By Sabastine Mbah
The secrecy that surrounds the sudden reversal of the eviction notice given to the occupants of Alaba-Arago market Ojo Local Council by the Lagos State Government underlines the insincerity in government policies and governance.
The notice which came with a 14-day ultimatum for the occupants to vacate the premises was truncated on the eve of its expiration.
Mr jubril Gawat, the state government media aide in his tweet confirmed that there were several meetings between the state government and the market representatives before the notice was issued.
Putting this into cognizance, why would a recognized authority that had done the obligatory consultations with appropriate stakeholders and had taken a firm decision thought to be in line with its progressive agenda, suddenly feels the need to do otherwise?
Investigations by MMS Plus revealed that the politics of 2023 was indeed a major determining factor for the reversal.
The government had complained, among other things, fraudulent and immoral deeds taking place at the market as against what was originally conceptualized as a livestock market.
The state government had said it planned to modernize the market by erecting a state –of –the –art stalls on the market as part of the Sanwo-Olu’s greater Lagos vision.
But there was a sudden volte-face by the state government on the eviction notice, raising the question on whether it has jettisoned its development plan. The reason for this is not far-fetched.
The former governor of Kano State, Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso had visited Alaba-Arago at the behest of his kinsmen who are dominant occupants of the market. He complained about what he described as denial of livelihood to his people and sought to see Sanwo-Olu, who avoided him with the excuse of traveling out of Lagos.
The Hakimin Madobi of Kano went back and met with the Governor of Kano State,Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje with whom he designed the master plan that saw Lagos State Government reversing her decision.
While details of that master plan was not explicitly outlined, it was stated that Dr Ganduje reached out to Bola Tinubu who was then a frontline aspirant for the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and demanded a reversal of the eviction order.
It was also said that Kwankwaso had threatened to make Asiwaju lose better part of his votes in the North if they failed to reverse the decision. Recall that Ganduje was one of the key supporters of Asiwaju during the presidential primaries.
While trying to ascertain the reason behind the swift reversal, it was gathered that the management of the Alaba-Arago market was implored to go to court so as to keep the public in the dark as to what truly transpired.
When contacted the Lagos State Commissioner of Information and Strategy,Mr. Gbenga Omotosho told MMS Plus that what seemed to be the euphoria at the moment was the emergence of his Excellency Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the standard flag bearer of APC for the coming general elections.
He said that there was no link between Kwankwaso visits and government’s decision on the reversal. He even argued that there had not been any reversal on the side of government. Efforts to get the Commissioner to speak more on the development failed as he insisted he did not know anything and needed to rest after a strenuous APC national convention.
Our Correspondent however visited the Palace of Sarkin of Alaba-Arago. The Palace was lonely and deserted. But findings revealed that he had gone to Alausa, the seat of the state government for continuous discussion. It was also learnt that he would not be back anytime soon even why those around avoided giving personal opinion on the subject matter.
Similarly, when contacted a member of the Alaba – Arago management committee and Chairman of the Livestock Sub-committee, Alhaji Adamu Umaru Kaltago stated that the eviction notice still stands. He said that their leaders from the North, Engr. Kwankwaso inclusive are in discussions with the state government and that the outcome of that dialogue would determine the next cause of action for all parties.
He, however, disagreed that the reversal was due to any promise made to Bola Tinubu, arguing that even before the issue of Alaba – Arago majority of the northerners were behind him.
According to him,“Tinubu is like our father, even when he was the Governor of Lagos State,we know how he carried everybody along”.
Alhaji Umaru also confirmed that the case was not in court and that their leaders (political leaders) are having an understanding with the government.
The question now is: If the leaders from the market have been having a series of discussion with the state government and they still went ahead to place an eviction notice with an ultimatum, how was it that the reversal or suspension depending on the connotation given to it was birthed only when political leaders became involved?