By Aiyeku Timothy
The Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) on Tuesday vowed it will rebuild the Shasha Market, Ibadan, which was burnt down during the crisis that engulfed the market last week.
This promise was made by a delegation of the NGF led by the governor of Kebbi State, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, which visited Ibadan for a tour of the troubled spot.
Bagudu, who was joined by his colleagues from Zamfara, Kano, and Niger states, said that the city of Ibadan was calm, contrary to the pictures being circulated on social media as he commended the Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, for his effort in restoring peace and normalcy to the community.
Bagudu said: “We, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, are going to support. As a matter of fact, we have given a token to those who are already displaced, and we will meet at a wider table tomorrow and can assure that more support will be mobilised.”
Governor Makinde, who led Governors Atiku Bagudu, Kebbi; Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Kano; Bello Muhammad Matawalle, Zamfara; and Abubakar Sanni Bello, Niger, to Shasha community, said his government would continue to look for avenues to restore peaceful co-existence.
While speaking at the palaces of Seriki Shasha and Baale of Shasha, the governor called for calm and unity among Hausa and Yoruba people living in the community, urging everyone to join hands with the administration.
He said: “As a government, we will continue to look for an avenue to restore a peaceful co-existence for all of us. Please, I want you to join hands with us and we also acknowledge that sometimes, we process information and we may not get to the root of the issue. If you see something, say something to us and we will address the challenges frontally.
“Even before I became the governor, I have always had solid interaction with the Arewa community through Baba. I still remember that in 2013, I came here, and Baba was trying to make me feel comfortable.
“So, we have been together for long. I feel the pain of everybody involved here because properties were lost, and we can replace properties. It may be painful, but when the fire started, and I was contacted. I said they should send a fire truck here and the fire truck was vandalised, damaged.
“So, I told the people that it is annoying that we have to use money that could have been used for something else to replace the fire trucks and to rebuild all of these places. But those are minor cases; when a life is lost, we can’t replace it. We cannot make life. So, my message is that of peace.”
While speaking on behalf of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum shortly after the inspection, Kebbi State governor, Atiku Bagadu, explained that the motive of the governors’ visit was to commiserate with the government and the people of the state on the unfortunate incident that led to the destruction of properties in the state.
Atiku Bagudu said: “For the generality of all Nigerians, it is important to know that the streets of Ibadan are calm. People are not chasing one another. People are supporting one another to resume normalcy.
“To those outside Ibadan, particularly the Northern states, we want to extend that the regrettable incident has happened, but it is not a tribal but a regrettable conflict that different communities in Oyo State are holding themselves to sort out.”
The Kebbi governor added the Nigerian Governor’s Forum will assist the state government in rebuilding the market and providing palliatives for the victims, saying: “We were well received by our host, Governor Makinde, who briefed us about what happened. And, today, he has taken us to Shasha market. On our way, we had a stop-over at Bodija market and we are pleased that we saw Nigerians of different tribes at the market conducting activities, which is evidence of a return of normalcy.
“In fact, we saw some onion sellers from different states, including Kebbi, Zamfara, and Sokoto, and other states.
“We went to Shasha market and saw the destruction but more than the destruction was a regrettable loss of lives that was caused by a condemnable spontaneous response to emotions because both the Hausa and Yoruba community were unanimous that two issues led to this situation.
“One, there had been contention over the leadership of the Shasha market but even though the Seriki Shasha and Baale of Shasha are in agreement about leadership, other interested groups were not so in agreement. So, there was this undercurrent playing out.
“On the other hand, there was somebody pushing a wheelbarrow with tomatoes and it fell in front of a shop. Ordinarily, one would have thought such is normal in a market but since emotions are pent up, unfortunately, we had such a situation. We sympathise with all those who lost their lives and property.
“We saw the damage and we appreciate what the governor has done so far. We have seen what the security agencies have also done, and we are glad that things are returning to normalcy.
“The Seriki Shasha and Baale have confirmed that everyone is ready to stay and conduct their lawful activities and the governor has assured that he will continue to ensure that all communities continue to live without fear.”