I could remember vividly the frenzy that went into the announcement of the winner of Oyo State governorship election; it was obvious that the wish of the majority and good people of Oyo State prevailed at the poll. More importantly the occupant of Agbowo Shopping Complex located opposite the gate of the premier University, the University of Ibadan, breath a final sense of relief. You may wonder why they in particular, but the strong rumour had it that the then outgoing government had concluded plans to sell the state edifice as done to some other state properties. The implications of this purported sale were not lost on us that make legitimate income in doing business in this government owned edifice.
So, it was with great Joy as we noticed a renewed effort in maintenance on the part of the official of Oyo State Housing Cooperation that manage this property since the advent of this people installed government. It was so intense that people started panicking that it has never happened before. I had to put the fear of a co-tenant to rest that is the dividend of real democracy.
But our recent joy was cut short by the sudden letter of eviction served on all the occupants of the complex by the management of Oyo State Housing Cooperation, with a six month notice. The reason given in the letter is that the cooperation needed to carry out a comprehensive structural renovation, with a promise that the existing tenants shall be given priority at the end of renovation exercise. There are factors that are not taken into consideration in this exercise and which I think your good government should consider as government of the people. I shall below state these factors as succinct as possible.
Firstly, I am very much aware job creation top the agenda of this government and as such government will not do anything that will throw away over five thousand direct jobs this complex offer the good people of Oyo State and by extension over fifty thousand dependent jobs that survive on business done in the complex. The complex in the last decade has given room to entrepreneur like me to create jobs and to show to so many young people that success could be achieved without waiting to be spoon fed by the government. That we can ride on the back of hard work to make ourselves and people around us happy. Over the years the number of young entrepreneur that has taken office in the complex has grown with each providing more employment and empowerment to the good people of the state despite the huge challenges of doing business in Nigeria. Shutting the door of the complex on us will make nonsense of the progress we have made so far and will throw so many people out of job with no means of survival.
Secondly, the complex has the highest concentration of internet presence in the whole state as such command the presence of every other computer related business. It is fast turning to a huge e-centre and with proper intervention and purposeful grooming can become Oyo State Silicon Valley. Also because of this, so many secondary school leavers have taken to learning one or two skills as regard computer usage, software design, desktop and laptop repair, sales of computer accessories et al. This has taken them off the street, away from crime and so many other social vices that could increase crime in every other society that do not give room for skill acquisition. Sir, all these are private and small scale driven but could be aborted by the eviction notice given to the drivers of these social revolutions. We need encouragement not discouragement.
Thirdly, because of the peculiar nature of Agbowo and power supply problem of our nation, throwing the entire tenants of the shopping complex out will leave a very big dark vacuum that will be quickly occupied by hoodlums and other crime minded individuals. The darkness and void created will as such increase the case of rape, robbery and general harassment of individuals (that include boys and girls of University of Ibadan that reside in large number off campus in the area). This will present a new security challenge to the state and hence will require spending the mean resources of the state on avoidable problems. As it is hoodlums and loafers parade the vicinity of these complex but because the tenants light up this huge edifice till late in the night and also because so many of them get handout (as gift) from shop owners it is unwise for them to disturb the peace of the community. If enquiries is made to the crime rate in the complex before the aggressive efforts of the young entrepreneurs that has taken over in the last decade, the government will be expose to crime that were committed by cult members in year past, height of it were reported murder cases.
Fourthly, I think the people and occupant of the complex should be carried along in this wonderful Idea of renovation by our government as we are the user of this property and will be in better place to give one or two advice on how best government will get value for money it intend to spend on this edifice. As money not spend on a tailored need will be a waste and I am sure your government is not a wasteful one.
Fifthly, I am of the opinion that the money government intend to put on what may later become a white elephant project should be channeled into some other job creating ventures by the government as so many of it abound in area of Agriculture and infrastructural development. My market knowledge of this vicinity tells me that no marginal increase in patronage will be achieved by the proposed “Comprehensive structural renovation” and it may as well turn out to be another abandoned project or such that will put hole in the pocket of government. Or better still a venture sold by some people to hoodwink the government to throw away much in getting little all in the guise of revenue drive.
Truth be told this structure has been neglected over the years and it is in need of renovation especially its external walls that cries for new layers of paint and its infrastructure, especially water and toiletries that is in need of repair. For the detail engineering that went into the construction of this complex am not sure a “comprehensive structural renovation” is needed that will warrant turning out the occupants of the complex. Even structures that predate the shopping complex and are located in the state secretariat have not had its occupants turn out for “comprehensive structural renovation”. If the management of Oyo State Housing Cooperation continue at the pace they have being going since the inception of this administration I am sure a lot will be achieved in making our complex a better place. Government need to avoid throwing away so much jobs and truncation of the emergence of “Oyo state silicon valley”. People had maintained a very good interior of the shops and what is needed by the government is to maintain good and presentable exterior. Helping to solve power problem will also add so much value. We want renovation done without ejecting businesses, it was done in Gbagi market and could be done here.
Any government that does not have the welfare of its people as the motive of actions and inaction has lost the morality of leadership, though it could hold on to power. Ijoba Ajumose is our government and should be about the people.