From Musa Solomon, Yola.
Yola, the Adamawa state capital in north east Nigeria, got the nod for the site of the Innovation hub for that geo-political zone; but the traders in the ancient city are not impressed. In fact, they are angry.
This is because they were the guinea pigs for the visit of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s visit. The learned professor of law and pastor gentleman was the one who delivered the good news of the choice of Yola, but little did he know that traders’ shops were pulled down for his visit.
He did not know that behind the row of the smiles of those “procured” to welcome him was seething anger of other livid ones, behind the line, blacked out of media coverage.
But the win-a-big-one-and-lose-some news has not assuaged the anger of the traders who pounded the Mohammed Bindow administration for a lack of creativity in handling Osinbajo’s visit.
The traders were protesting the demolition of their shops by the government officials on Wednesday, the eve of the presidential visit.
Thousands of local traders lost their daily means of livelihood because the state government demolished their locally constructed shops to create an impression of a beautiful town for visiting Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
Defending government action to pull down shops constructed along the streets, the Commissioner for Housing and Urban Development, Alhaji Abubakar Idris Magaji, on Tuesday told journalists in Yola that the action was to ensure that the drainage system are not blocked and that those roasting meat along the streets stop burning fire on the roads.
“The fuel black marketers destroy the roads as the fuel continue to pour on the road, the fire from roasted meat sellers also affect the life span of the road. When drainages are blocked, it forces water to create new routes and this cause damage to roads and houses, so want to stop it, it is a routine exercise it has nothing to do with the Vice President visit,” he claimed.
However, some traders dismissed his claims, pointing out that close to two years of Governor Muhammadu Umaru Bindow’s administration there was no such exercise until the visit of the Vice President.
While speaking on the sad exercise, the Chairman of fruits and vegetable sellers association, Alhaji Abubakar Mai Dama, who spoke to Everyday.ng described government’s action as inhuman and a total violation of their rights to seek legitimate means to survive in a country he said that government officials divert public funds to private bank accounts.
“Some of us are retired civil servants in Adamawa state, but for close to two years now our pension is not paid, we are feeding our family from this local trading and today our shops are destroyed because of someone we voted, if our votes will turnout to be a problem to us we will stop it come 2019,” he stated.
He lamented that the shops destroyed were allocated by government and that they pay tax to government and that government officials’ shops were not affected in the exercise.
When Everyday.ng visited some of the streets, victims of the destroyed shops, especially women, were seen weeping openly as they were forced out of their shops before they were pulled down.
Mrs .Mary Emeka , a pregnant woman was seen tearing her clothes out of frustration, as she watched the government officials pulled down her shop with all her wares inside the shop.
Mr. John Okolo, a dealer of Nigeria made shoes along Bank road told Everyday.ng that the action was a plan to chase out non-indigenes doing business in the state capital, pointing out that his neighbors who are indigenes were not affected by the exercise.
However, in a statement Friday by Mr. Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity to the President, He disclosed that as the Federal Government begins to implement its innovation and technology initiatives with the establishment of hubs in each of the six geo-political zones, the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, announced that Yola, the Adamawa State would host the innovation hub for the North-East region.
Prof. Osinbajo who spoke in Jimeta, at the commissioning of several road projects completed by the Adamawa State Government expressed hope regarding the economy that “we are seeing a bright light at the end of the tunnel.”
Below is the speech of the Vice President at the event:
I am very pleased that I am in Adamawa State, the land of beauty and a State that will one day become Nigeria’s number one state!
I bring you very warm greetings from your great in-law and the President/ Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari.
It is an even greater pleasure to be here also to witness the great works of my brother, your governor, Senator Mohammed Umar Jubrilla Bindow. l see for myself that change has come to Adamawa and I am pleased to see also that peace has come even in places like Madagali, which was war-torn and several other places.
I am also pleased to witness peace and love that exists among the political leaders in Adamawa State.
His Excellency Wilberforce Juta, (former Gongola State Governor) made that point very clear that of the governor’s very many achievements, that of being a bridge-builder and a unifier is perhaps his most important attribute.
During the campaigns in 2014/2015, the President made it clear that he had three major objectives: security, corruption and economy. We have seen the successes in security and the fight against corruption and in the economy we are seeing a bright light at the end of the tunnel.
A major concern of Mr. President is the issue of unemployment and even yesterday he was talking about what he could do in the short term to create more opportunities for the youths.
One of the programmes of our party and one of the programmes of government is the N-Power programme, which has 10,000 spaces for young graduates in this State. l hope that many young graduates would be able to benefit from this scheme.
There is also the GEEP programme of Micro-Credit for market women, artisans, for vocational persons who have vocational skills. A lot of the micro-credit is now available and am sure that in the next couple of months we would be able to benefit from it in this State.
We started a project with the International Committee of the Red Cross, the American University of Nigeria, Yola, and other institutions of higher learning on how we can use technology to solve the humanitarian problems in the North-East.
The Federal Government’s proposed innovation hub for the North-East will be here in Adamawa State in partnership with the American University and other institutions.
The first step will be a mega-fund working with the ICRC Global Innovation Team which will give an opportunity to the internally displaced persons to become active part of the process to provide solution to the problem they face everyday using technology. This will give Nigeria an opportunity to work with international organizations to export innovative humanitarian solutions to other parts of the world.
But we are here today at the Faro junction to commission this state-of-the-art road network and this again is one of the major demonstrations of the excellent works the governor has been doing and I am exceptionally pleased to be associated with the success he has made in a very short time.
As have been said, l have been here now three times but now that l am the Jagaban of Adamawa State, l intend to get myself a small place here to live so that every once in a while l can come and spend my weekend and holiday here in Adamawa State.
I thank you all for your warm hospitality, let me borrow the words of Senator Jonathan Zwingina, “I Thank you very much indeed.”