh Abdullahi exposes the crude living conditions of the people of Ilu Aje.
Ilu Aje is only 22 kilometres from the bankless Ilora community. Both in Oyo State’s Afijio Local Government Area, Ilu Aje suffers an even worse fate.
The people of Ilu Aje have never had electricity, they share one borehole tap, their market is empty and the road leading to the community is built with logs placed across a drainage.
The town is a ghost town. Residents who could afford to move elsewhere have relocated to neighbouring communities. Even the community’s rulers joined in the exodus.
Folohunso Sunday, the community’s baale, moved to another community. According to Oyebamiji Fatosa, the odofin of the community and all the community chiefs have migrated to other communities, only visiting on occasions.
Fatosa is the only chief still living in the community.
“The life we are living here is very miserable. Our money is valueless because we cannot buy what pleases us. Nobody opens shops here,” he said.
Fatosa lamented about the sorry state of his community. “Didn’t you notice the bumpy road when you were coming?” He asked. “It has been neglected by the government for a very long time, and it is not up to 15 kilometres from here to Fiditi.”
Until August 2022, the people of Ilu Aje passed through Fiditi, a neighbouring community, to gain entry to their town. Now, they pass through a makeshift bridge built over the Itosi stream, often referred to as a drainage by the inhabitants.
According to Fatosa, “many politicians have come to do documentaries on the drainage but there has been no result”.
“When the election comes, our people still vote for them,” he said. “Bushes have overtaken our market. Nobody comes to do any transactions there because there are no good roads or electricity. The only primary school in the community is a Fulani children’s school. Indigenes have relocated their children to schools in neighbouring communities.”
Abandoned Ilu Aje market
It is the absence of electricity that bothers the Odofin the most. He said it was a robbery incident that disrupted the electricity installation.
“It was the sudden halt of the electricity project that pained us. We were very happy when they came to our aid to connect electricity for us.”
‘WHO WANTS TO DIE?’
Fatai Toyosi, 40, said although the government attempted to connect electricity to the town, the project came to a halt when the lawmaker who initiated the project died and the apparatuses stored in his home were stolen.
Toyosi was sitting on a bench under the shade of the Gliricidia opposite her house when I met her. She carried a newborn baby. The heat had driven her out of her home.
“Thieves invaded the place and stole all the apparatuses,” she said. “They vowed to shoot anybody who challenged them, and that was how we stayed away. Who wants to die?” She narrated.
When Segun Taiwo, Oyo State’s federal constituency representative during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure, facilitated the multi-million naira electricity project, the people of Ilu Aje were overjoyed.
Their joy was, however, cut short when robbers burgled all the electrical materials for the project which was already in its concluding phase, leading to the abandonment of the project.
Since 2005, when the project was upended, the community has remained in darkness.
Electrical poles erected in Ilu Aje
Despite being an indigene, Yusuf no longer lives in Ilu Aje. He left because of the deplorable state of the town and now learns a trade in a neighbouring community. According to Yusuf, the amount of stress he faced just to get water to bathe was reason enough to flee. He now only visits on Sundays to work on his farm and see his parents.
“Whenever the dry season comes, all the brooks dry up, and all the people in the town will queue up to fetch water from our one and only borehole. It is very tiring,” he said.
Throughout Ilu Aje, there is only one rickety borehole. All other boreholes and wells are non-operational. The brooks that complement the borehole only have water during the rainy season.
Ilu Aje’s only borehole water
Olasunkanmi Femi Saamson, Ilu Aje’s councillor, said he had been working to have the damaged drainage fixed since he assumed office, but his efforts were yet to yield any result