I used to ply the Ibadan – Akure road regularly until December 2016 when I almost ran into an ambush by armed robbers around Ilara-Mokin. I saw an oncoming vehicle flashing us at top speed. I told my driver it seemed something was amiss. He reduced his speed and it was another oncoming vehicle that screamed ‘armed robbers’! We did a U-turn immediately and detoured into the bush. Other vehicles followed us. I opened the door and ran out. I removed my tie and jacket. A call was put through to the police and a contingent of Mobile Policemen engaged the armed robbers and dislodged them.
It was later I learnt about a professional colleague who was ambushed on that road, dragged out of his vehicle into the bush with his dead body recovered by the members of the Oodua People Congress after three days of intensive search. His driver took a bullet in the back as he tried to escape. I don’t know if he survived. Onukaba Adinoyi-Ojo died around that same spot a few months after my experience. According to reports, the veteran journalist was knocked down by an oncoming vehicle while running into a nearby bush to escape an armed robbery attack. After my terrible experience, I switched to flying.
With the rising insecurity and increase in kidnapping around that route, so many other things are affected. Insecurity affects the local economy. It breeds poverty. It diminishes the quality of life. There is a very active roadside economy on that axis. So many people like me stop to patronise ‘Akara Iyadunni’ at Ife. With the Agege bread, it’s a perfect combo. It’s a common sight to see cars parked and the akara sellers rushing the passengers. I enjoy ‘dodo Ikire’ that I usually purchase at Ikire. Made from over-ripe plantain and sprinkled with pepper, it’s a local snack that has been with us for ages. I buy snails, yam, yam flour, plantain flour, palm oil, tomatoes and pepper at Gbongan junction. Their snails are bigger and cheaper than what you will get at Oje market. My regular customer that I call ‘Iya Modakeke’ would have missed me. She calls me ‘Baba Odeomu’.
The bush meat on that axis is fresh. You will often see smoked grass-cutters stretched out as if they were crucified, hawked along the Gbongan-Ikire stretch. There is a big market at Owena where you can get all kinds of foodstuff. With the rising insecurity, the local economy will suffer. Some parents won’t be able to put food on the table. School fees deadlines will be missed. Hospital bills may be unpaid.
The bus driver who puts his vehicle on hire purchase will suffer low patronage, may miss his rentals and his bus may be forfeited. He may end up increasing the level of insecurity by becoming a tout or miscreant at the very least. To cope with the mounting pressure, he may become an alcoholic or a druggie.
That girl whose fees the parents are unable to pay may end up pregnant from idleness. Dreams will die. Hopes will be shattered. The negative value chain of insecurity is endless.
If only the people saddled with our security understand that the local economy is the real economy, they will sit up. The first duty of government is the protection of the lives and property of its citizens. Any government that is unable to do this has failed. Its high time Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun state governments addressed insecurity in that area. Ignoring the problem will not solve it.