We’ll re-open Ige’s case under Buhari’s govt – Muyiwa Ige
Muyiwa Ige, son of late Chief Bola Ige, is the immediate past Commissioner for Lands, Physical Planning, and Urban Development in the State of Osun. In this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, he bares his mind on various issues, including his tenure as commissioner in the state, the administration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola, and activities lined up in remembrance of his father. Excerpts…
What is the experience like being the Commissioner for Lands, Physical Planning, and Urban Development in the State of Osun?
The experience has been most valuable in the sense that an opportunity was given to serve; we served very well because God was on our side. It would be recalled that in the first term of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, he appointed twelve commissioners and fourteen special advisers. With regard to commissioners, if the population of Osun is four million, that means that we are one out of three hundred and thirty- three thousand that could be chosen from, so we knew that it was unique opportunity. When you have such an opportunity you must grab the bull by the horn and do the best that you can.
As the commissioner for Lands and Physical Planning, what effort did you make in the area of urban renewal?
Just before I was appointed as a commissioner on 12 August, 2011, an urban renewal committee had been set up by the governor to look into urban renewal in the state. It was the work of that committee that we met and we decided to add value to. The chairman of the committee is Professor Agboola. The proper implementation of committee report is the responsibility of the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning. Actually urban renewal programme was focused on the one kilometer radial from the urban centre. The focus is also on the Oba’s palace in the urban centres, that is one kilometer radial from the Oba’s palace. That is designated as the urban renewal area except the capital which we had to extend to about two to two and half kilometers. We also have stakeholders meeting because for you to have a successful programme, the aspect of participatory governance must take its rightful place. It is also guided by UN habitat agenda for planning. We took our plan to the people and at end of the day what we arrived at is what I will call the people’s plan.
Can you say that you have really accomplished the plan?
We have the plan for the nine cities; it was a plan for development for the next twenty years. The plan covers Osogbo, Ilesha, Ife, Ila, Iwo, Ikirun, Ikire and two other cities. Urban renewal is in stages, you can see that urban renewal is going on in the capital territory, Osogbo. We are setting template for development, as we are endeavour to implement the urban renewal programme, the template will be replicated across the state.
Is Osun rural or urban state?
It is both highly urban and has some rural areas. However, Osun is highly urbanized state because we boast of easily seventeen towns. Within thirty minutes of travelling you will hit a viable town and we need to capitalize on the population and development that we have. The better example is Osogbo, Ede, Ikirun axis. Within ten to fifteen minutes from Osogbo, you are in Ikirun, also within ten minutes from Osogbo you are in Ede. With the growth pattern and development agenda of this administration, you won’t even be able to see differences between these urban centres. Development initiatives are being distributed evenly state wide. Osun is highly urbanized and our rural areas are developing and opening up, rural roads are being opened up. This will minimize rural to urban drift. Osun is an agrarian state; we have a lot of farm settlements because our people are into agriculture.
What is the administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola doing to ensure that rural to urban drift is reduced in the state?
Government is making the rural areas viable so that they do not lack anything.
How far with the payment of compensation to those who are affected by the development in the state?
We just paid compensation to those who are affected by the automotive industrial park that is coming. Government has paid close to one billion naira in compensation. We also paid palliatives to shop owners that were affected by development. Government has extended the palliatives to shop owners by paying them from one hundred to one hundred and fifty thousand naira per person, which has never happened in the state. This is an Omoluabi initiative of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. We will continue to pay compensation. We make sure that compensations are usually paid when due and it is quite commendable. This is a forthright government and it is the government of the people. By the time government provide infrastructure the citizens will also fulfill their own responsibilities. In any normal clime, infrastructural development will galvanize the economy.
When you assumed office as commissioner, what were some of the challenging issues you had to tackle?
I was told that before we came, this ministry had no facilities, had no equipment. It is highly professional ministry and they were not motivated and opportunities were not created. In the past, if you are posted to ministry of land you are sent to a cooler. The commissioner’s vehicle then was an abandoned 504 car that had no tyres. The car was parked outside. That was the experience when we came. When we came we knew we had to achieve and we understood the six-point developmental agenda of the administration. When we came, we had to restore healthy living by providing the good environment. The issue of land acquisition was resolved. We solved the problem of poverty and hunger among the people we engaged. We knew that we must perform because the governor has given the mandate that we must perform. Failure was not an excuse. We had to re-orientate the staff that it was not going to be business as usual. We set up rapid response team whereby the issue of delay did not arise. We grew the ministry, now the ministry has over sixteen vehicles. They did not have motorcycle when we came. We provided project vehicles, going out for monitoring. We are taking ownership of our towns; we are coming out with new town development. We have Oranmiyan new town, we also have new town in Ilesha and Iwo. We are also collaborating with various professional bodies in our sector. The next thing the government is doing is to make life better for our people by giving them access to title, that is certificate of occupancy. It will be affordable and a fast track exercise. We are already talking to consultants on this project.
What are you doing to remember your late father?
We will continue to remember him. September 30 we always have a lecture in his remembrance. We have instituted the scholarship programme. When my father was governor of old Oyo State, he came up with free education at all levels. We now decided to replicate that by giving free education to best two students, one boy and one girl. The scholarship covers the two students from JS1 to SS3. It is Bola Ige Memorial Scholarship award. We are also going to have Atinuke Ige Memorial Scholarship for A level students, one boy and one girl. We are continuing the legacy and we’ll keep the flag flying.
How do you feel that years after your father was killed, the killers are yet to be fished out?
We know the killers, they are still out there walking, but sooner or later the killers will be found. Once we have a sensible government in power we will fish out the (Bola Ige’s) killers. I thank God that come May 29, a sensible government will take over. When we have the government that believes in the rule of law, we are going to push for the case to be re opened. Right now, the prime suspect has no power base any longer. They are never made governor, they are not senators. We are going to re-open the case and hopefully justice will prevail.