Sanity takes flight from Lagos’ Grease Land

• We are helpless, says Ladipo Market leader
• Govt plans car park, shelves relocation

By Tope Templer Olaiya, (Metro Editor) and Gbenga Salau
Once upon a time, Matori, Palm Avenue and Papa Ajao were the highbrow areas of Mushin Local Council of Lagos State. It was a scenic enclave tucked between Oshodi industrial estate and the riotous Mushin city centre, infamous for its incessant street combat. That was before Ladipo auto spare parts market berthed there.

Like a cancer, the market, which has become a Grease Land, has grown in leaps and bounds, spiraling into every available space. As the motor spare parts merchants expands their empire, even the service lane of the Oshodi-Apapa expressway from Five Star to Charity bus-stop is not spared.

The worth of the market is too enormous to evaluate. It is an informal market brimming with massive human and material resources. Directly or indirectly, there is a touch of Ladipo market in every Lagos home with an automobile.

An overgrown canal by the market

An overgrown canal by the market

Besides, the market also services the spare part needs of many car owners across Nigeria, as most of the parts are shipped into the country through the Lagos ports.

The market is rumored to generate about eight per cent of the state’s revenue yearly. There are over 10 million cars plying Lagos roads. Nearly 90 per cent of these cars are potential Ladipo Market clients. A 2015 statistics released by the Lagos State government stated that 78 per cent of the 1.8 million vehicles that were registered in the state were used ‘tokunbo’ vehicles.

There are more than 30,000 parts in a car. There is none hard to find in Ladipo. In fact, there are several assembly points where vehicles are butchered into parts and scraps brought into the country are remodeled into useable vehicles.

At the Grease Land, every section of the market is a beehive of metal merchants’ activities. The grease-soiled ground reminds any visitor that the market isn’t meant for suits and knotted ties. The regular work tools are a simple shirt (T-shirt preferably) on a pair of jeans and a boot or any footwear that must definitely cover your toes.

Though the business might look greasy and dirty, there are huge profits being churned out by the dealers of spare parts and used goods, cart pushers for hire, and most especially the throng of bystanders also known as freelancers, whose job it is to scout for prospective buyers and link them up traders for a commission.

Traders pouring to the expressway

Traders pouring to the expressway

However, the boisterous market has become a menace too hot for any administration in the state to handle. Countless shutdown to rein in traders for flouting sanitation laws, constituting environmental hazards and breaching public peace over leadership tussle, has proved futile.

Residents and road users within and around the market have resigned to fate after deploring severally in very strong terms the incessant gridlock occasioned by the deteriorating state of the road, and the abhorrent activities of traders and artisans in the market.

Daily, vast stretches of the roads are converted to mechanic workshops, where uncountable numbers of cars take turns to be serviced. These artisans that have appropriated large parts of the road as adhoc mechanic workshops, carry out major assignments including replacing car engines, and even spray vehicles right on the road.

The gridlock experienced around the market is worsened when warehouses, which line the service lane at the Toyota bus-stop, receive batches of containers bringing imported spare-parts and scraps from the wharf. They are offloaded right on the road, making swift movement become cumbersome and near impossible.

Outraged at the chaos in the market, the state government has on a number of occasions, made efforts to return sanity to the place, and restore law and order, but all to no avail.

Measures taken in the past, which range from shutting down the market for lengthy periods, to compelling the traders to clean it up, and attempting to ease the traffic with security personnel, have all failed woefully.

Policemen stationed around to help matters and maintain law and order, have become an addition to the problems, as some of them now allocate parking lots to shoppers and motorists who want to fix their vehicles, for a fee.

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A motorist, Mr. Akeem Bello, expressed disappointment at government’s failure to take a firm stand on returning sanity to the market. He said whatever revenue the government may be getting from there notwithstanding, the comfort of other road users should never be sacrificed for that of the traders.

President, Ladipo Market Central Committee, Mr. Kinsley Ogunor, lamented that efforts to rid the service lane of the Oshodi/Apapa Expressway, have been unsuccessful, as the prevalent hardship in the country is still forcing artisans to convert parts of the road to mechanic workshops.

“I have mandated those operating there not to be parking vehicles on the side bordering the expressway. Sadly, the current hardship in the country is not helping matters, and that is why some of these problems cannot be completely eradicated. As a group, we will continue to do our best to ensure that sanity returns in the market,” he said.

Governor Ambode (right) discussing with the Sole Administrator of Mushin Local Council, Mr. Yinka Kazeem (middle) and treasurer of the market, Chief Cyril Onyema (left) during the governor's visit to the market.

Governor Ambode (right) discussing with the Sole Administrator of Mushin Local Council, Mr. Yinka Kazeem (middle) and treasurer of the market, Chief Cyril Onyema (left) during the governor’s visit to the market.

AND for many residents of Mushin and its environs, who have been troubled by the perennial traffic snarl around Ladipo Market, relief may have come finally, as the Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, on Wednesday promised to build a multi-layer car park within the market, so that vehicles will not be parked on the roads, obstructing free flow of traffic.

The governor also promised to reconstruct the two major roads within the market, which are in deplorable state to further aid free flow of traffic around the area.Ambode, who was on an unscheduled visit to the market, was welcomed by jubilant traders, who must have been apprehensive that the governor was there to inspect the market with the intention to order its relocation.

But rather than announced the rumoured relocation of the market, immediately the governor announced the plan to reconstruct the deplorable roads and build a multi-layer car park, the traders applauded with claps and praise singing.

He asked the traders to cooperate with the various chairmen in the market, as he would be meeting with them next week to discuss modalities to uplift the market’s physical plan.

Over the years, commuting around the market has been a perennial headache because traders and customers usually park their vehicles on the road.With the governor’s new position, the call for the relocation or demolition of the market has now been buried.

“When I came here during the campaign, part of my promises was to construct the bad roads here. I should have come earlier because I have spent one and half years in office. I am not pleased with the state of the roads within this market. So we are going to reconstruct Alhaji Akinwunmi and Ladipo streets.

“I have noticed that some things are missing in this market. We will construct a multi-layer car park within this market. With this, all the cars will be at the same location. Only loading and offloading will take place on the road.

“To start with, we will commence the process for the construction with a stakeholders’ meeting next week. At the meeting, we will agree on the process and how the project will be done. We will rearrange the market so that we can commence the construction work next month.

http://guardian.ng/news/sanity-takes-flight-from-lagos-grease-land/

Inside the parlous Mile 12 Market…

Dying slowly from air pollution, traffic congestion, bad food

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Metro Editor

WELCOME to Lagos, the Centre of Excellence and perhaps, ‘Disorder’. As the commercial capital of Africa’s most populous country, every inch of space in the 3,577km square area, including lagoons and creeks, is keenly contested for and an enormous asset to the state and local governments, traditional rulers, property owners, land grabbers, touts and just anybody strong enough to flex or peddle influence.
As such, managing the commercial activities of an approximate 20 million people should be the chief business of government, especially when many Lagosians approach every engagement from business perspective.
There are no fewer than 33 markets in Lagos, unarguably the largest number in a single city anywhere in the world. But with its limited land mass, one of the smallest in Nigeria, Lagos markets and traders face severe problems and at the same time constitute major challenges to smooth traffic, the environment as well as enforcement of law and order. No other site represents this better than the famous Mile 12 Market.
The market is the mecca for all fresh food items in Lagos and popular for retailing in farm produce like pepper, tomato, onions, vegetables, fruits, yam and other edible goods, which are all beautifully stacked in heaps of unending baskets. It is so popular far beyond the South West to the East and North Central states.
Undoubtedly, a blessing to the people of the state, as it helps them to get arrays of food items in small or large quantity, depending on their pockets; it also serves as a major source of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for government.

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Sadly, this over 40-year-old market of significance is located between Ketu and Mile 12, along Ikorodu Road, in Ikosi Isheri Local Council on a space barely wider than a standard football pitch. With more activities carried out outside the perimeter walls of the market, the neighbouring communities of Mile 12, Ikosi-Ketu, Agiliti, Thomas Laniyan Estate, Owode-Onirin, Agboyi, Ajegunle, Owodelede, Maidan, Isheri North Scheme and environs, are daily bearing the brunt of congestion in ways that have hugely disrupted the lives of residents and the environment.

Within its four walls, the market also grapples daily with its dilemmas. When the trouble is not about waste disposal challenges, environmental and traffic hiccups, it would be leadership tussles between shop owners and traders (mainly from the northern parts of the country) or fire outbreaks.

Of this mess, nothing irks Lagosians and disrupts the mega-city flow than the notorious perennial traffic snarls caused by traders, who, daily, display their goods on more than half of the road to the detriment of motorists and other road users. Not even the rehabilitation of Ikorodu road by the state government has stopped the notorious gridlock on the less than two kilometres stretch between Mile 12 and Ketu.

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On the corridor, it is estimated that at least 50,000 vehicles are caught in the traffic daily morning and evening. If every motorist spends an extra N500, roughly three litres of fuel daily above what he or she would normally spend, that is N25 million. In a week, that adds up to N175 million, N700 million in a month and in a year, an estimated N8.4 billion ($24 million) would have been wasted in the traffic on the Mile 12 market axis alone.

Apart from the money lost is the damage the gridlock does to the health of motorists. Recently, a new study revealed that long-term exposure to traffic pollution is associated with an 18 per cent increase in the risk of heart attacks. Air pollution is estimated to be responsible for a shocking 29,000 premature deaths a year in the United Kingdom – ten times the number of people killed in road accidents, according to the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution, an advisory committee to the government.

Frank Kelly, professor of environmental health at King’s College, London, says air pollution is now a major public health hazard in the UK. “In my view, because we all need to breathe, air pollution is second only to smoking in terms of hazards to public health,” he said.

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It is a known fact that air pollution in Lagos does not discriminate among social classes. Researches revealed that Lagos’ 20 million residents inhale daily a deadly mix of Particulate Matter (PM), Asbestos, Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Oxide (NO), Carbon Monoxide (CO), and partially unburnt hydrocarbons.

These substances contribute to the death of seven million people – one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure, according to new estimates by World Health Organisation (WHO), released recently. This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk.

In particular, the new data reveal a stronger link between both indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure and cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and ischemic heart disease, as well as between air pollution and cancer. This is in addition to air pollution’s role in the development of respiratory diseases, including acute respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.

It is even more woes for residents of neighbouring areas, who are subjected to a hectic time coming out of their homes to access the Ikorodu road. Trucks filled to the brim with goods take up nearly all the available spaces in a long queue waiting for the chance to move into the market to have their goods offloaded.

They are also assaulted with heaps of nauseating market waste that take days to be cleared off the road. During rainy season, it is like a journey through the wilderness navigating the mess of waste and flooding pushed to the roads because of the blocked drainage. For the pollution and environmental hazards, it seems both the government and resident associations are at their wits end in addressing the dilemma.

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The untold story of food waste

Beyond the public nuisance of traffic gridlock the Mile 12 market has constituted to road users, is the story of food waste and its implication on the environment and consumers of spoilt food.

Recently at the market, it was a shouting match between a trader and three men identified as truck driver and motor-boys, which attracted throngs of onlookers. While much of the argument was in gibberish English and Hausa language, it was not difficult ascertaining the cause of the disagreement – a truck fully loaded with carrots and oranges.

The congregation of onlookers could only stand and stare at the ensuing melee between the two parties shouting themselves hoarse to be heard. The exasperated trader was refusing to receive his consignment, which arrived late, after a few days delay on the road.

To many of the bystanders, it was a common sight seeing truckloads of perishable food items and farm produce waste even before they are offloaded. After much debate, the driver was paid fully and asked to do whatever he wanted with the spoilt carrots and oranges.

Food waste or food loss is food that is discarded or lost uneaten. As of 2015, 2.3 billion tons of food, about one third of the global food production, are lost or wasted annually. Loss and wastage occur in all steps in the food supply chain, and in developing countries, most loss occurs during production.

Mile 12 Market is known for selling assorted fruits like orange, banana, cucumber, pineapple, garden egg, watermelon, pawpaw and foodstuffs at wholesale price. The market also acts as assembly point for foodstuffs “shipped” into Lagos from other states and neighbouring countries.

Regular visitors to the market know two things are just as important as money: a pair of robber boots to protect their feet and shoes from getting soiled, and a handkerchief to reduce the assault of human and material waste on their nostrils.

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At the unveiling of Danfoss food processing company in Lagos earlier in the year, the Sales Manager, North West & Central Africa Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, Youssef Zitouni, revealed that Nigeria’s food waste has hit $750 billion yearly. It is not far-fetched that the hundreds of the Mile 12 merchants dump many of this food waste in Lagos.

According to him, food wastage in Nigeria is incredible as “80 per cent of food produced is wasted in Nigeria, contributing to 33 per cent of food waste in the world.”

He also hinted that for “every ton of food waste generated, 1.9t C02 eq/t is emitted to the environment,” insisting that this explains why half of Nigeria’s population face threats of hunger and starvation.

Alhaji Abdul Mohammed, General Secretary of the market, said the lack of storage facilities and food preservatives is the major cause of food waste at Mile 12.

“Presently, the price of food in the market is high due to the rainy season. We lack the facility to store and preserve our farm produce. Also, most of our farmers still use the old methods of storage and preservation, which do not last long. It is time they began to employ modern ways of preserving foods, which are beyond what farmers can do on their own.”

A few metres from the building serving as secretariat of the traders’ union is parked a truck loaded with onions. Passersby could barely walk past without holding their breath, due to the stench of decaying onions.

“That truck is still in the line queuing to be offloaded and half of the onions are already spoilt. I learnt Borno State bought the onions from the farmers through their agriculture project. Imagine if this was not a government scheme, the loss would have been borne by the farmers,” Mohammed said.

According to him, agriculture business is rewarding but greatly unpredictable. “One of the factors causing food wastage is weather. Whether it is potato, tomato, or onion, fruits cannot be preserved for long. Secondly, transport problem adds to about 30 per cent of food spoilage,” he said.

“In the past, tomatoes were not transported in trucks; they were transported in trains and coaches. With modern trains, you can spend not more than five hours from Kano to Lagos, but spending a whole day on the road is not the best way to transport perishable goods.

“The problem of transportation is compounded by bad roads. Each time trucks jump into the thousands of potholes on the roads, it causes more damage to the goods. Sometimes, trucks fall over and waste thousands of tons of food.”

A trader at the market, Ibrahim Haruna, wants government to take the transport sector seriously, if it is interested in developing the agriculture sector. “Nigeria is so blessed, we have no business having food crisis. What we produce is enough to feed the whole of West Africa, but much of this is lost because of the failure of rail transportation,” he said.

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Mile 12 Market, epicenter of bad food economy

Surprisingly, The Guardian observed that bad/spoilt food has its fans. Blame it on recession and you may be wrong, as the patrons of spoilt food is as old as the market. A trader, Ibrahim Musa, noted that it is difficult to estimate food loss, because there are buyers for every goods, whether good or bad. “There are those who specifically shop for spoilt or damaged goods because it is cheaper,” he said.

The state of the food has not deterred some buyers, particularly roadside food vendors. Baskets of rotten tomatoes, which the traders call ‘Esha’ in Yoruba, leave the market in droves, not to the waste truck, but to rickety vehicles waiting at the entrance of the market to dispatch to their subscribers. A small basin goes for N500 while fresh ones cost twice as much, or even more.

A seller, Mustapha Usman, said the low price is the attraction for buyers. “The tomatoes are cheap because they are bad. That is why people are buying it,” he said in smattering English.

Bad for the liver

A professor of food microbiology at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof. Olusimbo said consumers of decaying food expose themselves to numerous liver and kidney diseases. “The rotten food is a good medium for the growth of bacteria and fungi,” she said.

“They are dangerous to our health and cause diseases. Consumers can have renal failure, liver failure and it can also affect the intestine, causing diarrhoea and Septicemia, when the bacteria get into the blood stream.”

The university don said the bacteria could convert the Vitamin C in the tomato to Lactic Acid or Xanthurenic Acid, which “can hurt the liver.” She advised that one should eat fresh food as much as possible, adding that the local councils should ensure the good quality of food sold in the markets.

“That is why we pay taxes to government. There should be food inspectors monitoring the quality of food. This is the kind of situation that leads to epidemics.”

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Foreign collaborations with Mile 12 Market beckons

There have been some international interests lately, with the show of intention by the United Kingdom (UK) to support the Lagos State government in its quest to develop the market to international standard.

The development, the Permanent Under-Secretary of the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), James Wharton, said is in line with UK’s Department for International Development (DFID)’s aids programmes for Nigeria, during a recent official visit to the market.

Wharton’s trip was to assess the extent of works to be carried out at the market in line with the Lagos State government’s plans to restructure the market.

The United Kingdom spends about £500 million in aids for Nigeria annually through DFID aids programmes. The visit, according to Wharton, was also to look out for areas of possible investment in the market.

Wharton, who was received at the market by the Chairman, Mile 12 Market Management Committee and Chairman Perishable Food Stuff Market Association, Haruna Muhammed and other executive members, noted that the market offered lots of investment potential, but added that a lot more work needed to be done to ensure it delivered what the people expected from it.

He added that the UK government would play significant role to support the market men and women to add value to their produce.

While addressing Wharton and his team, Muhammed said the investment opportunity by UK would bring a lot of relief to the market, adding that the market had never benefited from government assistance since its existence.

“Over 40 years of its existence, there had never been any government’s assistance, we need assistance from both government and the World Bank,” Muhammed said.

 

Inside the parlous Mile 12 Market…

 

Inside the shimmering state of Lagos

• Power cable vandals threaten street lighting efforts
• Govt, communities worry over consequences
By Tope Templer Olaiya
It was a tragedy too many when last Wednesday, an unidentified woman met her untimely death at Kosofe bus-stop in Mile 12 area of Lagos State when she was electrocuted while crossing the expressway.On her way to Mile 12 market, she was attempting to cross the road when unknowingly touched the railing dividing the highway, whic h had contact with a faulty electrical pole and she died instantly.

That was the fourth such incident at the same spot in the last three months, especially since the Light Up Lagos project initiative by the Akinwunmi Ambode-administration installed streetlights across the length and breath of the state.

According to an eyewitness, “a red flag was even tied on the rail to warn pedestrians against crossing from that spot. The woman must have been unaware of the danger and touched the pole,” he said.From early this year, the state governor Akinwunmi Ambode had embarked on the Light Up Lagos project in the first phase of an ambitious agenda to make Lagos State a 24-hour economy, where production, exchange, distribution and consumption take place round the clock.

Construction work ongoing at night on a lit up street in Badagry

Construction work ongoing at night on a lit up street in Badagry

Sometimes also called ‘the city that never sleeps’ Ambode hopes Lagos would join economic powerhouse cities like New York, London, Tokyo, Paris, Bangkok, Seoul, Shanghai and Chicago, where the 24-hour economy is driving productivity, building strong institutions, improving quality of life, environmental sustainability and infrastructure development.

Relying on the five gas-powered Independent Power Projects at Akute, Alausa, Mainland, Island and Lekki, which are supplying energy to the streetlights and other public facilities, it is now smooth night-driving through Third Mainland Bridge, Ikeja, Ojodu-Berger to Iyana-Oworonshoki, Murtala Muhammed Airport Road, Okota through Isolo to Ikotun, Mushin to Onipetesi, Agege and Sango.

With Lagos nights now brilliantly lit-up, the dread of driving after dusk is giving way to some ease , especially in areas like Ejigbo, Ipaja, Ayobo, Ishefun, Aiyetoro, Oshodi among others.A resident living in Oshodi, Mr. Solomon Enilolobo, said the streetlight on Airport Road has addressed the problem of insecurity in the area.

Light Up Lagos turns night to day in a street in Amuwo Odofin

Light Up Lagos turns night to day in a street in Amuwo Odofin

“People travel at night and move a lot on this road but it is always with trepidation because of the darkness that envelops everywhere. Even the emergence of petrol tankers didn’t help matters, but with this light now, people can move any time without fear of being attacked.”

“People travel at night and move a lot on this road but it is always with trepidation because of the darkness that envelops everywhere. Even the emergence of petrol tankers didn’t help matters, but with this light now, people can move any time without fear of being attacked.”

To another resident of Ipaja, Ibrahim Mucas, “anyone who loves beauty would appreciate the streetlights in this part of Lagos.“But my worry is that the hoodlums may tamper with them. You can see how they have vandalized aluminum and steel railings on pedestrian bridges.My plea is for the government that has begun this beautiful work to also provide security that would check such vandalism,” he said.

To a community leader in Okota, Alhaji Olalekan Bashir, communities must show more than passing interest in the project.“It is a good thing we are beginning to see the dividends of democracy in this area. A way of sustaining this development is to engage community policing to protect these state infrastructure.

“The Neighbourhood Watch, Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) and the police should be empowered to prevent cable vandals from stealing streetlight cables in any part of the state.”

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Another community leader in Ejigbo, Christopher Emmanuel, noted that commercial bus drivers should be sensitised on safe driving so that they don’t destroy the streetlight poles through reckless driving.“There was a time the governor apprehended a Danfo driver on this road for driving one-way. That picture sent a strong message that the era of driving recklessly is over.

“More of those who willfully break the law, destroy public utilities like cables, poles, roads should be given stiff penalties to deter others,” he said.Meanwhile, the Lagos the Lagos State government has lamented the gross abuse of public infrastructure provided for communities.

According to the Special Adviser to the governor on Communities and Communication, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, government has been bothered that some residents were abusing its infrastructure. He told The Guardian at the weekend, that the present administration was passionate about of inclusive governance and sustainable infrastructural development.

Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, Special Adviser to the governor on Communities and Communication

Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, Special Adviser to the governor on Communities and Communication

“Over time, government has observed gross abuse of the state government infrastructure in our communities which necessitated the decision to embark on inaugurating the management committee, saddled with the responsibility of managing and maintaining community projects across the state.

“I just chaired a meeting with Neighbourhood Watch commanders, to work out modalities on how to effectively combat criminality and ensure obedience to government laws in the state. I can assure you, violators and vandals won’t go unpunished.”Bamigbetan implored Community Development Associations (CDAs) and Community Development Committees (CDCs) to partner with the government in developing their areas by being the government’s eyes and ears in safeguarding public infrastructure from neglect, abuse and vandalism.

 

Power cable vandals threaten street lighting efforts in Lagos

Meet Gbenga Abiola, youngest council boss in Nigeria @ 28

Governor Ambode congratulating Gbenga Abiola

Governor Ambode congratulating Gbenga Abiola

He looks calm but he exudes confidence that belies his young age. He speaks so fluently and eloquently. For him, service comes naturally.

But he is only 28 years old. On Monday, June 13, 2016, he stood out among his peers. He had just been sworn-in as the Sole Administrator of Agege Local Government by the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode.

Gbenga Abiola was the cynosure of all eyes at the event. He was the beautiful bride. Everyone wanted to talk to him, particularly the media. At 28, Gbenga was perhaps the youngest ever council boss in the state and of course one of the ladies at the event said, “so cute, he is the most handsome among the lot.”
As the boss of Agege Local Government, Gbenga has a heavy burden on his young shoulder but he is confident of delivering the goods. “I have confidence in God and I’m equally confident that my political leaders are there for me. I also have confidence in the staff of the local government. By the special grace of God, we will deliver,” he said humbly.

Gbenga had his primary education at the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus Nursery and Primary School, Epe and proceeded to both Government College, Ketu, Epe and Folbim High School for his secondary education.

He attended the University of Lagos for his tertiary education graduating with honours as a Bachelor of Science degree holder in Psychology. He had his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Ekiti.

He was Director, Featland Children School; Internet/Business Strategist for e-Script and until his appointment as a Sole Administrator, Special Assistant on New Media and Publicity to the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa.

His hobbies include: strategic communication, table tennis, football and high jumping. He is a die hard supporter of FC Barcelona of Spain.‎

Lagos ‘golden boy’ becomes Buhari’s ‘Actualizer’

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor

PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI (R), CONGRATULATING MR BABATUNDE FASHOLA AFTER TAKING HIS OATH OF OFFICE

PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI (R), CONGRATULATING MR BABATUNDE FASHOLA AFTER TAKING HIS OATH OF OFFICE

ONE hundred and sixty six days after dropping the saddle as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nigeria’s richest state, Lagos, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), who would forever be remembered for the sobriquet, Eko oni baje, was yesterday recalled from rest to take up a higher responsibility for national assignment when President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated his cabinet and assigned portfolios to the ministers.
While social media leaks had skirted around the probable nomination of Fashola as Minister of Works or the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), no one, not even the ex-governor, would have won the bet on the president’s plans to assign three heavy portfolios. Alas, when the president unveiled the ministers and their portfolios, the former governor of Lagos got the lion’s share as he was given a combination of three ministries – namely power, works and housing.

Fash He joins the newly constituted cabinet on the strength of his antecedent with his above-average performance as Lagos helmsman. Former governor Bola Tinubu’s eight-year administration laid the groundwork of modern Lagos as has been rightly termed ‘The Navigator.’ Fashola came on board and did his spell as ‘The Actualizer’ to implement the development and policy thrust of his predecessor before Akinwunmi Ambode’s emergence, who is touted as ‘The Consolidator.’
Fashola, the ‘Actualizer’ must have earned the absolute trust of President Buhari for a few reasons, some of which shone brightly during the intense campaign for the general elections. Others were the way he carried himself brilliantly during his eight-year administration of Lagos, which made him far ahead of his peers and first among equals of the Governors’ Class of 2007 to 2015.
Before the president selected Fashola as a ministerial nominee, there was a lot of talk from some quarters that Buhari might drop him due to some powerful forces within the ruling All Progressives Congress APC working against his nomination. However, the president had other ideas. He had so much faith in Fashola. Moreover, Buhari saw Fashola as a disciplined man just like himself who was ready to work assiduously.

Fashola during his appearance at the Senate for Ministerial Screening

Fashola during his appearance at the Senate for Ministerial Screening

One of the qualities you can’t deny Fashola of is his high spirit of patriotism. The former governor has always showed his passion for the progress of Nigeria. He believes in the project of a prosperous Nigeria. He proved this sufficiently when he steered the ship of Lagos, and became the toast of other African countries and foreign investors across the world.
Next to his patriotism is the fact that Fashola is a workaholic. The new minister of power, works and housing is a person who never gets tired of whatever he sets his eyes to achieve. When he came in as governor of Lagos in 2007, he could count the number of grey in his hair. Today, the reverse is the case. Eight years of intense work has made his hair all grey.
The minister, who would be the cynosure of all eyes in the new cabinet, also has a soft spot for innovative ideas. And his signature and indelible marks are all over the state. From the boosted Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to the Lagos State Security Trust Fund, which assisted in reducing crime in the state; the restructuring of the once notorious Oshodi under bridge and beautification of some notorious hotspot are few examples.

L-R; New Ministers, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (Power, Works and Housing); Lai Mohammed(Information); James Ocholi, (State, Labour and Employment)and Alh. Abubakar Malami (Justice) taking the oath of Office as Federal Ministers

L-R; New Ministers, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (Power, Works and Housing); Lai Mohammed(Information); James Ocholi, (State, Labour and Employment)and Alh. Abubakar Malami (Justice) taking the oath of Office as Federal Ministers

For the poster boy of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Fashola has proved the saying to be true that the reward for hard work is more work. In a sense, he has had his short rest abruptly truncated to help deliver the change the ruling party promised Nigerians.
In August, when during the twists of an intra-party high-wired politics that was meant to dim his chances of being considered for a national call into the president’s team, he had replied his traducers, particularly the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) on the subject of the N78 million personal website that he was not looking for a job.
“I cannot conclude without responding to the crusade of CACOL and their ilk, seeking my prosecution on allegations that have no proof and writing “pre-emptive” letters to the Presidency. In case they are unaware, I am not looking for a job. I expect them to know that allegations of wrongdoing are not resolved without evidence, neither are they resolved in press conferences.

Readers are definitely Leaders

Readers are definitely Leaders

“I have served my state, and by extension, my country for twelve and half years and I did so with my heart. I am taking the rest that I believe I have earned. For those who still wish to remain in the mud, they should look in the mirror. For those who wish to throw mud at me, they should look at their own hands. As for me, I have moved on. My job is done.”
After taking the oath of office yesterday as Minister, the job is beginning afresh, on a national scale, where he is expected to drive the vision of the president.
All hopes are on Fashola to succeed. Some of the fangs he released at the Federal Government during the previous administration will now be used to measure his achievements in office. The Federal Government must live up to its responsibility to Lagos. Expectedly, he stole the show during the ministers’ screening at the Senate, Nigerians now expect him to steal the show with a sterling performance.

 

Lagos ‘golden boy’ becomes Buhari’s ‘Actualizer’

Potholes, potholes everywhere you go!

Federal mess in Lagos (Part 1)
By Tope Templer Olaiya,
Assistant Lagos City Editor

Failed portion of Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway at Ile-Epo bus-stop, Abule-Egba

Failed portion of Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway at Ile-Epo bus-stop, Abule-Egba

LIVING in Lagos can be as stressful as living in a war zone; the weather is constantly humid, traffic is hellish, living conditions are horrid, roads are terribly bad and the government appears to be ‘indifferent’. In the last few weeks, the combined problem of traffic logjam and insecurity across the state have made many Lagosians wondered aloud what is going wrong with their beloved Centre of Excellence.
A latest survey conducted by leading research institute, NOIPolls, revealed that severe traffic gridlock and heightened crime rate have now become the major sources of concern to the residents of Nigeria’s commercial capital, since Governor Akinwunmi Ambode assumed office in May 2015.
Predictably, the latter (heightened crime rate) exists because of the precarious situation of the former (severe traffic gridlock), which regrettably have been blamed on the lukewarm attitude to work by the state’s traffic regulatory personnel and hideous potholes littering many of the major artery roads in the state.

Creek Road, Apapa

Creek Road, Apapa

Lagos has elevated the definition of potholes. They are no longer small openings carved out on its roads by rainfall and lack of drainage but are alternatively death traps, that an unsuspecting motorist can pay dearly for.
These potholes, mostly on federal roads, have widened into craters and usually cause unnecessary traffic gridlocks. In some cases, car owners have to visit mechanics after a trip or two on these roads. More so, it has become an eyesore to Nigeria, the nation’s former political capital.
Lagos is encircled by dreadful roads on all fronts. Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is perennially a motorist’s nightmare; Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway is caving in under pressure and influx of citizens to the fringes of Lagos; Lagos-Badagry Expressway is taking forever to remodel and expand; too much has been written and said about the deplorable but busy Apapa-Oshodi Expressway; and the situation remains the same with Ikorodu-Sagamu Expressway.

Wharf Road, Apapa

Wharf Road, Apapa

At a time, former governor and now member of President Buhari’s cabinet as a minister, Babatunde Fashola, had relentlessy told the world how the Federal Government has over the years neglected Lagos and why a special status needed to be granted.
It is no longer fruitless to play politics with Lagos. Concrete action must now be taken to arrest the rot, which is threatening the economy of Nigeria’s biggest cash cow after oil. If taken as a country on its own, Lagos would be among the largest economies in Africa. According to a recent Economist report, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Lagos exceeds that of Kenya, East Africa’s beefiest economy.
All these have made life miserable for Lagosians. There is an increase in the number of vehicles on the roads. As a result of the traffic, many have missed business engagements, while those gainfully engaged have lost productive man-hours to the traffic.

The worries do not end there, as every person behind the wheels are weary of daredevil robbers clutching dangerous weapons in the bid to disposes motorists of money, phones and valuables. And these men of the underworld have found a new hobby in plying their trade during traffic. They are so brazen they don’t need the cover of darkness anymore.
All these are enough to stress out even the calmest soul, and sometimes most people who are stressed out don’t even know it until it’s too late.
Little wonder then Lagos was listed as one of the least livable cities in the world alongside Pakistan, Harare in Zimbabwe and Dhaka in Bangladesh by a study conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Ranking, which rated 140 cities in the areas of stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.
Inspite of this, it is an irony of sorts that the city of Lagos still attracts visitors in their hundreds daily.

• Federal Ministry of Works keeps mum

Oshodi-Isale service lane, Oshodi

Oshodi-Isale service lane, Oshodi

WHEN The Guardian contacted a deputy Director, in the Federal Ministry of Works, Mr. Godwin Eke, for comment on the bad state of the road, he directed the reporter to contact the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Works in Abuja, on the ground that he is not allowed to speak to the press.
When reminded that he has been talking to the Press in the past on the parking of trucks and petrol tankers constituted nuisance on the highway, Eke, who is in charge of Section I of the Federal Highway said it was in the past and not now.
Minister-designate and former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, had last year, said a good number of federal roads in the state were in a state of disrepair, pointing out that the situation would have been worse if his administration had not intervened on some of them, adding that he spent over N50 billion of tax-payers money to fix federal roads without getting any refund, despite acknowledgement by the Federal Government.
“We intervened in federal roads because they would disrupt economic activities if we leave them in a state of disrepair. One can imagine the economic impact of watching Apapa-Oshodi Expressway to be completely unmotorable. We can’t just watch these roads to rot away because we feel the pains.”

• Quick Facts

• Lagos has 117 federal roads.
• Length of state roads is 328.
• Length of local government roads is 6,415.

• Length of federal roads in Lagos is 719.2km.
• Length of trunk routes is 646.2km.
• Length of secondary routes is 73km.

 

Federal mess in Lagos (Part 1)

The Emerging Colour Of Lagos Politics

By Tope Templer Olaiya

It is 40 days to the dawn of a new era in Lagos. On May 29, the Governor-elect, Akinwunmi Ambode, will be sworn into office as the next Lagos ‘Driver’ to pilot the affairs of the nation’s commercial nerve centre till 2019.
For the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), which has held the reins of power since the fourth Republic in 1999, things may never be the same again in the next dispensation beginning from next month. It was a long-drawn and hard-fought battle for the party since the day its top hierarchy projected Ambode to be the next occupant of Lagos House in Alausa.
From the thorny issue of preparing the grounds for the emergence of a Christian governor to satisfying agitators from the Lagos East Senatorial district, who were yet to be represented at the Lagos ‘Oval Office’ and finally managing the combustible reactions of losers, who had desperately eyed to be on the party’s ticket, it was not a 100-metres dash race.
If the APC thought they were nearing the finish line when against all odds, they shrugged off all internal schisms to sell Ambode’s candidacy to Lagosians, they sooner than expected woke up to the reality that there were many rivers to cross, with their main challenger, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), digging deep to present a formidable match in Jimi Kolawole Agbaje.

LAGOS HOUSE: Front view of the Governor's Office, Alausa

LAGOS HOUSE: Front view of the Governor’s Office, Alausa

Bola Tinubu’s eight-year administration laid the groundwork of modern Lagos as has been rightly termed ‘The Navigator.’ Governor Fashola came on board as ‘The Actualizer’ to implement the development and policy thrust of his predecessor before Ambode comes on stream as ‘The Consolidator.’
Though this was the first time the opposition PDP went into the election without much rifts, the party was for the fifth time unlucky. Many political observers, including leaders of leading political parties in the state have admitted that last week’s election was the fiercest in the history of governorship elections in the state since the return of democracy in 1999.
The campaigns leading to the elections were very tense and fear of violence gripped residents. This was further heightened a week to the elections when the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, threw away the garbs of decency in a hate speech to canvass support for his anointed candidate. He told some non-indegene visitors to his place to vote Ambode or be damned.
He had infamously threatened the Igbo and non-indigenes, who were showing much love for the PDP, to drown them in the lagoon if they fail to vote for Ambode, whom he has chosen.

Ambode (middle) discussing with close associates

Ambode (middle) discussing with close associates

The governor on Wednesday restated the obvious when he described the 2015 election campaigns as the most difficult he has ever participated in. Fashola, in his confession, said never has any political contest divided over 120,000 Lagos civil service than the 2015 general elections did.
The governor, who, however, thanked the workers for giving APC the edge, said it was time to close ranks and give the in-coming administration massive support. “I have been involved in four elections till date. In 2003, I was the Chief of Staff to Governor Bola Tinubu, 2007 and 2011 as candidate while 2015 as governor. But not in any of those elections have I seen a campaign that tried to divide our public service.
Last Monday, when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) drew the curtains on the April 11 governorship and House of Assembly elections in Lagos, it was a subdued celebration that greeted the announcement of Ambode as the winner of the election, after polling 811,994 votes to defeat Agbaje who scored 659,788.
This has been the closest and tightest race so far between the two parties. And for the ruling party, it is an election result that is too close for comfort. They cannot sleep easy anymore from now till 2019. In 2003, the late Funsho Williams polled 700,000 votes as against Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s 900,000 votes to secure his second term in office.
At the 2007 poll, outgoing governor, Babatunde Fashola, who scored over 800,000 votes, hedged out Musiliu Obanikoro, who was able to secure about 300,000. In 2011, Fashola dusted the PDP’s Ade Dosunmu with over a million votes polling 1,509,113 to 300,450.

From Right: Lagos APC Chairman, Henry Ajomale, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Babatunde Fashola and Pa Odunsi

From Right: Lagos APC Chairman, Henry Ajomale, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Babatunde Fashola and Pa Odunsi

For the first time since 1999, the ruling party will have to carry on its business of marrying politics and governance, while a keen opposition breathes down their neck. Out of the 40 House of Assembly seats, the PDP has claimed eight. When the Eighth Session of Assembly resumes on May 29, 2015, about half of the faces will be newcomers and some of them members of the opposition PDP.
The eight PDP lawmakers will change the complexion of the House that has in the last eight years been a one-party chamber. Besides the eight, 11 newcomers on the platform of the APC will also join 21 returnees for the coming Assembly that has already been touted to be more competitive and feisty along party line.
Composition of principal officers will be the first acid test. With the current Speaker of the House, Adeyemi Ikuforiji and Deputy Leader, Lola Akande voluntarily quitting the business of law making; Majority Leader, Dr. Ajibayo Adeyeye and Chief Whip, Dr. Rasak Balogun losing at the APC primaries; and the last principal officer standing, Deputy Speaker, Taiwo Kolawole, crashing at the polls last Saturday, the Assembly will be walking the tight rope of leadership battle.

Senator Musiliu Obanikoro and Jimi Agbaje

Senator Musiliu Obanikoro and Jimi Agbaje

Roll call of the PDP-lawmakers has Fatai Olatunji Oluwa, representing Ajeromi-Ifelodun I Constituency. Oluwa defeated the sitting Deputy Speaker and the longest serving member of the House, Taiwo Kolawole, who has represented the Ajegunle axis of the state in the last 16 years. In Ajeromi-Ifelodun II Constituency, Dayo Famakinwa of the PDP defeated the sitting APC lawmaker, AbdoulBaq Ladi Balogun.
For Surulere II Constituency, Mosunmola Sangodara-Rotimi of PDP won with 33,583 votes against 32,767 pooled by Abiodun Awobotu of the APC. Dipo Olorunrinu and Hakeem Bello, both of the PDP also clinched the tickets for Amuwo Odofin Constituencies I and II seats. Olorunrinu ousted incumbent Sultan Adeniji-Adele of the APC, while Bello also clinched the Amuwo Odofin II seat from sitting Ramota Akinola-Hassan of the APC.
In Oshodi/Isolo Constituency II, the Ndigbos in Ajao Estate and Ejigbo axis ensured that the PDP candidate, Emeka Idimogu, won with 27,423 votes after defeating Olayinka Ajomale, son of the Lagos APC Chairman, Henry Ajomale, at the polls. A PDP candidate also clinched one the constituencies in Ojo area of the state.
If the story of the Lagos 2015 elections will be told in years to come, one of the highlights would be the remarkable success of the non-indigenes in Lagos to make a loud statement about their future stake in the Centre of Excellence.
In one fell swoop, three non-Yoruba including two Ndigbos from the opposition PDP won elections into the House of Representatives from Lagos State. They are Chief Oghene Egboh, Mrs. Rita Orji and Mr. Tony Nwoolu. Egboh won the House of Representatives seat for Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area, while Orji won in Ajeromi-Ifelodun LGA and Nwoolu won the Oshodi/Isolo Federal Constituency.

Governor-elect Akinwunmi Ambode and the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akinolu when the former paid the latter a courtesy visit after the election

Governor-elect Akinwunmi Ambode and the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akinolu when the former paid the latter a courtesy visit after the election

In the governorship election, PDP won in five out of 20 local government areas. They are Ojo, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Surulere, Amuwo-Odofin and Oshodi/Isolo. These places are suspected to be stronghold of non-indigenes in the state.
Remarkably, all three defeated incumbent holders of seats and they all won in areas heavily populated by the Igbo in Lagos State. The victory of the Igbo candidates in Lagos, according to some observers, is not a surprise as Igbo candidates have in the past won national elections in the state.
They cited the era of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), led by the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, when Igbo residing in Lagos won elections into the regional and central legislatures.
The Igbo may have fled Lagos in 1966-67 during the civil war but 2015 has proved the year of their resurgence in Lagos politics. Igbo, by sheer industry, has dominated street commerce in Lagos in the past few decades and as their businesses flourished, their numbers grew. The Igbos’ preferred trade apprenticeship system meant that as Igbo entrepreneurs grew they brought in family and friends from the east as apprentices.

Welcome to Lagos

Welcome to Lagos

Preoccupied with commerce, wary of politics, mindful of the war and their residency status, Igbos helped build and develop Lagos but played only at the fringes politically. The ambitious trader aspired to be the president of the market union or the Eze Ndigbo Lagos for vainglory, but that stereotype has been consigned to the dustbin of history, as a new Lagos emerges, where everyone has a stake.
Gradually, a score that the Nigerian Constitution has been unable to settle as it relates to citizenship and indigeneship is being addressed in light of modern day realities – a system in which citizens can live all their lives in a city, raise children, pay taxes, have constitutionally protected rights to vote and be voted for but are somehow not expected to occupy elective positions.
However, in the light of the 2015 experience, it remains to be seen if in the nearest future, politically ambitious “settlers” would not be looked at as ungrateful usurpers.