From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, and the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso I, and the Aseyin of Iseyin, Oba Abdul-Ganiy Adekunle, were not stopped from entering the Lekan Salami Sports Complex during the unveiling of the remodelled stadium by former Vice President, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, in Ibadan.
The Oyo State Government made the clarification on Thursday, following online media reports that went viral on the social media on Wednesday evening that the monarchs were barred from entering the stadium by overzealous security agents at the entrance of the sporting facility.
Meanwhile, Aseyin of Iseyin, Oba Adekunle, has said he was not denied entry into the stadium during the unveiling of the remodelled facility and ceremonial football competition that held on Wednesday, saying: “I would not know why somebody would say I was turned back by security men, I attended the event and was ushered in, although the entrance was rough due to mammoth crowd of miscreants that wanted to force their ways in and the way they were resisted by the police and other security agencies.
“Baba Alaafin and Olubadan are not of my age, you cannot expect them to withstand such rigor and that is why they turned back and went home, people should learn to draw a line between politics and good governance, the project is not for Seyi Makinde but the whole of Oyo State to be proud of, we should rather appreciate the governor for doing what many others have failed to do overtime.”
The Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, in a statement he made available to journalists in Ibadan on Thursday, said the government holds the royal fathers too important, to be prevented from attending the event, to which they had been duly invited.
According to the statement, the inability of the monarchs to gain access into the main bowl was because of the huge enthusiastic crowd that swarmed on the stadium and obstructed the movement of the monarchs’ convoys to the designated VVIP Drop Off zone, which was the easiest channel to their reserved seats.
“What happened was that security operatives advised that the drivers of the revered monarchs make their way through another gate, since their convoys were unable to access the VVIP Drop Off Zone from the gate they entered through.
The statement noted that all other monarchs, who were inside the VVIP box, included the Olugbon of Ile Igbon, Aseyin of Iseyin, the Okere of Saki, the Olu of Igboora and they were well recognised, stating that “this was an evidence that the government places huge premium of respect on the stools of our forebears as occupied by the Kabiyesis.
“Some of the mischief makers also alleged that former Governor Rashidi Ladoja boycotted the event and this too, is a big lie, as the Osi Olubadan attended and gave a goodwill message at the event.”
The governor’s media aide equally described attempts to rubbish the stadium project by some opposition elements as misguided, stating that the claim that only the stadium cost N5billion was untrue and mischievous. He maintained that the amount being touted was for the cost of fixing the entire sports complex, which is in phases.
“Some critics have attempted to blow the cost of fixing the Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba out of proportion, especially in view of the water that logged on sections of the pitch due to heavy rain. Let it be placed on record that the main bowl of the stadium was only the first phase of the entire project which comes in phases. There is the main bowl, the gymnasium and indoor sports hall for a variety of sporting activities, a world class Tennis court as well as the luxury apartments which will be given out on annual subscription.
“Besides, the pitch as seen on Wednesday is work in progress, because the contractor has not handed over the project to the state government. The contractor had explained that the pitch needed three more months to fully solidify so that the automatic drainage system would become fully functional. But the unveiling had to be done to ensure that our darling Shooting Stars Sports Club returns to Ibadan, having been forced to play their matches outside the state for so long owing to absence of a good pitch in Ibadan.
“The contractor has given his assurance to address the challenges of the pitch and by the time the works are completed, Oyo State would definitely have the value for its money, which has always been the priority and intention of Governor Makinde.”