Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
Indigenes of Ado Ekiti under the auspices of Ado Ewi Indigenes Rights Protection Forum and Ado Ekiti Youth Coalition, yesterday protested against Governor Ayodele Fayose for selling the Oba’s Market in the town to traders , rather than allowing the local government council to rent it out to users.
The protesters, who took their grievances to Ewi of Ado Ekiti, Oba Rufus Adejugbe , said the indigenes were not comfortable seeing Governor Fayose selling off their heritage without due consultation with the leaders of the community.
The market , located in front of Ewi’s market and formerly being controlled by Ado Local Government, was demolished in 2016 by Fayose and rebuilt into an ultra modern structure at the cost of about N3 billion.
Addressing the protesters at the palace, a retired Federal Director and Akuajo of Ado Ekiti, Chief Olugbayo Ogunleye, said the protest became necessary to prevent Ado’s heritage from being mismanaged.
Ogunleye maintained that it was morally wrong for the market being initially controlled by indigenes to have been sold out without consideration.
Ogunleye jointly addressed the protesting youths with the Head of the Aladesanmi royal family, Prince Adedeji Aladesanmi and Babatolu of Ado Ekiti, Chief Kayode Owolabi.
Ogunleye, who spoke on behalf of the trio, expressed disappointment with how Governor Fayose had allegedly reneged on his promise to consider the former occupants of the now ultra modern market before allocation.
“Our stand is apolitical. We are protesting to preserve the heritage of Ado Ekiti indigenes with regards to Oba’s market.
Virtually all over Africa, Nigeria in particular and Yoruba land in particular, Oba’s market IS never sold. It can be leased , rented but they are not usually sold outrightly.
“Again, control of such market is the constitutional rights of the local government and not that of the state, because it was a major factor in the internally generated revenue sources of the council.
“Our fear is that, once it is sold, that market is gone forever and the local government will become poorer. So, we are protesting for the retention of the Local Government and the need for it to be administered by the council; market is not for any state.
“They said people should come and pay as much as N2 million before allocated shops, rather than allowing them to rent the place. Even those occupying the place were not given preferential treatment. Where would those just trying to make ends meet get N2 million?”, he asked.
Spokesman of Ado Ekiti Youth Coalition, Olubodun Olukayode, said it was wrong for the governor to have contemplated selling the market , taking cognisance of the premium placed on it by Ado Ekiti people.
Olukayode, the National Secretary of the Coalition said: “We are sounding a note of warning to prospective buyers that the market is not for sale. Though, we have not met the government, but we have
registered our protest with Ewi –in-Council . As youths, whatever we do today shall be history tomorrow, so we are here to preserve our heritage.
“We are also pleading with the state government to return the market to the local government. We have tried to reach out to the local government to intervene but it was foot dragging on the issue, because it is part of the present government.
“We are of the belief that the matter can be resolved now on the premise that those intending to purchase the market stalls had only paid for forms and not the stores, we believe commonsense can still prevail.
“We are not blaming Governor Fayose for building the market , but we believe it was wrong for local traders to pay as much as N2 million before being allocated shops. We expected the government to allow them to pay
rent on the stores either yearly monthly”, he stated.