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’

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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.

Neglecting Lagos

By Eric Teniola
NIGERIA is not the first country to move its capital, but Nigeria must be one of the few countries that has abandoned its old capital.

L9Parana was the former capital of Argentina before it was moved to Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro was former capital of Brazil before it was moved to Brasilia,Salvador da Bahia was former capital before it was moved to Rio de Janeiro, Jauja was former capital of Peru before it was moved to Lima, Coro was former capital of Venezuela before it was moved to Caracas, Caparra was former capital of Puerto Rico before it was moved San Juan, Old Road Town was former capital of Saints Kitts before it was moved to Basseterre, Granada was former capital of Nicaragua before it was moved to Managua, Cartago was former of Costa Rica before it was to move to San Jose, James Town was former capital of Barbados before it was moved to Bridge Town, Russell was former capital of New Zealand before it was moved to Auckland, Levuka was former capital of Fiji before it was moved to Suva, Krakow was former capital of Poland before it was moved to Warsaw. Kragujevac was former capital of Serbia before it was moved to Belgrade, Kharkiv was former capital of Ukraine before it was moved to Kiev, Dares Salaam was former capital of Tanzania before it was moved to Dodoma in 1996, Nanking was former capital of the Republic of China before it was moved to Beijing, Kandy was former capital of Sri Lanka before it was moved to Colombo, Karachi was former capital of Pakistan before it was moved to Islamabad, Mandalay was former capital of Myanmar (Burma) before it was moved Rangoon, Calcutta was former capital of India before it was moved to New Delhi, Diriyah was former capital of Saudi Arabia before it was moved to Riyadh, Gondar was capital of Ethiopia before it moved to Addis Abba, Zomba was capital of Malawi before it was moved to Lilongwe, Aneho was former capital of Togo before it was moved to Lome,Bolama was former capital of Guinea-Bissau before it moved to Bissau and Al-Askarwas former capital of Egypt in centuries ago before it was moved to Cairo.

WelcomeThere are numerous examples of old capitals but none was abandoned by the central government, except of course, Nigeria.
On August 7, 1975, the then Head of State, General Murtala Ramat Mohammed (1938-1976) inaugurated a five man panel on the creation of more states in the country. The committee was headed by Justice Ayo Gabriel Irikefe (1922-1996). It was the panel that increased the number of states in Nigeria from twelve (12) to nineteen (19). Justice Irikefe later became the ninth Chief Justice of the Federation between (1985-1987).

Two days later on August 9, 1975, General MurtalaMohammed inaugurated another committee on the new Federal Capital for the country. The committee was headed by the former Chief Justice of Botswana, late Justice Timothy Akinola Aguda (1923-2001).

Dr.Aguda,who later became the Director of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, was from Akure in Ondo state. Other members of the committee were Dr. Tai Solarin,Col, Monsignor Pedro Martins, AlhajiMohammed Musa Isma,Chief Owen Feibai, Dr.AjutoGandonu and Professor O.K. Ogan.

After the submission of the committee’s report, the Federal Government then enacted Decree 6 of 1976 which gave birth to Abuja as the new Federal Capital. In the 72-page report of Aguda’scommittee, it was recommended that Lagos has become “over congested” and as a result the Federal Capital should be moved out of the city for Administrative purposes. The committee recommended further that the movement to Abuja should be gradual and should be in seven phases. Drawing a lesson from the Tanzanian experience it was the contention of the Aguda committee that Abuja should be functional by the year 2025. It should be noted that the committee’s report was accepted by the Federal Government.

FLOOD 1.jpgOk.It was not until 1979 that Mr. John Jatau Kadiya was appointed the first Minister for Abuja. At that time the appointment was made just to facilitate the creation of Abuja out of Nassarawa, Niger and Kogi states. Former President Usman Aliyu Shagari replaced Kadiya with Irro AbubakarDan Musa in 1982 and later named Aliru Dantorro as Minister in 1983. The post became not too important at that time because Abuja was not considered a priority. Following the complete movement of the Federal capital to Abuja in December 12, 1991 by General Ibrahim Babangida (72), Lagos has been abandoned since then. Not a single block has been erected by any Head of State in Lagos. The city right now is like a car park.

The last biggest project so far executed by the Federal Government in Lagos, was the Third Mainland Bridge of 11.8kilometre built by General Babangida which is the longest bridge connecting the Lagos Island to the Mainland. The Eko Bridge which is the shortest of the three bridges, the other two being the Third Mainland and Carter bridges. It spans a distance of 430 metres and its landward extension of 1350 metres was constructed in phases between 1965 and 1975 during the tenure General Yakubu Gowon. The first Carter Bridge named after Governor Gilbert Thomas Carter (1848 -1927)was constructed by the British Government in 1901. After Independence, the Bridge was dismantled and redesigned and rebuilt in the late 1970s. The Alaka-Ijora flyover of the Carter Bridge was completed in 1973.

Governor Babatunde Fashola

Governor Babatunde Fashola

Since December 12, 1991, when General Babangida finally moved the capital to Abuja, we have had six presidential tenures.None has thought it fit to develop Lagos. The Interim Government of Chief Earnest Shonekan (26 August 1993 to 17 November 1993), General Sanni Abacha from 17 November 1993 to 8 June 1998, General AbdusalamAbubakar (9 June 1998 to 29 May 1999), President Olusegun Obasanjo (29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007), President Musa Yar’adua (29May 2007 – 5 May 2010) and President Goodluck Jonathan from 6 May 2010 till date.

It is to be hoped that Lagos with 5.8 million voters will receive the concern of the coming President of Nigeria. For Lagos is beyond the capability of any state government however prudent it could be.

 

A dazzling, glittering welcome to 2015

L1L2

THE countdown has ended as we entered the New Year, and, in a few days time, it would be lights out for the dazzling Christmas lights that shone like diamonds in the sky on the streets of Lagos.

Christmas celebration in Lagos State before the coming of Governor Fashola’s administration was an okay one, albeit a bit dreary, save for firecrackers (knockouts) and a few Christmas decorations on a few houses. Though usually festive, it was largely an exclusive one for individuals and families.

L3L4However, in 2007, Christmas celebration changed forever in Lagos. For the very first time, the streets were given a glittery makeover by Ibidun Ighodalo of Elizabeth R, a leading Events Planning and Management company. It is a full service events planning, design and production company, creating extraordinary events and experiences for private and corporate clients.

Ibidun Ighodalo is renowned for her ability to transform mundane settings into exquisite spaces that serve as feasts for the senses. She is from the famous and affluent Ighodalo family who are an extremely powerful and successful bunch.

L11L8Her dream and vision of transforming Lagos into a fantasyland during Christmas season was ground breaking and laudable. It ushered in an era of goodness and goodwill for the state.  Christmas lights and displays adorned heritage structures, sites and parks, to brighten up the capital. Lagos twinkled with an array of Christmas decorations in all shapes, sizes and colours, giving our streets a festive sparkle.

Magical lights, ornaments, whimsical decor and displays, and garlands created a breathtaking spectacle. Lagos became a wonderland with a very distinct seasonal spirit, and the news spread far and wide. People came from all over to take in the enchanting sights, from displays of peacock inspired sets, to ships, dazzling lights and other exquisite ones. Christmas was no longer exclusive; it became an inclusive moment for all, and brought a sense of joy and amazement.

L7L9

Elizabeth R pulled out all the stops and Lagos wore on a modern and sophisticated look. This is the seventh year of putting up Christmas lights and it is bigger and better than ever. Under Ibidun’s direction, Lagos streets and sites are a masterpiece, and a beauty to behold.

We cannot imagine Christmas in Lagos without the Midas touch of Elizabeth R, it is now a collective tradition and one we look forward to celebrating.

AKOKA… Lagos community that runs on N100 monthly contribution

For about 30 years they have been abandoned. Now, the council authority and state ministries are working for Akoka community. WOLE OYEBADE reports on how they are doing it.

UnilagA hundred-naira note can buy very little for an individual today. Maybe a bottle of soft drink, a litre of petrol or a bag of sachet water for a family; nothing more. But there is a Lagos community where N100 can now buy households potable water, good roads, streetlights, and still have enough left to protect their lives and secure their properties too.
Welcome to Akoka community, in Somolu-Bariga area of Lagos, where a handful of rumpled N100 notes and sheer will of the people are making life tolerable – after endless wait for government’s intervention that never came.
Akoka, a rather sleepy little town on the fringes of Lagos Lagoon, is one of those communities government had abandoned and the people know where their shoe pinches. The last road tarred by any government in the area was by Lateef Jakande – the first executive governor of Lagos State some 30 years ago.
Besides the parlous state of roads in the community, the residents also travel kilometres to access healthcare or patronize local drugstores, popularly known as Chemists.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government also has a major stake in the area, though the community has benefitted nothing from all the three tiers of government. A federal institution, wherever it is sited anywhere in the country, comes with a lot of goodwill and literally a blessing to the host community, but not Akoka.
Akoka is notable for having two federal institutions – University of Lagos (UNILAG) and Federal College of Education (FCE) – both of which turned out to be a curse for residents who live in perpetual unease and sometimes under siege. Almost on a daily basis, they have watched bloody cult-clashes and crossfire of daredevil gangsters play out on their streets in broad daylight.

Rickett Street

Rickett Street

Apparently fed up by the state of utter helplessness, a group of residents began to weigh their options on the challenges. What to do and how to carry it out, however, divided them into two camps.

A section reasoned that the community members must take up the gauntlet if anything must change, to which opposing camp gave equally compelling argument that they would, by so doing, have usurped the function of the Local Council Development Area (LCDA) to whom they have always been remitting their taxes.
Apparently not giving in to the sit-down-and-look option, the former group, led by Segun Adesanya, took the bold step of self-help to address its pertinent issues.
“It was tough and we had very little hope of succeeding because many people were not persuaded to work for the community but we forged on,”
Adesanya, a businessman and resident of more than 20 years, told The Guardian.
Two years later, the Lagos State helmsman, Babatunde Fashola has not only called to congratulate Adesanya and company but the Lagos Ministry of Rural and Urban Development is already considering their development strategy as a model for over 8,000 community associations in the state.
Barely 24 months after residents were divided on what to do on community work, 18 drainage channels have been constructed, nine roads resurfaced and lit by streetlights mainly from contributions of the people.
Dotting the streets is tap water coming from boreholes that have been sunk on each street. There is a running tap in every home on Ayetoro Street, and same goes for Olanrewaju, Finbarr’s Road and Wulemotu Ayoka Street.
For their efforts, Fashola awarded the Akoka CDA the seventh best among 8,023 Lagos CDAs at the last community day celebration. All the first six were highbrow estates.
It was gathered that the governor has also pledged to refund their expenses on street lighting projects.
Explaining their model of community development, Adesanya, who later became the CDA Chairman, said that they started by coordinating all 18 streets in Akoka, with each having representatives in the CDA to work on a blueprint of development.
He said that though they know funding was important but this was de-emphasised to get the people to be committed.

St. Finbarrs road/Abdulahi street

St. Finbarrs road/Abdulahi street

According to him, all they could agree on was a monthly contribution of N100 per house, yet some still didn’t pay! The plan, though ridiculous in modern sense, was to embark on some community work and then call on local government authorities to assist.

“Under two years, we have been able to get state and local governments’ attention, which had eluded them in 30 years.
“Our original source of funding is through contributions of the people, before we mount demand on the LCDA and the state Ministry of Works. That is the essence of the CDA really; for us to tell the government what we need in our area. We have now been able to achieve 70 percent of our blueprint,” he said proudly.
Adesanya admitted that Akoka, Bariga and Somolu are crises-prone areas of the state but in the last two years they have not recorded any cult-clash or midnight robbery.
Here is how the CDA’s security committee did it, using a strategy that no government has thought about. Security think-tank of the CDA simply identified leaders of the rival groups, seven in number, and summoned them to a meeting.
A member of the committee, Remi Olaniyan, said the only reason people become miscreants and cultists is because they have nothing to live for.
“So, we sat the leaders down and told them that they could do more than they were doing.” In their names, savings bank accounts were opened to which they were advised to be remitting money on weekly basis.
“One of them has paid over N700,000 into the account in the last three months. I told him to invest it in car-hire business and helped him get a car. Today, it is bringing him N40,000 – N45,000 every week. That encouraged others and they followed suit. Three of them are now in car-hire business.

Wulemotu Ajoke street/Famosa lane

Wulemotu Ajoke street/Famosa lane

“They now trust us and know they can live a better life. It is not as if all of them are entirely bad. Now they are very useful to themselves and to the community. If any problem is about to happen, they would call me and say ‘chairman, this thing is going to happen o,’ and we would nip it in the bud. There is no way any violence will happen without any of these seven persons knowing about it. They now see this community as theirs and ready to protect it. If you don’t provide leadership, don’t expect anyone to follow you. For me, you don’t have to be a politician or be very rich to develop your community or make impact,” Adesanya said.

Even the doubting Thomases and sit-down-and-look Joneses have been compelled to lend a helping hand.
“That is why we are still collecting N100 per house, instead of N100 per head. We have shown responsible leadership and they can see that you are not out to embezzle their money. The fact is you don’t run a community with money but with people’s desire to work together.
“One of our drainages still under construction is on Tunde Bello Street, worth N2.5m. The project is aimed at addressing the problem of ocean surge. One of the residents, who saw what we are doing, gave us N1m for the project, adding to the N100,000 that the houses on the street had contributed. That is what trusted leadership can do,” he said.

Rickett Street

Rickett Street

In Akoka today, virtually everyone knows where he or she belongs among the existing committees – all working in common interest. The traffic committee, made up of even the unemployed residents in the community, controls the traffic prone junctions like Pako, as early as 6:30am.
The sanitation team swings into action on Thursdays, with the mindset that no government will come and develop the community for them.
Legal adviser and resident of the community, Wale Adekola, said their CDA was a testimony of what could be achieved with proper coordination and commitment from the grassroots level.

Adekola, a lawyer, joined the voluntary service to support the cause of proper leadership at the grassroots, which he identified as the bedrock of national development.
“I’ve been here (as resident) for five years and everyone knows we’ve never had it this good. Traffic around Pako used to be hell but through the proactive efforts of the CDA and effectiveness of the traffic committee, there has been an improvement. Our model is participatory leadership; that is people getting involved. It was when the local government saw what we were doing that they came to support us,” he said.

Elemoro… waiting desperately for Area ‘J’ Police Command Hqts

As Oba Elemoro survives second palace invasion in six months
By Tope Templer Olaiya,
Assistant Lagos City Editor
WHEN on Tuesday, November 26, Governor Babatunde Fashola handed over the new Area ‘C’ Surulere police command headquarters to the state Police Commissioner, Mr. Cornelius Aderanti, it was hope reignited for residents of Ibeju Lekki, who are desperately waiting on the governor to extend similar gesture to their area and save them and their monarch from constant harassment of armed bandits terrorizing Elemoro and neighbouring communities in Ibeju Lekki.
The three-storey building situated on Funsho Williams Avenue, Surulere, has almost all the facilities the police need to carry out their activities effectively. The facilities include CCTV, forensic room, finger print room, interrogation room with cameras, camera office, communication equipment, gym, area commander’s quarters, separate and modern male and female cells, among others.
In his address at the event, Fashola said the state government is building five of such building but three would soon be completed. The three area commands nearing completion are Area ‘J’ in Elemoro, Area ‘M’ at Idimu, and Area ‘L’ in Ilashe area of the state.
For the thousands of citizens residing at Elemoro and environs, their last hope for a lasting peace is the commissioning of the Area ‘J’ police divisional command to scare away hoodlums that are ceaselessly disrupting their solitude and had desecrated their monarch’s palace twice in two months.

Oba Elemoro

Oba Elemoro

The spate of insecurity at the Ibeju-Lekki area of Lagos worsened recently when the notorious activities of land-grabbers, popularly known as Ajagungbales sent shivers down the spines of residents in another botched assassination attempt on the traditional ruler of Oke-Odo Elemoro Land, Epe, Oba Tajudeen Adebanjo Elemoro.

Last week’s invasion of the monarch’s palace makes it the second time in six months that armed men would break into the palace at midnight in frenetic search for the Oba. The first attack took place on May 10, 2014.
On Tuesday morning, at some minutes past 12 midnight, the armed men numbering 10, broke a section of the palace fence to gain entry before announcing their arrival with several sporadic shots into the air. Gunshots were also used to breakdown the iron-cast gate of the palace leading to the private quarters of the monarch.
The rattled king, who now fears for his life, is making a desperate call to the state government to come to the rescue of the community and the palace and address the insecurity challenges in the area by first, stationing an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) in Elemoro and environs, and more importantly, activate the Area ‘J’ command to increase police presence, as according to him, the present state of insecurity is beyond the small-unit police station at Elemoro.

The fence damaged by the armed bandit

The fence damaged by the armed bandit

In a chat with The Guardian in his palace, Oba Elemoro said his life and that of his chiefs and subjects are in extreme danger. “On November 24, at midnight, these armed bandits made the second attempt on my life in six months. I was peeping from where I was hiding inside the house. I was not alone; I was with some little ones, while my younger brother, Isila Elemoro, and his family was downstairs.
“I saw some known faces among them numbering 10. They shot severally at the door, but they didn’t succeed in entering the house. They said, God save me, that if they had seen me, they would have wasted the Kabiyesi of Elemoro. It was then they went back. I know them; they are based in Oko Olomi. I can’t mention names as the father of everyone here, but if the police arrest them, I would be able to identify them,” he said.

Side view of the monarch's private residence

Side view of the monarch’s private residence

Highlighting the gravity of the invasion, Elemoro noted that it is a taboo for the king to be slain on the throne, especially in Yorubaland. “An Oba should not run away from the stool of his fathers. It has never happened in modern times. For some hoodlums to be confronting me with weapons and guns in my private residence is really scary. Moreso, election is coming and the hoodlums may begin to kidnap people very soon and people would mistake it for political violence.
“This is the second attempt and it is being traced to a woman who is challenging my kingship. I have never heard of where a lady has been crowned king in any part of Yorubaland, yet there is an usurper claiming to be king in some communities under my division. Her name is Toyin Eleku from Oko Olomi.
“She lied that it was the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade who crowned her but when the Ooni heard of it, he made a rebuttal in a Punch newspaper dated April 9, 2014 on page 69 that there is no part of Yorubaland where any woman has been honoured with a crown.
“He even went further in the statement signed by Alhaji Saka Awojoodu, the traditional secretary of the Royal Court of Ife, to state that such impostor should be arrested and prosecuted. Since then, she has been declared wanted and has gone into hiding.”