Ooni Ogunwusi, Farmers At ‘War’ Over Development Levy
By Sola Sadiq – –
Plans by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, to float a Trust Fund for the development of the ancient town may have run into a hitch, if feelers reaching us are anything to go by.
Shortly after he ascended the throne, the monarch while enumerating his plans for the town, disclosed that the fund would be channeled towards executing developmental projects that would impact positively on the economy of the town and reduce youth unemployment.
But at a recent meeting held with farmers in the state, Oba Ogunwusi reiterated his earlier promise, asking the farmers, particularly those who specialised in cocoa, to contribute levies into the trust fund.
According to sources, at the meeting, the monarch impressed it on his subjects who were said to have made a fortune in the outgone farming season to donate ‘a token’ into the trust fund, which would be managed by a Board of Trustees comprising credible and eminent indigenes of the town.
But to the monarch’s shock, the farmers vehemently opposed the idea, arguing that “the culture of the town only allow non-indigenes to pay royalty for the development of the town.”
The farmers were also alleged to have reminded Oba Ogunwusi that his predeccessor, Oba Okunade Sijuade, never bothered them with such requests despite using his extensive network with a former military regime to, not only ‘annex” thousands of acres of the farmland from a neighbouring town, but in addition, selling it to Ife indigenes at a ‘give-away’ price of N5,000 for every 10 acres in the mid-90s.
To further express their displeasure, those present at the meeting were said to have sung songs praising Oba Sijuade, much to the embarrassment of the Oba Ogunwusi.
With the meeting deadlocked, it is not immediately clear if Oba Ogunwusi would go ahead with the implementation of the trust fund or jettison the idea completely.