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SPECIAL REPORT: Benin Republic Lures Nigerians With Healthcare, Infrastructure In Ogun – INVESTIGATION (1)

Daud Olatunji

PLATFORM TIMES’ investigation has uncovered that numerous border communities in the Yewa-North Local Government in Ogun State, totaling 47, are grappling with a severe shortage of basic amenities. 

This dire situation has reached a point where Benin Republic actively recruits Nigerians, particularly in the state, enticing them with promises of well-maintained roads, hospitals, schools, and allowances—services allegedly neglected by the Nigerian government. 

PLATFORM TIMES gathered that the allure of an alternative to Nigeria, accompanied by naturalization and citizenship perks, has prompted many Nigerians to seriously consider a permanent relocation to Benin Republic.

A visit to Gbokoto-Isale, a border community with Benin Republic, revealed that the residents face a myriad of challenges.

 It was gathered that the absence of a hospital stands out as the most urgent issue affecting over 40 communities in the Yewa-North local government area of Ogun State. 

PLATFORM TIMES’s investigation revealed that residents in the area endure untold hardships due to health challenges, exacerbated by the absence of a healthcare center.

 It was also gathered that the dire situation has forced many residents to consume unhygienic water, leading to outbreaks of diseases like cholera and diarrhea.

Further findings showed that desperate for medical attention, residents often cross the border to Benin Republic, where they are enticed with promises of an easy change of nationality and the prospect of becoming permanent citizens.

In a conversation with PLATFORM TIMES, some residents shared their experiences, lamenting that life is no more kind to them due to the dearth of basic amenities. 

A concerned community member, Gabriel Monday, highlighted the urgency of addressing healthcare issues. 

The lack of government intervention has resulted in Nigerians settling across the border, building houses, and obtaining dual citizenship, ultimately casting votes in Benin Republic elections.

The education sector is not spared from the challenges, as a collapsed government-owned school still awaits reconstruction. 

PLATFORM TIMES uncovered that parents resort to sending their children to schools in Benin Republic due to the delayed response from Nigerian authorities. 

PLATFORM TIMES observed that despite promises of school construction starting in February by the state government, the community pleads for swift action to rescue their children’s education.

PLATFORM TIMES further gathered that the deteriorating state of roads adds to the community’s shame, as they enter through Benin Republic due to impassable routes. 

Gabriel said Benin Republic citizens mock them over these infrastructural challenges, creating a sense of inferiority among the Nigerian residents.

 Fleeing from Fulani herdsmen attacks initially drove people from Ogun State to Benin Republic, where they were accommodated in IDP camps. Gabriel said while some returned to Nigeria after fleeing from attacks from Fulani herdsmen, others chose to stay due to the perceived better treatment and care they received across the border.

Gabriel said, “the lack of a hospital is the most challenging problem confronting the residents of over 40 communities, including Gbokoto-Isale, in the Yewa-North local government area of the state. It is not a sin that God settled us in the border area. What is now a sin is for the government to fail in its responsibility. 

“The residents in the area are going through untold hardships, but they have no choice. They face health challenges on a daily basis. On the lack of water, many people have been consuming dirty water collected from gutters. 

“They have been struck by cholera, diarrhea, and many other illnesses that trouble them. They have no choice but to cross the border for treatment, and these Benin Republic citizens are devising means to lure Nigerians to their country and make them permanent citizens.

“They have offered an easy change of nationality, telling them that being neighbors, it does not take much effort to cross to the other side.

 “As a result, many Nigerians have started moving en masse, buying lands, and settling down there to benefit from government dividends, which is not supposed to be. 

“They build houses and turn themselves into Benin Republic citizens. Many of them now have dual citizenship and cast votes due to the failure of Nigerian leaders. The problems of the healthcare center should be addressed. 

“Regarding the school, we are still waiting for the government to begin the construction of the collapsed school, which belongs to the government. It is Yewa North Local Government Primary School. The remaining classrooms were a result of community efforts.

 “On a daily basis, parents take their children to Benin Republic. We have been begging them to bring back their children. The government said it would start in February. We beg them to start and rescue us.

“The issues of roads make us ashamed to claim that place as ours. It is an ancient place, and we enter through Benin Republic. 

“The Benin Republic citizens have been mocking us over bad roads, lack of hospitals, as well as our devalued naira.

 “Initially, people ran away from Fulani herdsmen attackers. Since they got to Benin Republic and were kept in ID camps, many of them did not return.

 The country took care of them, providing food and free delivery for pregnant women. I know three of them. 

“They have started comparing the situation of Nigeria to Benin Republic and resolved to settle there. We begged them, and a few returned.

 However, those who returned have started asking us what they gain by returning to Nigeria.

“We beg the government to provide facilities to encourage those who have fled to Benin Republic to return. I can tell you authoritatively that not all of them returned.

 “In fact, many refuse to return; they are still there. Some have returned with the hope that if the government meets their demands, they have made Benin Republic an alternative to Nigeria. 

“They have been given voter cards, citizenship cards, and nationalized many Nigerians, poaching Nigerians in Ogun state with packages such as good roads, hospitals, schools, and allowances, which the Nigerian government has failed to provide.” 

Some residents of the communities plead for the government’s intervention to address these challenges, amidst Benin Republic’s strategic efforts to attract Nigerians. 

PLATFORM TIMES observes that only urgent need for comprehensive solutions can prevent further loss of citizens and maintain the integrity of the nation.

Neglected Villages In Yewa-North Cry Out For Basic Amenities

In a distressing revelation, Oba Ganiyu Olukunle, Asale of Isale, Gbokoto-Isale, Ketu, has drawn attention to the dire living conditions in the 47 towns and villages situated within the Yewa-North North local government area of the State. 

Lamentably, these communities are grappling with severe water scarcity, lack of electricity, and the absence of a hospital. 

According to Oba Olukunle, among the affected areas are Pedepo, Obele, Baayun, and Ohunbe, which were once part of Gbokoto-Isale but now face their unique set of challenges. 

Oba Olukunle said the litany of hardships extends to Ikotun, Igbonlokun, Kobejo-Aladura, Mosan, Ita Kasia village, Ijoko-Abikanlu, Ijoko, Ijoko-Agande, where the absence of water and electricity is a harsh reality. 

Disturbingly, even the simple necessities like water and electricity are elusive in Baayun, Obele, Pedepo, and Abule-Idi. 

He lamented that residents are left with no choice but to trek, as no motorcycles can navigate the dilapidated roads once they leave Gbokoto. 

According to him, this isolation affects villages such as Isuku, Okoso, Agbelepo, Asa, and Ibeku, all facing the same grim reality of no water and electricity. 

Oba Olukunle emphasizes the interconnectedness of these communities, advocating that if Gbokoto, as their father, has the necessary facilities, the other towns and villages should benefit from them.

He urges collective action to alleviate the suffering of these neglected areas.

The cry for basic amenities echoes through the 47 towns and villages, as the inhabitants hope that their plea will not fall on deaf ears. 

The urgency to address these pressing issues is now more apparent than ever, highlighting the need for immediate intervention and investment in infrastructure to bring relief to the beleaguered residents of Yewa-North. 

The monarch said, “47 towns and villages in the Yewa-North North local government area of Ogun State lack water, electricity, and hospitals.

Some of the towns and villages include Pedepo, Obele, Baayun, and Ohunbe, which were carved out from Gbokoto-Isale. 

“Ikotun has no water or electricity, Igbonlokun lacks both, Kobejo-Aladura, Mosan, Ita Kasia village, Ijoko-Abikanlu, Ikoko, and Ijoko-Agande. 

“Apart from Ohunbe, Baayun has no water or electricity, Obele lacks both, Pedepo has no water or electricity, and Abule-Idi faces the same challenges. 

“When you leave Gbokoto, you can only access the place by trekking; no motorcycle can ply the road. 

“Isuku and Okoso have no water or electricity, Agbelepo lacks both, Asa has no water or electricity, and Ibeku faces the same issues. All these villages have communities under them.”

The Profile Of Neglected Communities

The vibrant Gbokoto-Isale Land in Ketu stands as a testament to cultural resilience and determination under the leadership of Oba Olukunle. 

As the ruler of this unique kingdom, Oba Olukunle shares insights into the historical intricacies that have shaped Isale Land’s significance in Ogun State. 

Gbokoto-Isale Land, divided into Benin and Nigerian sides, boasts a rich history marred by a boundary dispute. 

The monarch passionately addresses the challenges faced by the community due to the division, emphasizing the need for a careful boundary adjustment to avoid turning villagers into citizens of Benin without their consent. 

The monarch, crowned in 1998, recalls the bureaucratic hurdles faced in rectifying the situation.

 He said that despite his efforts to engage local government authorities, the issue remained unresolved, leading to community tensions during meetings between the two sides. 

Oba Olukunle’s diplomatic approach ensured a peaceful resolution, averting potential clashes and emphasizing the need for open dialogue.

 Celebrating 25 years on the throne, the monarch turns his attention to developmental issues within the community. 

He recounts the struggles to establish a school, highlighting the bureaucratic red tape hindering progress.

 Undeterred, he said he actively engages with government officials, pressing for support to complete the school infrastructure, thereby securing a brighter future for the community’s youth. 

The monarch also addresses the infrastructural challenges, particularly the inconvenient route to Gbokoto that forces residents to enter Benin before returning to Nigeria. 

Oba Olukunle expresses disappointment in the government’s neglect, urging a collaborative effort between the Benin and Nigerian sides to address the issue and ensure seamless connectivity for the indigenous people. 

Furthermore, the monarch draws attention to the socioeconomic disparities between Gbokoto-Isale Land and the Benin side, emphasizing the need for the Nigerian government to prioritize the welfare of its citizens. 

He highlights the struggle faced by those on the Benin side, still using the French currency, while the community operates with the Nigerian naira.

 In the face of these challenges, the monarch remains resolute in his commitment to preserving Isale Land’s heritage, fostering unity, and securing a prosperous future.


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