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Ado Ekiti residents cry for compensation, fairness

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PHOTO: Adegbuyi Ayodele

In Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, new constructions designed to give the city a facelift are taking shape. But good-looking as the structures are, they have not come without a cost: residents are suffering the demolition of their cherished buildings and emotional pain, while the government is paying out millions in compensation.

The demolition, ongoing as at the time of filing this report, affected five major areas in the state capital. These include Okeisa, site of the 1-kilometre long flyover stretching from Fajuyi Amusement Park to Ojumose. Altogether, some 50 buildings were pulled down here. There is also the site of the link road to Government House and the Oja Oba market. Buildings were also demolished at Okeyinmi, to make way for road dualisation. Ijoka and Abekoko were probably the most affected. These used to be hideouts for criminals.

Resident of Ado Ekiti received the exercise with mixed feelings. Some decried the lack of sufficient time to seek alternative shelter. Among these were elderly persons, some of who had bequeathed buildings to their children. Some argued that they deserved more compensation. Others said the displaced ought to have been relocated elsewhere. All the same, there were some who were enthralled by the speedy transformation that followed the demolition.

One disappointed resident, who didn’t want his name in print, said: “The governor is seeing this demolition of old buildings as a good thing. But there are different sides to it. To him, what he is doing is for the benefit of the people, as he earnestly desires to make Ekiti look like London or cosmopolitan Lagos. But is that how we all feel about it? Another question is, as cosmopolitan as Lagos or Ibadan are, don’t they have old buildings like we have here in Ado Ekiti?”

But Mr. Pelumi Ojo, another resident, has a different take. “For me, Governor Fayose’s move in demolishing and rebuilding the city is a welcome idea. The city is wearing a new and exciting look. Who thought Ado Ekiti could be this beautiful? Look at the new Fajuyi Park. It is more elaborate, bold and beautiful. See the flyover. In fact, by the time they complete the Oba’s Market, you would mistake this city for one of those nice places in Abuja or Lagos. That, to me, is a welcome development,” he said.

While Mrs. Abeke Olaiya and Madam Gbeminiyi Aluko agreed that Fayose deserves praise for the courage to level old and decrepit buildings, they appealed that the affected persons should be given adequate compensation.

“We are not against the demolition of old buildings. In fact, it is true that many of them were not only outdated but were poorly built. What we frown at is a situation where the governor wants us to build newer homes but is not giving us the kind of money that can do that. We appeal to him to compensate owners of these buildings far more than the cost of the demolished structures. That way, he would make us very happy,” said Aluko.

The government is said to have paid N400 million in compensation. Many who lost their buildings, however, said they had not received any money. Some, who admitted they had received compensation, complained that the money was too little to build another house, given the high cost of construction materials. The highest paid property owner reportedly received N2 million, while others got between N500,000 and N700,000.

Justifying the demolition, Fayose stressed the need to rid the capital of shanties and transform it into a modern city, urging the people to be ready to make sacrifices for development. “We are demolishing buildings. And we are not sparing anyone, no matter how highly placed or close to us. Recently, I had to demolish an old building, which belonged to a relative of my Chief of Staff, Chief Dipo Anisulowo. We have to do this to set an example. If my mother’s building is found to be intruding into our road network or debasing the city, we would pull it down,” he said.

According to the governor, “It is not all the buildings we pull down that we are taking. There are some that we just pull them down, so that their owners would have to rebuild them to the taste of the emerging new city. There are some that have been poorly built. They have neither bathroom nor toilet. And it is depressing that human waste from poorly built bathrooms and toilets have been rubbishing and debasing our environment, causing communicable diseases and others. We cannot continue to tolerate all these.”

Some of the new projects, like Oja Oba, are 70 per cent completed, while the flyover is 99 per cent finished. Work on the roads is between 40 and 70 per cent accomplished. Construction, stalled initially due to litigation, is ongoing at the Oja Oba Market. There is a possibility that some of the projects would overshoot their targeted completion dates.

There were recent reports of the demolition of sacred shrines. These, however, are untrue. The shrines – Ogunrio, Alagorigi, Okutaefa – as at the time of filing this report, remained intact.

It was observed that the original mapping of areas billed for demolition was done by the immediate past administration of former Governor Kayode Fayemi, and that the exercise was not carried out due to “lack of political will”.

Whether or not the demolition would affect the chances of Fayose’s preferred successor is debatable.



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