Free trade zone: Affected land owners call for clear resettlement plan

Land owners of over 20 villages billed to be acquired by the Oyo state government for the Pacesetter-Polaris free trade zone have called for restraint, asking government to clearly state its resettlement plans for them.
The land owners who expressed their fears at a meeting with government representatives led by Commissioner for Land, Housing and Urban Development, Mr Isaac Omodewu, on Wednesday, added that the project would take them off their farmlands and demolish their ancestral homes.
The state government had in November 2016 gone into collaboration with Chinese investors towards establishing a free trade zone cum industrial park that spans from Guru Maharji to Ogunmakin end on Lagos/Ibadan expressway.
Speaking at the meeting held at Idi Ayunre, Oluyole local government area of the state, a chief in Ogundele village, Bakare Ojo-ekun expressed fears that the project could render dwellers of the affected villages homeless.
“We appreciate the desire of the state government to develop the state. We acknowledge the importance of investors in developing our area. But, if our houses are demolished, where do we now live? Going by what we are told, almost all 40 villages in this local government will be acquired. The government should not demolish all our landed properties, especially our houses, while embarking on this project,” Ojo-ekun said.
A resident of Omi-Fatokun, Mr Muideen Salami noted instances whereby land was acquired but not developed or put to said use.
Mrs Safuratu Kareem of Omi-Aboderin village also decried that compensation in the past was not commensurate with properties acquired, as well as those fronting themselves as government officials to acquire land.
Speaking, Commissioner for Land, Housing and Urban Development, Mr Isaac Omodewu, allayed fears of the affected villagers assuring that the state government would offer due compensation, as stipulated by law, once it carries out enumeration of properties.
Omodewu also said the state government would look into the request for clear cut relocation plans, urging the affected persons to look at the bigger picture of increased employment opportunities, financial capacity through industrialization and better infrastructural facilities.
He further sought for cooperation of the locals noting that such developmental efforts always come with some inconveniences.
Especially, Omodewu pointed out that the government had acquired the said land expanse in 2005 during the administration of former governor, Senator Rasheed Ladoja.
“The fear the people of the affected villages is how they benefit from the investors.
This government is not desirous of making life inconvenient for the people. We understand the fears of the people regarding where they will live, what they will eat.”
“We will attend to the issue of relocation. We are not trying to make life difficult for anybody. We have to harmonise and see how we will work things out. Bringing in investors will facilitate employment, medical facilities, educational facilities to land owners.”
We have spoken with the affected people and we hope to get to the promised land, which is that the project will start. In a couple of days, our people will be on field for enumeration and give compensation as stated by the law,” Omodewu stated.
Earlier in his remarks, Chairman, Oluyole Local Government, Mr James Adeleke harped on the importance of cooperation between landowners and the state government on the acquisition of lands.