Seven Years After Bellview Crash… Government’s Neglect Sinks Lisa Village In Depression

By Gbenga Akinfenwa

Entrance to the arcade built by the Federal Government in honour of the 117 victims that died after the ill-fated Boeing 737 plane owned by the defunct Bellview Airline crashed on October 22, 2005. It is overgrown with weeds and bushes.

Not many would remember Lisa village, site of the ill-fated Boeing 737 plane owned by the defunct Bellview Airline, which claimed the lives of 117 people. Though it was a tragic incidence that threw the whole nation into mourning on October 22, 2005; seven years after, the grief has been reduced to a faint memory by Nigerians, relations of victims and government.
Lisa, a remote community in Ifo local government area of Ogun State is about 40 kilometres from Sango. But for the crash that gave it prominence, the community would have probably remained unknown. The disaster has, however, done little to uplift the infrastructure of the village despite government’s yearly fanfare to mark the day.
Seven years after, the eerie silence that last Monday pervaded the Lisa Memorial Arcade and Garden – jointly built by Ogun and the federal governments was never imagined, considering government’s routine jamboree in the first five years of the anniversary.
Though dead and long rested, the 117 crash victims would find it difficult in the world beyond to decipher the unusual stillness that ruled the arcade last week. During a visit to the arcade, built to serve the dual purpose of a resting place for the souls of the victims and also a tourist centre, it was a diminished edifice that greeted The Guardian.
The bushes at the front gate of the muddy entrance had wildly grown; but for a narrow footpath, there wouldn’t have been any access to the arcade. The surrounding bushes too are begging for urgent attention, which is derogatory to the memory of the victims.
In seven years, the arcade has lost its radiant look. The paints are fast fading and the walls are cracking too. Though there were signs of a recent weeding of the graveyard, it still looks unkempt. The floor of a section of the arcade from the entrance is already sinking. Sadly, nametags attached to the cenotaph are falling off, making it difficult for victims’ relations who had visited the site for long to locate their departed.

Garden of the arcade

While there was no representatives from both the state and federal governments, only relations of two victims were at the arcade that Monday to remember their loved ones. Just nine people, including The Guardian signed the visitor’s register. Even tourists who had shown interest in the centre deserted the arcade.
Some villagers attributed the uncanny neglect to the bad state of the road, which is discouraging regular visitors to the arcade. It was a nightmare getting to the site as the road constructed shortly after the crash has deteriorated. Erosion has washed away the tarred portions of the road, leaving it with wide ditches. With the raining season, the condition of road has worsened.
From Sango through Ijoko-Ogba-Oluke, the road is so bad that transporters have abandoned the route. The only available means is through commercial motorcycles, popularly called Okada, who charge exorbitant fees to the discomfort of commuters.

Though the community has moved on with life after the tragic incident, Lisa is suffering from government’s neglect. There is no primary and secondary schools in the community. The nearest secondary school to Lisa is in Oluke, which is already over-populated. There is no hospital; the nearest one is in Ota, which is about 40 kilometres away, while the area also lacks a police post to safeguard the lives of residents.

Bad road leading to Lisa Village

This discomforting situation has forced the Baale of the community, Chief Najeem Oladele Odugbemi, to embark on many self-help projects, including the construction of a police station, health centre and market to make life meaningful for his subjects. The state government, through the ministries of Community Development and Culture and Tourism recently visited the community, promising to execute some valuable facilities, but nothing has been heard from the state since then.
A resident, Mr. Aliu Saheed, recalled that the crash was a sad moment for residents but they have overcome it, adding that the volume of human traffic and government presence the community witnessed for about three years after the incident had since ceased.
He lamented that Lisa lacks basic amenities, a government responsibility the community leader has hugely taken on his shoulders to make residents live comfortably.
For Chief Odugbemi, there is nothing to cheer about the anniversary because government has not kept its promise to the community. He lamented that the memorial arcade had been left to rot away like other monuments in the country.
“The primary duty of government is to take care of the welfare of the people and provide security. We applied through the state Police command for the approval of a police station for us and we laid the foundation in 2008 with my personal effort. We have reached a level where government and the police should help us to complete it and make it operational.
“How can a community survive without health centre, talk less of a hospital. I started the building of a health centre, which is about 70 percent completed. We are even contemplating putting up a secondary school here. I have acquired over two acres of land for that too, using my personal money to acquire it from my people here. So, if government comes tomorrow and need a land to build school for us, the land is already secured.”

Baale of Lisa, Chief Najeem Odugbemi

The Baale pleaded with the governor, Ibikunle Amosun, to make true the promises made by his commissioners who visited Lisa to inspect ongoing projects in the community. “All we are saying is that we need government’s support. We are tired of taking over their responsibility. Government is a father to everybody and as such, must live up to its responsibilities,” he stated.
Residents are also appealing to the state to upgrade the status of the Baale to a monarch in order to use his connections to bring more developmental projects to the community. Joseph Ayoola said “Lisa is big enough to have an Oba. This is the time for government to upgrade our leader and link us with the national grid.”

LAGOS: More Pains, Agony As Okada Revolt Against Restriction Continues

By TOPE TEMPLER OLAIYA

At last, the Lagos State government has proved doubters wrong that laws, especially the new traffic law, can be enforced. After several weeks of state-wide public enlightenment, which saw state officials, including Governor Babatunde Fashola, visit clubs, associations and professional bodies to take the message to the doorsteps of Lagosians and why they should support its implementation, government last week bared its fangs on defaulters.
And when the enforcement team came to town, the assignment was simple but akin to a shoot-at-sight order: Rid Lagos highways of motorcycles, popularly called okada. While no blood was shed, thousands of motorcycles were confiscated in one fell swoop. Across the state, policemen were catching fun dispossessing riders of their bikes and dumping them in the vans.
But like a man pushed to the wall, the men who had been the butt of police brutality in recent weeks, bounced back and revolted against the state. On Monday and Tuesday last week, economic and social activities were partially paralysed by okada riders to register their displeasure with government over the ban placed on their activities on some roads in the state.
The men, in their hundreds, trooped into the popular Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, disrupting free flow of traffic at the Alakuko-Mosalashi and Kola axis of the road, chanting slogans. But for the quick intervention of some mobile policemen who dispersed them with teargas at Kollington/AIT Bus Stop in the early hours of Tuesday, the okada riders had attempted to set another government commercial bus, commonly known as BRT, on fire.
According to an eyewitness, when the protesters sighted the BRT bus, they quickly rushed at the driver, beat him and later set the bus on fire. He added that the fire was put out by the mobile police officials, who eventually dispersed them with teargas

GOOD RIDDANCE TO BAD RUBBISH?: Heaps of confiscated bikes destroyed by the state.

Many road users did not go scot-free as some hoodlums hijacked the protest to rob some innocent and unsuspecting commuters, as well as market men and women, around within the vicinity.
Meanwhile, some commercial drivers plying the road could not continue with their activities, while a few of them that attempted increased fares by 100 per cent. One of the witnesses told The Guardian that Alagbado to Oshodi was N300 as against the old N120 fare.
A mobile policeman disclosed that they were sent to maintain law and order within the vicinity, stressing that the okada riders should not have taken laws into their hands since they had approached a competent court of law to address the situation.
One of the commercial motorcyclists, who simply identified himself as Bello, said he regretted participating in the election that brought the incumbent administration into power, lamenting that all the policies made by Governor Fashola have been anti-people.
For the three working days of last week, it was a hellish experience for Lagosians, who were moving from one part of the city to another. Due to the ubiquitous Lagos traffic and unavailability of buses and tricycles, many were stranded at the bus stops, while others had to walk long distances to get to their destinations.
Many of the okada riders, whose bikes were yet to be seized took them off the streets and those who dared to operate charged exorbitant fees and carried two passengers to make up for the risk of being caught.

WHEN THE GOING WAS GOOD: Governor Fashola campaigning for second term with a long retinue of okada riders

There were, however, conflicting reports on the Tuesday morning incident, which occurred along Ogunusi Road in Agege with some claiming that a motorcyclist died while others claimed he survived and escaped arrest.
Traders said policemen were executing the ban on okada in the area when the incident happened. Some motorcyclists around Pen Cinema junction alleged that one of the policemen hit an unidentified rider with a baton resulting in the motorcyclist falling into a ditch.
The rider was struggling to escape from the policemen when one of them allegedly hit him with a baton. The motorcyclist fell into a ditch close to AP Filling station and was reportedly severely injured, fuelling rumour that he had died.
Another rider also escaped death on Monday around Eko Hotel Roundabout in Victoria Island. The rider on sighting policemen, made a quick U-turn to escape but was unaware a policeman was lying in wait behind, who immediately hit him with the butt of a gun that saw the rider fall metres in front of an incoming truck.
Many who witnessed the scene hailed the rider for his close shave with death while they rained unprintable words on the governor and the policemen charged with enforcing the law.
A motorcyclist, Bashiru Abubakar, said the confiscation of their bikes had rendered hundreds of thousands jobless and for people like him who are fortunate to hold on to their bikes, it is now almost like a game of chess, as the battle for survival gets stiffer.

Egbe Esther said the situation is compounding the traffic situation in Lagos with many finding it difficult to get to their destinations on time. According to her, the numbers of cars on the road have increased as many now use their cars to meet up with appointments since there are no bikes and where few bikes exist, many commuters had to jostle for them at a higher fare.
Timothy Damilare works on the Island and normally takes a bike from CMS to Akin Adesola Street, where his office is located for N200, but since the enforcement of the restriction on some roads started, he now pays over N1,000 for cab to get to his office.
To Niyi Ademoye, commuting by bike is not a pleasurable ride, especially on the few times he had tried riding on it when he had deadlines to meet. “I can assure you that I never enjoyed the ride. In as much as I do not support the total ban, I will want commercial motorcycles to be available on inner-city streets, especially on the island and some parts of Ikeja.”
However, the state House of Assembly has said it might review the restriction placed on commercial motorcycle operators by the state Road Traffic Law to outright ban. The law had restricted okada riders from operating on 475 major highways, roads and bridges in the state. Speaker of the Assembly, Mr. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, in reaction to the protest, said if the riders did not stop the vandalisation of government properties, the lawmakers of the state might have no choice but to ban their operations.

Okada In Lagos: Menace or assistance?

As Lagosians get set to resume work tomorrow after the Sallah break, many people are apprehensive of the traffic logjam and chaos that would be experienced, as some fear they could be a social and economic shutdown in continuation of the protest by commercial motorcyclists.

UI Students Remember Slain Adepeju

By Hammed Hamzat

Kunle Adepeju


February 1, 1971 will forever remain fresh in the memories of University of Ibadan (UI) students. It was the day the supreme price was paid for unity and welfare of UI students by Adekunle Ademuyiwa Adepeju, the first student martyr gunned down by the Nigerian Police.
In acknowledgement of the incident’s importance in history, the institution’s Students’ Union executives, led by Edosa Raymond Ekhator, recently held the maiden edition of Kunle Adepeju Memorial Lecture tagged The Role of Students in Fostering National Unity and Integration.
Ekhator said Adepeju died in the struggle for better welfare services to students. His death was a shock to many, which was why over 50,000 students witnessed his burial ceremony.
Chief (Dr.) Gbolade Osinowo, who was Adepeju’s roommate, chaired the memorial lecture. He described Adekunle as a thoroughbred gentleman and a man of noble character, amiable, kind, hardworking, intelligent and God-fearing.
He said at 23, Adekunle had exhibited characteristics of leadership and his death highlighted the problems faced by Nigerian students in tertiary institutions. “What Adekunle fought for is like paradise in the minds of students today.”
The Dean of Student Affairs, Prof. A.R.A Alada, who represented the Vice Chancellor, said Adekunle represents many things to different people. He described his remembrance as a call for freedom against oppression, victimisation and injustice of students.
Alada added that in recognition of what Adekunle fought for, the Students’ Union Building (SUB) was named after him. He commended the Students’ Union executives for organising the intellectual discourse in memory of Adekunle Adepeju.
The guest lecturer, Dr. Wale Okediran, spoke on the challenges facing the nation, such as youth unemployment, avarice, corruption, weak political structure, ethnic and religious intolerance, and insecurity. To overcome these problems, Okediran recommended true democratic values for the leadership and citizens, public service reforms, and involvement of the civil societies in governance.
Chief Segun Okeowo, former National Union of Nigerian Students (NUNS) president, commended the university management for lifting the ban on Students’ Union activities in the premier university.
A Kunle Adepeju Students Aid fund was inaugurated to cater for indigent students and donations were received from invited dignitaries. Family members of the late Adekunle were also present at the event.

PHCN Voodoo Bill

WHAT is happening at the moment in the billing procedures of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) is nothing else but sheer robbery or at worst, Voodoo billing.

And it is quite frustrating that the PHCN authorities albeit the Federal Government through the Ministry of Power, has refused to address this or just pretend not to know what is going on; or quite tragically, has as usual, resolved to abandon the people to their fate.

I live in a 3-bedroom bungalow in Isolo area of Lagos — otherwise known as Lagos State Government-rejected district of Lagos. Despite the fact that I with my family usually leave home latest 11 am everyday, and return earliest 8pm, the PHCN roguish marketers or billing officers seem to have concluded that we must be running a heavy-duty factory in our home.

Our bill, after the recent increment, had been on a seeming punitive astronomic rise from N4,000 in May; to N5,056.17 in June; N3,940.81 in July; and N6,000 in August and now N9,541 in September. At this rate, we would be billed N12,000 for October!!!

How this Voodoo billing process came to be is baffling; especially as the so-called improvement in public supply that we have all be talking about has not really been the case in our part of Lagos; at best there has been marginal improvement that couldn’t have translated to such dramatic increment in cost of consumption.

I have checked with my neighbours and they seemed to have sank into their fate – asking one to toe their own line of action — offer bribe to the marketers “to ‘manage’ the bill every month”. But that is no option for me even as a matter of principle.

We have attempted to apply for the so-called Pre-Paid Metre but it is clear that the corruption-ridden PHCN system has obstructed or is obstructing the procurement of the Metre. “The Metre is unavailable,” the officers in charge will tell you. And it is not impossible that the government has become helpless as far as the pre-paid Metre is concerned, despite setting up endless committees on the matter. And so the rape of the citizens continues.

And to rub salt on the injury, the thievery marketers often issue threat of disconnection if you do not pay on time. What the hell is going on with PHCN and its massively corrupt machinery?

Pyramid Of The Heart: Torching Lives Through Social Media

By ITUNU AJAYI
AT a period when most people are losing interest in social media due to its many ills, especially after the death of 24-year-old Cynthia Osokogu, who was murdered in cold-blood by friends she met online, a group, Pyramids of the Heart, is exploiting the advantages of the new media.

The group is made up largely of unemployed graduates who all met via Facebook. They had their first face-to-face interaction in Lagos at a beach party and during discussions, discovered they have a common passion, which is taking care of the less privileged.

With this passion, their friendship was taken to a higher level when they began reaching out to members of the society to cater for the less privileged. This initiative saw them donating food items, utility and household materials, clothes and other necessities to orphanages in major cities like Kano, Lagos, Ibadan, Abeokuta and recently, Abuja.

At the Heritage Orphanage in Gwarinpa, Abuja, the group donated a washing machine, clothes, food items, toys and other household materials for the children. President of the group, Dare Johnson, said what informed the choice of the name is that pyramid signifies networking, especially with people of like-minds and hearts.

He said members only get to meet face-to-face whenever they have an outreach. What they need to do is just to discuss the proposed activity during interactions on Facebook.

“The group will be two years old this month. We started the outreach in Kano and our next port of call is Port-Harcourt, to celebrate our second anniversary. We sponsor our activities through members’ donation and families who believe in what we are doing. Right now, we are paying school fees of two children apart from our activities, which we hope to sustain until they acquire university education,” he said.

Matron of the Heritage Orphanage, Mrs. Rachael Atoyebi, told The Guardian that the passion for taking care of less privileged children motivated the women wing of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) to set up the home. Some of the children, she said, lost their mothers during childbirth, while others were abandoned and brought to the home by the police.

Lagos Waning War Against Unregistered Private Schools

By TOPE TEMPLER OLAIYA

WHEN during the first tenure of Governor Babatunde Fashola, the Lagos State government decided that only private schools that were registered with the essential infrastructural and learning facilities would be allowed to enroll students, many school owners were caught unawares.

Even the originators of the idea did not realize the dust it would generate until government took the battle to rid Lagos of unregistered and substandard private schools to their doors with a battle-ready taskforce led by the former Deputy Governor, Mrs. Sarah Sosan.

It was not until then that most proprietors woke up to the reality of a new regime in the education ministry. At every turn, she did not mince words about the seriousness of Fashola’s administration to clamp down on unregistered private schools.

“It is no longer business as usual. There is the required standard for setting up schools and they must meet up with that standard before commencing business,” she had said.

That was October 2007. Five years after, the state has seemingly lost the war to insouciance, as neighbourhoods in every part of Lagos are crowded with daycare centres, schools and coaching centres in areas that defy every sense of decency.

Interestingly, most proprietors who operate educational institutions are aware of the existing directive of the education ministry but have decided to throw the order to the winds.

At the time the war was in force, most proprietors had devised means of flouting the order; some of which include repainting the entire building and fence of the school to make it look like a residential building, with the removal of signboards that could reveal their status as schools.

But with the wane in enforcement and supervision of private schools by the education ministry, which was once in the care of the deputy governor’s office, there have been total disregard to meeting the required and essential standard for setting up and operating a school.

A school proprietor in Abaranje, Ikotun, who asked that the name of his school be left out, Mr. Solomon Olajire, said: “As you can see for yourself, this is a local neighbourhood and we are catering to the need of our people. We don’t have public schools and our children have to get up early and struggle with those going to their places of work before they can get to the nearest public school.

But what we have here is good enough for the children of this community to learn to read and write. If government insists it is not up to standard, then let them bring their standard public schools here and I will teach these children the same thing I am teaching them in this uncompleted building,” he said.

AFTERMATH OF TEACHER’S STRIKE: Low turnout of pupils at Zion African Church School, Iyana-Ipaja, Lagos… at the weekend. PHOTO: Emmanuel Arewa


When The Guardian contacted the Ministry of Education, an official informed that government is only waging the war on another front. He said the administration is doggedly restructuring and renovating the existing 1,050 public nursery and primary schools, as well as the 315 junior secondary schools in the state.

“We are assiduously working very hard to make our public schools better equipped and attractive to the people of Lagos State. Already, we are providing free textbooks to the students. Many of them have been given free uniforms and the era of teaching pupils who are sitting on the floor have fast disappeared. Public schools are not only free, it also has conducive learning environment with qualified teachers.”

This notwithstanding, a seven-year old pupil of a dilapidated public primary school at Alapere, Kosofe local government area of Lagos, last year died after falling into an open pit in his school. The deceased, Lawal Buhari, was a primary one pupil at Irepodun Primary School, a stone’s throw from Oriola bus-stop at Alapere in Ketu.

Lawal had gone to ease himself after school closed but slipped and fell, his head downward into the pit toilet. It was gathered that about 30 minutes after the fall, other pupils who had gone to ease themselves saw Lawal’s still legs and alerted the school authorities. He was brought out dead, with human waste all over his body.

Lawal was one of the 60 students sharing an over crowded space that hosts two different classes. Pupils in Class C and Class D share the same classroom, the same blackboard, simply divided in the middle.

Poll Question: What is the best advice your father ever gave you?

Some Answers
• The best advice my dad gave me was in his inability to give advice
• Perhaps the best thing my father ever taught me is that there are times when you will only make the problem worse with your continued presence.
• Life gives you what you settle for.
• Hire people who are smarter than you.
• Don’t take abuse at work. And don’t get so dependent on a job that you have to suffer abuse. If you have a boss that screams yells and insults you, quit. And always be able to be able to quit.
• Charge what you’re worth.
• On your first date, don’t go to a fancy restaurant. The girl will be more interested in the place than in you.
• Never put yourself in a position where you need to ask anyone other than me for money.
• Don’t Panic.
• Don’t choose a career on what will make you money. Choose a career based on what you love to do.
• It was a simple statement spoken to me when I was a snotty adolescent. Very quietly he said “you will never regret a kindness”.
• Who’s busy with mistakes others make; will forget about their own mistakes.
• No matter what you do… don’t be an idiot.
• Marry someone you’re friends with. Love is great, but you need friendship to make it work.
• Math is patterns. Look for the patterns.
• Avoid having problems with people you know you’ll do business with, and avoid doing business with people you know you’ll have problems with.
• Don’t be afraid of the four legged animals, be afraid of the two legged animals.
• It’s better to be lucky than good.
• Always act like a lady, but be prepared to fight like a man.
• No matter how old you are or what you have done, you will always be my son.
• The man is the head of the family. The woman is the neck that turns the head whichever direction she wants to go.
• Always Forgive ( even if it’s not your fault )
• Never stop learning.
• Never be afraid to learn.
• “when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”
• Use your brain before your strength.
• Never descend a stairway with your hands in your pocket, you might need them to grab the handrail if you fall
• Great character supersedes great intelligence.
• Before you decide to marry a girl take a good look at her mother.
• If you can find a woman that only annoys you some of the time, hold on to her for dear life.
• NEVER take advice from anyone. Be your own man, do your own thing, and learn from your own mistakes.
• Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst!
• The most powerful thing in the world is the power to say no.
• It’s not what you know – it’s who you know.
• beer is an acquired taste so acquire the taste for cheap beer.
• Drive like everyone else on the road is a complete idiot.
• Promise me son, not to do the things I have done.
• It doesn’t matter how much you earn, what matters is how much you save.
• My father never gave me any advice about anything. This is the best advice for my whole life.
• teach yourself.

What advice did you father gave to you?