By Dr Dolapo Sikuade
I have taken time to study this situation seriously, both as a man who has practically lived in Ibadan since 1965 and although, I’m Lagos bred, Ibadan is my permanent home.
First it’s sad that Ayefeles property was demolished, but I note it was not total.
But even a brick that someone worked for is important. I used to be a budding musician and know how hard it is to make one kobo from music.
I’m always gratified to see a musician build even a bungalow, not even the huge edifice that sprang up at the entrance to challenge roundabout which he built.
However let’s leave the aforesaid as tangential, or I would be as guilty as Yinka Ayefele supporters, who plead they were witchhunted, without any evidence that they complied with the building code.
By the way, this code is prescribed by government, inspected by government and enforced by government and not on popular sentiment, however popular the owner is.
The fact that you can bribe your way in breach, or that thousands are in breach of this code does not stand up in law.
However let’s examine the technicalities succinctly.
Unless your eyes need examining, I have passed the building many times and wondered, a contractor myself , how on earth can someone build so close to the dual carriageway.
Even as a layman I saw buildings on the set back.
Though this is in no way justifies the demolition, but clearly, those who breach this code are gambling with their property.
That one gets away with it, in no way obviates the social deviation caused by such structures.
The gamble you make is that you hope forever, no one notices, and usually that the tip you gave the low level town planning officials to look the other way, lasts forever.
In this case, however, for one reason or the other, it appears that this structure came to public attention of a commissioner and governor.
Vindictive you say?
I’ll come to that, I’ll but site examples which may buttress government resolve to make a scapegoat out of an alleged societal deviation from the building code.
I live in Bashorun in my own house since 1993. A year ago there was massive demolition which was unimaginable.
I’ve been passing Bashorun BCOS road for over 25 years, and I could not imagine that many huge houses were actually encroaching on the proposed expressway, long since earmarked for that area.
The bulldozers came.
BCOS itself lost structure, Islamic High School and many many structures bigger than Ayefeles were literally cut in half!!!
This was done by bulldozers and, by the way, they don’t have to come during office hours.
In fact, judging by the crowd of fans who came later, it appears a wise move to come at dawn, rather than risk lives and possible violence, if a crowd confronted the demolition men.
I reiterate at this juncture to say that I am not supportive of any demolition, but facts must be devoid of sentiment.
If there can be massive massive demolition under Ajimobi at Bashorun then why not Ayefeles at challenge?
All musicians have fans and the amount of love and support expressed should not obfuscate facts.
Again, on the way to my budding estate on old Ife road, I saw massive demolition for up to 3 miles from Gate to Airport road. Buildings again cut in half.
Huge earth works and massive drainage.
A new expressway ongoing.
The benefit of all Ibadan, rather than a few landlord money bags.
My people, I love and will die in Ibadan, but it is the most unplanned city ever.
Even new areas are turned into dead end, and what I call the ‘agbole ‘ mentality.
Churches built in residential area with no parking at all. Express way turn to single lane with kiosk and sheds.
Ajimobi transformed Ibadan more than any living government since 1965 when AG and NNDP started their fight which paralysed development on the alter of politics.
Tell me which government has done more in terms of infrastructure and modernisation of Ibadan?
Now to Ayefeles arguement that it was a witch hunt.
I don’t listen to his FM, but let’s look at it dispassionately.
I have courted the press in my activism for over 30 years and I know a thing or two about confronting government.
Not for political ends but to effect social change and exposure of fraud in high places.
First is that Nigerian politicians don’t like to be held accountable or portrayed in bad light or even criticised.
Musicians have long been used for political purposes, from Ogunde to Sonny Okosun to Fela.
All politicians want you to sing their praise and if you deviate, they try to cultivate you, first.
That government uses radio station to propagate views is no big deal. Ajimobi may well have on air interviews on your FM, but that does not insulate you from government ire, if they think you work for the opposition.
I’m again not saying that the FM was partisan. But politicians are at a crossroad now, with Nigerian politics in a state of serious anomy. Carpet crossing.
You don’t know who is who?
If I were government I’d be very jittery. This is no time for a maverick FM station. That is if his station starts to air anti government posting.
But even if it were so, why Aiyefele?
Why target his building?
You see, radio is a very very powerful weapon and if I want to enter politics I would seek to control or corner its views.
Question of objectivity is after election.
In election time, any press that just even looks like it’s criticising government needs to be bought over or shown who is boss.
Music is music. Praise singer is praise singer, but a radio with millions of listeners?
It’s gotta be taken out or forced to toe the line.
My speculation is that the building code had been breached long long time, but government sought to assert control by dusting up old files and writing to them to regularise the buildings.
No evidence of letter of reply is given by Ayefele.
My friends, when you are in the crosshairs of a government desperate to retail political power as APC are in the West, and they write to you to
“ come regularise”
you do not ignore their letter.
They want you to come negotiate.
What you don’t do is silence then go to court.
Ah! Eyin boys. Take government to court? Why not? But you see, those who come to equity must come with clean hands.
Obviously there is a written breach of the building code communicated since 2017. You now go to court to contest and government rightly or wrongly perceive a challenge.
What do you want them to do?
There’s a note of inspection which clearly states the breach.
Three day letter is all the law requires.
Now it’s demolished, and the case is still in court.
This is not new. Ask Maroko, people, ask the inhabitants of Jemibewon Road,
What is different is that Ayefele says his own is personal. That because his radio did not support government. That one commissioner is behind his travails.
Well good luck to him in court.
He’s going to learn a lesson that it’s difficult to fight government.
In 1983 my friends and I had the most successful night club ever in Ibadan called Aristocat which was rented from Odua, a government company.
We were there for 4 years then government gave immediate quit notice in the middle of that years rent. It was the former deputy governor residence which we renovated.
We investigated and discovered
that a political party affiliated with government found out that that building was next to a proposed FEDECO office and “games” were about to be played with election materials.
Our legal advise was that if government wants something badly they’ll get it. If not , it’s your tax clearance. If not, it’s your building permit. Your office registration.
Then your business permit. Then your liquor licence. Then fire and safety. And if not…. your life.
So we cut our losses and closed Aristocat which was loosing money anyway by that time.
So my advise to Ayefele. If your FM wants to be a fearless voice of the people, holding all politicians to account, you need to gird your loins.
When you want to be the champion of the masses, politicians will come at you.
Get a damn good lawyer. Fela had Kanmi Oshobu. Full time.
But my candid advise? Let it go.
Regularise your papers. Go to court and get compensation.
If you want to make money out of your radio, avoid partisan politics which killed Sketch.
Calling out a commissioner is an exercise in futility.
Ask for intercession with government and
unless you are in the opposition, it’s not really worth it.
Stick to your gospel songs. Or find a Gani and become the people’s champion.
Dr Dolapo Sikuade