U-TURN: Two years after he saw no reason to do so, Ajimobi justifies demolition of radio station

ABIOLA Ajimobi, governor of Oyo State, has justified the partial demolition of the Music House in Ibadan, which belongs to popular music producer Yinka Ayefele and houses Fresh FM, a private radio station.

In a brief address delivered at the eid ground in Ibadan, following the eid prayer on Tuesday, Ajimobi accused Ayefele of breaking the provisions of the law. This was made public through a video released by BBC Yoruba.

He said he deserves no sympathy simply on the grounds that he is physically challenged and that he has created jobs for hundreds of the state’s residents. The law must maintain its course, he maintained.

“And about the house they said we demolished,” the governor said, “that man apparently did not uphold the law.”

Video Translation

“Just like the building they said we demolished, that man did not obey the law. Some people are now saying because he has bad legs, so if one has bad legs, should he then violate the law. They also said he has employed people, but do thieves also not employ others? Shall we say because they have employees, thieves are free to steal? And we told them about the road… He has…spoken though, and we shall have pity on them. But, we need to be obeying the law.”

He added: “People say he should be pitied because he is lame. Does that mean a person is free to violate the law if he is handicapped? They also say he has employed people, but do thieves also not employ others? Shall we say because they have employees, thieves are at liberty to steal?

“And we told them about the road… He has…spoken though, and we shall have pity on them. But, we need to be obeying the law.”

Ajimobi appeared to suggest that the famous gospel artiste has apologised and will be offered assistance to lessen the effect of the damage wrought.

Ayefele himself revealed that Temitope Titilope, his wife, knelt down for hours to plead with Ajimobi against the proposed demolition, and said the governor gave her $1000 to assure her of his consent.

Despite his latest no-one-is-above-the-law stance however, Ajimobi seemed to view the controversy surrounding the Music House from the lens of political expediency two years ago. In fact, he said he saw no need at all to tear down the building.

With Ayefele seated closely beside him, Ajimobi said, in a 2016 broadcast aired by Fresh FM, that he was encouraged to demolish the building because the owner opposed his government, but that he is glad he acted otherwise. He also praised the station, describing it as the best in the state.

“When we contested the first and won, a lot [of people] told us to demolish the radio station because your programmes and broadcasts are against my government,” he revealed.

“Your boss, Yinka Ayefele, was also using songs to insult us. I didn’t see any reason why I should demolish the studio. If Ayefele is not for us today, he [will] support us later in future.”

He continued: “I am thankful I did not demolish it then. God said we should come here. Is it not Ayefele who is seated beside me? He is now comparing the dove to the turkey [i.e. acting with duplicity, or has reversed his position].

    “So I am excited to be here, and pray to God to continue to make this station fare well. It made me happy when I discovered, after arriving, that they have done well. I am one individual who prefers that things are done in an orderly manner.”

    “Without any equivocation,” he added, “it is the best studio I have seen in Oyo State.”

    He however seems to have changed his mind about the orderliness of the station’s operations as recent actions and comments from the state government indicate. The feared demolition eventually took place on Sunday morning, with conflicting remarks emerging from Yomi Alliyu, counsel to the government, and Waheed Gbadamosi, Special Adviser to Governor Abiola Ajimobi on Physical Planning and Development Control.

    Ajimobi’s statement on Tuesday has finally laid the debate to rest as to who was behind the demolition. It remains to be seen though how the governor intends to render assistance to Ayefele, who has since been cast into mourning immediately following recovery from illness.

    'Kunle works with The ICIR as an investigative reporter and fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via [email protected] or, if you're feeling particularly generous, follow him on Twitter @KunleBajo.

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