Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State on Wednesday visited the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, over the fire that destroyed over 1,000 shops at Akesan Market in Oyo town on Sunday, with a promise that his government will rebuild the market within the shortest possible time.
The Governor made the promise when he paid a visit to Oba Adeyemi at his palace in Oyo town. Makinde, who said he cut short his vacation abroad based on the fire incident in the state, stated that the market would be modernised.
Makinde, who was personally received by the Alaafin and members of Oyomesi (the kingmakers), was accompanied to the palace by his deputy, Rauf Olaniyan; Secretary to the State Government, Olubamiwo Adeosun; Chief of Staff to the governor, Bisi Ilaka; the Chairman of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Kunmi Mustapha; commissioners, special advisers, among other officials.
The Governor and his entourage had visited the burnt Akesan Market, where they were received by traders, led by the Iyaloja of Oyo town, Alhaja Khadijat Bakare. She appealed to the governor to assist them to rebuild the market and help them to start their businesses again. Bakare, however, betrayed emotion when she addressed the governor, adding that she and many traders in the market did not only lose wares to the inferno, they also lost huge amount of money kept in their shops to the fire incident, which, according to her, they could not keep at home because of insecurity.
H.E., Governor @seyiamakinde this afternoon, visited the scene of the fire outbreak at Akesan Market in Oyo Town.
During the visit, Engr. Seyi Makinde spoke with the victims and promised to rebuild a modern market. pic.twitter.com/6kFDGLGEXe
— Olamide (@Iam_lammy) January 8, 2020
Daily Sun observed during the visit that the Ministry of Works in the state had cleared the debris of the burnt shops in preparation for the commencement of work on the rebuilding of Akesan Market
Makinde also mentioned the Akesan Market fire incident during the inter-religious service to usher in the New Year held at the Governor’s Office car park, an event organised by the government for civil and public servants in the state. He promised that no worker in the state would earn below the national Minimum Wage.
The Governor, who said he would not blame anybody or a past administration for their actions and inactions that culminated into the havoc, stated that he would take responsibility for everything because he swore to protect lives and property of the residents of the state. He asked Oba Adeyemi to set up a committee that would work with the government to rebuild the market. He also noted that he was aware that many politicians had visited the Alaafin with promises that they would assist the victims, describing the move as a good gesture that would complement the succour that his administration would provide for victims of the Akesan Market inferno.
He cautioned that the disaster should not be politicised, assuring that the caretaker chairman of Oyo East Local Government has been directed to obtain data on all traders that had allocations in the market before the inferno. He promised that the market would be redesigned and his administration would ensure that all traders that had allocations are accommodated in the new market.
“I must, at this point, stop to express my deep sadness over the recent loss of lives and property because of various fires in Oyo State. One of the more recent, the Akesan Market inferno, is deeply regretted. Things happened that signalled a failure in our systems. I promised to protect the life and property of everyone living within the borders of Oyo State, I take responsibility for this failing. I will make things right,” the Governor stated in his speech.
“Already, we have started the bidding process for 10 new fire trucks. I have also called for investigations into the immediate and remote causes of these fires. We are also rebuilding the market and we will begin a process of providing support to the market people that lost their wares.
“But we also know that something more important than fighting fires is making sure that the fire does not start at all. So, I urge us all, to be a little more safety conscious, especially given the weather conditions that we are experiencing. In a way, we all also want to prevent personal fires in our lives this year and the best way to do that is by setting SMART goals.”
The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Adeyemi, in his response, thanked Makinde for the visit, saying the palace was ready to cooperate with the government to rebuild and modernise the Akesan Market, which he said was founded by the founder of Oyo, Alaafin Atiba about 400 years ago.
The monarch commended Makinde for on his work as governor, adding that many politicians and traditional rulers had paid separate sympathy visits to his palace since the fire disaster occurred and they promised many things, saying the palace and the people of Oyo would not allow politicians to fool them.
Speaking on the national Minimum Wage during the inter-religious service held earlier in Ibadan, Makinde said:
“The committee has been set up. They are working. They are moving towards alignment. This administration and the workers of Oyo State, not just their leadership, are on the same page in the ongoing negotiations. And when this is concluded I give you the assurance that we shall stand side by side to announce to the whole world what we have agreed and whatever we agree will be in the interest of workers and our state. Take this home, our collective decision will be agreeable, affordable and sustainable.
“Before this administration came in on May 29, 2019, the former administration paid the subventions to higher institutions in percentages. Just before the previous administration left, they moved it to 100 per cent and we have been paying it since we came in.
“We are planning and once we sign that agreement, we will pay it. We won’t pay in percentages and no worker in Oyo State will earn below the national Minimum Wage.”
Makinde noted that his “administration has been here for less than a year, but the expectations that the people have of us are enormous. We are thankful that we have been enjoying tremendous goodwill from the people. So, we must never take their loyalty for granted. We’ll be guided by the fear of God.”