I L A J E ASSOCIATION IN AMERICA
SPOTLIGHT ON ILAJE LAND
The Ilajes are a distinguished, distinct linguistic group of the Yoruba stalk made up of four geo-political entities namely Ugbo, Mahin, Etikan and Aheri.
They were said to have left ILE-IFE their original ancestral home/settlement in the 10th century. They mainly occupy the Atlantic coastline of Ondo State of Nigeria while a large population of them settles on land in the hinterland. The area they occupy today remains the Ondo State of Nigeria only outlet to the sea.
ILAJELAND is bounded by the Ijebus to the West, the Ikale to the North, the Itsekiri to the East. The APOI and Arogbo Ijaw to the North East, while the Atlantic ocean formed the southern boundary. No doubt, the Ilajes are one of the most dynamic and enterprising people in Nigeria. Their aquatic skill, coupled with their high adaptational ability enable them to conquer their hash geographical environment and turn it to a big advantage. Consequently, they were able to build large communities like Ugbonla, Aiyetoro, Zion PePe and Orioke. Aiyetoro for example in it's hey-days had the highest per capital income in the whole of Africa and attracted visitors, tourists and researchers from all over the world especially Europe, Canada, and America.
Apart from petroleum which is largely found in the area for which Ondo State today is recognized as an oil producing State. Other mineral raw materials that are abundantly available in Ilajeland include Glass Sand, Salt, Tar Sand, Quartz and Clay while Agro raw materials include fish, poultry, maize, Palm oil vegetables, Timber, Rafia, Poultry Okro, Cocoyam, Banana, Cassava, and Piggery.
The natural environment of Ilajeland is particularly suitable for the development of large scale Rice plantation and Salt industry.
The occupational activities of the Ilajes include fishing, canoe making, lumbering net making, mat making, Launch building, farming and trading.
Igbokoda, the Ilaje local government headquarters is fast becoming an international trade center as it popular market attracts traders not only from other part of Nigeria, but, also from other African countries especially Togo Benin, Ghana, Cameroon and Gabon.
The closeness of Ilajeland to Lagos which is only about 75 kilometers and its aquatic environment present the area as a suitable environment for Tourism development. It is hoped that the Ondo State Government and indeed the Federal Government of Nigeria will realize the importance of the pleasant natural geographical condition of the area and develop it into a world class Tourist Attraction/Center.
In the past the entire area suffered serious neglect and marginalization in the hand of government. However, it appears that the Ondo State Government has come to realize the importance of Ilajeland not only because it is her only outlet to the sea but also because it is her economic power House. The State is now constructing a net work of road linking the area with the hinterland and has promised to provide basic social amenities including electricity and drinkable pipe bone water.
The Highlight of the Ondo State recent development effort or project in the area is the acquisition of about 200 hectares of land to be developed and built as a satellite town for the people displayed from their homes in towns and villages on the Atlantic Coastline as a result of petroleum drilling and exploratory activities.
No doubt, there is a big future for the area especially with the Olokola Development project by Ondo and Ogun State Governments.
The Ondo State Government and indeed the Federal Government of Nigeria should see or recognize ILAJELAND as an important visible economic asset and focus invest and embark on the speedy development of the area.
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