NIGERIA: Growing dissent over demolition of markets in Ibadan

Victims of the Ibadan demolitionIt is a known fact that Ibadan metropolis is no longer what it used to be. Even though, roads and other projects are still under construction, residents of the ancient city now breathe fresh air. There is free flow of both vehicular and human traffic. Places where traffic snarl used to be a permanent feature are now free. The environment is becoming cleaner by the day due to the demolition of illegal structures embarked upon by Governor Abiola Ajimobi.

Since live cables snapped and killed traders at Apata Market, Ibadan, the administration has been demolishing structures erected under the tension wire and also structures which were built without adherence to town planning rules and regulations.

Expectedly, this has generated heated controversy among residents who are crying foul. Their cries have reached high heavens over the demolition of illegal structures they used as shops.

When one moves round Ibadan metropolis especially places like as Eleyele, Sango, Polytechnic Road, Ring road, Molete, Orita Challenge and Ogunpa, hundreds of structures including residential ones have been pulled down.

Some traders of the demolished structures were fuming with anger when Vanguard Metro went round the city.

A widow popularly called Iya Sibi claimed that no notice to quit was given to them. “There was no notice given to us. We begged them that  they should give us some time and our leaders went to them and came back to tell us that they had allowed us to stay a little longer. But, see what they have done for us.

This is not fair. This is where we eat and provide for our family members. They should provide another place for us. They are punishing us. Many of us are widows. We voted for them. Is this what they would pay us in return? she said”

They complained further that the most painful thing is that local governments collect money from them. “Recently, our stalls were gutted by fire, we struggled and rebuilt them. Now, they have demolished them. Where do we go from here? Our children go to schools and this is where we get their school fees. Let them give us a new place and we will go, ” one of them said.

Another trader who almost attacked the correspondent when asked to mention her name said annoyingly, “12 years, my husband died. Where do they want me to go from here. After voting, they started demolishing our shops. Anyway, it is just four years”.

But, the claims of some of the traders that they were not served any quit notice were faulted by a man who identified himself  as Victor. He said they were given notice last Thursday but did not expect them to come today and start demolishing their shops without making alternative arrangement for them.

A man who simply identified himself as Michael said he had two shops before they were demolished.  He pleaded with  the government to relocate them instead of leaving them in the cold.

Governor Ajimobi, who vowed to change the rating of the state as the dirtiest in the country, has been trying to pacify the people, saying they should see the pains currently being experienced owing to the massive urban renewal exercise embarked upon by his administration as a temporary one that would soon turn into gains for them.

He appealed for the understanding of the people of the state, saying that at the end of the exercise, they would all appreciate his administration’s efforts at giving the state a new lease of life.  Ajimobi further explained that he was not doing the demolition to punish the people, but to improve the state’s aesthetics and save the state from the unfortunate stigma of being the dirtiest state in Nigeria.

But what most residents of the state are saying is that the governor should quickly make provision for them so that they would not die of hunger.

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