Ibadan butchers’ crisis: What Oyo govt got wrong

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Now that we’ve heard the side of the government, here is how a better government would handled Ibadan butchers

It is no longer news that butchers in Ibadan are not happy with the state government. Furthermore, an attempt by the state government to compel the butchers to comply with its directive urging them to relocate their operations to a new facility led to the loss of lives and properties. And the closure of the popular Bodija market in Ibadan.

But the stories did not add up. They still don’t.

The word on the street is that the governor is “doing a favor” to his friend by forcing the butchers to start slaughtering at the new abattoir. But the government is now telling its side of the story thanks to pressure from politicians latching on the situation to sow seeds of discord among the electorate against the state government.

We all saw this coming and more reason why the Ajimobi-led administration deserves the hard knocks it is getting.

Blame Akala

On its side, the state government said it was not the architect of the controversial policy. It said its predecessor, the Adebayo Alao-Akala-led government was the one with the original intent. It claimed the previous administration engaged the technical partner under a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement.

Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy, Mr. Bolaji Tunji said: “When the present administration came on board, the governor ordered the review of the PPP agreement which led to a reduction in the stake held by the technical partner from 70 per cent to 50 per cent, while various stakeholders, who had hitherto been excluded, were accommodated.”

He disclosed that the new arrangement sees the state government reducing its stake from 30 per cent to 10 per cent.

Let’s clarify this claim

The state government really took time (over a week) to tell its side of the story which I think is very suspicious. First of all, why pin the blame on the Akala-led administration? Is it because the former governor is now in APC political party and in good terms with the government hence he will not speak aggressively against this claim?

There is also an issue regarding potential constitutional violation.

According to Paragraph 1(e) of the Fourth Schedule to the 1999 Constitution provides: “The main function of a Local Government council are as follows: (e) establishment, maintenance and regulation of slaughter houses, slaughter slabs, markets, motor parks and conveniences…”

According to what law-conscious Ibadan residents are saying, the above provision puts the issue of slaughter houses and slabs within the power of the local government council and not within the power of the State government. Thus the rates and taxes payable by these slaughter houses are an integral part of the internally generated revenue of the Local government council which the council can use to develop its area.

But in its response, the state government quickly added that it is conceding 36% to the 11 local governments in Ibadan land and 4 per cent to the state butchers’ union.

Yet again, this concession does not normalize what the government did. It ought to have been a decision taken by individual local governments instead of the state government usurping LG activities.

And the way the money from the abattoir will be shared also points to the fact that the butchers are not benefiting in any way. Instead, they are being preyed upon by the ‘money sharers’.

At Monatan area for instance, there is a very clean abattoir at Onibu-Ore. They operate all day except Sunday when they rest. They also keep their workspace clean. But the government has also directed them to leave the place for the new abattoir.

Why did I make this inference? Butchers there said they pay N1500 to slaughter an animal but the price tag at the new abattoir located at Akinyele Local Government which is very far is N5000.

The argument against the claim is that government wants to make Akinyele Local Government the state’s meat capital. In addition to the butchers, it has also directed meat sellers from Ido, Akinyele, Egbeda and others to relocate to Akinyele and their rates and taxes payable to Local Governments will now go to private pockets even commercial fees.

“These people will now be enriching these private investors to the detriment of our people and our local governments. This will also eventually lead to increase I prices of meat and place further burden on the members of the public. To ensure compliance, Government has to use the police to drive away these meatsellers,” an online commentator said.

The situation of some abattoirs in Ibadan are truly bad. But government’s poor consulting skills seem worse

However, the state government said it is unfair and mischievous for any responsible political leader to attempt to mislead members of the public through outright falsehood and deliberate distortion of facts by suggesting that the governor has personal interest in the project and its operations.

“As a government that is completely committed to the welfare of the people, Governor Ajimobi chose to put the interest of the people over personal and political considerations by insisting on relocating the butchers from the unhygienic environments in the city where they currently operate and which pose threat of epidemic to the citizenry.

“We seize this opportunity to encourage media organizations to carry out their own independent investigations on the current state of the abattoirs in Ibadan and also the new facility that government has provided,’’ the governor said.

This is not the first time

According to Michael Lana, this latest move is not new as the government recently undertook a similar effort that targeted plank sellers.

“The same government, despite an order of injunction granted by the High Court of Oyo State used this same Commissioner of Police to drive away plank sellers at the plank market at Temidire, demolished their shops and ensured that a private business concern took over and started building lockup shops to be sold at exorbitant prices. The present Government’s penchant for destroying the businesses of the poor to enrich his fellow rich should be decried by all fair minded people,” Lana said.

Where the government missed it

Constructive dialogue works and respect for the rule of law is the basis of the democratic process that got them elected in the first place.

By usurping the constitutional roles of the local government, it is already ignoring the true essence of the LGAs it recently expanded their numbers.

Furthermore, forcing people to leave where they are used to should not be a police-driven affair, it should be an action that the butchers will embrace because it will be cheaper for them.

Instead of the very high price, the government’s facility will be able to attract the butchers voluntarily if the price is right.

Since this is a decision that will affect the economic dynamics in the state, all stakeholders, not just union leaders that will enjoy cut from the money raised, ought to be on board. And force is totally unnecessary since it is purely a business agreement.

A smarter government could have offered those that move to the new facility some tax relief, support initiatives and other attractants while those that remain at their current facilities can be slammed with higher taxes.

This is how real governments do, not chasing people up and down like thugs and distorting the peace and security they promised to provide and sustain. Nor going against the rule of law they promised to uphold. But couldn’t due to laziness and ill-advises.

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