I read with gloom the news about the extinction of that spectacular, expansive recreation centre in the city of Ibadan, Trans Amusement Park, one of the tourist sites that defined Ibadan for decades. I was really shocked that the place that I had worked both as a management staff of a private company operating in the park and as the Operations Manager of Trans Amusement Park itself, is now being converted to a residential estate. It was not the news I wanted to hear about Trans.
At first, I did not believe it, wondering why a progressive governor like Engineer Seyi Makinde would take such a decision. Why the much loved governor would want to deprive the youths, the old and all categories of people that have been utilizing the park for years. Why would our successful governor kill a tourist site that could be used to further the growth of tourism and business in Oyo State and Nigeria? Why?
However, when I read the release put out by the state government stating the reasons for the death of Trans Amusement Park, I became more saddened.
The government in the release claimed that all the efforts to get investors to take over the park were futile as no serious investor came up to invest in the park. And I asked myself, why any serious investor would want to partner with Oyo State Government particularly considering the viciousness the state had been visited on such investors in the past. With tears rolling down my cheeks, I remembered how a late governor of the state, Senator Abiola Ajimobi had used soldiers and policemen to throw us out of Lyrics Nite Club situated right inside the park for no other reason than political victimization in the most callous manner.
As the General Manager of Lyrics Nite Club, the outfit that resuscitated Trans Amusement Park after years of inactivity in 2000, what I witnessed on November 13, 2011 when the government of the late Senator Abiola Ajimobi in a clear case of oppression, victimization and height of wickedness sent soldiers to our club at about 8 in the night just to victimize the owners of the club who was not in the same party with him. At first, when we saw heavily armed policemen and soldiers we thought it was a case of armed robbery and everybody including over 200 guests we had in the club took to their heels.
As the GM I later summoned courage and I unquestioningly sought the attention of one of the police officers, who said they were sent from the state government. They gave us 5 minutes to move out of the premises. To move out of Trans we had been growing for eleven years in 5 minutes. What could we take when our perishable and drinks for the weekend alone, were over 2 million Naira in just 5 minutes? In less than five minutes, they started shooting and we had no choice than to run out of the place leaving our materials and equipment in ruins.
Sadly, this happened when the state government did not have any legal authority on the park after the government of the late Otunba Adebayo Alao Akala that preceded Ajimobi’s government had concessioned the entire part to HAMAK Group of Companies.
Even, if Ajimobi had noticed any flaw or irregularities in the government’s transactions between the government and HAMAK, it ought to have followed due process, invited HAMAK and sort them out. But, rather than doing that, Ajimobi in the crudest manner sent armed men to chase us out of Lyrics after we had just expended millions of Naira up-scaling the club. No notice, no letter, no invite. In fact the managers of the park were not in any way informed of the cruel actions of the governor. They were all shell shocked when I narrated what transpired in the previous night to them. Without knowing that a thing like this would happen in future, one of the managers lamented” this governor has killed Trans”.
Realizing the contributions of Lyrics to Trans with our national and international activities which rubbed off on them in terms of patronage and publicity, the management of Trans Amusement Park on their own came to beg me later to work for the park, an offer I accepted after the approval of the Chairman of Lyrics, the kind hearted, benevolent and forward looking Agabaakin Kehinde Olaosebikan. This was after all the appeals to the governor on Lyrics had fallen on the deaf ears of Ajimobi.
It is on record that Trans Amusement Park thrived why Lyrics operated within the park and the first ever profit recorded in the over 20 years of existence of Trans was in 2011 in the first year of operations of Lyrics in the park.
Established to facilitate social-economic development of the state, Lyrics satisfactorily played this role in the 11 years of its operation in the park before it was cruelly killed as a result of political hostility of Abiola Ajimobi.
Governor Akala, undoubtedly one of the best governors in the history of Oyo State, saw the right thing to do with the park and in line with the trending business model, following the global best practices, concessioned the park to HAMAK after payment of the prescribed sums.
Unfortunately again, after the callous treatment meted to the investors on the Trans Amusement Park, Abiola Ajimobi did nothing about the park in his 8 years of rule. No policy improvement, no government support, nothing. He practically left the place to die.
As a former Operations Manager of the Park, I align totally with the government on its new usage for the expanse of land on all grounds stated by the government.
First, if Governor Ajimobi had added just a little positive value to the park just like his predecessors: Late Alhaji Lam Adesina, Senator Rasheed Ladoja and Otunba Adebayo Alao Akala did, the equipment and facilities at the Park would have been updated and enhancing them now would be feasible. Secondly, if Ajimobi had not visited outright callousness on former investors and genuine promoters of Trans Wonderland, people would not be running away from investing in it as it has played out now. Government is continuum and if Ajimobi had seen it to be like that, there wouldn’t be any issue surrounding Trans Amusement Park today. It is a lesson for our leaders of today and those willing to lead
In virtually all aspects of Governance, Governor Seyi Makinde has proved to be an excellent governor and a pragmatic leader that would not only do things for the betterment of the people and the state but a leader ready to take Oyo State to where it ought to be.
Former General Manager, Lyrics Nite-Club
Former Manager, Operations, Trans Amusement Park