Osogbo - Ayegbaju International Modern Market in Osogbo was
locked down on Wednesday, as protesting shop owners demand that the government
adhere to the promise it made before allocation of papers for shops were
A day they were supposed to engage in business activities
has become a day of protest, with many saying they could no longer bear what
they claimed was a breach of contract and fraudulent transaction deals on the
part of the government.
With various placards emblazoned “no to 28 years’ agreement”,
“99 years’ agreement is what we were promised”, “give us electricity and water”,
“owo njo lo” and “we want to meet governor Aregbesola" amongst others, the
protesting shop owners push for their demands.
Security officials had stopped them from gaining access into
the Ayegbaju International Modern Market premises, but determined to make their
grievances known, they stood outside the entrance chanting solidarity songs of
"save our soul”.
They insisted that the reversal of the alleged initial outright
ownership status given by the government to the shop owners that was later
changed to 28 years, was not acceptable to them.
While a section of the shop owners is making demands for the
reversal of the 28-year lease period, others have another reasons they had
abandoned shops they paid as high as 500,000 Naira and had come out to the
street. To this second set of shop owners, the issues they are raising are more
important to them.
The location and lack of electricity had affected their
businesses, insisting that the site had defaced the market and made it lose the
Since the allocation of the shops in 2014, as indicated by
some allocation letters some of the protesters had, electricity supply has been
poor. Two years have been spent without electricity, they claimed, a situation
that had forced them to rely on generating plants for power.
Within the premises, some facilities promised by the
developer, Edward Management and the state government have not been provided,
leaving the traders to their fate.
One of the shop owners, Toafeek Azeez, said: "We want
to make our stance clear to the government. We are not anti-government. We are
only against injustice. We are against 419 and scam. They promised they will be
giving us a standing market here at Ayegbaju International Market, with the
agreement that it will be an outright purchase of 99 years but to our surprise
they gave us a document reading 28 years, and they are claiming they want to
deal with us individually and not as a group. That gives us a signal that they
want to scam us.
"If you look at the market now, it is almost five years
that this market was built, it is not functioning. No water and no light.
“We want the government to come to our rescue. We cannot
afford to lose our money. We paid as much as 2.5 million Naira and those who
paid for open market paid about 350,000 Naira. It is not small money. They are
not helping us. We do not care about party but about the welfare of our people.
We bought the shop because the government promised us that we should buy it.
They say they are fully involved, but we don't know Edward, we know Governor
Aregbesola who asked us to invest in this market," he stated.
Mr Tunde Lawal is a retiree and he paid for a shop with part
of his retirement funds.
“I invested about 1.3 million Naira in 2012, nothing to show
“I invested part of my gratuity, but nothing has come out of
it. I bought two lock-up shops here and I have nothing to live on now because I
thought this market will take off immediately. In fact, by the time I invested
here it was on level ground but now look at my fate. There is nothing to eat,
as a retiree.
“I am begging the government to save my soul, I don’t have a
shop. The money is being tied down and I don’t have investments elsewhere. I
would have known what I would have realised, if I am selling pure water. I will
be feeling fine. Please, tell me when I will begin to realise my dream?” he
Another man who paid for a shop, Awojide Olabisi, also
claimed that the government had promised outright purchase, only for her to see
28 years lease period in the letter.
“Those who were initially given 99 years, got their letters
withdrawn from them in pretence and changed to 28 years. We are tired of the
way they are treating us. We only came to buy shops and stalls here because the
government convinced us to do so. All they promised us we have not seen
anything at all. The government should wake up.
A high fence built around the market is supposed to provide
security for the shop owners, but it is more of a cover, preventing passers-by
from seeing the shops.
This, to Awojide is doing them more harm than good.
“Now they built a fence around the market and it is not
visible to people outside who are to patronise us. They even built a hotel here
in front. Please, is the hotel meant to cover the market? she asked angrily.
"The government told us that they will move others to
this market but up till now, nothing has been done. The place is like a ghost
market. People will be passing and they do not know there is a market here. No
sales and we are tired," she lamented.
While they expressed their grievances, the Managing Director
and Chief Executive Officer of the Osun State Investment Company Limited, Mr
Bola Oyebamiji, tried to calm them, promising that the government would look
into their complaints.
"It’s actually not a complaint but a town hall
meeting. What we are going to do now is; we have the mandate of the governor to
listen to them and to resolve all the anomalies amicably and we are going to do
so very soon."The problem is between the development and
the shop owners. The government is not involved per say, however, this is our
environment. It is the duty of the government to maintain peace and that is why
the governor insisted that we should be here to resolve the issue,” he told
- News24 Nigeria