By Gidado Shuaib
Despite reported hullabaloo over the demolition of Ile-Arugbo, the alleged Charity Home established by Saraki’s family, the Ilorin appears to be calm and tranquil at least to a visitor.
I arrived Ilorin to attend to a N500m court suit filed against me and others by Hillcrest Agro-Allied Industry, a firm allegedly owned by President Muhammadu Buhari’s Special Adviser, Sarah Alade over an investigative report.
Before my arrival, I thought the city was in a state of unrest and restlessness only to notice a peaceful and serene environment with residents going about their normal businesses.
The controversy over the demolition of Ile-Arugbo still lingers as many players have argued for and against the decision of Governor Abdulrasaq Abdulrahman. The arguments were tarred with different shades of coloured perspectives based on several factors including political leaning and cultural affiliation.
During the heat of the matter, even Buhari’s minister and member of the All Progressives Congress, Gbemisola Saraki and her brother former Senate President and PDP Chieftain had condemned the demolition exercise. They are children of Dr Olusola Saraki who established Ile-Arugbo
The state government had justified the necessity of the demolition for the public interest. It said that the title of the land which was unlawfully allocated to a private firm without any record of payment was revoked to build a new government secretariat that it was originally meant for.
I strongly believe that like many have observed and as pointed out by a public commentator recently, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq had endeared himself to the people by his unassuming disposition, gender equality initiatives, developmental programmes and the prompt payment of the remuneration of workers.
In fact, in October 2019, Kwara ranked third on the list of states that had attracted huge foreign investments, recording an accumulated inflow of $1.14 billion. It was next to Lagos and Abuja. With this good rating the governor, the negative remarks against his governance is worrisome.
Out of curiosity, as a young man, I spoke to youths and various youth groups in the state to get their perspective over the demolition of the structure by the government.
Most of the respondents based their arguments on morality as well as the legality of the revocation and the demolition of the buildings. Meanwhile, some responses are just jejune, idiotic and childish bereft of any evidence as others claimed that it was a purely historical rivalry between families.
A youth group, Kwara Youths for Positive Change, said the action of the governor has been long overdue. “We believe that the revocation is long overdue because the land was intended for public use and not for private businesses. The government’s action is not an act of vengeance rather it followed the due diligence and procedure,” a member of the group, Mujeeb Olayiwola Alabi said.
Another youth advocate in the state, Muhammadu Kabir said: “Old women, mothers and grandmothers, usually go there from different parts of the state for as little as N500 with a local snack for a meal after the usual political rally at the venue. With the demolition of the Ile Arugbo, the women will be enterprising and productive in other endeavours rather their beggarly nuisance.”
Some people also claimed that the place was used for breeding political thugs. According to Mohammed Awwal, the Convener of Let-the-Youth-Lead Initiative (LYLI) nobody stayed in the house after every political event at Ile-Arugbo.
“Late Olusola Saraki did not stay in the place. He usually stood at the top part of the house to address his followers and after his demise, the place harboured political thugs and some miscreants. None of his family members ever spent a night in the place,” Awwal Said.
Meanwhile, a young legal practitioner in Ilorin, Yinka Oba said that the land was never allocated to any individual but to a company based in Lagos.
The lawyer said that “The controversy is unnecessary because the land was allocated to Asa Investments Limited with an office in Lagos rather than Kwara State. The company in its last annual return filed at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in 2006 had the main objective to acquire by purchase, lease, exchange, hire, or otherwise, lands and property of any tenure. The status of the firm currently is inactive.”
While one can read political motives for most of the reactions especially in the media, the fact and the reality on the ground is that most people I spoke to commended the state government for addressing major socio-economic challenges in the state especially towards job creation, youth and women empowerment. The Ile-Arugbo drama could have been overblown for other intents and interests.
I advise the state governor to remain focused and avoid being distracted. In the process of executing good programmes and policy, the bedrock of good governance, one has to take hard decisions, march on thorny toes to withstand the concomitant pressure associated with doing the right thing. He should nevertheless, be conscious while taking sensitive and political decisions to avoid such actions being wrongly misinterpreted and misjudged.
Gidado Yushau Shuaib, the editor of Youths Digest and The News Digest, can be reached on email@example.com