Ekiti Abuja Lodge Controversy: Beyond The Political Trite By Sunday Osanyintuyi

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For every state of the federation, having at least a house or lodge in the capital city Abuja, is considered a must for so many reasons. Its officials, particularly governor and deputy will always have dealings there hence, the need to lodge.

It is also considered cheap to own a house to reduce expenses of governors who visit Abuja not less than twice every week. Though this is subject to debate as to why a governor will abandon his or her core duty post to junket round the capital, Abuja.

PDP ALLEGATION ON EKITI ABUJA LODGE:

Be that as it may, when the news of Ekiti Abuja house allegedly being sold was made by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the state, one wonders why such will be. The party’s caretaker committee in Ekiti has released pictures of ongoing reconstructions on the 2000sqm on T. Y.  Danjuma, Asokoro, Abuja where former Ekiti state abuja lodge used to sit.  The party had queried Has Ekiti State Governor’s Lodge, T.Y Danjuma Street, Asokoro, Abuja Been Sold? Below was the full statement as made available

The Ekiti State Governor’s Lodge situated on T. Y. Danjuma Street Asokoro, has disappeared from the landscape of that highbrow street.

The former edifice has been taken down, thereby necessitating enquiry into whether or not it has been sold.

This development is curious, thereby triggering thought provoking questions that the State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi must provide answers to, as Ekiti people will like to know what’s going on.

1. The befitting edifice hitherto sitting on this expansive land was built less than seven years ago, now taken down.

Before this demolition, the edifice that was never a building under heavy use, had served only the Governor anytime he chooses to stay there whenever he comes to Abuja.

The edifice was in such a good state to continue to serve as Ekiti State Governor’s Lodge, that should not warrant being taken down for a totally new structure and to be replaced with a 15ft Sadam Hussein bunker like foundation as being presently frenetically dug by the workers working day and night.

2. Thereby provoking these questions;

a. Has the previous edifice been sold?

b. Is it the new owner that is erecting another structure on that prime land on that highbrow location sitting on 2000sqm on T .Y Danjuma, Asokoro, Abuja?

3. If the construction of the new building going on presently is not by the Fayemi led Ekiti State Government, then it will mean that the property hitherto on that parcel of land had been sold.

4. So who is the new owner?

5. How much was it sold?

6. Was it sold through a competitive bidding process?

7. How much was paid into Ekiti State Government coffers?

But If it was Ekiti State Government that demolished the former structure and building a new one, then these questions will be begging for answers.

1. At what time did the former structure become dilapidated or badly run down to warrant total demolition to pave way for a new one?

2. What is the cost of the new building?

3. Who are the contractors handling the new construction?

4. Did it go through competitive bidding process?

5. Did the State House of Assembly approve of this new gargantuan project?

5. Is this project in 2020 Budget of Ekiti State?

6. What is the justification for spending billions of Naira on a New Governor’s Lodge in Abuja at a time like this when resources are scarce and lean?

7. Should a New Governor’s Lodge in Abuja be the most auspicious priority project for the Governor Fayemi led Government of Ekiti State?

Ekiti HOUSES IN ABUJA:

Apart from the said building in Abuja, Ekiti state has another lodge close to Thisday Dome in Abuja. Senior Special Assistant on Public Communications, Segun Dipe had responded to the PDP’s allegation in part: “Again, lest the critic should know, Governor Fayemi, as the current chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum has more reasons to visit Abuja than any past governor. There was hardly any week he didn’t do so before the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet, unlike Fayose, he would rather stay in his private residence at no cost to the state. If Fayemi were a Fayose, he would have rented his personal house to the State and collected huge rent or better still, lodge in Presidential suites in hotels. He has refused to do any of these.”

Since the state has another lodge in the city, why has Dr Kayode Fayemi not deem it fit to stay in the second Abuja house anytime he visits Abuja? Could it be the house does not befit the statue of the governor? Who picks the bills of Mr governor whenever he travels to Abuja?  Why should Ekiti houses in Abuja be allowed to waste away without maintenance by successive governments? These questions and many more underscores the need to plan long time for the state. Government is supposed to be continuum in a saner clime.

For a low-income earning state like Ekiti, its leaders, not minding political divides, must set developmental agenda for the overall interest of the state. Under no pretence should Ekiti state allows its property waste due to lack of proper maintenance.  

It should be made clear that PDP is the main opposition in Nigeria and Ekiti state. The state government should not in any way be surprised that its actions and policies are being monitored, criticised by the opposition.

EKITI STATE GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE:

For close to 48 hours, the response of the state government didn’t come. Aare Muyiwa Olumilua, Commissioner for Information and Orientation simply said: “Government will respond in due course” When the response came, it was done by, Segun Dipe, the SSA, public communications to the governor. The response is produced below;

Ekiti Governor’s Lodge in Abuja: Between due process and ill-informed interference

“Do not answer a fool according to his folly or you yourself will be just like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.” -Proverbs 26:4-5.

When we saw the criticism desperately, frustratingly, but wrongly unleashed on the public regarding the Ekiti State Lodge in Abuja, FCT and the construction work going on there, the initial thought was to let it pass as the ranting of an inconsequential ant.

On a second thought, we considered the mindset of both the propagandists and their gullible audience who know next to nothing about good governance and decided to give them the biblical treatment as recommended above, especially with the Press quoting Diran Odeyemi from Osun State as the inordinate signee of the statement. Diran knows next to nothing about Ekiti government business and, at best, he is a meddlesome interloper.

How desperate and frustrated can an opposition be to show it is still licking the wounds it sustained when it lost grip on an ill-attained power two years ago. No doubt PDP in Ekiti State is still in denial with the fact that its leadership style of Bamubamu ni mo yo… is no longer in vogue and is now resorting to the strategy of “Kaka k’eku ma je sese, a fi se awadanu.”

The PDP propagandist might have mindlessly criticized to no end every positive step taken by the administration of Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, whose watchword is good governance and due process. But this time around, he has sunk way too low and too ill-informed.

Where good governance and due process are involved, bad governance and gangsterism have no place. Two bad tools employed by the untamed critic in carrying out his unpatriotic activity are nit-picking and afghanistanism. Nit-picking is the fussy and pedantic fault-finding, while afghanistanism is the railing and shaking of fist at an unseen foe who is quite unaware of your existence, much less your fury.

In the misinformed criticism, the nitpicker who claimed to be representing the opposition PDP in Ekiti said he had credible evidence that the property, sitting on 2000sqm on T. Y.  Danjuma, Asokoro, Abuja had been sold, and there was “no sign post, stating the owner of the new structure.” He has yet to show the evidence.

In another vein, the self-acclaimed PDP critic said he assumed “but did not concede that the new structure with like 15ft bunker was being built by the State government,” and queried the justification for pulling down the old structure and building a new one at this time. He asked further, but ignorantly: “At what time did the former structure become dilapidated to warrant total demolition to pave way for a new one?”

The bellyaching did not stop there. The nitpicker issued a query to the governor, demanding that ‘Governor Fayemi must explain to Ekiti people what happened to the multi-billion Naira edifice in Abuja.” Well, since he who alleges should be the one to prove. We challenge the same PDP critic to provide evidence of the sale of the property to the whole world.

Perhaps, such afghanistanistic display would not have been necessary in the first place, if the faultfinder, with no known qualification in any profession, had endeavoured to clear his ill-informed criticism with Engr. Segun Oni and Mr. Ayo Fayose, two erstwhile PDP governors of the State who were actively involved in the purchase and abandonment of the property. The two are back in the same opposition party and should not have allowed desperation and frustration to take the better part of their boy.

In the day-to-day exercise of administrative powers, circumspection is required. This is what separates the current administration of Dr. John Kayode Fayemi from that of its PDP predecessor. It is actually not for the pained PDP to dictate what the priority of an APC administration should be, rather it is the business of the administration of Dr. Fayemi to prioritise projects, in so far as it is properly communicated to the people. The Fayemi administration has kept faith with workers in the way the PDP could not. If reconstruction of the dilapidated lodge in Abuja is deemed a priority, and for as long as it does not interfere with the meeting of other necessary obligations, then, it should be left for the government to decide.

Lest the critic might have forgotten, their party, PDP, spent four years in building a bridge to nowhere, while owing huge backlog of salaries due to workers. Fayemi is not like Fayose who shrewdly rented his personal apartment located in the same Asokoro axis to the state for his own use in Abuja, at a cost of N30 million (Plus N3 million agency fee) per year, which amounted to N120 million (plus N12 million agency fees) in four years!

The same Fayose illegally disposed of the official land acquired by the first civilian governor, Otunba Niyi Adebayo for the building of the State Lodge. Up till now, the lodge procured has remained in private hands and the Fayemi administration is the one trying to take possession of the land in the name of Ekiti State.

Again, lest the critic should know, Governor Fayemi, as the current chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum has more reasons to visit Abuja than any past governor. There was hardly any week he didn’t do so before the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet, unlike Fayose, he would rather stay in his private residence at no cost to the state. If Fayemi were a Fayose, he would have rented his personal house to the State and collected huge rent or better still, lodge in Presidential suites in hotels. He has refused to do any of these.

Due process is not just about how humans are legally treated, but also how resources are judiciously deployed. When a leader makes due process his watchword like Fayemi has done, both his dealings with humans and utilisation of resources would be self-moderated and such leader would have nothing to fear.

May we therefore enlighten the ill-informed propagandist to exercise his power as provided for in freedom of information law of the state to investigate these facts, instead on embarking on a wild goose chase? Yet, if for any reason he cannot afford to do this, we can help clear his warped mind as follows: The same property was purchased during the Segun Oni era from a co-PDP governor of Osun State at the time, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola. It was not so good for habitation since the roof was leaking. This made Fayose to totally abandon it and thus make it become much worse.

Now, Fayemi, due to his twin style of good governance and due process, had to order the demolition of the building because it was found to be structurally weak and dangerous for habitation after it was criminally  abandoned for four years by the Fayose administration, hence the decision by the Fayemi administration to demolish and rebuild.

This was adequately provided for in both the 2019 and 2020 Budgets and this is available on the internet for anyone’s perusal. It was well advertised, bidded for and duly awarded.

However, if the opposition PDP is still agonising as to whether due process has been followed or not, they are free to approach the court. It is their democratic right, after all. As for Ekiti, the State can only be better for it.

Signed:

Segun Dipe.

Snr. Special Assistant to the Gov. on Public Communications.

28/05/2020

WAY FORWARD:

Clearly, from the response above, the state government is behind the ongoing construction there. Segun Dipe said the reconstruction is containedin both the 2019 and 2020 Budgets of the state.

In a state like Ekiti, with the reality of its economic constraint and the current reality globally, it makes more sense for the state government to suspend the current project while laying priority on what matters. Is our health facility in Ekiti in a perfect shape? How well equipped are our public schools? Can we boost that our roads infrastructure is in perfect state? These and many more areas demand attention for a government who want to impact the people.  

Governor Fayemi, according to his aide, Segun Dipe, has always made use of his personal residence while Abuja. This is commendable. 2020 state budget sighted has a provision for this Abuja lodge reconstruction. But as always, budget is a proposal not actual spend. This can still continue pending when economy improves to engage in the Asokoro Ekiti lodge reconstruction.

In other climes, opposition is regarded as a government in waiting or a shadow government . Therefore, in Ekiti state, opposition parties, (PDP and others) should be focused on engaging the government of the day on policy issues that will generate viable and long last development beyond personalities. Ekiti is greater than any leader and our people’s welfare should take the centre stage as we prepare for another elections.

I think beyond the political trite of these leaders, the future of Ekiti and its development should not be mortgaged. Personal aggrandizement, ego and poor priorities should be jettison for the overall interest of Ekiti. Posterity will always judge us when we are off the dancing stage.

It is possible, it should be done!

Ekiti a gbe a o!!!

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