Before now, marble, which appears to be the hallmark of Igbeti, was a project site that catered for thousands of Nigerians as far as employment opportunity was concerned.
Today, the story has taken a different dimension as what used to be a source of revenue generation for both the government and individuals is now in a sorry state.
Historically, this natural resource “marble stone” was discovered in the town (Igbeti) in 1976 during the time of government of the western region then, when digging a deep well in order to tap water for the Igbeti community, which is one of the project Igbeti community benefitted from the then western government. Since then several efforts and plans were been put in place by the people of Igbeti to see that the marble stone found was explore to bring development to Igbeti community. And this makes them to to contact a mining company who would explore the marble stone, so they contacted the company of chief E.O Ashamu called Igbeti Marble Mining(IMM) who they believe would improve the economy of Igbeti through the marble mining, with the backing of the then Governor of Oyo State, the late Chief Bola Ige, who commissioned the marble’s project first site. The company of Chief E.O Ashamu made necessary contacts and agreement with Igbeti people purposely to use marble to develop Igbeti structurally, economically, and educationally. And consequently, the investment opened up Igbeti to the outsiders and also opened door of employment opportunities to its sons and daughters. The company tried to fulfill his agreement and objectives but crisis upon crisis was faced by the company. In order to bring sanity to the marble mining, the Government of the Oyo state newly created then came out with a Gazette No. 32 in 1976 spelling out some specifications governing the marble mining.
The presence of IMM undertook, services that impacted positively on the life of the indigenes, Scholarships were given to students who are indigenes while many were sponsored to holy pilgrimage by this company.
It is sad that despite the development brought to Igbeti by IMM, crisis upon crisis did not bring peace to marble mining. This motivated the the Government of Oyo state to take over the marble sites from IMM on December 21st, 1978. On November 8th, 1982 Federal Government again weded into the marble mining crisis that resulted in a legal matter, and closed it. After its total reorganization with holders, th Federal Government reopend the marble mining site on April 4th, 1986 under a new company called Nigeria Marble Mining Company (NMMC) under this company, they had Directors. Administrative and Defence, under the company brought out shares of thr marble mining. The Federal Government had 20% shares, Oyo state Government 30% shares, Local Government 10% shares, Igbeti Marble Mining (IMM) 25% shares, Technical Partner 15% shares. The number of Directors were eleven (11). The Federal Government will have two(2), the State Government three(3), the local government (1), IMM (3) and technical partner two(2).
The life span if this company did not last because of many reasons mixed with litigations, politics and internal pressures. While some people, sympathetic to the industrialist’s interest were brimming with hope of a redress.
However, today, the two active marble sites in Igbeti; Alaguntan and Ogun road (along Igboho road) are under new operators.The site along Igboho road is currently on the licence of Morlap Mining Limited.
Surprisingly, mining exploration works are being done manually with workers daily sweating it out under scorching sun.
There is no prize for guessing that the workers are not happy. Even though none of them offered to speak, their body language spoke louder than their voice, regretting their choice of work.
Few of the peoole left at the sites are just there because they don’t have another job to do. Their condition is poor and there is nothing we can do because they must not take into crime.
It is very sad and nauseating to see them working so hard and returning home with peanut. Yet we see trucks carrying marble out of town to make good money.
We appreciate the Oyo state Government for the move to revamp the marble mining sites but, it is unfortunate that, the effort and move by the past administration did not yield much positive result on the reviving of marble mining sites and no improvement in the community, considering the fact that committee was just be set up so as to engaged people in government rather than do the expected.
To this effect, I am charging Governor Seyi Makinde not to do the same by just setting up committee to empower and get some people engaged in his government, as there are times political tools will not necessary work in governance, rather the state government should work towards seeing that the marble mining site reopen and explore the opportunity of this solid mineral (the purest marble in the world), especially during this time of diversification to develop Igbeti, Oyo State and Nigeria. As it will bring commensurate opportunity to the state government, and the community. It will even serve enhace employment opportunities, as at the time the marble mining is being managed by Ashamu’s company, over 2000 people were working at the site. So reviving Igbeti marble mining is a means of employment scheme.