* This will remain an eternally remembered project – Oba Adejuwon
It was a joyful moment in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, on Friday as the Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers’ chamber was officially opened for use of the monarchs.
The traditional rulers, who graced the occasion in Ado Ekiti in their numbers, were full of smiles as the moment put an end to their gatherings at the Old Governors’ Office, erstwhile place of meetings and other activities.
The new edifice, which cost the state government 384million was inaugurated by the Chairman of the Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers, Oba Ayodele Adejuwon.
It has two floors of office accommodation with the ground floor housing the council chairman’s office, conference hall while the second floor houses the office of the Executive Secretary, Director and staff of the Bureau of Chieftaincy Affairs.
Governor Biodun Oyebanji, who disclosed the project cost, praised the State Bureau of Special Projects for taking over the construction of the Chambers after the contractor who started the project failed to return to site because of government’s rejection of unacceptable variation he presented after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oyebanji expressed his delight and fulfilment at completing the project started by his immediate predecessor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, who, according to him, acceded to demands of the Obas in the state for a befitting facility for their plenary and committee meetings.
The governor said that “the facility can sit 145 royal fathers at a time and it is fitted with quality furniture and electronic devices to make meetings easy at the main chamber. Government committed huge resources to the project in appreciation of the stabilizing, advisory and conciliatory roles of the traditional institution”.
Reeling the history of the project, Governor Oyebanji said he attended a meeting of the Obas Council under the chairmanship of the Oloye of Oye Ekiti, Oba Oluwole Ademolaju, when he was serving as the Secretary to the State Government under former Governor Fayemi, where the project was discussed, but the location could not be determined before the end of Oloye’s tenure.
He disclosed that when the Alawe of Ilawe Ekiti, Oba Adebanji Ajibade Alabi, was inaugurated as the Chairman, he made a renewed request and the location was approved by Dr. Fayemi paving the way for the laying of foundation stone on October 15, 2019.
The governor explained that the contract was awarded with execution period of 12 months, but COVID-19 stalled the project with the contractor asking for a variation that pushed the initial cost by about 120 per cent which the state government considered outrageous.
“At that time, the project had reached 35 per cent completion, but the contractor will not return to site. Government had to terminate the contract and adopted direct labour to complete this project. Consequently, government mobilized the Bureau of Special Projects in December 2022 to resume continuation of the project with a mandate to finish within six months,” the governor added.
He charged the monarchs to help communicate the policy of the removal of subsidy on petrol to the populace, appealing for their understanding in enduring the initial hardship being experienced.
“Things will surely get better very soon, President Bola Tinubu is mindful of the effect on income and salary earners generally and working so hard to ensure that he brings dividends of democracy to all of us as soon as possible. To ameliorate this, a cluster of palliative measures are being planned. We appeal to our people not to despair,” Oyebanji pleaded.
The Obas Council Chairman, Oba Adejuwon, expressed his joy on the completion and delivery of the magnificent edifice describing it as a dream come true.
Oba Adejuwon, who is the Onisan of Isan Ekiti, said monarchs in the state had long desired the project because the old chamber became too small and inconvenient for them following the upgrade and installation of more members of the council.
The Onisan said that the turning of sod for the project was performed in October 2019 under the chairmanship of his immediate predecessor, the Alawe of Ilawe Ekiti, Oba Adebanji Alabi, and was done up to roofing level at the time he (Onisan) took over as chairman.
The Obas’ chairman lauded the former Governor (Fayemi) and the incumbent Governor (Oyebanji) for making the important legacy a reality, saying it would remain an eternally remembered project.
The traditional ruler said, “We are glad now that we are in our comfort zone. We appreciate your gesture of taking us out of inconveniences. We pledge out 100 per cent support for your administration”.
Earlier in his remarks, the Special Adviser, Special Projects, Tope Ogunleye, said the project had given another room to testify about the importance of continuity.
He also lauded former Governor Fayemi for listening to the request of the traditional rulers in the state by bequeathing a project that is first of its kind in the Southwest.