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Ado-Ekiti indigenes protest against Fayose over sale of Oba’s market

Some indigenes of Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, on Thursday took to the streets to protest against Governor Ayo Fayose’s decision to sell shops in the uncompleted Erekesan (Oba’s) Market.

The protesters described the Oba’s Market as their heritage which cannot be sold off warning the governor to pull the brakes on the plan to sell the shops.

Besides, they contended that control of market is under the jurisdiction of the local government and not the state government wondering the alleged haste with which the governor wanted to sell the market before exiting office.

They alleged that the governor’s decision to sell the market to buyers was a unilateral one and not done in consultation with Ado-Ekiti indigenes condemning the price of N2 million per shop demanded by the governor which they said was too exorbitant for poor market women.
The protest was organized by Ado Ewi Indigenes Rights Protection Forum and Ado-Ekiti Youth Coalition. The protesters held a big banner with inscription “Erekesin (Oja Oba) Market Not For Sale, Don’t Sell Ado Ewi Inheritance, Buyers Be Warned, Don’t Lose Your Money.”

Addressing reporters during the protest, the Akuajo of Ado-Ekiti, Chief Olugbayo Ogunleye, expressed dismay with how Fayose had allegedly reneged on his promise to consider the former occupants of the now ultra-modern market before allocation.

Joining Ogunleye to address the press at the protest were head of the Aladesanmi royal family, Prince Adedeji Aladesanmi and Babatolu of Ado Ekiti, Chief Kayode Owolabi.

While noting that the protest became necessary to prevent Ado’s heritage from being traded off, Ogunleye who clarified that the protest had no political undertone, said market is an important
heritage in Yoruba land which should not be toyed with.

Ogunleye said: “Our stand is apolitical. We are protesting to preserve the heritage of Ado Ekiti indigenes with regards to Oba’s market. Virtually all over Africa, Nigeria in particular and Yoruba land in particular, Oba’s market are never sold. It can be leased, rented but
they are not usually sold outright.

“Again, control of such market is the constitutional rights of the Local Government and not that of the state, because it was a major factor in the internally generated revenue sources of the council.

“Our fear is that, once it is sold, that market is gone forever and the local government will become poorer. So, we are protesting for the retention of the Local government and the need for it to be administered by the council; market is not for any state.

“They said people should come and pay as much as N2m before allocated shops, rather than allowing them to rent the place. Even those occupying the place were not given preferential treatment. Where would those just trying to make ends meet get N2 million?”

The National Secretary of Ado Ekiti Youth Coalition, Olubodun Olukayode, said it was wrong for the governor to have contemplated selling the market, taking cognizance of the premium placed on it by Ado Ekiti people.

Olukayode said: “We are sounding a note of warning to prospective buyers that the market is not for sale. Though, we have not met the government, but we have registered our protest with Ewi-in-Council. As youths, whatever we do today shall be history tomorrow, so we are here
to preserve our heritage.

“We are also pleading to government to return the market to the local government. We have tried to reach out to the local government to intervene but it was dragging feet on the issue, because it is part of the present government.

“We are of the belief that the matter can be resolved now on the premise that those intending to purchase the market stalls had only paid for forms and not the stores, we believe commonsense can still prevail.

“We are not blaming Governor Fayose for building the market, but we believe it was wrong for local traders to pay as much as N2m before being allocated shops. We expected the government to allow them to pay rent on the stores either yearly monthly,” he stated.

The market, located in front of Ewi’s market and formerly being controlled by Ado Local Government, was demolished in 2016 by Fayose and rebuilt into an ultra-modern structure at the cost of about N3 billion.