Behold the oldest Vendor in Akure

Pa Gabriel Ayodele Ajayi

…………Oldest Vendor in Akure

……….. His favourite song

……..Sold newspapers during Civil war

……..Honest and faithful man

As the old man got to the  Newspapers’ Distributing/ Agent’s office at Oyemekun Road, Akure    to  collect his papers for the day’s  sales ,   he firstly  glanced through all the newspapers   reading  the headlines  before he   packed his own allotted   newspapers for  sale  for the day .

      He  placed  some newspapers   on  the top bar  and others on the handlebars stem of  his Raleigh bicycle, mounted it and sat on the saddle , peddling  as he   rode  away . ”He would not return until  there is no single paper on his bike ”, one of the Vendors told this reporter on that Monday morning.

That is Pa Gabriel Ayodele  Ajayi who has been a newspaper vendor  for over 50 years.

        His dressing is unique, he wears simple but casual dress with a Bucket  Hat on his head   to  keep him away from the scorching sun. He gets to the Agent’s office as early as 6:30am.

   The old man sells for the high and the low in Akure the capital of Ondo State. He knows many streets, many big men in Akure here , and also   all the nooks and crannies here too. Speaking  with the old man proved a little bit difficult for he was in haste to go out and sell his newspapers. In addition, the man is a man of few words as  he managed to respond to this reporter’s questions  . Asked when he has been selling newspapers , he responded  ” I have been selling newspapers for over 50 years. I sold newspapers  during the Nigerian Civil War when  the war  was hot. I have lived for many years in this town   (Akure)”. Asked whether it is true that he was once a photographer , he smiled  but did not give an answer. When asked  about his family, he declined to answer. Asked the time he would come back from selling his papers, he replied  ” when I finished selling ”.

     Asked another question again, he refused to answer , as he  put on his Bucket’s Hat , he adjusted himself , pushed his bicycle , mounted it and left.

”Although his hearing is  partially impaired yet he could  understand and get what he want.  He is a disciplinarian and does not tolerate nonsense , he time conscious and   always the first vendor to come here and pick his newspapers to sale. He goes out early and closes by 3:30pm ”, said a Vendor. Baba  celebrated his 75 birthday two years ago, the Vendor added.

        One of the vendors  at the  Distribution Centre said ” this man is popular and known  all over Akure here and  he  sells to  the high and the low. I met him doing the job. I believe he has old customers and supplies to individuals”.

HIS BICYCLE & HIS HONEST LIFE 

       Looking at his  Raleigh   bicycle one would know that it has seen ages!. Chief Alade Adewale ( a one- time  Newspaper Agent )  spoke  about the  septuagenarian Vendor and his  bicycle, he  said ” Baba’s  bicycle  is over 17 years old and he  bought it brand new.  He used to collect newspapers from me. The man is a mystery . He does not cheat, if he is paid in excess by mistake he would refund the money.  Nobody knows about his family ,nobody knows his wife or kid”.

      Adewale continued  ” the old man  is also a photographer , we don’t know much about him  but all we know is that he is from Ikogosi. The   man is ever  neat, always at alert , well  kitted , well dressed  as he wears apron to show his  professionalism”.

     The old Vendor’s motto is   ” We should look  for peace not war ”. His  common saying  is “Keep Nigeria one is a task to be done ” and this is what he has been shouting when he came , another Vendor stated.

        John Kolawole said  Pa Ajayi  always tell them the stories about the   Nigeria’s Civil War , ” he  told us about  the Civil war  of 1966/67 and June 12 1993 and the 1983 Governorship crisis  of  Ondo  State where he  went out  selling his papers . He would sing  Laarin ota ibon, yiyan le mi o yan ,  (I will march on in the middle of hail of bullets ) .

     Tayo Ade a Vendor said ” Baba always sing songs of encouragement and tells us  stories of how he used to sell newspapers during the Nigerian  Civil War. He is ever neat and straightforward”

   Another Vendor said the old man plays  with everybody.  If he dies today they will call all  vendors to come and attend his burial and pay homage to him  because he is faithful to the organization , he does not miss any meeting”.

What  a hardworking, dutiful and honest Vendor!

This was the last  interview  conducted  with him.

NOTE:

The old man passed on four months ago. He has since been buried in his home town,  Ogotun-Ekiti

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They dig, they die

IJERO EKITI

They  dig , they die

For many years Ijero  in Ekiti State has been invaded by illegal miners who are  foreigners and natives while the town is on the bridge to cave in, taiwoabiodun.com investigates

see video here

Unperturbed as he exhibited unusual confidence while strolling about the huge excavation site for the proverbial goldmine. The young man, a Kano indigene simply identified as Ahmed  was ably accompanied by his able lieutenant and  labourer, Abubakar from Bauchi, who obviously was wearing a frowned  face. He took his spade and headed towards the dug tunnel.

The duo hinted this reporter that they came on a voyage in search of precious stones which are readily available in commercial quantity  in Ijero.

After waiting  for over one  hour for Abubakar to appear at the other end the long wait at the lonely and unsightly enclave appears to this reporter an endless one.

A trip to Ijero Ekiti in search of gold made these two friends left their homes to search for greener pastures

One of the residents revealed that the town city Centre is besieged  daily by  indigenes of different nationalities, name it: Togolese , Lebanese , Sudanese, Liberian, Cotonou , Senegalese, as well as Europeans who stormed the ancient town for similar reason.

However, the ecological threat caused by illegal mining activities in IJERO and its environs cannot be over emphasized even as the spiral effect on the water sourced majorly from the wells is believed to be injurious to the health of thousands of hapless IJERO residents.

ABUBAKAR -AN ILLEGAL MINER GOING UNDERGROUND IN SEARCH OF PRECIOUS STONES                                                             PHOTO:TAIWO ABIODUN

 

Unless urgent steps are taken by concerned authorities, the entire IJERO community, despite the huge deposits of rich mineral resources, may soon face the imminence of socio-  economic degradation resulting in health hazards, no thanks to mining operations giving outsiders false impression that all is well with them.

There is no doubt that the ancient town is blessed  with  mineral deposits.

According  to Mr. M. Yewande “Ijero is blessed with solid mineral resources that is next to Jos. What we have here can sustain this town if well tapped .We have chiefly among them  : limestone, gold, bauxite, copper, turmaline, cushy, feldspar ,cataract, foundry  sand, costa mica, tantalite, ruby, rubilite, sodonite, prodonite, tin, columbite, diamond , bauxite, iron and kaolin.We equally have gold which is yet untapped”.

How illegal  miners work

There are a lot of illegal miners in the land , according to a source who begged for anonymity. One of the illegal miners explained  how they get the precious stones  , “when  we sight a certain stone we would dig  that place of over 200 feet deep and this leads us again to  sight another stone ( which acts as a pointer  to where we are going) then we continue digging until we  again come across  some specific   stones which leads you ahead  that you are getting there for  they are like a compass  locating where these  precious stones are”.

Aside this , the illegal miner continued “there is a chemical  used to blast these stones , we  would fix it with wire and move away from the place , at least some feet away and connect it with the battery  then blast it  and within 20 minutes to  one hour its all over, then some stones would be exposed while water would be oozing  from the area and the next thing to do is to use pumping machine to drain the water and continue blasting the rock sighted”.

How we get the land

Another illegal miner said “We buy some portion  of land for 400 naira per day and will be checking whether we would get these precious stones  , if we get them it’s our luck and if we don’t get them we have lost our 400 Naira. However we have a group and the group is divided into seven while  each group would divide themselves and part ways and  whoever gets luck to get a place where mineral  deposits are  would call  others and then the digging starts “, the  man explained

Death on the prowl

These mining sites had recorded a lot of deaths .”In a year over 10 official deaths were reported not to talk of  those  secretly buried. Many  died when   the excavated sand  caves  – in. Many at times  illegal miners  would fall into the deep trenches dug  or    heaped sand would  fall  on many and buried them alive “, said an illegal miner.

A young man said ” when they die we would use long rope to bring the corpses out from the dug holes. A source said ” at least an average of 20 people die in this process. Last year,  I know about six people who died in the process.They tied a rope and went into the hole and tied  it on the body of the boy and brought it out.However , while they announced the few natives that died there  but we record high number of deaths  from the Hausas and foreigners  whose history are not known”. A man said his cousin  died in one of the  dug holes last year, he said ” we were at home when his friends  came to inform us that my cousin had died  while scooping  the earth.We cried and  cried and cried for he was yet to get married.

“Another incidence happened when a boy after he had finished (in the dug well ) a rope  used to bring him out cut in the process and he fell back  into the pit , he broke his neck and his back that was all.He was eventually tied again and brought out dead!.

“But when a foreigner dies they would say it is the wish of Allah and no cries while some would be buried in the ground”.

 

Native connivance

No one can be trusted as some unscrupulous natives connive with outsiders  to loot the town.The financial gains realized from these resources  is either pocketed or go into private pocket or taken away by these foreigners .

Most of the high class people one looks up to as rich men  are thieves who assist these foreigners and put them through on how  and where to get these products. In the end these so called big men would collect money and get away.

Yewande is concerned  about them , he said ” there is no development here.There is no impact that these precious stones are found here because they are carted away with the connivance of big men in our community. Many have  become sick because of the blasts of these stones. The illegal blasting has created a lot of problems here.Many developed  hearing problems , mental disturbance, fear of lead  poisoning has led to deaths of many. Madam Mary Adefebi said she had no peace and her sleep was always disrupted when she was admitted at the Specialist Hospital where blasting was done behind the hospital .” In the night I would be hearing blasts and my eardrum was always affected.A woman collapsed and died one day as a result of the blast because she was hypertensive”.

Another complainant whose house is close to the fields said ”many houses are shaking for they had dredged most of these places.One day houses would be sinking .I pray the State government should assist us in this.

Yewande said what happened in Zamfara ( as people were drinking poisoned water) will soon happen here.

The royal father who is not impressed about the environment and with frowned look said ” what we have here is pure looting , people come from Sudan, Moronvia, Togo, Cotonou  , Senegal, Europe .

Solution

Group Captain Ropo Aiyegbusi ( retired) one of the notable indigenes of the state decried the situation and said the fault comes from leaders of the community who did not cooperate with the vigilante group ,he asked ” How many have they arrested? .It is connivance , some of our people do plan with these unscrupulous elements to steal our resources. We have many foreigners  who are staying here illegally and because of our precious stones stay behind here stealing and looting ..

“How many of these people have the license to use? Do they pay to the local government what they are supposed to pay ? What of the state and the federal government ? Don’t we have law that covers mining? . I know it is not yet time for God to intervene ,People are dying silently”, he added.

An Honourable  who begs for anonymity also lamented on how some notable and influential people connive with the natives and loot their precious stones.