From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde has reopened the popular Shasha Market that was closed down barely 11 days ago at the peak of ethnic clashes that rocked Shasha community in the Akinyele Local Government Area of Ibadan.
The governor had closed down the market on Saturday February 13 and had imposed 13-hour curfew on the Shasha community to prevent a further breakdown of law and order. Though he has opened the market, Governor Makinde said the curfew has not been lifted. The curfew has been running from 6pm to 7am on a daily basis.
The re-opening order was given by the governor during a stakeholders’ meeting held on Tuesday at the Western Hall, Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan. The meeting was attended by Governor Seyi Makinde as well as top government functionaries, including Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters Bayo Lawal and Commissioner for Works Prof Daud Sangodoyin.
The Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of South West, David Folawiyo, and Commissioner of Police Ngozi Onadeko were also in attendance. The roll call also comprised the Baale of Shasha, Chief Amusa Ajani, as well as Sarkin Shasha, Alhaji Haruna Maiyasin-Katsina.
The two community heads spoke at the meeting and appealed to Governor Makinde to re-open the market. They said the people that caused the mayhem, which led to burning of scores of shops and houses as well as losses of lives, have relocated to Iroko, another community in Akinyele, which is about 10 kilometres to Shasha. According to them, the people planned to destroy Shasha so that they could continue the selling of their tomatoes, pepper, onions and other soup ingredient in Iroko.
Speaking at the occasion, Governor Makinde said: ‘Considering the economic situation and the peculiarities we have with us, I have heard what you said, and we will immediately reopen the Shasha Market. They will bring bulldozer to the market today (Tuesday) or tomorrow morning (Wednesday). When my brother governors (from Kano, Kebbi, Zamfara and Niger States) visited Sarkin Shasha palace, while we were working around, I realised that both the people I saw at Sarkin Shasha’s place and those I met at Baale’s place were not happy because they have been deprived of doing their job.
‘If you look at Oyo State, even when the COVID-19 was at its peak, I decided not to shut our market places because I know and also explained to the leadership of the country at the national level that in our state, we have people that the proceeds from what they get today will determine if they will eat tomorrow or not.
‘So, since peace more or less has returned to the market and the Shasha community, we have given the go ahead that the market should be reopened. I have also given instructions for some palliative works to be done. I have instructed that solar light be installed in the market; anytime of the day or night, we will see what is going on in the market.
‘The situation in our environment, economic activities are really very germane and basic. We have people out there, what they will make today, is what will determine whether they will eat tomorrow or not. And when you shut the place down, and people get hungry and again angry, then you precipitate another set of issues. So, closing the market for an extended period of time, is actually not sustainable.’
On the curfew, the governor stated: ‘You can see the CP and the DIG, they are the ones maintaining the curfew. And if they tell me peace has returned to the community, the curfew will also be lifted. But security agencies will still dominate the area.’
Governor Makinde also ordered that the Iroko Market, where articulated trucks and lorries from the Northern part of the country were being directed to after the Shasha Market incident, should remain closed indefinitely. The government, he said, would take a long term view of the Iroko Market and would decide what to do with it.
‘The Iroko market will remain shut. From what we heard, the promoters of that market were actually part of the people causing confusion and causing problem at Shasha Market. We will take a long term view of Iroko market. But in the meantime, it remains shut.’
The Deputy Inspector-General of Police in Charge of South West, David Folawiyo, told journalists that he has no doubt that peace has returned to the Shasha community, adding that the police would still maintain their presence in the community with a view to ensuring that the peace that has returned to the community is sustained.