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Unending tussle between OAU and Ife ‘land-grabbers’?

Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, OAU VC

By Bola Bolawole

turnpot@gmail.com 0807 552 5533

When one had thought the matter was settled, drums of war were beaten again between the authorities of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), formerly University of Ife (Great Ife) and some citizens of the historic town of Ile-Ife, regarded as not just the cradle of the Yoruba but also as the source of humanity. The bone of contention is land matters. OAU authorities are kicking that some Ife indigenes are encroaching on its land, held without any acrimony or controversy for decades. Conversely, the “grabbers” are contesting the claims of the OAU to all of the land in question. The usually taciturn and publicity-shy OAU vice-chancellor, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede was forced out of his cocoon to address a press conference. When I saw Ogunbodede so act, I knew the matter had got to a head and he had been pushed to the wall.

The text of his press conference was straight-forward and unambiguous. It read: “Precisely in 1961 when this university was founded by the government of the then Western Region of Nigeria, the Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Adesoji Aderemi, who also doubled as the Governor of Western Region, with the support of the Ife Community donated the land on which Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) is now situated. The university occupies a land area of 11,961 hectares. Let me say here that before this time, nobody had ever ventured or encroached into the university land until recently when some land-grabbers audaciously insisted that “the land given to the university by the founding fathers was too much (and that) OAU should be ready to forgo the portion around the Parakin axis of Ile-Ife”. Lo and behold, what we initially thought to be rumour now turned into reality as we discovered later that some people have not only encroached into the land but have been brazenly selling it to individuals who have now started erecting structures on it.

“The (university) Council had directed at the June 2019 meeting that Management should approach the External Solicitors to issue a Caveat Emptor on behalf of OAU. The Caveat Emptor was published in The Punch and Nigerian Tribune newspapers of August 8, 2019. A group of Ife Chiefs published a rejoinder/paid advert in the Nigerian Tribune of 15th of August, 2019. However, the Ile-Ife Royal Brothers Club also issued a Press Release and advertorial in the Informant of 26th August to September 1, 2019 condemning the sale of university land “by any individual, group or personality” and asserting that “the sale of the land meant for the overall development of Ile-Ife by few greedy individuals should be roundly condemned”.

“Exploring the cordial relationship between the university and the Ife Community, the University Management led by the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council engaged HIM Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Babatunde Ogunwusi, Ojaja II and the leadership of Ife Community in dialogue. Letters had also been written to His Imperial Majesty in addition to official discussions by the Council Chairman and the Vice-Chancellor. It was erroneously believed that the issue had been resolved. The said land, although clearly gazetted as university land and on which the university had exercised ownership for decades without let or hindrance, was forcefully broken into by the same set of people on 3rd April, 2019, and the university dam was poisoned. This led to the death of fishes and other aquatic animals. Following this incident, the intervention of the police and other security agencies reduced activities on the land for some months, until very recently. It is obvious that drastic but legal measures must be taken to reverse the trend and prevent any future encroachment…All illegal and encroaching structures will have to give way as the university is not ready to cede an inch of its gazetted land. The university intends to start with the first phase of securing the land by fencing the entire area. While we agree that it is important to remain friendly with the local communities around the university, it is necessary at the same time to protect the legacy of the landed property of the university…”

And I had, again, thought that, that had nailed it – until representatives of the indigenes followed with their own press salvos. Last Sunday, January 10, the OAU PRO, Biodun Olanrewaju, also granted an interview on the same issue; meaning that it is still a burning issue. If I may ask, what is Ile-Ife without this university? Let the issues in question be resolved amicably and let peace return to Great Ife. I remember my days at Ife when a disagreement between Campus and Town led to a students’ protest that claimed the lives of four students. NEVER AGAIN!

RE: Build factories, not churches or mosques

This is a complete truth. Many times I pondered over some questions which I am yet to have answers to: Which heaven are we preparing for? Do we have heaven (Kingdom of God) in categories? Is it only one or are they many? If some of our leaders in Christendom are given the chance to be at the helm of affairs in this country, many of them will perform poorer than those presently steering the ship of the nation! Practical Christianity is waning by the day. I wonder if Jesus will be happy looking down from heaven to see the state of the Church he died for! Members of the Church not close to those at the helm of affairs in the church may not know the gravity of the problem. Talking of corruption, the Church is the epicentre of the demon. Talking of politicking, the politics that is playing out in the church is barbaric. Someone put it this way: “The kind of politics that’s ongoing in the church nowadays is much more than putting that of APC together with PDP and adding all the minors and multiplying it by two because the Church is operating in double portion of the “anointing”! Talking about the poor in the Church, they are becoming poorer by the day. There are professional fund-raisers in the church now. You will hear these people in question say raising funds for the church is their “ministry”. They come cajoling the people in one way or the other and these “poor members” unsuspectingly fall into their trap. For those that are the clergy, the situation is becoming unbecoming. Thank God that we have the Bible, many should have doubted if the concept of the “Church” is true! We have our consolation in 2 Tim. 2:19: “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal; The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity”. Also, the Bible gives room for choices and, at the same time, possible consequences for every choice made. Revelation 22:11-12 says: “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be”.Though the situation may be disheartening, by the grace of God, we still have a few that shall forever refuse to bow to Baal. – Pastor Deolu.

I like the spectrum of your writing. You will not be tired in Jesus name! Fame, size and money changed the known leaders in today’s Christendom. They see success in ministry as the amount of wealth garnered. I am in the system, no doubt, but to touch people’s lives positively. My brother, what does it profit a man who gained the whole world but loses his soul in hell? One pastor organized a programme: Big and famous ministers and very popular gospel singers all came to grace the programme; not only that, well-known and influential politicians were in attendance. Due to radio and television jingles, the place was over-crowded. After the programme and donations in cash, the man began to receive endless alerts on his phone. What a wonderful and talk-of-the-town programme! All glory and honour be to God for such a successful programme! In contrast, I organized a Christian programme just as the other pastor but only the drug addicts, prostitutes, drunkards and cultists came and to the glory of God, eighty percent gave their lives to Christ at the end of the programme. Rather than receive, I gave out clothes, foodstuffs, and money to most of the attendees to the glory of God and a pastor walked up to me to tell me the programme was not a success and I asked how?, He asked me how much was my profit after the programme! I pointed to the NEW CONVERTS as my profit. He laughed at me and called me an ‘old school’ pastor who was not ready to enjoy the prosperity of God! – Pst. Olawale.

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