The Ilorin Central Mosque project is gradually reaching completion stage but despite efforts at ridding its surroundings of traders and beggars, among others, defaulters are becoming daring day by day.
Ilorin Ultra-modern Central Mosque is indeed one project that has continued to attract commendations from within and outside Kwara State. Aside the beauty that it adds to the ancient city of Ilorin, particularly the Emir's palace, the mosque also serves as a pride, not only to the sons and daughters of the Emirate, but also to all lovers of progress and development.
It is instructive to note that when the project was launched on Friday, June 19, 2009, and received an overwhelming response from invited guests from across the country, its tendency to come to fruition was never in doubt. To fully realise this, the former site of Ilorin West Local Government Secretariat was demolished. Although work is still ongoing, with what has been achieved so far, one can confidently see that the huge resources committed to the project are fully justified.
A side its colorful interior and exterior decors; the mosque is enchantingly adorned with flowers and other sparkling designs. No wonder that both visitors and even residents of Ilorin and its environs often take delight in catching a glimpse of the mosque and taking its snapshots.
However, if there is anything that has continued to pose serious challenge to the project, it is the unyielding posture of traders within the mosque vicinity, particularly those at the other side of the road from Adifa Junction to Idiape end.
Despite frequent awareness campaigns carried out through the mass media, coupled with the establishment of a mobile court to try offenders, there seems to be no corresponding result.
To address the situation legislative aim of Ilorin West, East and South Local Government Councils, in whose domain the central mosque is domiciled, had passed resolutions prohibiting motorists, Okada-riders, hawkers and beggars as well as traders from engaging in any form of activities within and around the mosque.
By the resolutions, it was declared that defaulters would not only have their wears confiscated seated, but would also be prosecuted accordingly. This also affects motorists, Okada unions, traders, hawkers and beggars within and around the magnificent place of worship.
In the alternative, the affected market men and women were directed to relocate to all officially recognised markets within the areas in question. It was therefore reaffirmed that any defaulters would be prosecuted accordingly, and that "the directive, which takes immediate effect also prohibits street trading and hawking in the following areas that include Isale-Oja - Bata Shop, 'C' Division Police Station Ojuode Doganri, Origunda - Ile Muse. Others include Isale -Oja - Ode Olorin, Ile Daudu Isale Oja - Idiape, Idiape - Ode-Abudu and Ita-Ajia, Adifa Junction - Ile Film and Ode Olumo - Idiape."
But typical of the traders, they appear to be unperturbed by this development as vehicular and pedestrian movements along the affected axis arc still chaotic. It has become a practice, especially by hawkers and road side traders, to flee with their wares on sighting the security operatives drailed there to enforce law and order.
It would be recalled that a 14-man committee, comprising representatives of the state government, llorin Descendants' Union, Board of Trustees of the mosque, Ulama (Scholars), Central Working Committee (CWC) and Architects, had been raised to work out the relocation of the traders around the mosque area.
This is aimed at detaching the edifice completely from the market because, according to the committee, "a mosque of this magnitude worth Nl.8bn; we cannot afford to have a surrounding that is not befitting"
The Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, was said to have provided a place for the traders at Ita Amo for those who could not afford hiring shops at Ilorin International Market or Ago market as the case, may be.
In an interview with our reporter recently, a member of the committee in charge of publicity, Alhaji Mas'ud Adebimpe, threw more light on the difficulties posed to the security agents by traders around the mosque vicinity.
According to him, there was no market located around the mosque in those days because the place was not gazetted as a market, adding: "that place used to be a motor park but now people come there to trade illegally and we want them to be relocated."
He said no efforts would be spared to make the mosque one of the best in the world, stressing that after its commissioning, it would serve as a centre of attraction for Muslim tourists from around the world in addition to being a world-class worship centre.
Adebimpe noted that Islam as a religion abhors dirt and that trading as well as transport business around the mosque could affect its aesthetics and sacredness.
While acknowledging the efforts of the security agents at ensuring compliance on the part of the affected traders and other defaulter, it will not be out of place to say that more still needs to be done if the set objectives for passing the resolutions by the three councils must be realised. They must not wait till the completion of the project before all owing tie law to fully take its course.
Culled from The Herald Newspaper