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Ajimobi Replies Ibadan Palace C’tee — I’m Disappointed In You For Changing Structure

Former governor Abiola Ajimobi has replied the Ibadan Palace Committee, who had demanded apology from him over allegation of embezzlement.
Rather than apologize, Ajimobi who said he didn’t attempt to malign the integrity of members of the committee, accused them of unilaterally changing the architectural design of the new palace.
Ajimobi, OYOINSIGHT.COM recalls, had been quoted, at an event which held on October 1st, 2019, as saying that “During my tenure, we raised N240 million to build an ultra-modern palace for the Olubadan, but it was unfortunate the project is yet to be completed…”

 

The committee members include Chief  Bayo Oyero and Chief Wole Akinwande as chairman and vice-chairman respectively while members are Oba Abiodun Kola Daisi, Alhaji Oladiti Oladayo, Dr. Lasisi Balogun, Chief Onadapo Ajibola, Alhaji Kola Adetona, Alhaji Adesina Liadi, Alhaji R.S. Oyebamiji, Mr. Remi Popoola, Mr. Seye Ogunsina, Mrs. Labake Lawal and Alhaji Ayobami Ayinla. They had served between 2014 and 2017.
Ajimobi, who doubles as the Aare Atunluse and Aare of Ibadanland respectively, said that he had paid a visit to the palace and that he is  still disappointed as to how the committee unilaterally changed the structure in the architectural design shown to him before fund raising from a storey-building in front to a bungalow all through, which is the structure that is now have on ground.
REJOINDER TO YOUR PROTEST LETTER ON THE HANDLING OF THE FUNDS MEANT FOR THE NEW OLUBADAN PALACE
I must start by submitting that my comments referred to in your letter of 29th October, 2019 to me were never intended to malign, blackmail, tarnish or impugn the integrity of the members of your Committee which is made of my egbons, Secondary School Seniors and Aburos whom I have known over the years with their intimidating profiles in both the public and private sectors of the Nigerian economy. I must also state that going by my nature as a person and position in Oyo State at the time you handled the project, I would not allow you to handle it if I had any doubt concerning your integrity. I only expressed my pains on that occasion due to the fact that the Olubadan Palace is one of the legacies I wanted to leave behind after my regime as the Governor of Oyo State but here we are today — no palace, no money but many unanswered questions on the lips of those who contributed the money because I was involved. May | at this juncture categorically state that I had no intention to malign or impugn on the integrity of the members of your committee. However, I have no apologies as regards my comments on my disappointment at the status of the project.
You admitted that N241.0m was raised as donation and pledges at the launch, that you collected N234.0m and that only N175.0m came from me and not the entire N234.0m. Please be properly guided that most other smaller donations apart from the five(5) totaling N175.0m which you credited to me were made because I was involved. Still, I am at a loss as to your point of argument here — Are you saying that N175.0m out of N234.0m is too insignificant for me to express my pains and disappointment?
Going a bit down the memory lane, the desire to uplift and restore the glory of my place of birth was one of the reasons for me to contest the Governorship position in Oyo State, and to the glory of God, I served in the position for eight (8) years. During the period, the general problems of political violence, dirts, and bad roads associated with Ibadanland were solved. In the traditional area, a world-class coronation ceremony was organized for our current Olubadan with the ambition that the same Olubadan would be the first to move to the new palace on a site allocated to the palace by Governor Kolapo Ishola since 1993 and neglected for 21 years by the subsequent administrations in Oyo State until I initiated the move in 2014.
For five (5) years since raising the N241.0 or N234.0 or N175.0 Million Naira (which ever you decide to accept) in 2014, the need to intimate the small and big donors of the amount raised, spent, left, or give Progress Report during the 3 years of construction or render Closing Report after the money was spent was surprisingly not considered necessary by your Committee until my comments.
Before my comments at the event of 1st October, 2019, I had paid a visit to the palace and I am still disappointed as to how you unilaterally changed the structure in the Architectural Design shown to me before fund raising from a Storey Building in front to a Bungalow all through, which is the structure we now have on ground. If your letter had however indicated that these changes were made to enable you deliver just any palace with the “limited” fund available to you, one would understand your point of 2 argument but as at today — no single Meeting Hall is completed, Wall Fence not completed, access road to enter the structure not provided and I understand that the sum of N400.0m will still be required at today’s price, to provide Doors, Windows, Plastering, Ceiling, Tiling, Painting, Plumbing, Electrical, Landscaping, Decoration, Window Blinds, Fence and Gates, Interlocking, Roads, Furnishing and many other things needed to complete the palace.
Now, to the issue of my nominees, I am happy to note that you wrote as follows 4(i) “the Committee through its Chairman (Chief Bayo Oyero) approached you, advising that the State Government should be represented” and 4(ii) “when the bids for the construction contract were ready, the Committee through its Chairman, again approached you”. As you have confirmed in all the cases, I made suggestion of those names at your request and insistence but I did not impose anybody on you and neither did you for the past 5 years come back to me to complain that any of them was incompetent or involved in shady deals at the time of execution of the project. Similarly, I never took part in any negotiation or disbursement of fund, or opening of bids or the final selection of contractors or consultants.
For all your defence in this regard, however, I want to believe that disbursement of all the funds raised, issuance of the payment cheques, supervision of the project and ensuring that Ibadan got the highest value for money were duties and responsibilities placed on your Committee and not the people you claimed I nominated for you. May be it was also my fault that an amount of One Hundred and Twenty Thousand Naira was written in acknowledgement of your payment of N120.0m to the contractors on 19″ September, 2014. I agree that we shall keep learning till we breath our last.
Going by the high public and private-sector profile of the members of your Committee as we know and in response to paragraph 7 of your letter, the answer still lies with you as to whether or not a terse report given only after my observation is good enough to vouch for efficient management of the project by your committee members.
And most appalling of it all sirs, your statement that — Even if the total donations and pledges of N241m were realized, could it have completed the project? The 3 arguments can be turned around namely: that the project might have been overpriced and If that were so, then, it must be put squarely at the door of the Consultant you gave us”. In as much as any discerning mind will conclude that this is self-admission of the fact that what you put on ground is not commensurate with the money you disbursed, still I feel thoroughly disappointed and embarrassed that this could come from you at this juncture.
Like most of the contents of your letter under reference, I still see deliberate diversion of focus from the real issue when you wrote: “Are you not confirming the general belief that Ibadan never appreciates any good deed by its indigenes? Ibadan kii fi oore san ore” and you quoted the Alaafin of Oyo in support. May I categorically state that this statement can only apply from me to you and your Committee members and not from any of you to me before, during and after my tenure as the Governor of Oyo State. If in fact you would remember yesterday — as individuals and collectively — the humble thing I expected you would do in your collective wisdom was to appeal for your oversight and seek appointment to present your Project Report which you denied all the donors of the fund for almost six(6) years. Rather, your solution was to demand an apology from me for expressing my disappointment at the seeming abandonment of the project.
In summary, I hereby categorically state that I did not pass my comments on the spur of the moment and I have no apology to make for expressing my disappointment; which was not intended to impugn on the integrity of the membership of your committee. Considering the support and relationship established over the years, one would expect that you seek audience with me for clarification, rather than your circulated letter to the whole world for which you are in fact the ones owing me apology.
Finally, I still believe that you owe me and other stakeholders situation report on the project and this you failed to do in the past five (5) years. Please accept the assurances of my highest regards.
Thank you.
Senator Abiola Ajimobi Aare of Ibadanland Governor of Oyo State (May 2011 — May 2019)

 

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