When the Oyo state Governor Abiola Ajimobi’s authoritative hammer eventually landed on the management of the fast-growing private radio station, Yinka Ayefele Company, owner of the Music House located on the Aare Arisekola Street in Ibadan on Sunday, and part of the state-of-the-art studio demolished over alleged contravention of Town Planning Laws of the state, rather than receiving accolades, the action was trailed by hot condemnation nationally and internationally.
The state government had however through the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Toye Arulogun, disclosed that the building approval submitted by Ayefele was actually meant for “an office complex and not a radio station. Also that the conversion of the building to a radio station contravenes the Oyo State Physical Planning and Development Control laws, sections 30, 31 and 32 of the Oyo State Physical Planning and Urban Development Law of 2012. The Commissioner added that the submitted approval from Music House deviated from the approved plan which makes the approval null and void because deceitful information was given to the approving authority, also deviation from the approval granted both in construction and use.” To him, the case was beyond sentiments.
The government said it had sent letter and reminder to the Music House just like others that the planning approval for the building be brought, but Ayefele company did not heed. “Meanwhile, in response to our request letter for the approved Building plan of the Radio Station, a copy of an approval was submitted. However, the said submitted approval is not in tandem with the existing radio house. Thus, the approval submitted deviated significantly from what is on ground,” the Director General, Bureau of Physical Planning, Alhaji Waheed Gbadamosi said.
Insisting that the radio station must be relocated or demolished, Arulogun said that many other structures that contravened the Town Planning Laws had been demolished, and done without sentiment, Ayefele’s must also come under the hammer.
The gospel musician and communication business man who had been confined to the wheel chair since his involvement in an accident in 1997, however claimed that he satisfied all the Town Planning Laws relating to the establishment of his N800m building. In spite of pleas from many quarters, that Ajimobi should temper justice with mercy over the matter, more so, a disabled person; the Ekiti-born Ayefele had for many years empowered many able-bodied people through employment both in his Ayefele Music Organisation and the radio station venture. The government sent its bulldozer to the Music House as early as 5.00 a.m on Sunday, pulling down parts of the building considered offensive to the Town Planning Law.
Many people across the zones of the state protested the demolition, calling Ajimobi series of unprintable names. The ire stretched through the youths, artisans, politicians, communication lovers, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, SERAP, NBA and many other individuals and organisations who saw the demolition as sheer vendetta. Many of the roads around Challenge were locked with sympathisers seething the streets with protesting placards, just as any vehicles seen to belong to the government were being pelted with stones. According to a caller who phoned in from Germany on Monday morning, “A professor of Economic Communication in Germany introduced Fresh FM to me when he asked what radio I listened to in Nigeria and I said I didn’t have any. He said Fresh FM radio station is qualitative. Since then, I have been listening to the station,” he said, while asking why Governor Ajimobi would be bent on destroying the good works Ayefele has been doing.
Another person said, “Ayefele has clearly demonstrated that there is ability in disability. A person who has generated more jobs to many people in Oyo state and beyond, more than any other such private organisations, should be encouraged rather than ruining his laudable initiatives”.
According to a Director of the Ayefele company, David Ajiboye, N28m transmission equipment acquired last week and ready for inauguration this week, was destroyed during the demolition. The Head of News Unit, Samson Akindele had also claimed that Information Commissioner was fond of calling the radio station to complain about any news or personality invited to the studio who might have said anything considered unfriendly to the government. A typical example was the occasion of commentaries of the radio on the rancorous and forceful relocation of butchers from the Bodija Abattoir in Ibadan to the new Abattoir at Akinyele, wherein about four persons, including a seamstress were shot dead.
Another area the government was said to be uncomfortable with Ayefele’s Fresh FM radio is the “South West Political Circuit” programme where politicians from different political parties are invited every Saturday to be interviewed. However, Akindele said that the radio
station was not biased in the choice of politicians welcomed to air their views.
“Many of the aides of the Governor who had come here were not billed a dime for broadcasting their interviews. Many APC stalwarts had come here. The Governor himself came here and commended us for fait reportage. He was given two whole hours by our Chairman to talk to the people of the state and we did not collect any advert money from the Governor or the Government.” Reading political undertone to the Governor’s action, a recorded voice interview of Ajimobi in which he had said during the Fresh FM interview that he was told by some people to close down the radio station because Ayefele is not our friend”, has gone viral.
Ajimobi who commended Ayefele for the well-equipped studio and the employment drive he had embarked upon, said he was happy that he did not heed the advice to demolish the radio station. People have now been asking what had changed between when he said that, that the radio station has now become an enemy.
To them, even if the building contravened the Town Planning Law, Ayefele should have just been penalised instead of demolishing the building to adversely affect his transmission. “After all, the express road in front of the Music House had been constructed with part of the station already demolished initially, what is the essence of this now? Did the part demolished now obstruct the road again?”
A worried observer said. Aside this, after a three-day notice of demolition was given to Ayefele, he went to court, and Justice Iyabo Yetima of the Ring Road High Court had ordered that the government be served hearing notice to appear in court on Monday, Ajimobi went ahead to do the demolition on Sunday morning in contempt of court directive.
The political implication of the action went beyond imagination as many of the APC aspirants who erected their bill boards in Ibadan, Oyo, Ogbomoso, Ibarapa and even Oke Ogun areas have been smarting from losses they have incurred. Many of their posters and bill boards were on Sunday destroyed by many irate youths who condemned the demolition.
New Telegraph gathered that the government believed that Ayefele was hobnobbing with political adversaries of the Governor, as he was accused of being in the habit of using his media house to criticise the government. Well, the die has been cast with the demolition done in spite of the fact that the subject matter of the crisis is still in court.
Ayefele nevertheless appealed to all and sundry to remain calm, just as the court process was followed up on Monday and the case adjourned.
The Government said that the notice to demolish had expired before Ayefele went to court, seeking injunction. To Arulogun, many people were only being sentimental about the matter instead of facing the facts in the issue.
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