The Impact of Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OSOPADEC) on the Development of Riverine Communities in Ondo State 2001-2016

Research Paper (undergraduate), 2017

74 Pages


Table of Contents

Statement of Problems
Objectives of the Study
Limitations to the Study
Significance of the Study
Scope of the Study
Literature Review
End Notes

Geographical location of Ilaje Local Government
History of the Origin and Evolution of Ilaje People
Political System of Ilajeland
Theocratic Rule
Traditional Hierarchy in Ilajeland
Economic System of Ilajeland
Socio-cultural System of Ilajeland
Ebi System in Ilajeland
Land System in Ilajeland
Geographical Location of Ese-Odo Local Government
History of the Origin and Evolution of Arogbo-Ijaw and Apoi
Language/Dialect in Ese-Odo LGA
Socio-political system of Ese-Odo
Economic System of Ese-Odo
End Notes

Functions of OSOPADEC
Highlights of the OSOPADEC Law
Roles of the State Governor, House of Assembly, et al
End Notes

Contribution To Health Programme
Contributions To Educational Development
Contributions To Road Construction
Construction of Concrete Landing Jetties and foot bridges
Contribution To Rural Electrification
Contribution To Water Supply Scheme
Agriculture Development Programmes
Skills Acquisition and Poverty Alleviation Programmes
Critical Comments On The Performance Of OSOPADEC
Problems of Riverine Communities in Ondo State
End Notes



I dedicate this work to God Almighty, the giver of life, my fountain of knowledge, spring of understanding, and source of wisdom.

Similarly, I dedicate this work to my late father Titus Eyidoma Egboworomo Esq, CSA, CMA, CA, CNA, MIMS “The Oponnuke of Orisasemi family”, who like yesterday, the sun set on his term and came to the end of the road. Thus, deserted this sinful world to the great beyond. Whom, I am today, a beneficiary of his exemplary life, natural talents, secular training, and whom legacies and, code of strictness inculcate sound virtues in me. May his gentle soul continue to rest in perfect peace in the bosom of God Almighty (Amen)


In the course of my academic sojourn in Adekunle Ajasin University, and the course of this work, I have benefitted from the inestimable assistance and support of certain individuals and institutions. Their efforts made my tutelage in Adekunle Ajasin University enjoyable and this work relatively easy. Thus, it’s sufficient to acknowledge and appreciate them.

First of all, unending glorification to God, who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar for his countless blessings upon me throughout my undergraduate years.

I also knowledge the magnanimous efforts of my Supervisor, Dr. Victoria K. Olugbemi, who equally double as the Acting Head of Department of History and International Studies for her painstaking efforts, gentility and patience in the course of reading this work. Her constructive, moral advice and co-operation ensured that this work was completed, and for all these I am grateful.

To my darling parents, Mr. Robinson and Mrs. Abamitoyi, Margret Ikuemonisan, Deaconess Fokansin Egboworomo, Mrs. Olayinka Egboworomo, Ikuemonisan Cisse and Molayoto words are not enough to express my gratitude for your care, comfort, love and financial blessings which were major ingredients that curried and flavoured my undergraduate programme to a successful completion. My Siblings; Oluwatimilehin, Iseoluwa, Ikuemonisan Monday, Ikuemonisan Yomi, Ayokere Egboworomo, My Aunt; Omolara Egboworomo, the entire Ikuemonisan and Egboworomo Family, My Spiritual father in the Lord; Pastor A.B.A Omolade, Pa. Ephenus Igbahan Ikuomola, Mr. and Mrs. Messiah Sama, I cannot thank you enough for your Advice and love.

I deem it fit to appreciate all lecturers in the Department of History and International Studies for taking me through an enjoyable academic sojourn in AAUA. Worthy of mention are; Prof. Victor O. Edo, Dr. Victoria K. Olugbemi, Dr. Omolere M. Ehinmore, Dr. Ilesanmi A. Paul, Dr. Adedayo E. Afe, Dr. Olusanya Faboyede, Dr. Simon O. Ehiabhi, Mr. Ogunode Sunday Abraham, Mr. Abiodun D. Famoye, Mrs. Oluwasola I. Daniels, Mrs. Abiodun A. Oshin, and Mr. Adedamola Adetiba. Special thanks to Dr. Omolere M. Ehinmore for his numerous scholarly assistance, useful criticism and fatherly advice in the course of this work and my tutelage in Adekunle Ajasin University.

My sincere appreciation goes to Prof. Amos Igbekele Ajibefun {Vice Chancellor of AAUA}, Prof. Benson Monehin Akinnawonu, {Former Dean of Faculty of Arts, and Current Director, Academics Planning Unit, AAUA}, Prof. Olu Emmanuel Alana {Dean of Faculty of Arts}, Dr. Gbenga Abimbola, {Former Sub-Dean}, Dr. C.P Olatunji {Current Sub-Dean}, Mr. Edamisan Stephen Ikuemonisan {Former Personal Assistant to the Vice Chancellor, currently a lecturer in the Faculty of Agriculture}, Mrs. Veronica Olubunmi Ologun {Bursar AAUA} and Jatto Victoria {Senior Personal Secretary to Dean of Arts} for the love shown me as President of Faculty of Arts Students’ Association, AAUA Chapter.

My thanks also go to Barri. Gbenga Edema {OSOPADEC chairman} for the warm reception at the Commission and priviledge giving me to access materials expedient for this work. Special thanks to Mr. Yomi {Staff at OSOPADEC} for his considerable time, and energy in the course of looking for the right and most useful materials for this scholarship undertaken, and for this I am very grateful.

Finally, I acknowledge the set of comrades who worked with me while serving as President of FASA for the 2016/17 Academic Session, the Campus Focus and The Omnificent Magazine Crew for the zeal and passion. Special thanks to Akanji Flourish Olajumoke {FASA Vice President}, Tayo Andrew Oladipo {Editor in Chief, The Omnificent MagIncentive}, Com. Akinjola Segun, Sen. Oloke Olarotimi, for the assiduous work put in place to ensure that FESTAH 2017 was a success. Millions of thanks to Rt. Hon Adebomi Idowu {FASA SRC Speaker] and Hon. Oladipupo Sunday, Hon. Kukute Olaniyi for the understanding and support. Thanks to my darling school mothers; Esho Tosin, Owowa Mercy, Bamidele Hannah Kehinde, and Amuwa Vera Minary for those extremely sumptuous delicacies at my busiest times. Thanks to Sen. Akintoye Akinyemi Don’ Clean, Hon. Ganiyu Oladipupo Hercules, My bosom friend of life; Ologun Anthony, Ayomide Tolulope, George Bayo, Adeosun Francis, Adeyemi Ademeso, Newton Ajinde, All History Class‘17. Thanks to the generality of fasaites for their patience, understanding and support. Special thanks to Prince Adeyelu {My Landlord at FANTASTIC FOUR VILLA}, his wife, and children for the love, and care shown me all through my stay in FAN FOUR. Thanks to Omotosho Yinka, Irinyemi Tosin, Kolawole Eniola, Adekankun Temitope, Miss. Adeshina Boluwatife Margret, Olotu Emmanuel, Adeyelu Odunayo, Adeyelu Ajayi and Adeyelu Opeyemi Gold for the love shown me as Villa Mates. Special thanks to Olugbeje Alaba, Odidiomo Adeolu, Odidiomo Johnson, Miss Ikuomola Morayo, Ukpeli John, Ogazie Obinna, Obogun Bamitale, Adewunmi Tosin, Oladejo Remi, Olajugba Tayo and Agunbiade Samuel for the lovely moments shared. Much thanks to Falade Femi, a quintessential diplomat for the useful assistance in the arts of project writing. Thanks to Ogundairo Tobi {My D.O.P and Editor}, Ejibunu Stella {Lead Role} and all the Crew of my Experimental Film “Just Once”. Thanks to Adebowale Daniel, Uba Franklin, Seun Kentebe, Akin-Tijani Balogun, Ehiz Ojesebholo, and the entire members of Nollywood Screenwriters and Critics for the blessing of Screenwriting as I get better, bigger and become a multi-billionaire in the screenwriting and film arts.



Ondo State has the longest coastline in the riverine areas of the current part of the Niger Delta region of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The overall length of coastline occupied presently by the Ilaje people of the riverine area of Ondo state is estimated at 75km.1 The largely coastal communities currently occupied by the Ilaje, a leading riverine group of Yoruba race, is noted for a number of characteristic of ecological zone, which includes lowland rain forests, sandy and sometimes clay coastal ridge barriers, swamps and seasonal swamp forests, saline and fresh water mangroves2. Riverine communities in Ondo State however, are areas in the Southern Senatorial District of the State, precisely in Ese-Odo and Ilaje Local Government Areas of the State. It consists of three major ethnic groups which are the Apoi, Arogbo-Ijaw, and Ilaje. Based on its geographical and geological profile, these areas qualified Ondo State to be one of the nine oil producing states that are largely coastal and low-lying, members of the Niger Delta region.3

Nigeria’s bulk of centrally collected revenue comes from oil, which is found largely in the Niger Delta, making the region the most central to the country’s economic survival, yet underdevelopment remains the main feature of the region, with suffering and poverty as constant companion to the people.4 The riverine communities in Ondo state like other Niger Delta regions paints a picture of a people enmeshed in poverty. It is a region suffering from chronic underdevelopment in the midst of plenty. Government interventionist agencies such as the Niger Delta Development Board (NDDB) in 1960, the Niger Delta Basin Development Authority (NDBDA) in 1976, the Oil Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) in 1992, and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in 2000, were created under various administrations for the development of the areas. These agencies are to ensure that oil producing communities in the Niger Delta enjoy the proceed of their God’s endowed mineral resource, and proffer solution to the ecological problems emanating from oil exploration in the region. Thus, facilitating rapid, even and sustainable development.5

It is important to note that rather than facilitating the rapid, even and sustainable development of the Niger Delta into a region that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful these agencies became a mechanism through which a few individuals within the oil-producing region enrich themselves. Thus, it became clear to Ondo State Government that Interventionist agencies with national outlook are inefficient in solving the problems of riverine communities in the State, hence States’ Government Interventionist Agency such as Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OSOPADEC), was statutorily established as an Interventionist Agency on October 27th, 2001 by an Act of the Ondo State House of Assembly to intervene in the development of the Oil producing and impacted areas of Ondo State.

No doubt, since the creation of the Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, riverine communities in Ondo state have witnessed significant development as the commission has embarked on construction of good road networks to link riverine communities with their inland communities, provision of pipe-borne water to some communities, establishment of clinics/health centres etc. These efforts, notwithstanding, riverine communities in Ondo state remain largely underdeveloped, lacking basic infrastructural facilities and devoid of tertiary economic activities. The social scourge of poverty and joblessness are widespread with attendant disaffection and social discontent, particularly among the youth who are faced with reduced job opportunities.

Therefore, this study is a self-resourceful, self-productive, self-defensive and self-explanatory historical endeavour which through historical enquiry explored the impact of OSOPADEC on the development of riverine communities in Ondo state.

Statement of Problems

Since the pioneer discovery of oil in Araromi in 1908, and the subsequent exploration and exploitation of the resource, the ecological and, or environmental condition of the riverine communities in Ondo State implies an impending doom. While some interest laden individual along the inroad of truth smiles to the bank on daily basis or enjoy largesse from oil exploration and exploitation from the area, communities in the riverine part of Ondo State are yet to enjoy rapid, even and sustainable development. Many of these communities lack basic social amenities such as good road network, portable water supply, adequate health facilities, power supply etc. and this horrible situation remain so till date.

Without mincing words, the pertinent questions to be asked would then be;

1. How is the 13% oil derivation fund paid to the state to address developmental challenges spent?
2. How is the 40% of the 13% derivation fund committed to OSOPADEC utilized?
3. How true is the claim of OSOPADEC and government on their infrastructural and developmental projects in the region?
4. Can the achievements of the commission be said to have brought about development vis-à-vis the standard of development expected of the commission.

To address these questions as raised above, this study uncovered the impact of the Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission as a Government Interventionist Agency on the development of Riverine Communities in Ondo State.

Objectives of the Study

This study is an historic excursion into the impact of OSOPADEC on Riverine communities in Ondo State.

The work equally ascertained the relationship between disbursement to and impact of OSOPADEC on the Riverine/Oil Producing communities in Ondo State.

Limitations to the Study

In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher was confronted by myriad of challenges. Apart from the limitations informed by the sources of information which are the weakness of primary and secondary sources such as distortion which might be due to memory failure or political considerations. There was also over-glorification or bias, loss of data and chronological problems, and so on, lack of time arising from combination of this study with other academic activities, travelling, finance etc. were some of the limitations to the study. Another limitation to this study was the unavailability of materials on the study. Equally, the fact that information as touching the cash inflow of Government Agencies such as the Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission is kept very confidential made the study tedious as the researcher went through much to get expedient information. These limitations notwithstanding, the study made great historical exploration by making use of the available materials to verifying through critical scrutiny the various pieces of information devoid of bias or sentiment.

Significance of the Study

It is a known fact that much works have been done on Government Interventionist Agencies, many of which focused on the Niger Delta Development Commission and entire Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Most of these agencies are making unjustified claims about their achievements without any empirical fact to support these claims. Thus, this study is a virgin discourse, and it is significant as it uncovers through thorough inquiry the Impact of Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission on the development of Riverine Communities in Ondo State. The significance of the study can also be seen in the fact that as a virgin discourse, it is expected to widen the knowledge of other researchers and/or Scholars on the Ondo state Oil Producing Areas Development Commission.

More so, because of the increasing concern of Ondo State on the Oil Producing/riverine communities in the State, a study as this has to be undertaken to determine whether or not OSOPADEC is making the desired impact in the region.

Scope of the Study

The study engaged in an analytical historical research on the activities of the Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission with a specific attention on the impact of OSOPADEC on the Development of Riverine Communities in Ondo State. The Study covered the activities of the Ondo State Oil Producing Area Development Commission {OSOPADEC} for fifteen (15) years {between 2001 and 2016}. Year 2001 being the year OSOPADEC was established and 2016 as the terminal date being the end of the tenure of People’s Democratic Party {PDP} in Ondo State. A new political party known as All Progressive Congress {APC} took over the mantle of leadership of the state on 24th February, 2017


E.H. Carr asserted that "The function of the historian is neither to love the past nor to emancipate himself from the past, but to master and understand it as the key to the understanding of the present".6 In tandem to this assertion, history proceeds by the collection of evidences which are made available to historians. Once evidence is collected they have to be classified into primary and secondary sources. The primary sources/evidence are the bedrock of historical knowledge. Infact the basic raw materials for the reconstruction of history. This apparently inform us that any historical writing on African history must certainly embrace primary sources than secondary sources especially oral tradition. Oral tradition by definition, like Jan Vansina posits, is “all verbal testimonies which are reported statements concerning the past”.7

Therefore, this study used primary and secondary sources. By secondary sources, the study was conducted based on knowledge from text books, journals, newspapers, magazines, online materials, etc. While conducting this study, the following libraries; University of Ibadan Library and Adekunle Ajasin University Library were consulted for materials. Equally, OSOPADEC office in Akure was consulted for further materials on the commission activities. By primary sources, eyewitness account and archival materials were useful, oral interviews were also conducted with people from the various Oil Producing/riverine communities in Ondo state in the visit there in the course of this study.

Literature Review

Due to the tremendous influence which oil exerts on Nigeria’s eco-political chessboard, and because the oil industry could rightly be described as the heart of the Nigerian economy, several books have been written, several monographs have been produced, several seminars and conferences. They have been devoted to the Nigerian Oil Industry and Government Interventionist Agencies established to cater for the environmental degradation in the Niger Delta region {resulting from the ecologically unfriendly activities of the Multinational Corporations in the region} so as to accelerate development in the oil producing Niger Delta region. However, while many works have been written on the Niger Delta Development Commission {NDDC} in the development of the Niger Delta region, very few texts are available on the Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission {OSOPADEC}. Other texts that explored the topic left important areas unexplored especially the Impact of OSOPADEC on the development of riverine communities in Ondo state. Therefore, the following texts are peculiar to the study and thereby reviewed.

Eghweree Oghneruonah Charles in his “Oil Politics’ and Development in Nigeria”8 conceptualises development in a quote; “Development is an ancient concept but one which, in our modern age, has acquired new meaning and purpose. Its pursuit unites two strands of human thought: the belief in progress and the conviction that man can master his destiny”

From the above quotation, we can say that development as a concept entails the process that leads to the transformation of a society: at the individual or group levels. Although Eghweree, Oghneruonah Charles’ work focused on the entire Niger Delta region but not with specific attention on our area of study, it nevertheless, helped us comprehend the concept of development and the impact of oil in the development of the riverine communities which our area of discourse is not an exception.

Todaro Michael Paul, a pioneer in the field of development economics displayed an intellectual understanding of the concept of development in his book titled; Economics For A Developing World9 when he opined that “development is a multi-dimensional process involving the reorganization and reorientation of the entire economic and social system, the process of improving the quality of all human lives with three equally important aspects, which are;

1. Raising peoples’ living levels, i.e. incomes and consumption, level of food, medical services, education through relevant growth process.
2. Creating conditions conducive to the growth of peoples’ self-esteem through the establishment of social, political and economic systems and institutions which promote human dignity and respect.
3. Increasing peoples’ freedom to choose by enlarging the range of their choice variables, e.g. varieties of goods and services. Though, this work is not concerned with our area of study, however, it offers an invaluable understanding of the concept of development. Thus, becomes imperative in exploring any meaningful historical discussion on the Impact of Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission on the development of riverine communities in Ondo state.

Tolu Lawal and Abe Oluwatoyin in “Participatory Rural Development in Ondo State”10 demonstrated a genuine understanding of the concept of development. In this work, they submitted that development includes not only social, economic and political changes, but a broad and all-embracing transformation of the society. They further elicited that development connotes the totality of societal improvement, which of course starts in man himself, and thus, involves the structuring of society in such a way that will improve the quality of lives as well as the satisfaction of psychological wants of members of any given society. It suffice to state that even though this work focused on rural development in the entire Ondo state by assessing critically the performance of the 31S Initiative Programme of Olusegun Mimiko {Governor of Ondo state between 2009 and 2016], its nevertheless provided us with deeper and efficient understanding of the concept of development. It apparently formed the basis for any meaningful intellectual validity and clarity on the concept of development and equally serves as a source of strength for further intellectual discourse, inquiry and research especially as we intend to uncover in our area of study.

Ilajeland with a Focus on Etugbo11 authored by Titus Eyidoma Egboworomo, a quintessential Omoluabi and son of the primordial Ilaje race of the riverine part of Ondo state serve as an invaluable resource to this work. The work gave a detailed origin and evolution of the Ilaje people in the riverine part of Ondo state. It explored an historical discussion on the Ilaje people as the aborigine of Ile-Ife, their subsequent displacement from Ile-Ife by Oduduwa and his group and established how they migrated to the present riverine Ilaje Local Government Areas of Ondo State and their close affinity with the Benin people. T.E. Egboworomo’s work viewed development as including provision of pipe borne-water, good road network, regular supply of electricity, provision of good health facilities, creation of employment, dredging of canals and construction of bridges to link many communities in the riverine part of Ondo state with other parts of the state and Nigeria as a whole. All these T.E. Egboworomo opined should be done with the 13% oil derivation accruing to the state on petroleum. T.E. Egboworomo in his subsequent book; The Great Ilaje Race and Its Great Son: An Autobiography of Titus. E. Egboworomo12 advocated that the whole 13% derivation on Oil should be remitted to the riverine communities in Ondo state for their development because the money is meant for ecological reasons, that is, exploration, exploitation and pollution of Ilajeland. Thus, making his two books relevant to this study as it discusses the origin and evolution of the riverine communities in Ondo state with specific reference to Ilajeland, and critical reference to the Ijaw/Arogbo of Ese-Odo local Government, as an impacted area of Exploration of the Oil in Ilajeland and equally a beneficiary of the liquid gold in Ilajeland.

Professor Olukoya Ogen’s work entitled, History, Politics and Ethnicity: A Critique of the Existing Canons of Yoruba Historiography13 was resourceful to this study. The work uncovered the existing canons of Yoruba Historiography; the Ife-Oduduwa and Ife-Benin Canons. Professor Olukoya Ogen invested much intellectual acumen on this work unraveling the truth and putting historical record straight by establishing the Ugbo/Ilaje as the aborigine of Ile-Ife and how sustained attempts were made by Yoruba intelligentsia and political elite to silence the pre-Oduduwa era in Yoruba land. Though the work wasn’t focused on our area of study, however is of highly scholarly importance to this study as a current, robust and apposite discourse on the origin of the Ilaje people and established their place as the true aborigine of Ile-Ife through extensive collection and comparison of Ugbo and Ife cultural artefacts especially rituals, Oriki, Ifa verses, totems etc., in-depth ethnographic survey of the study area, evidence from dialectology and anthropology, copious scrutiny and analysis of various ancient and extant literature on the history of pre and post-Oduduwa Ife.

Professor Alagoa, Ebiegberi Joe in his A History of the Niger Delta: An Historical Interpretation of Ijaw Oral Tradition {1972}14 through a thorough historical investigation explored the historical origin and evolution of the Ijaw people, with a meticulous analysis on how the Arogbo-Ijaw and Apoi groups of Ondo state evolved from the Ijaw clan of the central Delta. His work is not only useful to this study because it explored the origin of Arogbo-Ijaw and Apoi. It however is of utmost importance because it provided us with scholarly information on how their land is devastated by the activities of oil extracting companies, the creeks on which they depend for fishing are polluted and the fishes are poisoned. Yet, money coming from oil goes to developing other parts of Nigeria. Prof. Alagoa brought to the fore the development situation in the riverine when he asserted that the Ijaw generally gets a little more than other states and because this is largely unearned income, the rulers of Ijaw land steal them like other Nigerian politicians, their politicians essentially steal whatever money is given to the Ijaw by the Federal Government leavings the bulk of Ijaw as impoverished as ever.

In his undergraduate long Essay titled , “ The Impact of Arogbo Day Celebration on the Socio-Economic Development of the Arogbo-Ijaw People” 15, Menone David Daubotei explored the socio-cultural peculiarity of the Arogbo-Ijaw. Thus, harnessed the socio-economic significance of Arogbo Day Celebration on the development of Arogbo-Ijaw communities in Ese-Odo Local Government Areas. Though, his work is focused on the socio-economic Impact of Arogbo Day Celebration on Arogbo-Ijaw communities. However, served as a useful material to understanding the socio-cultural peculiarity of the Arogbo-Ijaw and apparently provided us with what development implies to the riverine people of Ese-Odo Local Government Areas of Ondo State. According to him, they include and not limited to provision of social amenities, infrastructural development, provision of myriad of economic opportunities and fostering of economic relations that will ensure equitable and sustainable development.

The work, Creating An Enabling Environment for the Sustainable Development of Niger Delta Region16 edited by Dr. Eyo. E. Nyong and Prof. E. Oladipo provided us with cogent scholarly assistance in this study. Though, not specifically focused on our area of study. However, the work proved highly resourceful as it provided us with diverse intellectual discourses useful to this study. In physical terms the work described the Niger Delta, part of which is our area of study as a unique region, but one which occupies an ironic position in the development process of Nigeria. Thus, bringing to the fore that the region possesses the potential to develop into a high-income area. However, despite substantial economic progress and social advancement in other parts of Nigeria in the past four decades. The region still faces tremendous challenges in pursuing her development agenda. Hence, establishing problems and prospects of development efforts by Government Interventionist Agencies.

Babajide Ololajulo, in his book; The Oil Producing Community Identity in Nigeria: A Politico-economic Resource17 underscore the socio-political and economic issues involved in the production of oil producing and non-oil producing communities as categories of identification in Nigeria. Using Ilaje people of Ondo State as a case. The work examines the factors of history, elite politics, and the state in identity formulation and the effects which the construction of the “other” among a supposed homogeneous group has on the existing forms of social relationship. It is established from the work that though, the advantage of the oil producing community identity is utilized to attain political and economic height, the identity remains subordinate to a much larger and inclusive Ilaje identity. Generally, the work is a reflection on how identity is manipulated even in the local context to suit competition for resources. Babajide Ololajulo’s book is of utmost importance to this study, not because the work focused on Ilajeland as a case study but apparently because it provided us with scholarly assistance on the development efforts of Interventionist Agencies set up to address the hardship confronting people living in the oil producing areas of Nigeria. The work having discussed the development efforts of the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) examined that of the Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OSOPADEC), which was set up in 2001 and is our focus in this study.


It is therefore important to emphasize from the foregoing that this work as an historical discourse is self-explanatory, self-resourceful, self-productive, self-defensive and basically set out to assess the Impact of the Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission on the development of Riverine communities in Ondo State. The introductory part unveiled the areas of interests of the work. The statement of problem was set out in such a way that it serve as a platform for a productive research on the subject under discourse. The objectives of the study were presented in a lucid way that enable quick understanding of readers and reasons that informed the choice of the topic in historical discourse. The significance of the study is undeniable as we have noted. The scope of the study which covers a period of fifteen years is to enable us do a meaningful assessment of the Impact of the Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission on the Development of Riverine Communities in Ondo State. The historical methodology employed helps to secure a standard historical fact on the area, while the limitations to the study were explicitly pointed out so as to avoid a substandard work. The work explored a review of different scholarly literatures to drive home the meaning of development as a concept. A synergized conceptual definition for development can thus be seen as ‘embracing the whole gamut of the process that leads to the enhancement of the living standard of any society with a view to making it achieve acceptable minimum standard that is able to sustain life, guarantee equality and freedom needed for good life’. Apparently, the essence of which is to better the lot of disadvantaged people. Altogether and, as revealed in the subsequent discussion, this work is meticulously researched and composed for proper presentation. The subsequent discourse will engage our attention on the history of the origin and evolution of Riverine Communities in Ondo State. This is deem necessary for an understanding of the socio-political and economic institutions, custom, culture, and traditions of riverine communities in Ondo state will throw much light into this study.

End Notes

1. Retrieved from Accessed on 7/5/2017. 8:17pm
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Ebeghulem, O. C, Ekpe O., and Adejumo T. O; “Oil Exploration and Poverty in the Niger-Delta Region of Nigeria: A Critical Analysis” in International Journal of Business and Social Science, Vol. 4, No. 3; March 2013.280
5. Eyo E. N and Oladipupo E., “Creating an Enabling Environment for the Sustainable Development of the Niger Delta Region” in Proceeding of the International Conference held in Port Harcourt, 10-12 December, 2001 and Follow-up Thematic Workshops {2002/2003} on the Sustainable Development of the Niger Delta Region. Vi
6. Carr E. H., What is History, 2nd edition, Middlesex: Penguin: 1987
7. Vasina J. Oral Tradition as History, London: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985:3
8. Eghweree O. C. , “Oil Politics’ and Development in Nigeria” in Journal of Energy Technologies and Policy vol. 4, No 12, 2014.
9. Todaro M. P., Economics For A Developing World, New York: Longman Group Limited, 1982
10. Tolu L. and Abe O. “Participatory Rural Development In Ondo State” in Journal of Social Sciences, Vol. 5, No 5, 2014. 2-3
11. Egboworomo T.E., Ilajeland With A Focus On Etugbo. Lagos: Knowledge Seekers’ Bookshops, 1999.
12. Egboworomo T.E., The Great Ilaje Race and Its Great Son: An Autobiography of Titus. E. Egboworomo, Lagos: Knowledge Seekers’ Bookshops, 2004.
13. Olukoya, Ogen., History, Politics and Ethnicity: A Critique of the Existing Canons of Yoruba Historiography. Being the text of the first Professor S.O. Arifalo Memorial lecture delivered at Olusegun Obasanjo Hall at Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko on 12th of November, 2014
14. Alagoa, E .J, A History of the Niger Delta: An Historical Interpretation of Ijaw Oral Tradition, Port Harcourt: Onyoma Research Publications, 1972
15. Menone, D.D, “The Impact of Arogbo Day Celebration on the Socio-Economic Development of the Arogbo-Ijaw People” An undergraduate long Essay submitted to the Department of History and International Studies, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State: 2015
16. Eyo E. N and Oladipupo E., “Creating an Enabling Environment for the Sustainable Development of the Niger Delta Region” in Proceeding of the International Conference held in Port Harcourt, 10-12 December, 2001 and Follow-up Thematic Workshops {2002/2003} on the Sustainable Development of the Niger Delta Region.
17. Babajide O., The Oil Producing Community Identity in Nigeria: A Politico-economic Resource. Ibadan: University of Ibadan Library, Catalog Number v174563, 2009



Ondo State is located in the Southwestern part of Nigeria, and border in the North by Ekiti, and Kogi states, in the East by Edo state, in the West by Osun and Ogun states, and in the South by the Atlantic Ocean.

The state was created on 3rd of February, 1976. The state covers a land area of 14,793 square kilometers with it administrative capital in Akure.1 The population of the state as revealed by the year 2006 population census is 3,441,024.2

The state contains eighteen Local Government Areas and blessed with a rich ethnic composition largely from the Yoruba subgroups of the Akoko, Ikale, Ilaje, Ondo, and Owo people. Ijaw minority {such as Apoi and Arogbo} and Ilaje populations inhabit the coastal areas. Ondo state is blessed with varied and favourable ecological and climatic conditions with vegetation ranging from mangrove swamps to the southern coastal riverine areas through the rainforest of the mid-lands to the derived savannah in the northern part of the state.3

Riverine Communities in Ondo State are areas in the Southern Senatorial District of the State. Precisely, these Riverine Communities of the state consist of two Local Government Areas; Ilaje and Ese-Odo Local Government Areas. Initially, both Local Government Areas were administered as one, however, they were separated on October 1, 1996 by the Federal Government and both Local Government Areas were created. Based on its geographical and geological profile, these areas qualified Ondo State to be one of the nine oil producing states that are largely coastal and low-lying.4 Thus constitutionally qualified as members of the Niger Delta Development Commission of the fiscal framework of Nigeria.5

It suffice to state that, In Ondo State only Ilaje local Government Areas is producing oil, however, the devastating effect of this exploration is felt in both Ilaje and Ese-Odo Local Government Areas of the state.6

Both located in the coaster region of the state, Ilaje and Ese-Odo Local Governments of Ondo state consist of three major ethnic groups which are the Ilaje, Apoi, and Arogbo-Ijaw.7

Geographical location of Ilaje Local Government

Ilaje local government area is located in the Southern Senatorial district of Ondo state. She lies along the Atlantic coast of Nigeria and is situated 133km south of Akure, the state capital.5

The entire area lies between Longitude 4°28′ and 5°1′ east of the Greenwich Meridian and Latitude 5°51′ and 6°21′ north of the Equator.8 It is bounded in the southwest by Ogun Water-Side Local Government Area, Ogun State, and in the southeast by Warri-West local Government Area, Delta State. The northwest and the northeast are bordered by Okitipupa local Government Area and Ese-Odo Local Government Area respectively. The local government comprised of about one hundred towns and villages with the prominent ones including Igbokoda, the local government headquarters, Mahin, Ugbo, Ayetoro, Ugbo-Nla, Etugbo, Etikan, and Zion-Pepe. The 2006 population census of the Federal Republic of Nigeria puts the population of the area at about 290,615.9 The coastal part of the local Government, which forms about 70 percent of the total land area consists mainly of mangrove swamps and rivers, and is flooded during raining season. There are three ecological zones and these include lowland rainforests, freshwater swamp forests, and mangrove forests.10

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


As elicited from the previous chapter, Oil was first discovered in Nigeria in 1908 at Araromi sea-side, a riverine community, in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State by a German business interest, Nigerian Bitumen.11 Ilaje Local Government is occupied wholly by Ilaje people, a subgroup of the Yoruba race.

History of the Origin and Evolution of Ilaje People

The Ilaje people who mainly occupy the Atlantic coastline of Ondo State of Nigeria are a distinguished, and distinct linguistic sub-group of the Yoruba race. According to Ilaje oral tradition, Ilaje people were said to have left Ile-Ife, their original ancestral home/settlement in the 10th century.12 They passed through the land areas now known as Ondo, Edo, and Delta states where they spread East and Westwards. They controlled the greater part of the bloc of land between 20 E to 5.80 of the Meridian and 50N to 6.770N of the Equator, covering 220 miles of the Atlantic Coast, about 120 miles from the coast to the hinter land in the same areas and 125 miles from the coast into the sea.13 For a full understanding of Ilaje history, most of the towns that modern historians refers to were non-existent in those days and many ancient Ilaje towns are even defunct by now, viz: Okedebo, Odun-Agheretan, Ubaketo, Ugboroko, Ugboaiku, Ode-Aluma, Ode-Orofun, Koko, Odun-Kuwho, Odun-Akendeyinwa, etc.14

Contrary to popular belief among some historians, the Ilajes were the aboriginal Yoruba that was displaced from Ile-Ife.15 Historically speaking, Oduduwa who later became the progenitor of the Yoruba race, in Yoruba historiography was said to have sprang/left either Egypt, Yemen, Ancient Meroe, Arabia or Middle East about the second to first Millennia BC.16 The journey must have taken him decades if not centuries. Oduduwa and his followers settled and moved along the way. One of such settlements is called Gogobir {Gogobiri} in Northern Nigeria, before the Hausa states.17 He got to Oyo before going to Ife {Ufe in Ilaje dialect}.

Other legends place these events in relation to the establishment of the Moslems religion in Mecca. Thus, dated the early migrations to be about the 8th century A.D to Mecca.18 As a leader, Oduduwa had many followers and was popular. He {with his followers} settled on Oramfe Hill near Ile-Ife where he met the Ugbo people now Ilaje in Ile-Ife.19 The Ugbo people evolved an ancient centralized government led by their rulers. The Ugbo kingdom flourished in politics, religion, economic and social activities, however, was soon conquered by Oduduwa.20 Reasoned to Oduduwa seizure of power was stated in Adebowale Atanda “Who Are The Yorubas?” on The News, Vol. 8. No 20, 26 May, 1997:10.Titus Eyidoma Egboworomo in his Ilajeland with A Focus On Etugbo concisely stated these reasons as 1weakness of the then ruler of Ugbo 2 outbreak of an epidemic that made the people to become feeble3 famine, 4 face-off between Oduduwa and his Ugbo-son-in-law called Oreluere.21

These and many more reasons made Oduduwa to launch an assault on his kith and kin in Ile-Ife between 800-1000 AD. At the end, Oduduwa had an upper hand. He moved quickly to occupy the site of Ugbo headquarters. He regrouped his people including some dozens or scores of Ugbo people’s hamlets who wished to remain under his lordship. Such early quarters as created by Oduduwa are; 1. Moore 2. Ilode 3. Iremo 4. Okerewe 5. Ilare22 The aftermath of the battle was that the Ugbo {now Ilaje} people began their second exodus to their present site, first, stopping at a place described as Ugbo-Ugbo close to their homeland, Ile-Ife {Ule-Ufe in Ilaje dialect}. Not been happy about their displacement, they went on incessant guerilla attacks on Ife, until they captured Moremi, a beautiful woman whom the oracles had warned against, not to be brought home by the “Romeo” king Oronmaken.23

The Ifes dreaded the Ugbo because of their disguise in raffia bags and mat {Oke, eni, ojiko} like spirits, coupled with the skill to walk on stilt {agree} made of bamboo {eko/opa} and the use of spears {Ugaga}.24 Very soon, Moremi understudied the warfare secret of the Ugbos and she ran back home. She tutored her people and revealed that the Ugbo soldiers were human beings and their armours were highly inflammable.25

According to Tomoloju, “the ancestors of the Ilajes detested the Oduduwa take-over and, therefore, migrated through the forest of Oke Mafunrangan to a place near Esinmirin River from where they invaded Ile-Ife over a long period, carting away spoils and capturing slaves".26 This invasion was what motivated the legendary Ife Queen, Moremi, to embark on a heroic espionage quest that led to the eventual defeat of the marauding aborigines. The coastal town, Ugbo, under the paramount ruler, Olugbo, is a major settlement of the protesting migrants. Its full meaning is ‘Mo r’ubo gbo ni.’ (I have a place to stay).27 Ugbo is the primary setting in the Moremi legend, which people sometimes mistake for Igboland in South-eastern Nigeria. “Another major town, Mahin, comes under the paramount rulership of the Amapetu.28 Ugbo, Mahin and other towns like Atijere, Obe-Nla and Igbo- Egunrin reflect a degree of cultural mix which suggest some form of historical kinship between the Ilaje, Itsekiri and the Edo.

Egboworomo stated that the next raid by the Ugbo saw their waterloo.29 Moremi however, as well as her only son in Ile-Ife called Oluworogbo became immortalized with the second most popular Edi Festival in Ile-Ife, while Olojo Festival marks the first defeat of the Ugbo by Oduduwa.30 He subsequently unveiled that, after meeting their waterloo, some Ugbo people agreed to go back to the city and they settled in Iwinrin compound; headed by Oba-Winrin.31 Unable to contain this struggle any longer, the remaining Ugbos/Ilajes set off to find new towns and later became host to Oduduwa princes. They had a stop-over at Okemafunrangan {which Tomoloju, Prof. Olukoya Ogen and other Ilaje historians agreed with} and on leaving Okemafunrangan, they moved to Odigbo of Old and Aye Town before reaching the present location, in the coastal or riverine part of Ondo.

Professor Olukoya Ogen in a paper presented at the first Professor S.O. Arifalo Memorial Lecture held at Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, entitled; “History, Politics and Ethnicity: A Critique of the Existing Canons of Yoruba Historiography” asserted that “it is interesting to note that the ‘gbo’ suffix in Ugbo characterised the place names of the major settlements that were founded by the Ugbo migrants after their departure from Ile-Ife to Ode-Ugbo. These are Okegbo, Odigbo, Iluagbo, Arogbo-Ile and finally, Ode-Ugbo.32

From the foregoing, it can be deduced that Ugbo race, now Ilaje were the aborigine of Ile-Ife and that they were there centuries before the arrival of Oduduwa and his group to displaced them. The former Olugbo of Ugbo, His Royal Majesty, Oba Adebanjo Mafimisebi IV and Oba of Benin, His Royal Majesty, Omo N’ Oba Ereduwa both agreed on this point in both Ilaje and Benin historiographies. However, other Yoruba Obas, perhaps for political or superiority seek disagreed with it. Thus, the silencing of the history of the Ugbo, a pre-Oduduwa Yoruba group in Ile-Ife. This Professor Olukoya Ogen in his “History, Politics and Ethnicity: A Critique of the Existing Canons of Yoruba Historiography” rightly captioned that “sustained attempts were made to silence the pre-Oduduwa era in Yoruba land by a new conquering political elites who employed a new history as a legitimating tool and felt the best way to consolidate its hold on power and to bolster its authority was to define its identity in a way that would make the new elite appear more superior and more powerful than the indigenous population over whom it had established its rule”. Olukoya Ogen further posited that, “curiously enough and as far as contemporary Yoruba historical literature is concerned, the most significant distinguishing feature between the South-eastern Yoruba {Ugbo/Ilaje} and the other Yoruba sub-group is the relatively meagre intellectual production on the south-eastern Yoruba. This is in spite of the fact that the available literature on the Yoruba is unrivalled in sub-Saharan Africa. Although, the historical neglect of the south-eastern Yoruba has been widely acknowledged by several distinguished scholars, very little has been done to reverse this trend. Perhaps, this historical neglect could partly explain why the south-eastern Yoruba has been at the receiving end of great historical distortion and fundamentally flawed stereotyping”.33

This controversy notwithstanding, there is no gainsaying the fact that Ugbo’s connection with Ile-Ife is of considerable antiquity. Indeed, there is abundant evidence to show that the original inhabitants of Ife before the Oduduwa take-over were the Ugbo. This could be confirm through a critical examination and an active engagement with local historical genres, ethnography as well as an exploration of musical and poetic patterns. Professor Olukoya Ogen and Titus Eyidoma Egboworomo affirmed could be derived from an extensive collection and comparison of Ugbo and Ife cultural artefacts especially rituals, Oriki, Ifa verses, totems etc., in-depth ethnographic survey of the study area, evidence from dialectology and anthropology and copious scrutiny and analysis of various ancient and extant literature on the history of pre and post-Oduduwa Ife. Of particular significance are navigational maps of coastal Yoruba land dating back to the 15th century and Portuguese and Dutch travel records relating to the coastal fringes of Yoruba land from the 16th and 18th centuries. Thus, we must emphasize that the said Ugbo {not Igbo} race is the ancestor of the Ilajes in the present coastal region of Ondo State of Nigeria. The name “Ilaje” originated from the prosperity of the Ife {Ugbo} people who came through the Delta region before they {descendants} finally founded Mahin. The meaning of the name could be “Enjoying Ones riches”. It overtook the original name, Ugbo, which the second group of Ilajes retained.34

Subsequently, other two Ilaje groups “Etikan and Aheri” emanated. Today, Ilajes who live at the hinterland are called Ilaje-Ugbo {forest} e.g Ugbegunre, Erinje etc. Those by the river-side are known as Ilaje-Ebaha {Eti-Osa}. They include Aboto, Atijere etc. and those along Alape River. The third group, Ilaje-Igbekun {Sea-side} are sub-divided into Ilaje Ugbo {kingdom}, Ilaje Mahin, Ilaje Etikan, and Ilaje Aheri. Thus, they are four major groups of the Ilajes, which are Ugbo, Mahin, Etikan and Aheri.35Although, only two (Mahin and Ugbo) are widely considered as the traditional settlements where the about one hundred small towns and villages in Ilajeland have spread out.36


The Ilaje subgroups of the Yoruba race is culturally homogeneous. They are originally made up of four geo-political entities namely: Ode Ugbo, Ode Mahin, Ode Etikan and Aheri from whom other communities sprang. This notwithstanding, the people speak the same dialect of Yoruba language known as “Ilaje dialect”. Ilaje dialect is of Ife {Ufe in Ilaje dialect} origin like that of other Yoruba sub-groups. Ilaje children sometimes speak slangs. A common one is to pronounce separately, each syllable or word before a vowel and then lift the vowel in succession and put each vowel after letter “g” in turn, e.g “let us go”, in Ilaje is: “Jeji a lo” and in slang, it becomes: “Jege jigi aga logo”.

More so, Ilaje dialect is very simple to learn and speak. All you have to do is to change seven {7} out of ten {10} letter “I’’ in the general Yoruba language to letter “U” or vice versa37

Political System of Ilajeland

Ilajeland is made up of four geo-political entities namely Ugbo, Mahin, Etikan and Aheri. Thus, among Ilaje people, the local ideology organizing space is rested upon four kingdoms – Mahin, Ugbo,Aheri, and Etikan, however, only two (Mahin andUgbo) are widely considered as the traditional settlements where other communities and villages have spread out.

Before the advent of the European type of administration, Ilaje had and maintain similar socio-political structure. The structure was well developed and equally characterized by the basic tenets of democracy such as check and balance, separation of power, consultation, and rule based on the consent of the people. The structure also upheld respect for the fundamental human rights of the people. The socio-political system was a central or monarchical system of administration which they had evolved right from the outset in Ile-Ife.

This civilized natural administrative set-up divided Ilajeland into autonomous units {sub-states} known as “Erunmi” headed by a king. Like they did while in Ile-Ife under 13 kings. The Obas of these autonomous units are seen as the custodian of laws, traditions and customs of the land. They ruled with a council of Elders, known as the Dosu title holders, which are high chiefs and include the 1. Ashogbon (king maker) 2.Alaworo (shrine priest) 3.Imaran 4.Ojomo 5.Asisa 6.Yasere 7.Jadigba 8.Ologbosere (the prime minister) 9.Oholo 10.Urayen 11.Gboguron (sea priest) 12.Oponnuke 13.lema 14.Asaron 15.Olubo. Some of the titles are exclusive to Mahin or Ugbo.38They were the Obas’ advisers or ambassador.

The Obas and the Council saw to the peaceful co-existence and well-being of the inhabitants. So important is “Dosu” chieftaincy title holder that when he dies and is buried, only a female corpse must be buried after him and till such a time when a woman is buried, no funeral ceremony would be held for a male person who dies after “Dosu”.39 Time has overtaken this practice now. The Olotus, Irowos and Eghares are chiefs of graduating degrees of power: that of Olotu is higher than the two others respectively. In ancient history, the Ilaje Dosu and Olotu were like the British feudal lords while Eghare and Irowo were like the knights.40

In mahin, the Otu grade was for elders at four years interval, while Majara is an age grade for freedom children. Ofara grade was for senior and well-to-do slaves.


In Ilaje political system, women were given pride of place to contribute their quotas to the development of their respective kingdoms. The Women grade known as Ayekun, was made up of seasoned women, who were given the responsibility for ceremonial and moral training of young ladies.


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The Impact of Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OSOPADEC) on the Development of Riverine Communities in Ondo State 2001-2016
Adekunle Ajasin University
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impact, ondo, state, producing, areas, development, commission, osopadec, riverine, communities
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Bababo Ikuemonisan (Author), 2017, The Impact of Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OSOPADEC) on the Development of Riverine Communities in Ondo State 2001-2016, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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