Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, on Wednesday, inaugurated a 260,000 capacity, first private-owned cemetery, in the state.

While inaugurating the ‘CitiGate Park and Gardens Cemetery’ located at Eminrin area of the state, the governor said the facility had the capacity to avert environmental hazards and safeguard the health of the citizens.

Fayemi, represented by Mrs Iyabo Fakunle-Okieimen, the Commissioner for Environment, said the initiative symbolised the government’s efforts toward encouraging private investors in the state.

“The smooth take-off of this business is a testimony that Ekiti is encouraging private investors to invest their hard-earned money in the state.

“With this investment by a private body, Ekiti is no longer a rural setting. In the USA, Britain and other European countries, you can’t just bury your dead at home.

“Aside from the fact that it causes groundwater pollution, it devalues our buildings and reduces its aesthetic values. This is a public-private initiative but will be driven largely by private owners.

“We appeal to the drivers of this business to try and replicate this across the 16 local governments in the state, so that our late parents can be buried easily in cemeteries that are neater and well laid out.

“This is cheaper compared to what you can get in Lagos and other cities and our people can now bring their dead parents home to be buried from other parts of the country,” he said.

Meanwhile, the governor assured that every step would be taken to support business owners in Ekiti, through the relevant legal framework and giving of tax waiver.

Mr Abiodun Aluko, a former Deputy Governor in Ekiti and one of the facility’s Directors, said the concept of a private cemetery was universal, owing to a growing population.

According to him, Ekiti should not be exempted from the emerging global civilisation.

“The land we have here can accommodate 260,000 corpses.

“But this pilot scheme we are starting is for only 260 corpses, with the hope to expand in future until we exhaust our land resource to a full capacity. We have provisions for both Christians and Muslims.

“With time, we will build event facilities like halls and Churches here, where people can hold their burial procession and even reception close to the cemetery to minimise cost,” he said.

Mr Ayodele Olaiya, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, described the investment as a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) saying it would generate revenues into the government’s coffers and prevent outbreaks of endemic diseases.

“In this part of the world, we drink majorly from boreholes and wells, so, the cemetery should be far away from homes in order not to endanger our health,” he said.

NAN