| By Ayodele Adigun | Apr. 14, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT
I HAVE watched and listened with consternation over the past couple of days how Oyo State Government, the mass media and various individuals have attempted to turn a current event in to ancient fables and myths. While the Government Propaganda was very active in distancing Government from the bizarre issue the mass media have been lethargic in unearthing the facts. More disturbing is the fact that friends and foes alike all over the world have continued to pour scorn and denigrate our proud city of Ibadan as a city meant for cave dwellers. I say with all sense of responsibility that it is the State Government through its negligence and bestial actions that has in a large measure dragged the name of the city in the mud. The facts here under will suffice to buttress the point.
In 1996 Aprofim Limited awarded the contract to construct the Ogunpa Channelisation Scheme took up accommodation at that Soka premises near Ogunpa River as its site office. When the Company could not perform, Costain West Africa Limited was brought in to continue with the project. Again Costain proved to be incapable of going on with the Project. As the Permanent Secretary overseeing the project then, I recommended that the Contract be terminated and the site as well as the equipment therein be taken over by Oyo State until the balance of advance payment was refunded to Government. The recommendation was approved, and the site taken over by Government in 1999.
Between 2003 and 2007, the Ladoja administration advised the Ministry of Environment to put the premises into productive use. It was then that the idea of setting up a sewerage plant to take care of domestic waste was mooted. The Ministry then succeeded in constructing an oxidation pond at the site. The oxidation pond became very useful for septic tank evacuators who had their waste products treated after paying some amount to Government as revenue. Later, the Nigerian Breweries got interested in the project and constructed an industrial oxidation pond for its exclusive use to treat its waste products. Thus the activities at the premises became a revenue earner for Government between 2005 and 2011.
A cursory look at Oyo State Book of Estimates for the year 2009 at page 25, item 125 (v) will reveal an approved revenue estimate of N7,000,000.00 from oxidation pond user charges. In the 2012 Approved Book of Estimates at page 27 item 4310000 Revenue Code 4020142, there was an approved revenue estimates of N9,000,000.00 for 2011 while no provision was made for 2012 for oxidation pond user charges. This means that the project was discontinued in 2012. The reason for this is not far-fetched. The complaints of the people of the area with a sparse population when the project was started had become more dense and the odour emanating from the ponds had become very disturbing, hence the cancellation. These facts completely debunk the notion that the place was ritualist den since about ten (10) years ago because a Government agency could not have operated a project generating revenue for Government where such a nefarious activity was going on.
In July, 2012, the Oyo State Government awarded a contract for the evacuation of lunatics from Ibadan and its environs to Messrs Kolaful Company Limited with Mr. Ibrahim Gbadamosi as the Consultant. The police were subsequently implored to provide cover for the assignment through a letter written to the then Commissioner for Environment and Habitat, Wasiu Oladimeji Dauda. The destination of these unfortunate Nigerians carted away from the streets was the Soka premises. The Nigerian Tribune edition of Thursday 15th August, 2013 at page 9 with a story titled ‘Oyo Government moves Lunatic from Ibadan roads’ credited to Tunde Ogunesan also confirmed the movement.
It is disheartening to note that the site which was not made to accommodate people became the abode of hundreds of perceived lunatics, destitutes and unkempt looking people with no provision for medical care, rehabilitation or feeding. The contention of the Special Adviser on Environment and Habitat Mr. Yomi Oke on Channels Television during interview on the subject on Saturday 29th March, 2014 also confirmed that Government was only interested in getting these people off the streets to enhance the Government environmental beautification programme without following up on what happened to them. This is not permissible in any civilised society. The fact is that most of these unfortunate people were starved to death by the agents of Government. Those who did not die were on the throes of death with emaciated physiques when they were rescued.
May I confirm that the Ladoja administration did not initiate any programme to move lunatics from the streets neither was it done by the succeeding administration of Akala. Oyo State Government should be honest enough to take responsibility for this inhuman, wicked and irresponsible act rather than trying to hide behind a needle. There is no other word for this act than genocide! The nefarious acts were committed between 2012 and 2014
It might have been possible for ritualist to take advantage of the shoddy arrangement by Government but the fact is that Government used its resources to gather these unfortunate people to a location where they became vulnerable to human predators and the elements. I sincerely hope that the police and human rights organisations will get to the root of this evil.
— Adigun, a retired permanent secretary and a former secretary to Oyo State government, wrote in from Ibadan.