The Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress in Kwara State, Mr Tajudeen Aro, tells TUNDE OYEKOLA that the 1978 Land Use Act that put the custodian of land on the state governor is to the benefit of members of the public
The Kwara State Government recently revoked the ownership of a piece of land allegedly owned by ASA Investment, a company belonging to the Sarakis. What is your party’s position on this?
The question of revocation does not arise because it was not allocated. The land was illegally occupied and the existing government structure on it was destroyed. The company should be charged to court for illegal occupation and destruction of government property.
Are you in support of government position on the revocation of land titles?
The Governor has taken the right step because the land was illegally occupied by ASA Investment, a corporate entity, of no specific address but supposedly owned by the Sarakis. Except that the said company applied for the land in 2005 and their application was granted, there was no further correspondence again to date showing proper transfer by way of any payment to the bureau of land.
Secondly, there was an existing government structure meant for phase 2 of state secretariat pulled down by the company without the permission of the government, an illegal action. Thirdly, the company sought to use the land for commercial. In the spirit of fairness and justice, a serious government must take possession of what rightly belongs to it. The period of recklessness and impunity is over.
The government said that it would build a new secretariat for its workers on the land; do you view this project as viable considering the present state of the state economy?
The idea of government building a new secretariat is welcome because presently, there are still some rented apartments which the state civil servants are occupying that gulp a lot of money. Secondly, we still use some colonial buildings and dilapidated structures as offices in the state. So, the government has to find a way of reducing costs.
What other thing do you think the government can do with the land?
The Land Use Act of 1978 permits the government to take over land from original owners for the overriding public interest. The owner has the right to reclaim the land.
What advice do you have for the government and the governor?
The government should go further to reclaim all such land, properties and monies illegally acquired by people or corporate bodies. ASA Investment should be prosecuted to remove unnecessary sentiments and political colouration been peddled around. My advice to the governor is to discourage sycophancy and mediocrity in government. He must also ensure that he touches the life of the common man down to the rural arrears by providing them with good roads, schools, and hospitals to stop the tide of urban migration. Finally, he must ensure that all state monies and properties wrongly appropriated by greedy individuals are quickly recovered for the benefit of all Kwarans.
What is your assessment of the governor’s performance in office in the last six months?
The governor has performed creditably well within the past seven months of resumption. He has laid a very strong foundation for all-round development in the state. His vision and stride cut across, education, health, provision of social and physical infrastructure. These he reflected in his 2020 budget speech. Aside from this, he has provided a very workable template for the implementation of the budget through open and transparent tendering of physical projects.
He has built a very good working relationship with the state workforce. Salaries are paid before the 25th of every month without unnecessary deductions and pension arrears are steadily been offset.
On social amenities, a good number of dams are now functional bearing in mind that none was working when he resumed. The baseball complex and Kwara amusement park abandoned years back have been renovated and put into use. Schools and roads are either rehabilitated or constructed.
For example, the school for the handicapped (School for Special Needs) abandoned for more than fifteen years has been completely renovated, furnished and social amenities provided. And finally, he has restored people’s confidence in the government. He has also put a lot of effort into the resuscitation of moribund industries.
The Sugar Factory in Bacita and Lafiagi are coming up and the Patigi Rice Mill is being resuscitated. These and others will employ the youths while farmers in rural areas will be fully engaged.