Residents of Lokoja, the Kogi capital have expressed shock and anger over the demolition of five popular landmarks and monuments in the city on the orders of Gov. Yahaya Bello.
A correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), who toured the city on Saturday, observed that the famous Paparanda Square, whose existence dates back to the colonial era, is among the monuments demolished.
Also affected are the Lugard Roundabout in front of the Government House, erected in memory of Nigeria’s former Governor-General, Lord Fredrick Lugard, and the popular Kogi Circle, erected to mark the creation of the state in 1995.
The popular NTA Roundabout and the one adjoining the Government House and the Government Reserved Area were also demolished.
While the Lugard Roundabout was demolished earlier, all the other monuments were demolished between Friday night and Saturday morning.
The State Government while defending the demolition said that it was the beginning of a process to make Lokoja more attractive.
“The nodal status of Lokoja as the gateway to the North, East and West is supposed to be an attractive state capital in order to meet the expectations of potential tourists,’’ a statement issued in Lokoja on Saturday said.
The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Kingsley Fanwo, who signed the statement, said the new administration was poised to give the city a face-lift by removing sub-standard roundabouts.
“This is with the intention of replacing them with beautiful ones, befitting of its status.
``This administration will not live with sub-standard structures that represent our identity as a state,” the statement said.
However, residents, who woke up to see that the monuments had been demolished expressed shock and anger over the government’s action.
They are wondering while demolition of monuments should be a priority to the new administration.
The demolition, they argued, had taken beauty and shine out of the city, which once served as headquarters of Northern Nigeria.
According to the residents, the development shows that government is not conscious of the unique position of Lokoja in the history of Nigeria.
One of the residents, Mr Sunday Balogun, said that visitors to the city might now find it difficult to locate their destinations as the removed structures also served as landmarks to guide people in their movements.