Day ‘Owanbe’ shut down Lagos Island

By Tope Templer Olaiya,
Assistant Lagos City Editor

It was lockout day in most parts of Lagos Island on Tuesday as three important celebrations paralyzed economic activities in the area.
On a normal weekday in Lagos Island’s commercial business district the place is always the hub of trading activities but Tuesday’s events namely, the Oba of Lagos 70th anniversary, installation of Mrs. Folashade Tinubu-Ojo, daughter of former governor of Lagos, Bola Tinubu, as the new Iyaloja General of Nigeria and the 70th anniversary of Island Club combined to turn Obalende and Isale Eko into a holiday of some sort while celebrations rent the air at the Oba’s palace and the Island Club.
Even the absence of popular Lagos showstoppers, including father of the new Iyaloja-General, Bola Tinubu, Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola, did not remove colour from the installation ceremony.
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Deserted Balogun Market, Lagos Island on Tuesday.

Whereas the Oba of Lagos, Oba Riliwanu Babatunde Akiolu 1, had, in the days preceding his 70th birthday, opted for low-key celebrations and appealed to associates and admirers including corporate organizations not to place advertisements for him in the media, the decision to include the installation of the new Iyaloja-General as part of his birthday’s activities made it a massive event.
Notwithstanding the monarch’s earlier directive that those who wish to honour him should direct the funds earmarked for such purpose to the Iga Idunganran Primary Healthcare Centre because the current atmosphere in the country does not call for any form of merriment but he was wrong.
After returning from the Palace Mosque by 10am, he was surprised to meet a mammoth crowd in colourful Aso Ebi with matching geles, who had besieged the palace to witness the Iyaloja General’s installation ceremony.
As it is customary with such celebrations, major markets in the state were expected to be grounded. So, it was a total shutdown of some sort as virtually all the markets in the Island and other parts of Lagos were closed down because the traders were mandated to head to the venue of the installation ceremony at the Oba’s palace.
At the ceremony, Oba Akiolu, who advised the new Iyaloja to be diligent and committed to the service of humanity, noted that the position was important to the development of market activities in Lagos and the country at large.
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Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Babatunde Akiolu (second left); the Iyaloja General of Nigeria, Mrs. Folasade Tinubu-Ojo (left); Oyetunde Ojo and Senator Oluremi Tinubu during the installation of the Iyaloja-General at the Oba’s palace in Lagos.

… Sambo, royal fathers celebrate Island Club’s 70th anniversary
As the euphoria which heralded the installation of Iyaloja General of Nigeria was dieing down and the sounds of talking drums and dancing were ebbing, policemen and protocol officials of the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, laid another siege on Obalende and Onikan as members and well wishers of Island Club besieged the area to receive the representative of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who is the grand patron of the club.
As usual, the roads leading to the club had been blocked to motorists. The chopper that brought the Vice President landed at about 3pm.
The grand occasion for the club was its 70th anniversary and foundation stone laying ceremony of a multi-storey car park.
According to the chairman of the Club, Prince Ademola Dada, the car park project would be beneficial, when completed, not only to members of the club but also to visitors to the island.
He declared: “Apart from providing this worthy civic service to the community, the car park would also generate employment for many people and bring revenue to the club.”
Vice President Namadi Sambo, who represented President Goodluck Jonathan at the event, extended the president’s congratulatory messages to the club and the Oba of Lagos. He spoke on the process of electing officers of the club, which he said was primarily based on service and what candidates are willing to offer to extend the frontiers of the premier social club.
Dignitaries who graced the occasion included the Obong of Calabar, Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu, Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo, Amanyanabo of Nembe, Dr. Edmund Daukoru and Olugbo of Ugboland, Oba Fredrick Akinruntan, among others. They all danced to the melodious and sonorous music of the legendary music icon Chief Ebenezer Obey.
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Vice President Namadi Sambo (middle) investing the Amanyanabo of Nembe, Dr. Edmund Daukoru (right) as Vice Patron of Island Club as the club chairman, Prince Ademola Dada (left) looks on at the 70th anniversary of the club in Lagos… on Tuesday.

… how Tinubu-Ojo stepped into grandmother’s shoes
The installation of Folashade Tinubu-Ojo as Iyaloja General of Nigeria alongside Alhaja Bintu Tinubu, mother of Oando’s CEO, Mr. Wale Tinubu, as the Iyalode of Lagos, nailed the coffin of repeated denials from Lagos State government of All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftains that Mogaji’s granddaughter has been made the new Iyaloja-General.
Shortly after the death of Abibat Mogaji, the late President-General of Nigerian Market Men and Women, there was a rumour that Mogaji’s granddaughter has been made the new Iyaloja-General.
Succession to the position left by the late Mogaji was expected to be stormy, partly because Lagos is the commercial-nerve centre of the country and the intrigues within each market guild in different parts of Lagos is well known.
This may not be known to most people because the last Iyaloja-General held the market men and women in her grip for over 50 years and while in office, she successfully suppressed, schemed and manipulated the various guild of Lagos markets preparatory to the smooth take over of the post by her successor.
At her transition at 96 on June 15, the stage was set for intense lobbying by foremost market leaders to be in the chase for who succeeds Mama, as the late leader was fondly called.
Unknown to many that the succession arrangement had long been concluded and perfected, as the usual burial traditions were being observed and market men and women paid their last respects to the departed mama; and for three days markets were shut in the state as traders trooped out in Aso Ebi to the third and eight-day fidau prayers, those who were gearing up for the race to succeed mama got the shock of their lives when the rug was pulled off their feet barely a week after Mogaji’s demise and her grand daughter was announced even amid mourning that she was the new successor.
abibatu_mogaji1                                                                Late Abibat Mogaji

Nobody had expected that the coup would be executed so soon and at an inauspicious time, which was during the eight-day prayers for the former Iyaloja.
For the secret aspirers, their thinking was that, usually, when a market leader dies, it was customary to shutdown the market for a day in the neighbourhood where the deceased held the fort and vacuum was expected to last for at least 41 days after the final 40th day prayer must have been held.
They were of the opinion that the six weeks gap was enough time to play underground politics in all the market guilds and factions in the bid to garner support. But all these were not observed.
Sources informed The Guardian that Mogaji appointed her successor before she passed away. A market leader, the Iyaloja of Oyingbo Market, Basirat Balogun, said Folashade Tinubu-Ojo had been unofficially appointed to understudy Mama as the natural successor few years before her death. The first step to actualize this was Tinubu-Ojo’s appointment by Lagos State government as chairman of the state market board.
“Contrary to popular opinion that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu foisted his daughter as the Lagos market leader, it was a consensus agreement by market leaders of all the 57 local councils in the state, including the Babaloja of Lagos, Alhaji Wasiu Balogun to support her since she was the closest to mama in her dying years.”
Political watchers in the state would, however, found it difficult to believe that this arrangement never had the secret backing of Tinubu, who is revered in Lagos and popularly hailed as the Jagaban Borgu.
“What do you expect when market leaders in all the 57 LGAs and LCDAs have consented to Tinubu’s choice, there is little any opposition can do because the stronghold of grassroots mobilization, which is mainly market men and women, road transport workers and their union, and the local councils in Lagos is effectively controlled by Asiwaju,” a market leader said.

Begging with ‘hired’ children…

• Women borrow kids to solicit for alms
By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor

An old woman begging with little children at Marina Street, Lagos. PHOTOS: AYODELE ADENIRAN

An old woman begging with little children at Marina Street, Lagos. PHOTOS: AYODELE ADENIRAN

BEGGING in the Centre of Excellence is as old as the city itself. There are beggars everywhere in Lagos but a new twist has recently been introduced.
In an attempt to survive in Lagos, many people have devised several means of obtaining money by trick from unsuspecting public. Women have not been left out and they have introduced new tactics, which include: strapping babies on their backs to arouse sympathy from passersby, telling lies that they are stranded with no means of transportation or faking an ailment among others.
But none is as cruel as displaying a set of twins and triplets under the scorching sun by these women, who seem not to have any milk of human kindness running through their veins. They are seen at major bus stops sandwiching themselves with the twins and triplets dressed in identical attires to attract patronage.
Sometimes, these ‘mothers’ go the extra mile of hiring babies for begging.
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Last year, a Special Court at Alausa, Ikeja, sent a 20-year-old Shadia Nasiru to jail for begging with three hired children.
Also recently, officials of the Lagos State Task Force on Environment and Special Offences at Seme Border arrested another woman, Jemilat Oseni, for begging with five children that were not hers.
Another woman, names withheld, in the bid to join the money-spinning venture of begging with children, rented babies from a Daycare Centre at Igando and took them to a popular street in Agege, before she was caught in the act.
Begging with rented children is fast becoming a booming trade in Lagos, only a few of the mothers begging with children actually use their own babies; and they are everywhere – Oshodi, Obalende, CMS, Agege, Ojota, Ikotun, Mushin, Yaba, among others.
Investigations revealed that the rented babies are hired from some unscrupulous baby homes and day care centres and a child could sometimes be hired for as low as N1,000 per day, while in some cases, the amount made at the end of the day is shared between the beggar and the custodian of the babies on an already agreed sharing formula.
Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Youths and Social Development, Dr. Enitan Dolapo Badru, in a chat with The Guardian, said in line with the state government’s policy of ridding the streets of beggars and destitute, his office had consistently embarked on an aggressive raid of beggars, the mentally-deranged and destitute from the streets, highways and under the bridges.

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In a related development, Lagos State government has vowed to bring perpetrators of child sexual abuse to book. It has also called for collective efforts from stakeholders in preventing cases of sexual abuse among children in the state.
This was the focus at a forum with selected stakeholders working with children in Lagos State on the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse organised by the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Social Development, office of Youth and Social Development in collaboration with United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
Speaking at the programme last week, Badru said Lagos State, being a mega city and the commercial nerve of the country, continues to witness influx of people of different categories, attitudes and behaviours in search of greener pasture, which oftentimes are elusive, thus leading to social dislocation for many and increased social vices.
According to him, it is disheartening that abuse, neglect and exploitation of children is shamefully increasing every year, adding that domestic violence, divorce/separation has reached epidemic proportion.
“Teenage and extra-marital pregnancies remain pervasive due to the failings of the various social institutions, especially the family unit. What is more baffling is that infants are not also spared. We must, therefore, collectively act now to save the situation, as there is no greater responsibility than to show love, care and support to our children with all they need to grow and be nurtured into responsible adulthood,” he said.
Addressing the audience, which included school children, Rosemary Ogedengbe, Chief Executive Officer, Rapha Counseling Concepts, said any child could be abused and when a child is sexually intimidated, such is traumatised and has post trauma experience to battle with later in life.

Power not for sale, NERC warns Lagos govt

• Our IPPs only power govt utilities, streetlights, says Commissioner 

By Tope Templer Olaiya and Emeka Anuforo

LAST week’s commissioning of the 10.4 megawatts Alausa Independent Power Project (IPP), built at a cost of N3.2 billion has brought to three the number of IPPs operational in Lagos State.

An earlier commissioned 10MW on the island currently powers the general hospitals, Lagos High Courts, the State House, City Hall, Island Club, e-learning centre, some schools, churches and mosques on the island and so many public utilities; same for the 12.5MW sited in Akute, a border town in Ogun State.

Over 60 buildings and 4,000 offices at the state secretariat have been plugged into the Alausa IPP, which is a joint venture between the state government and Oando Gas and Power.

With these developments, as much as 130 heavy-duty generating sets, between the range of 30KVA and 50KVA, have been rendered redundant even as the drone of generators has become history in Alausa.

According to the Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Power, Dr. Fouad Animashaun, two other power plants would be completed next year. They are the 8.8MW Mainland Power Plant that will serve Ikeja GRA, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Lagos Police Command, Ikeja High Court and Ikeja GRA. The second IPP, a 6MW gas project at Lekki will serve Victoria Island/Lekki Phase 1 waterworks, streetlights and other amenities in that axis.

The newly commissioned Alausa Power Plant, Ikeja

The newly commissioned Alausa Power Plant, Ikeja

According to the projection of the state government, with the introduction of energy saving bulbs in Alausa, the state would save N2.8 million monthly on its energy spending.

Governor Babatunde Fashola at the unveiling of the plants last week, said government had audited 1,300 buildings, offices and restaurants and discovered that there were about 17,000 generators in those places, which had resulted in many residents paying four times more through the generation of their own power alongside paying for unreliable supply from the national grid.

He said: “In Magodo, the whole estate is spending N8 million on diesel daily, yet it is connected to the national grid, but with IPP in place, they will now spend a little over N2 million at N12.75k per kilowatts per hour. In Lekki, about N12 million is spent daily on public electricity, but with an IPP, only a little over N3 million would be paid as rate.”

Fashola urged residents to switch over to retrofitted bulbs, which according to him, saves eight times the amount of money that would have been expended on electricity using the regular bulbs and in the long run would put more money in the pocket of consumers.

However, Lagos, with its ambitious aim of providing uninterrupted power to its citizens, could well be working outside the framework of the Power Reform Act of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), some observers say.

Amadi, NERC Chairman

Amadi, NERC Chairman

 

In line with the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSR) 2005, Independent Power Producers who have the capacity to generate electricity on or off-grid are welcome and it was on this basis that the Lagos State government applied and got license to build and operate the Alausa Power Plant.

According to the chairman of NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, the sale of generation and distribution firms of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) has not ditched other Independent Power Plant (IPP) projects.

“Lagos has a license to generate power for the use of some of its establishments. Every person, company or institution can be a captive generator or off-grid generator. There is no inconsistence between selling Ikeja or Eko DISCOs and Lagos State having a license for limited generation or distribution to its facilities,” Amadi said.

He explained that the dedicated license issued to Lagos State for the Alausa Power Plant restricts its distribution to state facilities within Alausa and environs.

The Guardian learnt, however, that Lagos State is not permitted to sell the power generated. They are also not permitted to use the existing distribution network of PHCN.

Section 62 of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005 provides that any person intending to engage in the business of electricity generation, transmission, system operation, distribution or trading shall be required to obtain an operator’s license from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission.

Tijani, Lagos State Commissioner of Energy and Mineral Resources

Tijani, Lagos State Commissioner of Energy and Mineral Resources

 

Lagos State Commissioner of Energy and Mineral Resources, Taofiq Ajibade Tijani, said “the Alausa plant is restricted to the secretariat, except for a few government facilities like the Surveyor General’s office, Lagos Television and Radio Lagos, Lagos Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) building, churches, mosques and all the streetlights around Alausa. There is a misconception about the governor’s comment on how residential areas like Magodo can generate their own power.

“What the governor said was that we have conducted energy audit to investigate what they are spending on PHCN and diesel and explain the issue of waste and energy conservation in the sense that if they decided to have an IPP for the estate, the gas they would be using may not be up to N2 million, which is also environmental friendly.

“We never said we would give power to anybody from our own IPP. In fact, we have some commercial buildings in Marina and Broad Street – UBA House, First Bank, etc – coming to ask us to give them power but we told them it’s not possible,” he explained.

Already, officials of NERC are due in Lagos soon to meet with government officials in charge of the plant and ensure that work within the ambits of the license issued them, as some residential buildings living close to some of the power installations are already enjoying free uninterrupted power supply to their homes.

Overflowing canal threatens Orile-Agege community

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The late Afrobeat maestro, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, who years ago sang Water no get enemy, would have changed his mind with the incessant flooding of Lagos roads. Now, the song on everybody’s lips is Rain! Rain! Go away!
Lagosians have very sorry stories to tell at the drop of the rain, and one community under the threat of being submerged in the Centre of Excellence is the Orile-Agege community, comprising the streets of Oko-Oba, Alaramimo, Alexandra, Egbatedo, Adelekan, Shoritire Close and Egbatedo in Orile Agege Local Council Development Area (LCDA).

A car washed into Arigbanla Canal

A car washed into Arigbanla Canal

The area, which is a deep valley in the belly of Agege, has a canal that stretches from Ota in Ogun State. Much of the water channels from Agege and some part of Ikeja, all converge at Arigbanla Street, to make the area a watershed.
Tuesday’s downpour left many residents of the area in tears as the overflowing Arigbanla Canal, which was recently reconstructed by the Lagos State government, flooded surrounding streets and destroyed property, including cars, valued at millions of Naira. The rain, which started in the early hours of the day, gave affected residents no notice to move their belongings from harm’s way.

A car badly damaged by a fence which came down after the downpour

A car badly damaged by a fence which came down after the downpour

Mr. Oluwole Solomon, one of the flood victims, blamed the overflow of the canal to the shallowness of the redesigned Arigbanla Canal. “When work was ongoing on the canal, the community complained that it was not deep enough for rainwater to pass true the place. In fact, the project was not completed before the governor came to commission it.”
By happenstance, the rains dropped for about 20 minutes when The Guardian visited, and the resultant flooding, through the canal to the adjoining streets, told the story of the looming danger.
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Lagos when ‘Lion of Bourdillon’ is away

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor

Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi, has since late July lost its trills and pull because the occupier of House Number 26 embarked on a medical tour abroad. Lately, pilgrimage to the colonial building painted in white, as well as the huge number of cars usually parked at both sides of the road have dwindled.
The absence of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State, who his hordes of admirers fondly refer to as ‘the Lion of Bourdillon’ has not only impacted on his neighbours, but on governance in southwestern Nigeria and opposition politics, which some pundits agree have lost some steam.
Suddenly, the voice of Alhaji Abubakar Baraje, leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) splinter group, has drowned the interim National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Lai Muhammed’s fiery commentaries on national issues.
Prior to his departure, initially to the United States of America and later to the United Kingdom, the grand commander of Lagos politics had been absent from public engagements for some time owing to health challenges.
His media office had in a statement, said: “Based on previous sports injury on one of his knees and recent further aggravation on the knee from rigorous political and family related activities, he has been advised by his doctors, despite his persistent reluctance that orthopedic surgery is necessary at this time.”
As the days dragged into months, speculations became rife that Tinubu was down with what rumourmongers called Parkinson syndrome, a disorder of the nervous system. When the speculations became deafening, his aides debunked the allegations as coming from mischief makers whom they considered as rabid political enemies of their principal.

Tinubu's residence without its usual buzz of associates and party faithful

Tinubu’s residence without its usual buzz of associates and party faithful

Recent visits by leaders of the APC, including Muhammadu Buhari to the New Cavenom home of Tinubu in London have heightened hopes of his return among supporters.
While expectations are high that the Jagaban Borgu may return home this weekend, close associates say though physically absent, Tinubu is not politically absent. In fact, the Bourdillon pilgrimage has temporarily been relocated to London.
Asiwaju is not an office holder but an influencer. He does not run the APC or have an official position in the interim committee of the party, as Chief Bisi Akande holds sway. But as a grassroots mobilizer, he is more than a mere bystander.
Governance has not grounded to a halt in the Southwest region though there seems to be a budding feeling of party indiscipline among the rank and file in several of the APC-controlled states.
As an ‘about-town’ Lagosian, he has sorely been missed at many Owanbe gatherings. Some of the events include the burial ceremony of the governor’s father, Pa Ademola Fashola and Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola’s 2,300 days in office celebration. The fact is that his absence takes some colour away from political events nowadays.
“The world is a global village and you can interact with anybody from any part of the world where you are. The only issue is that it has made access to him costlier, but not impossible. Most of his close associates have had access to him abroad, unless of course, the rank and file of the party, who could not afford the airfare to UK,” a Bourdillon patron told The Guardian.
However hard party chieftains may want to deny the impact of Tinubu’s absence, distance is essentially a barrier to the integration process of the amalgamated opposition party. Behind the scene, a lot of backroom work is going on in terms of restructuring the APC and registering new members.
Time is running fast in the political calendar of the country ahead 2015 polls and according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) timetable, all party conventions must be concluded before the end of December. This gives the APC about two months to address all internal wranglings and tidy up all processes leading to the convention.
In this regard, Tinubu is being primed to return home soonest and expectedly inject a new dynamism into the polity.
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At the moment, his daily routine is still as busy as when he is in the country. Despite doctors’ advice to rest adequately, he still receives visitors daily in torrents. Governors, ministers, politicians, and associates who are in London want to drop in to say hello.
He begins his day by reading Nigerian newspapers online and printout of commentaries on the state of the nation, after which he goes for his physio sessions, trice a day, which is usually interrupted by the need to attend to visitors until he is forced to go to bed at 11pm.
Those who work closely with Tinubu say the former governor is at his best at night, as he holds a series of nocturnal marathon meetings. This, they say, is way out of character for the man they described as being restless.
“He is a workaholic,” a party chieftain, who wants to remain anonymous, said. “Maybe now that he is recuperating, he may slow down a bit. He needs just three hours of normal sleep in a day, the rest he takes through naps from moving around town.
“He tried to stop the visitors’ traffic in UK, but at a point he just gave up. When I visited him, he was exercising on a bicycle. He knows that once he returns, the traffic would be so heavy, which is why he is taking his time to manage the situation and complete his therapy. From what we are hearing, he is expected back this week. He is hale and hearty; so, the choice of his coming home is at his pleasure.”
Describing his persona further, one of his media aides said Asiwaju loves the unusual, the innovative and extraordinary, which is why he has a huge impact in public life.
“He always asks how we can do things better and he is always sympathetic to the cause of the masses. He believes with the right leadership, Nigeria will get out of the woods. He is so passionate about the leadership question. And because he has been able to show it in Lagos, there is a greater conviction that if we get the leadership at the national body, we can turn this country around. This is what makes Asiwaju tick,” the aide added.