The traditional ruler of Erin-Ijesa, a community in Oriade Local Government Area of Osun State, Oba Isaac Adeyeba Ayeni, Akinla of Erin-Ijesa, has expressed displeasure over the sorry state of Erin-Ijesa Waterfall, a natural tourist attraction centre under the management of the state government.
The monarch, in an interview with Journalists at his palace, said the state government was not serious about developing the tourist centre adding that the government refused to create enabling environment for investors.
According to Oba Ayeni, the state government refused to hand over the tourist centre to him to manage after meeting with the state governor, Gboyega Oyetola and his predecessor, Rauf Aregbesola.
He said the access road to the famous Waterfall has been in a state of disrepair and stressed the need for the state government to optimize the centre or allow him to manage it and remit the necessary tax to the state government’s purse.
The monarch also cried out over the lack of hospitals in the community disclosing that ailing residents of the community go miles to neighbouring towns like Ijebu-Jesa, Ilesa before receiving treatment.
He said that since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state government has failed to bring vaccines for residents of the community neither have they been able to partake in INEC’s voter’s registration because of lack of amenities.
The monarch also disclosed that one of the indigenes of the community, Pastor Folorunsho Kumuyi, the founder and General Superintendent of the Deeper Christian Life Ministry, has not done anything to develop the community.
“I am pained to the bone marrow that the government has not optimised Erin-Ijesa Waterfall and this neglect has further impoverished my town and people. I have met with former Governor Rauf Aregbesola and the incumbent Governor Gboyega Oyetola for them to allow me to manage the tourist centre and remit the tax to the government but they have refused.
“Erin-Ijesa is an agrarian community, an ancient town founded since 1140AD. Our major occupation is agriculture. We also have Olumirin waterfall. So, Erin-Ijesa is a tourist site. We settled here purposely because of this waterfall. Unfortunately, the waterfall is still yearning for development all this years, and we have been appealing to the various government to see what they can do to bring it to do required standard.
“We will not relent until something is done. We are also appealing to individual investors, both local and foreign to see what they can do because what I could see now us that we can not totally depend on the government. May be for political reason or any other reason, I don’t think government is too serious to develop tourist centre. They are used to sharing oil money at the centre rather than looking elsewhere to see where they can generate money.
“Osun State Government has refused to create enabling environment for investors to visit my town. The access road which the government started in 2017, with a promise of completing it within three months, has been abandoned. My people rely on the Erin-Ijesa water for drinking and other use and I have cried to the government to assist in treating the water but nothing has been done. My people’s lives are being endangered daily.
“When I ascended the throne, I went to the then Governor Rauf Aregbesola in 2016. I asked him to release the waterfall to me. I will manage it, bring investor and pay tax to the government. He is not disposed to that. I’ve also done the same thing to meet the present governor. Till now, they are the one managing the waterfall. What they are doing is just collecting gatefees.
“They are collecting entrance fee without development. My view is that government has no business in running this tourist centre. What they need to do is to provide enabling environment that will attract private investors. What I mean by enabling environment is to provide good access road, security, electricity that will attract investors.
“As we speak, the state of the road is very bad. So, if there is no access, how do you attract investors. The government promised to do the 1.5km road at the center to the waterfall, more than four years ago, the road is still waiting for completion. Security is bad. If you go to our police station, you will meet just two policemen. Many time, you will not find them at the station. They might have been recalled for special duties. Tourist will not feel safe in that kind of town.
“There is no hospital in Erin-Ijesa. No constant electricity. Once anyone falls ill or there is an emergency, we have to rush the person to Ijebu-Jesa or Ilesa for treatment. At the Waterfall, should there be an emergency, there is no medical facility for treatment.
“We have been bringing private investors to do something. If you notice a side of the road to the site being cleared, it has nothing to do with the government. They are just trying to build a resort. So, if we can being to do that, why I won’t be able to manage the waterfall.
“From the little data gather so far, that place attract over 50,000 tourists annually. As we speak, the gate fee is N1,000 per adult and N500 for children. We have more people during the festive periods. Just on gate fees. Then, you can imagine, if there are cablecast, if there are lifts, if there are swimming pool and other activities, you still have to pay apart from gate fee.
“If people pay for all the activities, you will see huge amount of money that will help the government and the community. People will be able to sell pure water, sell food and a lot of things. So, there is huge benefit. Everywhere you have a tourist centre, not only in Nigeria, around the world, it benefit the community, and that is what I want for my community.
“What I’m saying us that we shouldn’t concentrate everything on the gate fees. We are not optimising the benefit we suppose to derive from that place.
“In Erin-Ijesa, there is no place for my people to participate in voter’s registration. We only have two policemen at our police post. If government develops this tourist attraction, our economy will be improved and basic amenities like roads, hospitals and electricity will be provided for my people,” the monarch said.
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