WE join millions of concerned and well-meaning Nigerians to condemn the demolition of “Music House,” an office complex owned by a physically-challenged music maestro, Mr. Yinka Ayefele, in the Challenge area of Ibadan, Oyo State, by officials of the Oyo State Government, OYSG. The outrageous act was perpetrated at around 5.30am on Sunday, 19th August 2018 when most people were still sleeping.
“Music House,” which the owners valued at about N800 million, housed a radio station, Fresh FM, music studios and other business outfits. According to the Oyo State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Toye Arulogun, government took the action because the proprietor of the complex failed to submit the approved plan/permit for the building as demanded by the OYSG in a letter dated 18th August 2017.
On the other hand, Mr. Ayefele insisted that he was in possession of the approved plans/permit, adding that the complex was demolished in spite of a pending court action.
Even though the OYSG insisted that there was nothing personal about the demolition as the same action had been taken against other “defaulters” in the state, the administration of Governor Abiola Ajimobi had bitterly accused Fresh FM of making “libelous” and “wicked” broadcasts against his person in a letter dated 3rd July 2018. It is also instructive that the section of the building demolished specifically housed the radio station’s equipment and studios.
We are not surprised at the rage expressed by protesting members of the public which trailed that demolition. If indeed the building had no approved permit, the relevant government agencies should never have allowed it to be constructed. It is even on record that Governor Ajimobi had been a guest of the station.
We commend all the sides to this untidy drama for opting to settle the dispute through dialogue. Following interventions by well-meaning highly-placed individuals, Governor Ajimobi decided to sheath his sword and has even promised to rebuild the edifice. This peaceful approach should have been the first option to the Governor if he had realised how emotive and politically imprudent his rash action would be. Unfortunately, however, millions of naira of taxpayers’ money will be needlessly wasted in repairing the damage.
We are in a democracy. Laws that clearly spell out actions that can be taken against erring media houses if a citizen or even government feels that their rights have been infringed upon, are available. The National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, is also there to entertain complaints against erring broadcasters. These laws and institutions were established to ensure justice for those offended and punishment for offenders.
People in high public offices must use their powers with utmost responsibility. They must learn to be tolerant of criticisms because in a democracy, there are bound to be diverse political opinions.