Boko Haram: Time to rethink North’s value system

By Tope Templer Olaiya
“LET’S not beat around the bush. We are dealing with a monstrosity. We are dealing with an affliction the likes of which the nation has never encountered,” our respected world citizen and Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, last week.
“This menace has to be internationalised; every country has to be involved in finding solutions to the problem. It is not a Nigerian problem but the problem of the whole world. From the activities of the group and the response of the government since this madness started, it is clear that this government cannot handle this problem alone,” he said.
I completely agree with the professor on this. What I may wish to add is how the North can internalize this problem and come up with homegrown solutions that their leaders, henceforth, can be held accountable to, particularly a rethinking of the North’s value system and its appreciation of education in bridging the wide gulf between the wealthy elite and its general populace.
But how did Nigeria get to be brought to her knees, at no other auspicious time than days leading to the World Economic Forum on Africa, which the country hosted last week.

Templer (left) riding on our Mobile Utility Machine in Baga Town, Borno State

Templer (left) riding on our Mobile Utility Machine in Baga Town, Borno State

In the midst of pondering over this and being inundated with the global #BringBackOurGirls campaigns and protests, I recall how as a youth corps member serving in Baga, Kukawa Local Government Area of the now dreaded Borno State, I was witness to how the seeds of this insurgency were sown and nurtured to what has today rattled world leaders in unison.
Dateline was 2007, a significant period in the history of Nigeria. It was an election year and there were desperate attempts to break the jinx in the country’s history of a civilian administration not successfully transmitting power to another civilian administration, but while on national assignment in Borno, the political battle ongoing was the re-election of the incumbent governor.
The Batch B National Youth Service Corps members arrived Maiduguri in September 2006 in the mix of a heated political climate and we were sternly warned in camp to keep our heads low and not get caught in the ensuing scramble for power. Months before then, there was an orgy of violence in Maiduguri after a Catholic priest was hacked to death.
It was hard to decipher this hot political climate we were warned of. All we could see were beautiful posters of incumbent governor, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), popularly called SAS and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenger, Kashim Ibrahim-Imam. After three weeks in orientation camp, I was posted to Baga, a commercial town very close to Lake Chad and popular for its fish market, but more than three hours drive from Maiduguri, to serve as a teacher in Government Day Junior Secondary School.
I stayed in the elite part of town, Mile 3, with other corps members posted to Baga at the Federal College of Freshwater Fisheries Technology (FCFFT), a full-fledged tertiary institution sadly with no students. We were assured of safety due to the presence of a Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) comprising soldiers from Nigeria, Niger, Cameroun and Chad not too far from the college. Its operational head at the time was Colonel Olubunmi Oyebade.

With Brigadier-General Adeniyi Oyebade, then Commander of the Multinational Joint Task Force, Baga

With Brigadier-General Olubunmi Oyebade, then Commander of the Multinational Joint Task Force, Baga

I immediately settled in to my new environment and interacted with the locals, with a deep appreciation of the essence of the NYSC scheme. It didn’t, however, take too long before some obvious contradictions about what the future holds for my country assaulted my sensibilities.
At the heat of the 2007 general elections, the campaigns began to take a threatening dimension, but we were told by the locals to relax and just be at peace with ourselves, but avoid being caught in the ensuing crossfire from the political divides.
“Nothing is strange here, it is just that politics is the mainstay industry in the North and elections could appear to consume everyone, but it’s just hot air that would die down,” I recall.
It was bizarre to me that an incumbent governor would mobilize thousands of youths following his long convoy in motorbikes to rallies, all brandishing glittering curve-ended swords that look like sickles, and chanting Sai SAS.
When the governor came to campaign in Baga, I was bewildered that a quiet community I had stayed in for over six months could turn up thousands of youths, many of whom were too excited to do some theatrics with the long swords – the visible item of identification to show you were for the ruling party.
The weapons display was meant to scare political opponents away by dousing any dissenting voice at the rally. The holder simply stretches the sword towards the dissenter’s head and pulls it back to sever the head from the body, as if one is harvesting some fruits. This was a few of the horrors I witnessed.

Controlling crowd at the Baga market when corps members did a HIV/AIDS sensitization rally

Controlling crowd at the Baga market when corps members did a HIV/AIDS sensitization rally

According to our chaperon to the rally, it was important we saw it to be fully prepared for our duty as INEC Ad-hoc staff for the 2007 elections.
The day after the rally, I moved around town, I couldn’t find traces of the vicious youths anywhere; not at the schools, markets or motor parks. They had simply returned with the governor’s convoy. There and then, I could decipher where the ugly future lies for these bands of vicious youths.
At the college where I was lucky to be provided a decent accommodation, it was a big institution left to rot. There are only three of such specialised institutions in this country, the Federal College of Fisheries and Marine Technology at Victoria Island, Lagos; Federal College of Freshwater Fisheries Technology at New Bussa, Niger State and the college at Baga.
Their locations are strategically placed to the study of fisheries and underwater bodies with the Atlantic Ocean in Lagos, the Kainji Lake dam in Niger, and the Lake Chad basin at Baga. As at 2007, the colleges at Lagos and Niger were operating in full throttle, while Baga was in snooze mode.
The reason was pretty obvious, the institution offering certificates in Ordinary National Diploma had almost all facilities for tuition in place, except students. From the Provost (Dr. Femi Daddy at the time) to the academic and administrative staff, all were resident in the college and reporting for duties at their offices, but there were no students to teach. The only academic exercise going on during my 11-month stay was the college’s staff primary school.

Standing in front of the Federal College of Freshwater Fisheries and Technology (FCFFT), Baga

Standing in front of the Federal College of Freshwater Fisheries and Technology (FCFFT), Baga

Other things that were strange to me included using Hausa language as the language of instruction even to conduct the morning assembly and the tacit approval of educational authorities for examination malpractice. During my stay in Borno, I invigilated examinations for the junior and senior secondary West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) and on these two occasions, we were told the norm was for answers to be prepared and written on the board for students to simply write down. Our job as invigilators then was to ensure students write the answers correctly and legibly.
This was complied with and scripts sent to the exam body at Maiduguri. Some weeks after, corps members were engaged to mark the papers. By this time, it wasn’t shocking anymore to receive some august visitors at our Corpers Lodge, who were officials from another local government in Borno.
They had visited us to ensure we show some leniency in marking of the WAEC scripts that would later be sent to us from Maiduguri. I couldn’t be more awed considering how I had sweated to get my five credit passes in the same examination nearly a decade earlier.
We may pretend to continue to live in denial that some of these misconceptions are real, but they are now staring us in the face and about to tear us apart. So, when a group violently professes that education (Boko) is Haram (forbidden), the northern leaders who have for years allowed this toxic idea to fester should be held responsible.
• Olaiya is an editorial staff of The Guardian

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Oba Elemoro survives kidnap attempt

• Decries land grabbers’ invasion of Ibeju-Lekki
By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor
The spate of insecurity at Ibeju-Lekki area of Lagos worsened at the weekend when the notorious activities of land-grabbers, popularly known as Ajagungbales sent shivers down the spines of residents in a botched kidnap attempt of the traditional ruler of Oke-Odo Elemoro Land, Epe, Oba Tajudeen Afolabi Elemoro.
The dreaded gang registered their usual presence in the early hours of Sunday at the palace of the Onitedo of Itedo, Oke-Odo Elemoro. At about 2am, the armed bandits, who came in a Special Utility Vehicle (SUV) during the heavy rain that fell that night in most parts of Lagos, broke into the palace by pulling down a section of the fence.

Oba Elemoro

Oba Elemoro

After gaining access into the expansive compound, they switched off the generating set. This abrupt termination of light alerted those residing within the palace walls, some of whom ventured to come out to check what could be wrong with the generating set. They were immediately confronted by the armed men, who requested that they be taken to where the king was.

“I ran and hid myself in the toilet,” Oba Elemoro said when The Guardian visited the palace on Tuesday. From his hiding place, he made frantic calls to some of his chiefs and the police. “The police didn’t pick their calls and by the time the chiefs came, the armed robbers had gone,” the Oba said.

The rattled king, who now fears for his life is making a desperate call to the state government to come to their rescue and address the insecurity challenges in the area by stationing an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) in Elemoro and environs.

“On countless occasions, I have written to the DPO that nobody is safe in this community and that some policemen should be sent to the palace to protect me. I have not seen any policeman till date.

“Since Monday, the chiefs have been my security, as they have been taking turns and shifts to be with me at the palace. The land grabbers have invaded this community and we are helpless. In all my life, I have never heard where an Oba is kidnapped in his palace,” he said.

The Palace of the Elemoro

The Palace of the Elemoro

The Guardian obtained a copy of a letter sent by the Commissioner of Police to the Divisional Police Officer, Elemoro, dated February 23, 2009, which ordered the deployment of two-armed static guard for Oba Elemoro at the palace. Signed by V.O. Brown, Assistant Commissioner of Police, the letter, which ordered strict compliance, stated that the two-armed guards should not be used as orderlies.

A policeman, who pleaded that his name should not be mentioned, said that the instruction from the Commissioner of Police could not be carried out because the Elemoro station is short-staffed and therefore could not afford to release two policemen to be stationed at the palace.

At the moment, the unarmed policeman attached to the Oba as orderly was provided by the Ibeju-Lekki local government chairman.

According to the Oba, no one is safe as the land grabbers are everywhere. “The police know them and where to get them. This is why we need government intervention and reinforcement so this doesn’t grow to become a monster soon.

“It’s now over five years since these land grabbers have been operating in our land unchallenged. Residents dare not pass where they are, even our children can’t move freely anymore in the community as these vicious men brandish weapons openly. As a result of this, people are leaving this area en mass,” said the monarch.

The damaged fence

The damaged fence

Another area where the Ibeju-Lekki community is seeking government’s intervention is in the provision of electricity. For two years now, residents have been living in darkness. “I spend N5,000 everyday to fuel my generator in the palace despite giving the Power Holding Company of Nigeria five plots of land for them to build a substation here.

“The same applies to the police. The community donated four hectares of land to the Area ‘J’ Command and another four plots for the police station. In fact, we constructed the station for the police and we are yet to see their impact in this community. If there was light, the crime situation would drastically reduce,” Elemowo concluded.

And the Ijebu paramount ruler joins the Octogenarians

  Oba Adetona celebrates 80 in grand style
By Tope Templer Olaiya
Some people are so poor in life that all they have is money, a fact accentuated by a popular saying among the Southwestern Nigerians that people are the quality of a man’s true assets. This was highly demonstrated at the weekend in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State during the grand luncheon party and climax of the activities marking the 80th birthday of the Awujale and paramount ruler of Ijebuland, Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona.
   It was a quality audience of first-class monarchs, politicians, astute businessmen and illustrious sons and daughters of Ijebuland that filled up the 2,500-capacity hall at the Otunba Dipo Dina International Stadium.    
   Leading the pack of dignitaries was President Goodluck Jonathan’s representative, his Chief of Staff, Gen. Jones Arogbofa; the Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina; Governor of Bayelsa State, who has traced his lineage to Ijebu, Seriake Dickson; and the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu.
ImageOgun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amsun (right) his wife, Olufunso (2nd right), the Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona (2nd left) and his wife, Olori Oluwakemi (left), during the Grand Luncheon to mark the Awujale’s 80th birthday held at the Otunba Dipo Dina Stadium, Ijebu-Ode.
Others who added colour to the occasion with their presence included Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, host governor, Senator Gbenga Amosun; the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akinolu; Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi; Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo; Chief Michael Adenuga; Otunba Subomi Balogun; Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe; Aremo Segun Osobo, Otunba Gbenga Daniel; Pastor Tunde Bakare; and Nasir El-Rufai among a host of many others.

   At exactly 11:45am, the celebrant was ushered into the hall that had been exquisitely draped in glistering yellow and white colours, by a retinue of his council of chiefs, members of the organizing committee, the Ijebu Renaissance Group and palace guards. He was led to his exalted seat with songs from the musical legend, who manned the bandstand, Chief Ebenezer Obey.
Image Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun (right), his Bayelsa counterpart, Hon. Seriake Dickson (2nd left), Chief of Staff to the President, Gen. Jones Oladeinde Arogbofa (left) and the Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona (2nd right)
Proceedings began immediately with opening prayers offered by Oba Rilwan Akinolu. His birthday cake was cut after which the Awujale danced to songs chanted by an eminent group of Ijebu octogenarians, who welcomed him to the exclusive club of the aged 80s.

   Then the floodgate of speeches and goodwill messages followed. The president’s Chief of Staff said it was not possible for the president to fulfill his promise to Awujale of felicitating with him on his landmark celebration due to the current security challenge confronting the country. Arogbofa, who promised that the challenges would be resolved sooner than Nigerians expect, however, told the Awujale that the president would still pay him a private visit at a later time.
   Amosun said the Ijebu paramount ruler loves his people to a fault and has used his wealth of experience over the years to bring prosperity to his subjects and the people of Ogun State.
   “He has been a rock and pillar of support to me, including my predecessors. We would not have achieved much without his support and other royal fathers in the state. He is a man of peace and I have benefitted immensely from his wealth of experience.
   “In appreciation of this, I today rename the first flyover in Ijebuland to Oba Adetona flyover bridge, so that in years to come, when the history of Ijebu State is being written, the story will be told of the exploits of their illustrious son of Ijebuland whom the bridge is named after,” he said.
ImageAwujale cutting his 80th birthday cake
Dickson described Oba Adetona, who is also marking his 54th year on the throne, as one of Nigeria’s finest and best traditional rulers, who have been an exemplary figure to a host of other traditional rulers in the country.    

   Justice George Oguntade in his remarks said the Awujale’s 80th birthday celebration was in honour of a great man of intellect, “a man who cannot be deceived and who will not deceive you; whose goal is to unify Ijebu nation and bring to reality the Ijebu statehood.”
   Responding, the celebrant thanked his guest who had taken the pains to be at the event in spite of the prevailing security situation in the country. He reiterated the call for traditional institutions to be given a constitutional role in the country.
   “In the pre-colonial era, the traditional rulers were in charge, but the indirect rule imposed by the colonialists elevated their appointees, who are local politicians above traditional rulers. When we gained independence, the conditions of the obas were worse than when we were under the Oyinbos.
ImageFrom left: Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi; the celebrant, Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Adetona; Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akinolu; Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe; Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo; and Otunba Subomi Balogun
“We were given paltry sums of money that made the head to constantly be in conflict with the stomach. But I am grateful to God for blessing all my activities when I went into distributorship business with Portland Cement at Ewekoro. The rest today is history.”

   Going down memory lane of his 54 years experiences on the throne, he advised politicians to sheathe their swords for peace to reign in the country. “I will advise politicians to take criticisms honestly. There should be no politics of bitterness that should tear us apart. Also, leaders must be careful of their advisers, who may want to pitch them against imaginary enemies for their own selfish reasons,” he admonished.

So long, so well for the quiet public servant

By Tope Templer Olaiya,
Assistant Lagos City Editor
IT was sunset for Sir Michael Agbolade Otedola, former governor of Lagos State, on Monday. As expected, a rain of tributes has followed the announcement, while the state government has declared a seven-day mourning period in his honour.
Governor Babatunde Fashola directed that flags in all state government offices and institutions be flown at half mast during the period to honour the deceased. He described Otedola’s death as a great loss to the state and noted that the former governor’s administration was marked by great achievements.
“His indelible record of service is still there. ‘The centre for excellence’ that Lagos proudly proclaims today was his choice when he was invited among other governors to choose a sobriquet for Lagos. That and some other impactful projects he executed as governor are still visible and will remain evergreen in our memory,” he said.
As his name implies, fate played a critical role in Otedola’s ascension to greatness. He was elected governor of Lagos from 1992 to 1993 on the platform of the National Republican Convention (NRC) during the truncated transition programme of former military president, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, against the run of thoughts after a crisis engulfed the then Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the state over choice of a gubernatorial candidate.

Otedola

Otedola

During the run-in to the election, beautiful, coloured posters bearing Otedola’s photograph and caption: “That Lagos may Excel,” strategically littered Lagos State as if that was enough to ensure a smooth ride to Alausa Government House. While posters alone do not win elections, Otedola had said the coloured posters only reflected the excellence in his printing outfit, Impact Press Nigeria Limited and his excellent way of doing things.
The late silent multi-millionaire got exposed to the public after winning his party’s governorship primaries. And since leaving office in 1992, he had quietly shunned the public space, while maintaining his humble and simple personality through his Michael Otedola Foundation that gives scholarship to indigent students every year.
For years, he was in the defunct Western Region Public Service where he served as Public Relations Manager of the Western Nigeria Television. He was also a Press Secretary to late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Ladoke Akintola, both former Premiers of Western Nigeria. On leaving government service, he worked with Mobil Group of Companies retiring in 1977 as manager, Public Affairs division.
The Asiwaju of Odoragunsin, who was also made a Knight of St. Sylvester by Pope John Paul in 1974, saw himself as an epitome of truth and a vehicle for change before his administration was truncated.
Though Otedola could not complete his tenure in office due to the political imbroglio that characterized the regime, it is however, on record that his administration facilitated the establishment of the Yaba College of Technology campus in Epe, his hometown.

Sir Michael Otedola (right); late General Sani Abacha (middle) and late Chief MKO Abiola (left) at an undated public event in Lagos.

Sir Michael Otedola (right); late General Sani Abacha (middle) and late Chief MKO Abiola (left) at an undated public event in Lagos.

The focus of his campaign was hinged on peace. When asked his plans for Lagos, he told The Guardian in an interview dated December 9, 1991 that “we are campaigning on peace. We must have an atmosphere of peace in order to achieve an orderly progress.
“Orderly progress will give us plentiful water supply, good roads, mass transit programmes, qualitative education, free enterprise by which our womenfolk who dominate the market will have plenty of stores to exhibit and sell their wares. We will encourage, through free entreprise, willing investors both within and outside the country by reducing red-tapism that tends to scare away investors.
“We will attend to the health of the people. At this stage in Nigeria’s development, there is no reason why there should be so many maternal deaths, infantile mortality. These are basic things that people are yearning for.”
Asked what he considered to be the biggest problem confronting Lagos, he said it was transportation. “By that, I mean inadequate transportation facilities is affecting the economy. People leave very early in the morning by 5am to get to work. After they close from work at 5pm, they are still struggling for buses to get home as at 8pm.
“So, we intend to tackle this first, introducing smaller buses. Our roads are not wide enough. We will provide smaller buses that will bring people from pedal roads into the main highways, where they will change to the bigger buses. We will encourage local governments to have their own transport schemes to move people from place to place in the councils.
“Then there is the much-talked about metroline. I am all for it, but it would be done thoroughly by inviting experts to advise on the project and also engaging those who can assist both locally and internationally. We will not make the metroline a government project but fully private-funded project.”
These were his dreams for the state as far back as 1990s but the truncation of his administration by political turmoil that has been our lot never allowed him to actualize his noble objectives. And now he is gone for ever and ever even as the state still yearns for many of these things.

Segun-Idahor

Segun-Idahor

Pastor (Mrs.) Omolola Taiwo Segun-Idahor, daughter of former governor of Lagos State, Sir Michael Otedola, on Tuesday said she lost not just a father, but also a friend who was always “a phone call away”.
Segun-Idahor spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria at the Epe residence of her late father as sympathisers continued to flood the premises to extend their condolence to the family.
She said that her only consolation was that her father lived a good life, noting that as governor of Lagos, he served the state with everything God gave him. “He was a man filled with great wisdom, a good listener and a principled man; a disciplined man who never took anything that belonged to another person.
“We thank God for giving him to us as a gift; he was a great daddy to all his children,” said Segun-Idahor, who identified herself as one of the identical twins which the late Otedola had.
She said that her late father valued education and believed that one good reason why one could borrow money from the bank was for education, adding that she was always happy to see people who benefited from her father’s scholarship scheme in several fields.
Segun-Idahor said the arrangements for the burial would come out in due course, noting that apart from the family, the state government and the church would be involved. She thanked the Lagos State Government for the support it had rendered so far, explaining that Governor Babatunde Fashola came early in the day to visit the family.
Drummers and singers were in the compound as sympathizers poured in to condole with the family.
Fashola, in the condolence register wrote: “The government and people of Lagos bid farewell to a patriot and public servant who served them valiantly and faithfully.
“We value your service and will never forget it. You were a man of great honour. Rest in peace with your maker. The race is finished and it was well run.”
Some youths, who benefited from the scholarship scheme provided by the late Otedola, were also at the Epe residence to condole with the family. Mr. Moshood Adams, Chairman, National Youth Council of Nigeria, Epe Chapter, told newsmen that the late Otedola made Epe proud as a governor and gave hope that they too could govern well.
“He affected the lives of many of our youths by his scholarship and we will really miss him. We pray that the family will continue with it,’’ he said.
Adams said that the youths also looked forward to another person from Epe to become governor of the state to build on the achievements of late Otedola.
Mr. Abiodun Jankdawi, another of the youths, said they referred to the late Otedola as a ‘Civilian General’ and would miss him deeply. “He made the youths happy,” he said and prayed that his soul would rest in peace.

Traffic snarl undermines Lekki-Ajah economic potentials

By Tope Templer Olaiya and Tunde Alao
IT is beyond guessing that much of the flicker of development in the New Lagos points to the direction of the Lekki-Ajah corridor. And it takes no clairvoyant to get this deciphered or read the mind of government and business leaders.
Already, multi-billion investments like Lekki Deep Seaport, Free Trade Zone, International Airport, Atlantic City and Dangote’s refinery/petrochemical plant, are among the up coming business opportunities to open up the Eti-Osa-Lekki-Epe axis.
Following Dangote Group’s commencement of construction work on its refinery-cum-petrochemical plant at the Lekki Free Trade Zone, property prices in the area have risen by over 100 percent from what it was last year.
These potentials notwithstanding, for residents in that corridor, the ordeal of commuting along the expanded 10-lane Lekki-Epe expressway is tortuous, especially when navigating through the Ajah roundabout. The traffic gridlock is worsened by the activities of commercial bus operators, who have converted the fringes of the roundabout into bus and taxi garages.
A motorist, Ayodele Omowale, told The Guardian that: “it is easier to pass through the eye of the needle than for one to have a smooth sail going through the Ajah roundabout of congestion. Setting out for my daily activities in the morning always puts me in a terrible nightmarish condition.
“Some of us whose health cannot withstand waking up at 4am

Congestion at Ajah Roundabount.

Congestion at Ajah Roundabount.

and hitting the road 4:30am everyday, and as such cannot leave home earlier than 6am, have no option than to abandon our cars at home and ‘fly’ commercial motorcycles to Ajah roundabout before joining commercial transport, with all the safety and security risks, for that is the only way we can reach our workplaces before 8am.
“That is the only way we have been beating the traffic, which stretches two kilometres or more and takes not less than one hour. Sadly, this was not the case before the Olympic-size Ajah roundabout was constructed,” he noted.
For those who can’t go the Omowale way, sitting idly in their exotic cars and listening to latest update on Traffic Radio takes their minds off the worries of the congestion.
This too is losing its appeal as the traffic reports doesn’t say anything new to the regular road users, such as: “Abraham Adesanya inward Ajah is heavy; Jakande Roundabout is busy; or LASTMA monitors are working hard to ease up traffic on Sangotedo up to Ajah.”
Another resident, Suraj Oyewole, while chronicling the ordeal residents go through daily, said, “our worst nightmare in the last one decade has been the Lekki-Epe expressway, the road that connects us to other parts of Lagos. The relief we taught we had in 2006 when the Lekki Concession Company (LCC), the concessionaire of the Lekki expressway reconstruction project, rolled their equipment to the highway to commence the project, has since been misplaced.

Ajah 3 “For instance, we were not experiencing traffic on Ajah-Addo-Badore road before the construction of Ajah roundabout. Now, connecting Ajah through Addo road takes up to one hour during peak periods (6-9am). This is something that should not take more than 10 minutes, as was the case before the construction of that roundabout.”
Oyewale, however, reechoed the wishes of most Lagosians living in that axis, which is a vociferous but passionate call for a flyover bridge at Ajah roundabout. “Common wisdom calls for construction of a route that connects to the expressway, not at the roundabout, but further down. And the solution to the puzzle is a flyover and a pedestrian bridge to reduce congestion and pedestrian crossing at the roundabout,” he said.
SINCE Dangote Group awarded the project management consultancy and construction of its 400,000 bpd (20 million tonnes) oil refinery and 600,000 tonnes polypropylene plant, Lekki and its environ has never been the same again. The area, which used to have a narrow single lane road and notorious traffic congestion, is fast becoming a global business haven, a new dual carriageway with three lanes on both sides.
The new attracting features of the Lekki Free Trade Zone (LKFTZ) are enormous. Added to these are the state-of-the-art tollgates and most importantly well-structured estates and beautiful architectural landscapes. The presence of Dangote alone has attracted other related businesses like Progress Maritime limited, OBAT Oil and Eko Resort to the area.
For instance, Progress Maritime limited, a shipping company that bought hundreds of hectares of land in the area, has awarded the construction of its Tank Farm development to Oladele Oluwamotemi & associates, a notable project developer. Like Dangote, the developer has moved its construction equipment to the site, which has been fenced round.

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT: Bella Vista, a high-rise luxury serviced apartment in Banana Island beside a 330kv electricity high tension, which breaks the law on set back requirement and Right of Way as stipulated by the state Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT: Bella Vista, a high-rise luxury serviced apartment in Banana Island beside a 330kv electricity high tension, which breaks the law on set back requirement and Right of Way as stipulated by the state Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development

The presence of giant investors (Dangote Group and Progress Maritime limited) has transformed Lekki, Epe from a near backwater settlement on the outskirts of Lagos into a sprawling, modern settlement, one of the fastest growing areas in Lagos. To many, the Lekki corridor is the ‘New Lagos,’ judging by its booming real estate, massive construction projects and noticeable government presence in the planned Lekki Free Trade Zone.
To real estate professionals, these areas are now a goldmine. For example, both foreign and Nigerian professionals whose offices are in Ikoyi and Victoria Island, VI, are relocating to LFTZ.
Gbenga Owoeye, a property consultant, explained that due to the non-availability of land in Ikoyi and VI and the attendant rising rents, more prospective homeowners are also looking towards the Lekki–Epe axis and are erecting structures comparable to those in Europe and other advanced countries. Epe, Oakview estate, Otunla Town, Awoyaya, Beachwood estate, Lakowe Lakes International Golf Course and Amen estate and many more are replete with such exotic structures.
Lakowe Lakes International Golf Course is one of the most developed real estates in Lagos State in form of infrastructure and utilities. The unique characteristic of the estate, which is in Ibeju Lekki, is that its kitchen is fully kitted in contemporary fittings that make cooking and serving delight.  The estate also boasts of Olympic size swimming pool, 24-hour CCTV surveillance, maximum security and a state-of-art recreational park among others.
Beechwood, another estate, could only be termed a mix of grandeur and style. The walls of the properties are screened, that is, sanded and polished to allow a smooth and straight finish, creating a sharper appearance and textured finish; while the ceilings are plaster of Paris (PoP), coated, providing a smooth finish and a white effect.
Homeowners in the areas need not worry about buying household artifacts or furniture. Such are already provided for; while in some others the property is partially furnished. Many expatriates are easily attracted to such apartments. The houses are serviced with 24-hour backup generator (three units inter-changeable); there are those who come with swimming pools, gym and fitness spaces, as well as ample parking spaces and adequate security.
Apart from residential apartments, offices of banks, major automobile dealers, eateries, as well as shopping plazas now dot the LFTZ landscape. Indeed, experts forecast that LFTZ has the potential to be Africa’s largest commercial city in the nearest future. Credit for the rapid growth and development of Lekki is given to the Lagos State government, which constructed and expanded the Lekki–Epe Expressway, the introduction of the computerised tollgate.
The only hindrance to the rapid development of the areas is the perennial traffic gridlock in Aja roundabout.