Idris Aliyu, the Chairman of Geregu Community Association, has said that the Ajaokuta Steel Company will not function properly until the Federal Government appeases their ancestor, Egunu Akoko.
He said the ancestor was angry because the government had failed to resettle the residents who have been displaced by the construction of the company. He said the agreement signed with the company since 1976 before they took over lands in their host communities had not been implemented. He told the News Agency of Nigeria that a woman had a dream some time ago where Egbun Akoko appeared to her and told her of his grievances with the management of the company.
“It is not the communities that are preventing the work from being completed, it is the ancestors.
“There is a lady that had a dream two years ago and said she saw one of our ancestors, Egbunu Akoko, who told her that if the government wants ASCO to be completed, they should go and resettle his people in Geregu and Ajaokuta.
“My advice is that, let them come back and fulfill most of the promises they made, they should fix our roads and repair the schools.
“Also, Egbunu Akoko’s house, which they demolished, should be rebuilt,” he said.
Suleman Idris, who spoke on behalf of the Etsu of Geregu, Etsu Haruna Aminu, said the communities had been left to their fate after the takeover of their land. He said Ajaokuta community had eight families and Geregu had five families who surrendered their land to the Federal Government for the building of the company. The Etsu said that the government, upon taking over the land, promised to compensate the people and provide them basic amenities but that had not happened.
Idris said Ajaokuta hosts the plant while Geregu was used for construction of houses for the workers of the plant.
Also, Kassim Ibrahim, Onu of Ajaokuta, stressed the need for the Federal Government to give recognition to the communities by resettling them and providing them amenities as promised. According to him, the communities have cooperated with the Federal Government by handing over their lands.
However, Babajide Suru, the General Manager, Engineering Works and Services Department of the company, described the position of the communities as superstitious. He said such belief held by the people was no longer tenable in a civilised world.
Meanwhile, the Sole Administrator of the company, Sumaila Abdul-Akaba, said the issue of compensation and resettlement of the people would be addressed when the firm became fully functional.
The plant, conceived in 1976, was aimed at establishing a metallurgical process plant/engineering complex with other facilities. It is on 24,000 hectares of land in Ajaokuta, 38km from Lokoja.