Moving inside what used to be a rendezvous for all manner of merriments, enjoyments and entertainments about a decade ago, THE INFORMANT247 correspondent who visited was welcome to the park as probably another user who want to attends to nature’s call. How soon a tourist and recreation centre transmogrified into a deserted forest now used as parking lots, toilet and dumpsite of sorts.
Established in the 80’s/90’s, it was unarguably a heritage that Ilorin, and by extension, Kwara State could always boast of. It used to be the old Ilorin eid praying ground before it was converted to a park by the state government.
When our correspondent stated the intention of visit to the site, a middle-aged man who claimed to be in charge of the park said he innitially thought we were moving in to attends to nature call.
“This place is not open to people, I initially thought you were here to ease yourself which this place has been used for over the past few years.” The man who pleaded anonymity told our correspondent, however all efforts by our correspondent to get him divulge more information prooved abortive.
The sorry state of the park would jolt any man of yore to the narrow bone. A place being used as a park hitherto has now turned out to be a bush. Onw wouldn’t doubt if they claim the forest house wide animal of sort.
The swimming pools now have rain water in them with trees springing up to complement the plants that stays afloat the rain water. The zoo somewhere adjacent the playing ground has turned to a very thick forest, the only visible structure was the big statute of a soldier with ammunition. A collapsed building that carries the inscription “Ilorin metro park” can also be observed form a distance though our correspondent was not able to have a very good access of the building because of the bush.
Only some part of the large environment were accessible and except for the birds that occasionally speak incoherent language to each other, there was no sign of life inside the park.
Investigation revealed that problem started when the state government under the outgoing administration of Alhaji AbdulFatai Ahmed reached a decision to sell the park to a private individuals. This made some aggrieved family drag the government to court. The families, according to reports, claimed to be the real owners of the land before it was converted to public use as an Eid praying ground and later amusement park by the government. However, when the family who were intially comfortable with the use of the land for public advantage got the information that the government had sold it, they went to court against the government decision. since then, the park has remain as become obsolete.
Speaking with a passerby who only gave his name as Abdullahi said, “My festive period, just like that of many other children then wasn’t complete without a visit to this park. Indeed, it was a place to behold. I can recall vividly that whenever we come home for festival, I always aspired to visit the park. The gate fee then used to be around N50. It was in this park my trajectory of learning how to ride a bicycle started as they were always in multitude for whoever wished to rent. The playground also used to receive me in audience as I found many children like me catching fun. In fact, after gaining entrance into the park, I wouldn’t come out until we were coerced to do. This is to show how interesting the amusement park used to be.”
One Yusuf Ibrahim who was also interviewed by our correspondent said, “The last time I visited the park was during the wedding ceremony of one of my niece. It was the opportunity of coming to the wedding that made us visit the playing ground where we have access to the best type swings- an experience I never can forget in my entire life. We also visited the zoo and pool. What had become of the park today is pathetic.”
He further urge the government to reverse her decision on it and renovate it, “even it will generate income for the government”, he concluded.
“If there is any legacy of the outgoing leadership in Kwara, it is the continuation of the ugly trend of looking the other way whenever attention was called to the state of quagmire of state-owned structures. Nothing is cheery about the state-owned structures again. From schools, to hospitals, to the, ministries, among others are simply begging for a complete overhaul.” – said an APC chieftain who pleaded not to be named.
Independent investigation further unraveled that the government was planning to sell the park to the wife of a former governor of Kwara state.
The case has till today not seen the light of the day and the situation of the park remain the same. Though a lot of people have been calling on the government to renovate the park and use it for her intial purpose.