By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan
Oyo State Government has declared that the evacuation of beggars and destitute to the new recreation centre in Akinyele was not meant to dislodge but to provide a better living condition for them at the new location.
The state Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr. Wasiu Olatunbosun made this known in Ibadan on Tuesday while speaking with journalists on the relocation exercise.
Dr Olatunbosun with the exercise, Governor Seyi Makinde ” is keeping to his promise that he won’t dislodge the people unless a better place is provided for those affected and that is why he committed a lot of resources to put up the centre with all essential amenities like good modern toilet facilities, potable water, solar lights as well as well-ventilated dormitories with mattresses, a clinic, and feeding for the inmates for the take-off, just to mention a few.”
“Today’s exercise was successful and it has also helped to lend credence to the fact that the people love Governor Seyi Makinde, as there was little resistance from the people involved.Getting to the resettlement centre, they were full of praises and prayers for Governor Makinde. I am happy that the exercise, which we started few months ago, ended in praises and prayers for Governor Makinde,” he said.
The Commissioner while lauding the support of Hausa community leaders, who were on ground to give the task force tactical support before, during and after the exercise, urged philanthropic residents to continue to patronise the beggars in their new abode at the Akinyele Resettlement Centre.
Speaking, Oyo State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Inclusion, Alhaja Faosat Sanni,said the relocation was to ensure that their well-being is catered for and that the ministry, before now, had been sensitising those involved on the activities of the government concerning the relocation as it did not just take a sudden decision to move them away.
Assuring that adequate care will be given to the evacuees at the new facility, which “is more habitable and conducive”, she stressed that the government will not just dump them at the centre and make them suffer, explaining that kitchens, cooks, foodstuffs, mattresses, mats, toilets, washing places and other household materials available in average Nigerian homes are at the centre to aid their living.
“This effort, as you can see, has been going on for some time. It is not just as if we went to where you saw us this morning at Sabo and bumped into the people. We have met several times with the Hausa community. Our last meeting was last Friday and we were with them up till about 8 p.m., to sensitize them on the activities of the government concerning the relocation of the destitute, beggars and street urchins in Oyo State”, she said.
The Commissioner added ” yhis is because whether we like it or not, we know that some of the people that are being relocated are headstrong people. Even as you can see this morning, there was a resistance that they don’t want to leave the premises. And as you can see this new place, a lot of efforts have been put into it. So, we tried to talk to them before they agreed to come in.
“Quite frankly, many of them have packed their things, especially the women. They wanted to come out voluntarily but it took us some time to convince some people among them, especially the leaders of the beggars there, who were proving adamant. Four commissioners and quite a number of government functionaries were there but we had to talk to them that the government is planning for their well-being.
“We are not just going to dump these people somewhere and make them suffer. As you all can see, the facility provided here is far better than where they are. So, that is what the government is doing.Again, you can see the officials of the Ministry of Women Affairs and Ministry of Environment are here. We have started taking their profiles, that is their bio-data: names, age, and where they came from, because some of them are not Nigerians. And what we intend to do is to accommodate them as best as we can, take care of them, do the best of the profiling we can do, to ascertain where they are from. And if they are ready, we are going to assist them to go back to their states of origin.
She stated further, ” there are husbands and wives there. I never thought of people like that being beggars. We have provided a space for women and children that are street urchins. But I am just hearing for the first time that there are couples among them. We have kitchens, cooks, we have bought foodstuffs, mattresses, mats. We have all the household things you can think of, which are in an average Nigerian home. The toilets too are there; six for the women, six for men. And at the back of the toilets, we have a washing place. So, those are some of the facilities provided.
“This is like a halfway home. It is not as if the government will take care of the responsibilities for their livelihood forever. No. But what we want to do is a sort of rehabilitation before they are finally settled. As much as possible, we want to take all of them away. Not only that, there are other centres and places under the bridge that is in the radar of the government.”