When President Jonathan came to town

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By Tope Templer Olaiya,
Assistant Lagos City Editor

LAST Saturday, September 20, 2015 political movement was activated at the nation’s commercial capital, Lagos, as adherents of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South West trooped out in large numbers to receive President Goodluck Jonathan at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) for a Southwest Sensitization and Unity rally.
A mammoth crowd of supporters across the six states of the South West geopolitical zone had defied the early morning downpour to express support for the president’s re-election bid in 2015. They were buoyed by the party leadership’s adoption of Jonathan as the PDP’s presumptive presidential candidate.
As expected, there was lockdown on citizen’s movement as some roads leading to the TBS and on other locations where the president was being expected were blocked.
The Lagos Bus Transit Service (LAGBUS), had early on Saturday morning, tweeted: “President Goodluck Jonathan is expected in Lagos this afternoon. As a result, roads around TBS and CMS area have been closed.” Other roads on Lagos Island, including Adeniji Adele road, were also cordoned off.
One of such locations that witnessed airtight security was the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), Ikotun, venue of the president’s first public appearance last Saturday.
Visiting the collapsed guesthouse of the church in company of the state’s Deputy Governor, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire and PDP National Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu, Jonathan had vowed to investigate the cause of the tragedy, which left at least 115 dead.

Syn 3 “My coming here is to express my personal condolences to Prophet Joshua, the Synagogue of All Nations and of course the bereaved families,” Jonathan said during the visit.
The president, who arrived by helicopter at the sprawling church compound in Ikotun, said he would hold talks with the construction industry and state governors on how to prevent a repeat of the tragedy.
“We will work with the people to ensure that such an incident does not happen again,” he said.
Jonathan said he deeply regretted that scores of South Africans had died in the tragedy, and that he had already expressed his sympathies with President Jacob Zuma.
After a private meeting of the church leaders with Jonathan, which lasted a few minutes, the president hopped into his chopper, flew over Lagos skyline and alighted at the palace of the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Aremu Akiolu I.
For this visit, the president’s delegation was boosted by his advance party team, which was led by Vice President, Namadi Sambo, top government officials and PDP stalwarts including PDP Deputy National Chairman, Uche Secondus; Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha; former Sokoto State governor, Attahiru Bafarawa; PDP chieftain and member Board of Trustees, Chief Ola Bode George; Chief of Staff to the President, Gen. Jones Arogbofa; Special Adviser to the President on Interparty Affairs, Sen. Ben Obi; and Group Managing Director, Energy Group, Jimoh Ibrahim.
President Jonathan, who expressed gratitude to the Oba and his Council of Chiefs for the warm reception always accorded him each time he visited, said royal fathers are custodians of the nation, as such he could not be in Lagos without paying homage to the Oba to receive royal blessings and prayers.

Syn 1 He noted that Lagos is key to the economy of Nigeria and gave assurance that the Federal Government was committed to ensuring that nothing negative happens to the state. He said this informed the reason the Federal Government rose to the challenge against the spread of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in partnership with the governor, Babatunde Fashola.
“We thank you for the service you have been rendering right from when you were in service as a police officer and now as the Oba of Lagos. We assure you that we will continue to do our best in infrastructure development of the country and maintenance of peace and security in the country.
“We are here for the PDP Southwest Unity rally. We are not here for campaign but we will still come. Before we go, we need your royal prayers and blessings because you (traditional rulers) are the owners of the land,” he said.
While responding, Oba Akiolu, ‎who noted that leadership is given to anybody by God, prayed that God will be with President Jonathan and protect him to realise his vision for the country. He appealed for free and credible elections in Lagos and Nigeria next year.
“I have special love for Mr. President. God has put you in that position, He will be with you, God will not abandon you. On the current security challenges, I know God will bring it to an end. I urge you to continue doing whatever you have in mind for Lagos, not minding politics,” he said.

Syn 4 After the exchange of courtesies and pleasantries, it was time for the president and his entourage to leave for the day’s biggest assignment. And at exactly 1:15pm, the president’s motorcade made a grand entry into the bowl of TBS to kick off proceedings at the rally, where Fuji maestro, Abass Akande, popularly known as Obesere, kept thousands of rain-soaked party faithful entertained.
It was especially an opportunity for the many gubernatorial candidates in Lagos State to sell themselves to supporters ahead of the party’s primaries. They took turns hounding the opposition and throwing support for the adoption of the president as the party’s sole presidential candidate.
Aspirants from other states in the Southwest were also represented but were not as vocal as the agents of the gubernatorial aspirants in Lagos. Of the pack, it was supporters of the Minister of state for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro that stole the show and overwhelmed the rally.

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The rally, which was a colourful display of music, dance and politicking, was dominated by supporters of Obanikoro, popularly known as Koro by admirers. His banners and supporters, clad in different costumes could be seen conspicuously everywhere across the rally. A creative highlight of the Minister’s presence at the rally was a group of young stuntmen, skaters and young ladies who were all over the place dressed in t-shirts with the inscriptions; #Korolette, #Korobucci.

Syn 6 Before now, the minister, who was the party’s governorship candidate in 2007, had only made a feigned interest in running again for office, but all doubts were dispelled at the weekend as towering posters littered TBS and its environs welcoming the president to Lagos. The subtle declaration of his intention was his imposing image on the posters, with the rider: “Dream Team: Jonathan+Obanikoro=Winning Together.”
And there was more. The minister’s mobilization at the rally took many Lagosians by surprise, not leaving out many of those who had earlier signified interest to run for governorship ticket in the party.
Other aspirants, which included Jimi Agbaje, Babatunde Gbadamosi, Ade Dosunmu, and Deji Doherty, all made an impressive showing with their throng of supporters, but their efforts were glaringly overshadowed by the Obanikoro buzz, which ringed loudly at the square.
For special effect, the minister’s buzz took several sobriquets that appealed to various segments of the society, such as: Korolette, Koro Bucci, Koro for Better Lagos, Lagos can be greater, Jonathan+Koro=Winning Together, Koronated, among many others.
And it was to a rousing applause when firing the first salvo, the minister, who spoke on behalf of the body of Southwest ministers, flanked by Minister of State for the FCT, Mrs. Olajumoke Akinjide; Minister of State for Works, Prince Dayo Adeyeye; Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adeshina; Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson; and Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Jeilili Adesiyan, assured Jonathan of their unalloyed loyalty and further promised to mobilise for him (Jonathan) when the campaign gathers steam.
Obanikoro explained that the president has done well and therefore deserves a second term to continue with his Transformation Agenda. “The party in the west has resolved to “work for the re-election of President Jonathan and we are committed in working for him so that he can continue with the good works he has started not only in the south west but in the country. With all the good things he has done, he deserves a second term.”

Syn 7Responding, Jonathan expressed gratitude to the members of the PDP in the region for giving him the right of first refusal as the party’s sole candidate for next year’s presidential polls.
He said: “Let me sincerely thank the leaders of our party; from the chairman, committee members, our governors, our National Assembly members, our Board of Trustees members, and all members of the party for giving me the right of first refusal of the presidential ticket.
“There are no dictators in the PDP. There is no one that is so powerful to determine who becomes councillor, local government chairman, state House of Assembly member, House of Representatives member, senator, governor, and even president, in the PDP. The decision is by the people, for the people, and that is why the PDP will continue to do new things and give right leadership,” he said.
The Lagos chairman of the party, PDP, Tunji Shelle, however, said the party would not adopt candidates for the various positions including governorship in the 2015 elections.
Speaking against the backdrop of the party’s adoption of President Jonathan as its sole candidate for the 2015 presidential poll, Shelle said the president’s emergence as a consensus candidate was different from the situation in Lagos State.
“The president is going for a second term and the party decided to let him continue and finish the good job he is doing. In Lagos State, it is different. The PDP is not the party in power; therefore, all aspirants must go for primaries, as it is the tradition of the party.
“There is no preferred aspirant. The candidate that would emerge would be decided by the party delegates,” he said.

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Tales from Onilewura II… The number game continues

By Tope Templer Olaiya,
Assistant Lagos City Editor
IN the last few days, Prophet Temitope Joshua has taken time out of the flurry of activities arising from the building collapse and rescue operations to, at intervals, give reassuring messages to his teaming multitude of members across the world, effectively using the social media to preach to his followers.
With a membership base of over one million, the prophet personally posted on the his face book on Tuesday: “The purpose of life is to glorify God in both good and hard times.”
This was immediately followed by another personally signed post: “Hard times may test me, they cannot destroy me.” And with this, there was a more elaborate message for his flocks.
“To withstand hard times, stand with Christ. When you face trials, hard times, you can ‘count it all joy’ (James 1:2-3).
“It is through hard times that you gain the necessary experience and maturity to handle whatever responsibility given to you.
“We are most likely to go astray from God and forget Him when things are easy with us in the world because we often become proud and stupid with wealth and pleasure. God visits His people with hard times that they may learn His way. His ways, though hard to the ungodly men, are desirable and profitable because they lead us to safety unto eternal life.
“God allowed the enemy to overcome Israel so that they may learn the difference between serving God and serving the devil. If not for our hard times, we would not have sought the face of God. I mean, if not because of hard times, man by his wicked nature would not have sought the face of God. This means, God sometimes uses hard times to draw us to Himself so that we can take our proper position and possession in Him.”
That post did its intended magic as a temporal soothing balm, which went viral across the world with over a thousand shares, 5,000 comments and 7,000 likes in less than an hour.
Prophet Joshua must probably have also heaved a sigh of relief coming at a time situation report from site was somewhat depressing, with recovered dead bodies climbing to 65, as at Tuesday.

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Prophet T.B. Joshua

Further damage struck later when news rented the social media space that South African President, Jacob Zuma, announced on Tuesday evening that 67 of its citizens died in the Synagogue building collapse that occurred on September 12.
The South Africans were in Nigeria to seek spiritual help and were staying at the guest house before it collapsed. It was announced by a BBC Africa tweet: “President Zuma announces 67 South Africans died in the Lagos building collapse on Friday, disputing the 60 dead cited by Nigerian officials.”
In the midst of the chaos and grief at the Synagogue was the cherry news of a 45-year-old woman, who walked out of the rubble alive, after being buried under the debris for four days.
Joshua had attributed the collapse to a ‘mystery’ aircraft, which he said hovered around the building for about 30 minutes before the building came tumbling down. This was further corroborated with the release of a footage captured by a CCTV camera attached to one of the church’s buildings.
This prompted officials of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) to visit the site and assess the debris.
Though officials of both airport agencies refused to respond to media inquires, saying they would come up with an official reaction after investigations would have been concluded, an unnamed official rejected the link between a hovering aircraft and the building, as claimed by the church authorities.
According to him, Ikotun, Ikeja, Shasha, Iju, Egbeda and environs around the airport and a plane approaching the Murtala Mohammed Airport could be sighted hovering in these areas due to congestion in the air and delayed landing.
“It is not unusual for an aircraft to be seen hovering around in these areas until it is cleared to land, particularly in Ejigbo and Ikotun areas because it is on the flight route on the east of the airport, which is the outbound traffic route of most flights. All incoming flights descend to the airport from the west around Agege, Ogba, and Iju-Ishaga.”

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The crowd that assembled at the Synagogue Church immediately after the building collapsed.

A public affairs commentator, Dr. Nick Idoko, in his reaction to the incident, urged Prophet Joshua to be more scientific and come up with tenable explanations for the building collapse.
“Rather than his half-hearted attempt at attributing a fatal collapse to a hovering plane, he should tell the world how that building was approved to be increased from a two-storey building to six and he must apologise to all Nigerians and families of the dead.
“I even understand that there is an ongoing expansion on the main auditorium of the church as we speak, which is why the government must act fast to prevent another calamity. That ministry has for a long time been very notorious and corrupt, especially in land deals. The state government should also investigate all the lands acquired by the ministry in the area,” he added.
Rescue workers have been picking through the rubble with heavy lifting equipment and using sniffer dogs, although the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) said the search for survivors could end on Wednesday.
“The church is not co-operating with emergency workers at all,” NEMA’s spokesman for the southwest region, Ibrahim Farinloye, told AFP, giving the latest toll as 67 with 131 survivors.
“For the first three days of the incident, the church people were very hostile and prevented rescue officials access to the site.
“It was after the visit of the (Lagos state) governor (Babatunde Fashola) when he threatened to close down the church that we were allowed to work.
“Perhaps if we had had early access to the place we would have been able to save more lives.”
Already, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has commenced investigations into the causes of the building collapse. The head of inspectorate and compliance of the organisation, Bede Obaye, made this known when he led a team to the site to take samples of some of the materials used for the construction.

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Ongoing rescue operation at the site of the building collapse.

According to Obaye, the investigations will be comprehensive as the organisation intends to get to the root cause of the collapsed structure.
“We have come here to see exactly what happened, we have watched the clip of what happened, but beyond that we are here to investigate the remote causes of the collapse, to look at the materials and to ask questions about the engineers and contractors that handled the project.”
When asked on his findings from his inspection so far, he said, “We cannot say for now. There are lots of questions to be asked. Structures don’t just collapse like that. Our investigation will not be limited to the materials alone. The materials may be right, but the selection and combination maybe wrong.
“The contractor and engineer who handled the project will have to provide us with vital information. For now, it is too early for SON to say what the cause of the collapse is but when we are through, we will brief Nigerians on our findings.”
Similarly, the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) on Monday vowed to unravel the immediate and remote causes of the collapse of the six-storey building. The council, in a statement issued in Abuja and signed by its President, Kashim Ali, said it had mobilized its team of Engineering Regulation Monitoring Inspectors to visit the site of the collapsed building.
It said while preliminary report of the visit had been received and is being processed, a more detailed investigation is ongoing.
The statement reads in part: “Council wishes to commiserate with the Executive Governor, the Government and people of Lagos State over the loss of lives and properties as a result of this unfortunate incident.”

Tales from Onilewura… The other side of Synagogue City

By Tope Templer Olaiya,
Assistant Lagos City Editor
It’s been one week since the quiet Onilewura community, in Ikotun, Lagos, lost its serenity after it was robbed of peace by the cruel angel of death, and it may take many more weeks before the former state is restored, if it will ever be.
For residents of the area, particularly adherents and visitors to the famous Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), it is still a long dream they are yet to wake up from, especially how in a moment, a significant part of their alluring city became a crash site, attracting citizens and dignitaries alike.
To those who were eyewitnesses to the disaster, one week is not enough to shake off the shock of the building collapse that has claimed over 60 lives.
The church founded and shepherded by Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, truly lives to its billing as a church for all nationalities under the sun and its architectural masterpiece tells a different story about Nigeria. Everything about the church is beauty come to life.
Visitors and tourists who flock to the church in their multitudes have one aim in mind – the elusive search for healing.
Meeting the down-to-earth man in the Synagogue, Prophet Joshua, is a lifetime opportunity many would relish reliving and that aacounts for why they keep coming back from all over the world.
But beyond the frontiers of the church is where the scenic sights ends. In seconds, you are transported from fantasyland to the grim reality of a Lagos ghetto, replete with its trademark shanties and bad roads.
That community, known as Onilewura, is the other side of the Synagogue city.
Onilewura is partly an industrial area but mostly residential. It comprises seven streets namely, Sadiq Estate, Leona Ajayi Close, Akerekoro Close, Ise Oluwa Street, Orija Street, Onilewura Street and the entrance into the community, which houses the Synagogue church, Segun Irefin Street.
There are a host of companies and warehouses, prominent among which are Albert Company, JMG Generators, IPI and Olam, an agro-allied firm. A noticeable impact of the church’s presence in the area is the clusters of hotels and guesthouses, ranging between one star dormitories to three star lodges. There are over 50 in the area.

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TWO WORLDS… ONE STREET: Segun Irefin Street, Onilewura, Ikotun, is entrance into Synagogue City

Until the latest tragedy that befell the church, residents were resentful that not a trace of the good life at the synagogue city was filtering into the community.
As neighbours, they only see the beautiful life and miracles on television, while every Sunday, members of the church ‘oppress’ them with the exotic cars that line their streets and give undue pressure to the roads already in urgent need of rehabilitation.
For the community, the building collapse is an unfortunate incident and as a group, they have been rallying to convey their sympathies to Prophet Joshua but it has been unsuccessful.
Chairman of Onilewura Landlords and Residents Association, Mr. Olusola Adisa Oseni, told The Guardian that they are using the opportunity of the present media spotlight to bring to the fore their plight and concerns as a community.
According to him, the church’s fame has only brought pain to the community. “On Saturdays and Sundays, it is a no-go area for everybody, the whole community is turned into a garage with transporters and car owners crowding out residents in every available space and the church is not doing anything about it.
“Unfortunately, he doesn’t allow his members to park around the vicinity of the church. They don’t have a parking space despite the fact that he has been acquiring properties around the church. Members of his Church litter the whole community with cars, while the church keeps its serenity even on worship days.
“Also, there has not been any effort to make the roads motorable, apart from tarring the street up to where the church ends, leaving the rest of the street in bad shape. It is a serious issue that is even difficult for people to believe,” he said.
Sy 2 Oseni explained that all efforts to take their grievances to Joshua met a brick wall and their last stop was the church’s Chief Security Officer, who promised to broker a meeting between the community and the prophet.
“Unfortunately, for over three months, we are yet to be granted access to him. You can see how close we are yet far apart as neighbours. When you are not able to see him, no help is forthcoming and there would be no benefit to members of the community.
“Before the building collapsed, we had requested for a heap of broken blocks from the site to be given to us to use as palliatives on the road. One major issue why we wanted to hold a meeting with the prophet is the closure of the road during service to all road users and residents.
“We have been trying to see what we can do as it is not only affecting us but other churches on the same street like Foursquare, Redeem and WOSEM. Their members cannot bring their car in and they have complained to us that they are losing a lot of their worshippers, many of who may not know the windy long alternative road to use.
For us residents, we have accepted our fate since many years now, and only sought his (T.B. Joshua’s) assistance to, at least, make the road motorable. We have through communal efforts tried to rescue the situation but no contribution from our biggest neighbour. We keep appealing to our members to be patient with SCOAN and not resort to violence.
“At our meetings, we had even suggested writing to the Inspector-General of Police and Governor Babatunde Fashola, but some among us suggested we should meet with Joshua first as our neighbor before we start reporting him to somebody else and if nothing comes out of it, it won’t be a surprise to him if we approach the authorities.”

Canadian varsity beckons on Nigerian student

By Tope Templer Olaiya
THE search is on for the recipient of the second Luz Neema Foundation N6 million Canadian scholarship, which will be spread over four years. The foundation’s administrator, Mrs. Mobo Oresegun, announced this in Lagos last week.
The scholarship scheme began in 2012 as part of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative of Comfort Zone Educational, a consulting firm dedicated to recruiting, counseling and application processing for Nigerians wishing to study in Canadian universities or colleges.
The scheme focuses on selecting disadvantaged students with focus in sciences and technology courses, particularly those not readily available in tertiary institutions in the country as a way of growing the Nigerian economy of the future.
Winner of the maiden edition, Fehintola Okunubi, is currently studying Biomedical Engineering at Simon Fraser University, Columbia in Canada.

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Mobo Oresegun

Oresegun said she is extremely proud to have selected such uniquely talented young lady, “who inspired us greatly with her determination to overcome physical disability at great odds to achieve her dream.”
Words had failed Okunubi in 2012 when reality dawned on her that her lifelong ambition to become a Biomedical Engineer was falling into place as she clutched the $40,000 scholarship to study in any Canadian university of her choice.
Born with an amniotic band, which led to the amputation of her leg, she had always aspired to surmount the odds, train to become a Biomedical Engineer and in the nearest future establish a centre where artificial limbs would be produced and people trained locally, so that with modern-day medical equipment, babies born with same condition would not have to go through her pains and lose their legs.
But then, it was like a hope heading for the rocks as there was no university in Nigeria offering her dream course, while studying abroad was beyond her reach, as her parents made it clear they could not afford such.

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Fehintola Okunubi

Fehintola was about resigning to fate again when she stumbled on an advertisement calling for entries to participate in a Canadian scholarship by Luz Neema Foundation.
Armed with a top-drawer West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) result and resolute resolve, she was shortlisted for the final round of oral and written tests before emerging winner of the maiden edition.
Oresegun said she is awarding the scholarship not because she does not have faith in the country’s educational institutions, but because their is a lapse which needs to be filled.
Application for the second award has commenced and would last till September 30, 2014 with forms available online at http://www.luzneema.org.
According to the organisers, feedback from the first edition shows a number of secondary schools indicated interest in the scholarship scheme but its students were unable to participate due to unavailability of SSCE results.
The foundation was requested to hold another award towards the end of the year to enable freshly graduated secondary school students the opportunity to participate.

Posers over death at PDP rally in Mushin

• Group seeks investigation, as Jimi Agbaje denies knowledge of incident
By Tope Templer Olaiya
Confusions have continued to trail the death of a 39-year-old commercial bus driver and father of three, Adesoji Adeboye, after he was allegedly hit by a gun shot on Monday, August 25, 2014 at Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s rally held in Mushin, Lagos.
But a member of the deceased’s family, Mrs. Shade Afolabi, said they (family) were aggrieved that some respected people are not being truthful about what really happened.
She said: “Though supporters are claiming that he (Adeboye) was shot in Mushin but I don’t understand why someone who was shot in Mushin would be taken to Ketu for treatment where he finally died.
“It is even unfortunate that no one from the party has deemed it fit to visit the family, particularly his aged mother and wife.”
According to her, on the day of the incident, Adeboye was called by his boss, Mr. Kunle Oduyale, to go and convey some party members said to be Agbaje’s supporters from the Lagos end of the old toll gate, opposite Motorways Plaza at about 6am to a political rally scheduled to be held in Epe.
“When he was called, they said the rally would take place in Epe but I don’t know why it was held in Mushin. Later in the evening, his (Adeboye’s) bloodstained bus was spotted at the tollgate and he laid in a pool of blood beside the bus close to FERMA yard.”

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Jimi Agbaje

In another account, some relatives of the deceased said Adeboye was shot in the leg during a local government tour by a PDP governorship aspirant, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, in the Mushin area of the state.
In yet another rumour, it was speculated that Jimi Agbaje was attacked by some suspected thugs loyal to other aspirants.
Chairman of the party in Mushin local council, Tunde Fabiyi, while confirming the incident of Adeboye’s death to The Guardian, said the bullet that hit one of Agbaje’s supporters was from the rifle of one of the policemen attached to the politician, who wanted to scare thugs away from his boss.
“Yes, it was true a PDP supporter was shot, but the way it happened was not as it is being painted by the social media. What really happened was that Agbaje was besieged by some young men, who wanted to collect money from him after the rally but in a bid to disperse the crowd, a shot was fired by one of Agbaje’s security operatives, which incidentally hit one of those who came with the politician,” he said.
A revised account of the incident was immediately released in a statement by a group of professional entertainers leading the agitation for Jimi Agbaje, with the name ‘For New Lagos’ (#4NL).
According to the statement signed by the group’s media secretary, Femi Branch, the Mushin tour was one of the most peaceful ever undertaken by Agbaje and the people of Mushin showed him (Agbaje) so much love and a wonderful reception.
“The incident that happened was a result of an accidental discharge from a gun held by one of the team’s own security operatives, who shot himself in the foot while trying to board their vehicle to depart from the venue. Mushin loves Jimi Agbaje and can’t wait to receive him again when he comes visiting.”

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Tunji Shelle, Lagos PDP Chairman

However, the governorship aspirant, who is at the centre of the confusion surrounding the incident, has denied being attacked in Mushin and also denied any knowledge of an alleged shooting of Adeboye at the rally.
According to him, contrary to rumours that thugs invaded the rally and he was attacked and almost shot, nothing of such happened in Mushin or in any other local governments he has toured. He added that everywhere he went, mammoth crowds received him and his entourage with warmth, love and jubilation.
However, an Executive Director of a concerned group –– Centre for Rights and Grassroots Initiative –– Mr. Nelson Ekujumi, has petitioned the state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, urging him, the state’s Ministry of Justice and the Commissioner of Police to investigate the murder of Adesoji Adeboye by suspected supporters of Agbaje.

Aftermath of 3 robbery attacks in 3 weeks: Students boycott lectures

• Bemoan rot at FRCN Training School
By Tope Templer Olaiya
FOR students at the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) Training School in Lagos, who have endured and survived three armed robbery attacks in the last three weeks, they have unanimously decided to boycott lectures until maximum security is guaranteed in the foremost broadcast training institution in the country.
When The Guardian visited the training school at Ladipo bus-stop in Shogunle area of Lagos, activities were paralyzed, while students gathered in groups, discussing the incident, with many of the traumatized students, who witnessed the attack packing their belongings to leave the premises.
The students’ decision to leave the school followed a lengthy attack on Thursday night in which students’ belongings, laptops and mobile gadgets were carted away. Some female students were reportedly molested by the robbers.
The attack on Thursday was the third in two weeks. Previously, robbers had attacked staff quarters on the premises. Following the staff quarters incident, another robbery targeted the Bond FM Radio, a radio broadcast station sharing premises with the training school.
Last week’s attack involved the invasion of the female students’ hostel quarters and the administration block. It resulted in the hospitalization of an asthmatic student.

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Students gathering in front of the Administration block on the morning of the incident.

Staff sources said the robbery attacks were not new to them, but had become increasingly brazen and more frequent. According to an official, neglect of the property by the federal government had caused surrounding vegetation to become dense, thus encouraging criminal activity.
Formerly regarded as a prestigious training institution for aspiring broadcasters and journalists across West Africa, FRCN Training School is now seen as neglected and poorly managed. The large expanse of land in the institution was cluttered with weeds while hemp smokers loitered at the surrounding expanse.
Governor-General of the FRCN Training School for 2014 Batch B, Bamidele Olanrewaju, described the recurring incidents as a disaster and vowed that until adequate security measures are put in place, including a well-equipped medical facility, the school would remain shut.
“I wasn’t around when the robbery occurred because I had earlier rushed one of our students to the hospital who suddenly feel ill that night at 11pm. I received a call around 3am of the operation that lasted over an hour. When robbers struck the first time, management said it would be resolved. Nothing was done to beef up security.
“Again, they came the second time, and we were told to remain calm that everything is under control. But after this latest incident, where the female hostel was the scene of the attack, we have resolved not to take management’s excuses anymore by boycotting academic activities until adequate security and medical facilities are restored,” he told The Guardian.
Olanrewaju added that the entire school and the radio station require total upgrade. “If it took a media report to expose the rot at the police college in Ikeja that elicited public outcry and even a presidential visit before normalcy was restored, we are also seizing this opportunity to draw federal government’s attention to our plight.”

Abandoned road projects and Lagos residents’ agony

By Tope Templer Olaiya,
Assistant Lagos City Editor

Mushin-Isolo Road

Mushin-Isolo Road

WITH eight months left to the expiration of Governor Babatunde Fashola’s eight-year administration, the gear of governance in the Centre of Excellence appears to have been shifted into the Snooze mode.
One facet of this new reality, which is progressively becoming an eyesore to the megacity picture of Lagos –a refrain of the current administration –, is the collapse of many inner-city roads and stalemate of ongoing road projects.
If the governor spares some moments out of his busy schedule to read the letters and opinion pages of the dailies in the last few weeks, he would have been sufficiently embarrassed by the persistent cries of some residents of the state.
The deafening trumpet being sounded by residents of Mushin, Ago-Okota, Ejigbo, Ikotun, Ijegun, Idimu, Ipaja and Ayobo, to mention a few, is why the governor has decided to forsake millions of taxpayers in the Lagos West axis of the state.
Governance in these areas is only visible in the half-hearted attempts to savalge neglected or uncompleted or never-ending projects.
Many Lagosians have in turn dubbed Fashola as running an elitist government, while not evenly spreading his orchestrated infrastructural wonders in Surulere, Ikeja and Victoria Island.

Mushin 2For instance, the government has been building the about 10 kilometers road between Isheri Oshun and Jakande Estate for well over a decade and completion of the Ipaja-Ayobo road will require a crystal ball to ascertain after several years.
The misery of residents and road users of Ayobo Ipaja road is as old as the fourth republic. They have also resorted to spiritual intervention after the avalanche of promises made by the former governor, Bola Tinubu and the incumbent failed to offer respite.
Fashola, who visited the area last year to flag off the polio immunization campaign, pleaded with residents to be patient with the state governor, noting that issues, which are beyond what the construction firm, PLYCON Nigeria Limited, could handle had delayed its completion.
Some of the contending issues that had slowed down the project are the relocation of some Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) poles, gas and oil pipelines, which run across the area.

Chaotic logjam on Mushin-Isolo road due to the bad spots

Chaotic logjam on Mushin-Isolo road due to the bad spots

In the same vein, work on the deplorable Iyana-Ejigbo road has been stalled and residents will have to wait indefinitely for any relief as the Lagos State Public Works Corporation (LSPWC), the agency handling the reconstruction, has stopped work and waiting for allocation of not less than N100 million from the cash-strapped state government to move back to site.
The situation in the area is more than a nightmare as commuting is usually hellish and it takes several hours to ply a route that should ordinarily take less than 10 minutes because of the appalling condition of Iyana-Ejigbo road.
For residents of Mushin Local Government, it is a passionate appeal they are making to the state government to alleviate their plight by completing the Mushin-Isolo and Mushin-Itire road projects among several others abandoned in the area.
Residents said neglect of the Mushin-Isolo road project, which also included expansion and construction of drainage, have compound their woes as they find it a painful experience driving their vehicles home daily.

Aviation Estate in Mafoluku, Oshodi

Aviation Estate in Mafoluku, Oshodi

The 18 months project started in September 2013, and was allegedly abandoned about a month ago without any explanation from the state government. Residents said government demolished some part of their buildings, while some shops were pulled down to pave way for the road expansion.
The road, which is now in a deplorable condition, has so many deep and wide potholes from Mushin down to Daleko market. Many of the commercial bus drivers have resorted to plying alternative routes to avoid the car-wrecking gullies. Besides, motorists and commuters are also complaining about the dusty nature of the road.
The dust, according to a resident, Ahmed Olaniyi, is affecting their health and it constitutes great danger to their wellbeing. He further lamented that some of the shops that survived the demolition have been forced to close down since they cannot cope with dust emanating from the road.

Aviation Estate

Aviation Estate

While government is yet to explain reasons why the contractor, PW, has abandoned the project, a community leader told The Guardian that it might not be unconnected with government’s inability to fund the project, as they are unaware of any other factors.
One of the commercial bus drivers, Rotimi Oyewale, said government’s initial excuse when the project was stalled was due to the rains. He lamented further that owing to the incessant gridlock on the road due to the many damaged portions, it has sharply reduced his daily income, which is not commensurate to his toil.
“Now that there is no rain, they should continue with the construction. The road is damaging our vehicles, most especially the shaft. And not only that, we do have severe body pain when we return home after the day’s work,” Oyewale said.