By Rotimi Ojomoyela
THE economic recession that has been pummelling the country for sometime now is beginning to take its toll on the indigenes of Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital as they have started selling off their ancestral homes located in the city and other high brow areas of the state to cushion the effect of the economic hardship.
The situation which may appear to some people on the face value as development and urbanisation, because the traditional houses are being transformed to modern residential or commercial edifice, but to the traditional rulers and community development associations the situation is giving them cause for concern.
Checks revealed that in such areas as Ajilosun, Ejigbo, Irona, Mathew and Odo-Ado, areas of Ado-Ekiti, in Ikere Local Government Area, (LGA), Iworoko, and Ifaki in Ekiti North LGA among others, many ancestral homes have been secretly put up for sale. Some estate agents who spoke with Vanguard confirmed the development and took him to some of the homes allegedly put up for sale.
Revelation by estate agents
One of the agents, who however craved for anonymity said: “It is true some indigenes have handed their ancestral property to us for sale. Whether they are doing that to beat recession or not remains their own opinion. I cannot categorically confirm that. But I have some property in several locations in Ado-Ekiti which were recently handed to me to sell. I can show you some of these houses if you are interested”
Another agent in Odo-Ado community of Ekiti, (name withheld) also confirmed that the recent selling of ancestral property is becoming alarming in the state. He added that although the development might have been caused by rapid development occasioned by modernity coming to some parts of the state.
“It is true that there is recession and everyone is finding things very difficult economically but the recent up surge in sale of ancestral property in Ekiti is quite disturbing. We cannot really blame those doing it but I would advise them not to sell off their ancestral property entirely. They may sell some of them but not the entire property for God’s sake because that is their heritage,“ he said.
While some of the former landlords of the ancestral homes are relocating to other parts of the town to use the proceeds of the sold house to start a new one, others are simply abandoning the state capital for rural setting where living is relatively cheaper due to availability of agricultural produces at cheaper prices, are only wise and helping to boost rural development.
Mrs. Alice Aina, said: “Life is simple, interesting, and very warm in the villages. If I had my way, I would relocate to the rural area and live a quiet, good life but I’m stuck here as a civil servant working at the state secretariat.
“ I cannot blame anyone selling off their ancestral homes and relocating to the villages to use the proceeds from the sale to farm and live a quiet , good life. If I am in their shoes, I will gladly do same.”
Further investigations revealed that many old buildings in such areas of the state capital as Matthew Street, Odo-Ado, Oke-Ila and others have since been put up for sale. According to some agents spoken to, a three storey building on Matthew Street is going for N25 million.
Another building of about ten rooms, a boys quarters and few shops , built on a full plot on the same street is going for N5million.Several traditional houses in the commercial nerves of the state capital, Ajilosun, Irona and ejigbo areas are daily being pulled down to give way for new structures, either petrol stations, gas plant, hotels or shopping complexes, only a few are being used for residential purposes.
“ The families putting up the homes for sale are not accepting payment by installments, they want instant, whole payment so the children who inherited the property can share the proceeds all at once, “ another resident of the area, Saliu Amuda, revealed.
Elders express mixed feelings
However mixed feelings greeted the development when Vanguard spoke with some elders in the affected communities, while some condemned it others said it was a reflection of the current economic reality.
Pa Babare Aladelokun, a retired mechanic with the Ekiti State Water Corporation some 34 years ago, though agreed that those now selling their family houses are justified for doing so considering the precarious situation occasioned by biting economic hardship, but advised that they should not sell off all of the property.
Selling off of ancestral homes
“My son, things are very hard these days and that is why you see many odd things happening. One of such odd things is the recent development of selling off ancestral homes in the high brow parts of the state.
Such a property that has become the heritage of the family which every one has identified the family with. It is indeed sad to just wake up one day and sell it off. “While I would not actually condemn those doing it, I advise they apply wisdom if you must sell your family property to cushion the effect of hardship , don’t sell off everything you have.”
Titilayo Aduloju: a resident of Matthew area of Ado-Ekiti said: “ Those selling off their family houses are lazy people. They can’t work or are not creative enough to find some other things to do. “
Madam Kikelomo Ajani: a resident of Odo-Ado community in Ado-Ekiti : “Why blame them? Things are very hard now. If they sell the ones in the city they can relocate to the villages.
They can still live and would not suffer in the city. What is the use of a family house that you boast of when you have no means to develop it well?
Many of the houses are in bad shape because it has been long they built them. So, if they sell at exorbitant prices to people who would rebuild it to modern taste, why not? That would further beautify the city. And those families would have so much money to get another property in the rural area and live a good life there. It is just a matter of wisdom.”
But Chief Odofin Agabi in Iworoko advised families who have chosen to sell off their houses to cushion the economic hardship, to have a rethink.
According to him, “ The families who are selling off their family houses because of hardship may have their reasons but it is not a right thing to do. The great forbears who struggled to build the houses had left a legacy and wanted such legacies preserved. They would not be happy with their younger generation who sell such property off and that may incur curses on the prodigal generation who sell off the property”.