Ilorin the Kwara state capital also suffered a devastating blow from hoodlums who struck last week to wreck havoc on public and private businesses. UMAR BAYO ABDULWAHAB in this report xrayed its implication on the economy of the state.
For a state lamenting that it is not comfortable being labelled a ‘civil service’ state, recent event of looting thriving businesses in Ilorin metropolis has, no doubt, caused a major set-back to its drive of encouraging investors to come and invest in the state.
Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq had to engage leaders of organised labour in the state during an industrial action embarked upon by workers to press home their demand for implementation of N30,000 minimum wage where he stressed the determination of his administration to change the status of the state from a civil service state into a thriving economy.
The governor’s plea
The governor was pleading for the understanding of organised labour to shift ground in their demands so that the government can save some money for development and change the status of the state from being tagged a civil service state.
He said part of the sacrifices his government is making is the delay in procuring official cars for members of his cabinet and lawmakers in the state.
AbdulRazaq said himself and the deputy governor have not been operating from the Governnet House because it requires huge amount of money to overhaul them.
The governor said while he is operating from the presidential lodge, the deputy governor is operaritng from a rented apartment, hence, the need for all stakeholders to cooperate with the government to develop the state.
But regretably, this campaign by the governor who rode to office on the ‘O to gee’ mantra, seems to have suffered a major set-back following recent looting of government warehouses and private buisness establiments in Ilorin, the capital of Kwara state by rampaging hoodlums.
Some institutions affected
According to Blueprint findings, one of the worst hit is the popular Shoprite mall Ilorin where an estimated 1,000 people were said to have been rendered jobless in the aftermath of the terror unleashed on the business mall.
Blueprint also reports that the mall which hosts several other businesses was looted dry when the looters broke into the premises along Fate road.
Similarlly, the management of KAM Holdings Ilorin has also warned that at least 4,500 jobs would be lost should the rampaging youths made good their threats to attack the expansive rolling steel mill along Asa Dam Industrial layout.
During a visit to the Kwara Mall and Agro Mall all badly looted last week, Governor AbdulRazaq said the incident may bring businesses to their knees and cause massive loss of jobs and a surge in poverty rate, the implications he said were clearly lost on the hoodlums.
“We are therefore not going to leave the business owners like that. We are setting up a N500m fund for those that were affected to access.
The application form is live and active on the state government’s website and can now be filled by interested parties. We are going to get them back as soon as possible,” he said.
He commiserated with owners of all the affected businesses saying that the N500 miliion support fund is part of his administration’ s efforts to bring them back on their feet following the incident.
The governor who again condemned what he called the mindless looting of people’s businesses in the state insisted that there can be no justification for such criminal behaviour.
AbdulRazaq said claims that government was hoarding palliatives were false as it was not the owner of those materials.
The governor explained that the foodstuffs stolen at the Cargo Terminal were donated to specific vulnerable households and were being distributed across the state for the private sector-led CACOVID Foundation.
He added that the ones carted away from Agro-Mall were relief materials donated to specific victims of the recent rainstorms and floods in eight local government areas of the state by the federal government.
He said NEMA had already distributed the materials to at least four local governments while consignments for the remaining council areas were due for dispatch when the hoodlums struck.
“What happened was bareface stealing and some people are playing politics with it. This is not the time to play politics. It is a time for all hands to be on deck. It is not just Kwara they wanted to burn down; they wanted to burn the whole country down.
I urge all of us to stand up and resist that,” he said.
“We engaged the #EndSARS youths in Kwara and it worked out for us. They were not violent; they had a five-point agenda which the federal government has agreed to and has started implementing. In Kwara state, we have also set up a judicial panel of inquiry to look into the allegation of police abuse.
I also visited police barracks to see how we can improve the welfare of the police in the state.
“While the hoodlums were looting, I was holding a meeting with executives and members of the National Association of Kwara State Students and National Association of Nigeria Students, Kwara axis.
It shows students and youths were not part of the looting. Those involved were just hoodlums and thieves.”
Commending them for their professionalism, the governor said the administration is working with security agencies to maintain public order and safety in the state.
Police CP wants looted items returned
And as measure to recover looted items, the state commissioner of police called on those who are in possession of the looted items to surrender them voluntarily and sin no more.
He said those who voluntarily surrender their loots will not be prosecuted but warned that should the police go after them and apprehend them, they would be paraded before the press and prosecuted.
The police chief spoke when he paraded 144 suspects arrested with looted items at the state police headquarters, Ilorin where he also showed journalists several items recovered from them. The items included sets of furnitures, electronics and packs.
And in what appears to be a gradual surrender, some items have been reportedly dumped behind the homes of community leaders in Ilorin.
Areas where some the items have been reportedly surrendered include Sango area, Dada community, Amule and Oke Andi. Whether the items can still be displayed is another question to be answered.
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