Oyo state govt and war against destitution

Oyo state governor Makinde

In Oyo state especially in Ibadan, the state capital, the state government is removing all destitute in order to give the capital city a new lease of life as BAYO AGBOOLA writes.

Oyo State government is fighting many silent battles towards ensuring that the state popularly known as the ‘Pace Setters State’ regains and retains its lost glory and rightful position among its peers in the country and even beyond.

The black spots

One of the silent battles is its on-going war against destitution in Ibadan, the state capital and other prominent towns in the state.

The presence and at times the dominance of the destitute in almost every prominent places in Ibadan the state capital such as Iwo road, which served as entry point to Ibadan from neighbouring Osun, as well as other South- west states of Ondo, Ekiti and beyond particularly from the Federal Capital Territory and most states in the north.

Moving down to Mokola under the overhead bridge, Jemibewon area, Ojoo, Agodi gates, Beere and other is another eye sore as  destitute have constituted to nuisance to the environment and its people.

State gov’t taking steps

Apparently, disturbed by the unending influx of destitute into the major streets in Ibadan, Oyo state government in June this year rolled out its arsenal and embarked on total war against destitution by moving any of the destitute found on major roads in Ibadan especially Mokola, Jemibewon road, Sango, Iwo road area; alas, days after the celebrated evacuation of the destitute to the state newly-built Resettlement House at Akinyele, the destitute are fully back on the same roads. 

At the commencement of the celebrated ‘operation kick-off destitute out of Ibadan streets’, the state government made it clear that the reasons it is evacuating beggars, street-urchins and destitute to the new facility at Akinyele Resettlement Centre, Ibadan is to ensure that their well-being is catered for. It also maintained that it had been sensitising those involved in the activities of the government concerning the relocation, saying that it did not just take a sudden decision to move them away without a human face. 

The state government according to a statement by the chief press secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde, Mr Taiwo Adisa, said adequate care would be given to the evacuees at the new facility, which is more habitable and conducive. He said the government would not just dump them at the centre and make them suffer, noting that kitchens, cooks, foodstuffs, mattresses, mats, toilets, washing places and other household materials available in average Nigerian homes are at the centre to aid them in their new abode.

“This effort, as you can see, has been going on for some time. It is not just as if we went to where you saw us this morning at Sabo and bumped into the people. We have met several times with the Hausa community. Our last meeting was last Friday and we were with them up till about 8 pm to sensitise them on the activities of the government concerning the relocation of the destitute, beggars and street urchins in the state.

 “This is because whether we like it or not, we know that some of the people that are being relocated are headstrong people. Even as you can see this morning, there was a resistance because they don’t want to leave the premises. “And as you can see this new place, a lot of efforts have been put into it. So, we tried to talk to them before they agreed to come in. “Quite frankly, many of them have packed their things, especially the women. They wanted to come out voluntarily but it took us some time to convince some people among them, especially the leaders of the beggars there, who were proving adamant. We are not just going to dump these people somewhere and make them suffer. As you all can see, the facility provided here is far better than where they are. So, that is what the government is doing.”

Emphasising further, the state government noted that, “We have kitchens, cooks, we have bought foodstuffs, mattresses, mats. We have all the household things you can think of which are in an average Nigerian home. The toilets too are there; six for the women, six for men. “At the back of the toilets, we have a washing place. So, those are some of the facilities provided.

“This is like a halfway home. It is not as if the government would take care of the responsibilities for their livelihood forever. No, but what we want to do is a sort of rehabilitation before they are finally settled. As much as possible, we want to take all of them away. Not only that, there are other centres and places under the bridge that is in the radar of the government.” 

In collaboration with other ministries

In continuation of quest at ensuring that destitute are cleared from the streets in Ibadan and other major towns, the state government with the personnel of the Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Inclusion for the third time few days ago evacuated 14 persons with mental problem and 86 destitute from Mokola, Jemibewon, Challenge, Sango, Orita-UI and Ojoo areas of Ibadan on sensing that the destitute are fleeing the Akinyele Settlement camp enmass back to their former base.

Speaking at the renewed evacuation, the permanent secretary, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Inclusion, Mrs Christiana Abioye, said the exercise was aimed at achieving mass evacuation of destitute, including beggars and mentally sick to ensure that the lives of the destitute and that of the general public are safe and secured, saying, “The presence of the destitute in the society poses danger as some of them could be agents for criminals, adding that the present administration under the leadership of Governor Makinde is committed to ridding the state of destitute.”

Resistance and nuisance posed by destitute

Despite all these efforts and moves by the state government at taking destitute out the streets in Ibadan and other parts of the state, the fact remains that they keep increasing on daily basis with residents having no other choice than keep enduring with the nuisance and postures of some of the destitute especially at traffic gridlock particularly at Mokola, Iwo road and Challenge axis with some of the kids among the destitute turning the windscreen of most cars to their drawing board designing whatever they wish or write on the windscreen should the owner of such cars failed to drop something for them.

Aside this, the destitute are increasingly constituting serious health threat in most of the areas dominated by them, going by the way they litter the areas with the left-over of their food and belongings. Investigation shows that in some places, they even defecate in and around their habitations openly. However, if the latest feelers from the state government are anything to go by, there are strong indications that the state government would soon be all out in full force in its on-going battle against destitution in the state by moving the beggars as well as the mentally derailed persons who continued to constitute nuisance on streets in Ibadan to their home states in order to permanently rid the state of destitute while the local ones are to be seconded to their respective local government for onward handover to their immediate families.

UNI Agric Markurdi
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