Ilaje is a Local Government Area in Ondo State, Nigeria. Its headquarters are in the town of Igbokoda. The Ilajes is a distinct migratory coastal linguistic group of the indigenous Yoruba peoples spread along with the coastal belts of Ondo, Ogun, Lagos, and Delta states, and originally made up of four geopolitical entities namely: Ode Ugbo, Ode Mahin, Ode Etikan, and Aheri. While most towns and villages in the Mahin kingdom (Ode Mahin) are distributed on arable lands, the towns and villages in the other three geopolitics of Ugbo, Aheri, and Etikan kingdoms are spread out along the beaches and swampy terrains of the Atlantic Ocean coast. The area they occupy today in Ondo State, an outlet to the sea.
Ilaje land has an area of 1,318 km² and a population of 290,615 at the 2006 census although the population can be said to have been under enumerated due to the riverine nature of the area, and lack of accessibility by road/land. The Ilajes is one of the most dynamic and enterprising people in Nigeria. Their aquatic skill, coupled with their ability to adapt enabled them to conquer their harsh geographical environment and turn it to their advantage but an existential challenge is threatening their existence and survival in the guise of “Sea incursion”.
The National Council on Niger Delta (NCND) second meeting in September 2017, which took place in Ondo State, and was attended by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was supposed to bring succor and solutions to the existential threat of recurrent sea surges to the riverine communities of the state and restoring the Ayetoro Embankment project; a project for the construction of sea barrier awarded in 2004 by Niger Delta Development Corporation (NDDC) to a local company but was withdrawn and re-awarded to Dredging Atlantic in 2006 due to poor execution. But, two years on, these communities are still being ravaged by recurring sea surges and incursions, just as they are on the verge of being washed away.
Now, 24 months after V.P Osinbajo visited Igbokoda, headquarters of Ilaje Local Council, the sea surge has submerged over 500 meters of Ayetoro Community, destroying over 30 houses and rendering over 400 residents homeless. It has stretched rapidly along the Nigerian coast of the Atlantic Ocean down to Ilaje (Ayetoro, Idiogba, Awoye, Molutehin, Gbagira, Mese) including recently at Ibeju-Lekki. The majority of the inhabitants explain the phenomenon as a result of the activities of oil companies operating in the area but there might be another explanation based on scientific hypothesis; Activities such as dredging, land reclamation could be a huge catalyst that we are not even studying could be creating negative feedback all along the Nigerian coast of Atlantic Ocean.
About the Author
Damilola Adeyeye, a Sustainability Analyst at Climatr is a risk assessor, an avid researcher, and a water resources passionate about implementing Bottom-Top Climate Change Adaptation Approach, LCA, developing pathways to mitigate GHG emissions, sustainable natural (water) resource management, and ESG
He is driven by his intense passion for the environment and approaches his work from a methodical perspective with special attention to environmental risk assessment and circular economy principles thereby positioning an organization strategically for value creation and addition.
He has a diverse corporate portfolio with both the private and public sectors and works with them to achieve a more sustainable product/service offering.