Wole Balogun, Ado-Ekiti
The planned refund of over N380million payment made by beneficiaries of the new Oja Oba Market, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti, by Governor Kayode Fayemi, is generating ripples as mixed reactions have trail the development.
Beneficiaries who had paid for spaces in the complex are singing discordant tunes. While some are accepting the development, others are angry, fuming that they have been made victims of political tussle between Fayemi and ex-governor Ayodele Fayose.
Adunni Majekodunmi, a beneficiary fumed: “It is a very unwholesome development and I feel we have just fallen victims of the political rivalry between Fayemi and his predecessor, Fayose. Did they not say government is a continuum? Why can’t the governor just continue with what his predecessor has done? Why does he have to refund us? It is all a failure of government, the two of them should be blamed.”
Another beneficiary, Mr. Femi Olowu: “All those talk about refunding the money we have paid for the shops is a mere story. So, the governor wants to refund the money so that he can reallocate the shops to his own people? I will not collect such money because all we want is for the government is to complete the market complex on time and hand us our shops, which were already allocated to us. We won’t accept any other thing other than that.”
But Mrs. Cecilia Adebayo expressed appreciation for government’s timely intervention on the refund and appealed for speedy completion of the project: “We appreciate Governor Fayemi for the initiative to build the market complex in a better way and his magnanimity in refunding our money. We wish his government well.”
Chief Nathaniel Uzomah, South West leader of the Ndigbo spoke on behalf of the Igbo community benefited from the allocation: “We had expressed the worry that it may be difficult for the in coming government of Kayode Fayemi to carry on with the allocation of the shops in the market if the building has not been completed.
“And that has happened. That government is making a refund is a welcome development. What we are used to is that any money that goes into the covers of the government is very hard to get back. So if this governor is doing this, it is a commendable development.
“I want to urge our people to go and get the money and hope for a future benefit from the current government when they would have completed the market. I also want to urge the government to make sure that when they are eventually ready to give the market to the public, they should ensure that those who would be given priority would be those who have already paid for the shops. This way, the public would be happy.”
The market was built by the government of Fayose, who claimed that the complex was over 90 percent completed and allocated shops and other spaces to members of the public at varying prices from N200,000 to N2,000,000.
But shortly after he was declared winner on July 14, Fayemi alleged that the market complex was having some structural defects and would have to be reconstructed. He warned that no one should attempt to pay for spaces in the complex.
On Monday, December 17 2018, Fayemi approved the refund. Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Industries and Cooperatives, Mr Kayode Abe, said: “The Ekiti State Government has commenced the refund of money paid by traders for the occupation of the new ultra-modern Oja Oba Market in Ado- Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital.”
He claimed the governor gave the directive consequent upon the structural defects discovered at the market which government intended to put in order before reallocating the market stalls.
Media aide to Fayose, Mr. Lere Olayinka, responded: “The government of Ayo Fayose built the new Oja Oba complex. It was almost 10 percent completed before he left as governor on October 16, if somebody who came yesterday is now saying that the complex has structural defects, the question to ask is the governor an engineer? Has he invited some structural engineers to assess the building and give their reports?
“To us, Fayemi’s recent action on the new market complex is just a continuation of his regime of vendetta to condemn everything about Fayose’s government. When he was governor in his first tenure, he took bonds to build the market and what he could only show for it was the market on paper before he left on October 16, 2014. The money he borrowed then was spent but nothing to show for it.
“As at the time Fayose was leaving office, there were over N300 million set aside for the completion of the market.
“There were less than half of the shops to be allocated out of over 700 shops, meaning that as at the time Fayose was leaving office, there were more than half of the shops to be allocated and the allottees who have paid had paid the over N300 million.
“I am aware that there is an agreement between government and the allottees. There are also penalties to be paid by government for revocation of the agreement. I am also aware that part of the penalty to be paid by government for revocation is 50 years rent of each of the shops.
“It is now left to the allottees to seek for the enforcement of their rights. And if one or two of five of them hold that the government ought to have compensated them for the revocation of the contract, the law allows for that. The allottees are adults and are exposed enough to know their rights.”