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Sale of a legacy

Posted by By MOSHOOD ADEBAYO, Abeokuta on 2008/09/14 | Views: 136 |

Sale of a legacy


The decision of the Gbenga Daniel led administration to concession the distressed Ogun State-owned Gateway Hotels is generating ripples, with some indigenes of the state kicking against the alleged sell off of the legacy of the founding fathers of the state.

•Concessioning of Gateway Hotels by govt causes ripples in Ogun

The decision of the Gbenga Daniel led administration to concession the distressed Ogun State-owned Gateway Hotels is generating ripples, with some indigenes of the state kicking against the alleged sell off of the legacy of the founding fathers of the state.

The group of hotels located in Abeokuta, Sango Ota, and Ijebu Ode, were set up in 1979 by the first executive governor of the state, Chief Olabisi Onabanjo, shortly after his inauguration in 1979.

But they have been performing badly, making only N24 million in its over 20 years.
This has forced the state government to divest its shareholding in the ailing hotels to allow private investors take charge.

Forty-six companies bided for the concession of the various hotels, of which the Silverbird Group won the concession to manage the Gateway Hotel, Abeokuta for the next 25 years after which the hotel would be returned to its owner while the MIBC and American Best Resort won the bidding for the Sango-Ota Gateway Hotel and the Equity Assurance Plc won that of Ijebu-Ode.
This has generated mixed reactions within the state with some wondering why the government with the sobriquet ‘business unusual’ could not put the hotels on a path of profit- making.
To those who supported Governor’s Daniel action, the move would turn the hotels around for better, considering the fact that it had brought more debts than profits to the state government since it was established.

But others viewed the proposed involvement of private investors in the hotels as another way of selling one of the few landmarks in the state. According to Chief (Mrs.) Okedara Agnes, “As much as the idea of allowing private investors to take over the hotel business is welcome, one thing that saddens me is that the efforts and legacy of our heroes past are being traded away because of government’s desire to make profit”.

She said: “If I’m not mistaking, Ogun State was created on February 3, 1976 by the late military leader, General Murtala Mohammed. How many of such legacies had been bequeathed to the people of the state by either the successive military or civilian administrations? It is on record that most of them have at one point in time ruled this state, but there are no records to show that a legacy like the Gateway Hotels, Gateway Radio or Gateway Television was left behind by them”.
But, Daniel had justified the action, noting that loans obtained for the construction of the hotels several years back were still being serviced.

Speaking through his Chief of Staff, (COS) Dr. Yomi Majekodunmi, the governor said the action which he considered as painful was necessary for the future of the hotels, disclosing that the hotels were able to generate only N24 million profits since its establishment in 1983. “What we are after is not to run the business of the state, but to run the business of governance profitably for future generations. What legacy are we talking about; a legacy that does not promote legacy of economy for the people of the state. What legacy that has brought more debts than profits for her people”.

Majekodunmi dispelled the rumours making rounds that the hotels were out rightly sold to the new investors. “What we have done may be considered painful, but we have done it in the best interest of the state. But for the sentiment, it would have been better to sell it. We feel very passionate about it. It’s the best business interest we have to take in the situation we found ourselves,” he said.

He, however, assured that the interest of over 400 workers in the hotels would be taken care of.
But as the count down to the take over of the hotel draws nearer, a mystery fire that gutted part of the hotel in Abeokuta , the state capital has raised suspicion of possible sabotage allegedly masterminded by a section of the workers who may not like its take-over by the entrepreneurs. The fire also came few days after a vital computer component; the modem was allegedly stolen from the hotel’s cyber-café.
Even though the fire was said to have emanated from room 509 of the hotel after an alleged explosion, the management is looking beyond that theory with the allegation that it was arson by an unidentified member of staff.

But the Secretary of the National Union of Hotels and Personal Service Workers (NUHPSW) in the hotel, Mr Wole Essan vouched for the integrity of his union members.“There are many of us here who have put in no fewer than 10 to 15 years service in this hotel. What will it benefit any of us to set this hotel ablaze?”
The police are, however, investigating the incident and had interogated some members of staff.

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Comments (3)

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Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

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Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.