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Omu-Aran Kwara State: A Community Where Banks Don’t Operate

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By Mosunmola Ayobami in Ilorin

Olomu of Omu-Aran, Kwara State Nigeria
Olomu of Omu-Aran, Kwara State, Nigeria

No one could imagine that in this age and time, there could be a community without banks.

But this is the case at present in Omu-Aran, a community located at Irepodun Local government Area of Kwara State, where business use to boom.

This was after a robbery incident, which claimed three lives sometimes in May 2013, leading to the closure of banks ever since.

 

Visit to Omu-Aran

A visit by WESTERN POST Kwara State Correspondent to the community and especially to the closed banks confirms the un-explainable stress Omu-Aran residents go through in transacting their businesses.

The premises of some of the banks visited had been taken over by weeds. They have become dusty while the banks’ signboards had been defaced, which make the edifice unpleasant to the eyes.

It is also obvious that the non-operation of the banks had affected commercial activities of the area as a number of company sale representatives who sell their wares in the town had been drastically reduced as there is no place to save the cash forcing them to be heading back to their headquarters with liquid money after every transaction, which they claim posed danger to their lives.

imageA man who simply identified himself as Oluwaseun, a sales representative of toiletries producing company, who frequents Omu-Aran to sell his goods, said banking had not been easy ever since the banks in the local government were closed down.

He said he and others in the same business had no option but to go to a faith-based university in the community for their banking operations. He lamented that security guards at the institution gate normally turn them back for fear that some unruly people could access their students under the guise of transacting businesses with them.

Oluwaseun added that when business transaction at the university was stopped, they were left to traveling to Offa,Ilorin or other neighboring states like Osun, Ekiti depending on the routes to individual destinations, which he described as so dangerous.

“Often times, since the banks are closed down due to incessant robbery attacks, we have been left to withdrawing and depositing our cash at a university situated in the Local government Area as this is not always allowed by the management and security guards of the institution as they claim to be safeguarding their lives and properties.

“So, with their decision, we have no choice than to travel with cash to Offa Local government area, close to an hour drive who also operates skeletal services because the two local governments were robbed sometime back then as they closed between 12 pm and 2 pm or thereabouts, or better still we go to either Osun or Ekiti states as our routes demand to transact.

“This is more dangerous to us knowing the state of the country presently and we going around with cash because we could not get not bank services at Omu-Aran,” he explained.

Olomu of Omu-Aran, Oba Ibitoye Reacts…

Reacting to the development, the Olomu of Omu-Aran, Oba Charles Olawale Ibitoye, said the security situation had become so worrisome and several efforts and meetings had been held to ensure the banks reopen.

The monarch said the situation had affected commercial activities in the community.

Oba Ibitoye said the unfortunate incident occurred in May 2013, which led to loss of lives and property, leaving the banks management to decide to close their branches as way of safeguarding the lives of their workers.

The royal father, however, said with series of meetings held with stakeholders and well-meaning indigenes of the community the banks would re-open before the year runs out.

“The closure of the banks here was as a result of robbery attacks some three years ago, precisely May 2013, during which we lost three persons and a lot of properties. The incident is so unfortunate.

“I must confess the incident has so much affected our commercial activities, which we are known for. But we are not keeping quiet on the issue, we have had meetings with banks management, and our sons and daughters far and near have met to ensure the banks re-open before the year ends.

“We have also put in place adequate security to make sure everyone go about the lawful activities without fear,” he said.

“We Have Provided Security for the Banks,” Says Governor Ahmed

Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, also said Operation Harmony security agents had been deployed to the LGA to ensure the place is safe for bank activities and other lawful programmes.

Speaking on behalf of the governor, Senior Special Assistant to on Communications and Strategy, Dr Muyideen Akorede, said the Bankers Committee had been approached and persuaded to return. He stated that the state government had provided adequate security measure in both Offa and Omu-Aran.

“First of all, it’s so tragic the robbery incident happened and people lost their lives or ‘were injured. The governor signed up to protect the lives and properties of the people and he remains committed to that. As part of that, several meetings of the security council had been held to address that issue. We have had meetings with committee of banks.

“The government keeps talking to the banks, persuading them to come back because they are private organizations. All the government can do is provide security, which we have done as Operation Harmony security agents are in Omu-Aran and Offa towns to secure them. But all we can do is persuade them because its peoples lives we are talking about here,” he said.

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