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.

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When President Jonathan came to town

Syn 2

By Tope Templer Olaiya,
Assistant Lagos City Editor

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

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

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

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

KorobucciByVPUN8CMAEz--m
The rally, which was a colourful display of music, dance and politicking, was dominated by supporters of Obanikoro, popularly known as Koro by admirers. His banners and supporters, clad in different costumes could be seen conspicuously everywhere across the rally. A creative highlight of the Minister’s presence at the rally was a group of young stuntmen, skaters and young ladies who were all over the place dressed in t-shirts with the inscriptions; #Korolette, #Korobucci.

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

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

Syn 8

Ilubirin… Mounting concerns over sand-filled Lagos

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor
It took a public verbal spat between Governor Babatunde Fashola and the Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, over the ongoing Ilubirin housing estate for the project site to attract a second look from motorists plying the Third Mainland Bridge.
Before the tirade, which began in April, the area had generated a passing interest despite being listed among the locations of the Lagos State Home Ownership Mortgage Scheme (Lagos HOMS). The government had planned to build on the reclaimed land, a total number of 1,254 flats, comprising two and three bedroom apartments on eight floors.
Until recently, Ilubirin was inhabited by Ijaws, Ilajes, settlers from Badagry and migrants from Benin Republic and Togo, who traded on commodities that riverine dwellers are known for. Specifically, their men fished, while the women supply fish to the major markets in Lagos.
This was until the Lagos State government demolished the settlement and embarked on reclaiming the place from the sea through the process of sand filling. While the removal of people from the environment was hailed, the reclaiming of land from the sea has continued to attract condemnations.

Ilubirin 2Those who frowned at the sand filling argued that constant encroachment on the ocean and lagoon does not augur well for the state ecologically and environmentally. They maintained that the damage to the ecosystem by excessive reclamation of land is gradual, accumulative and imperceptible, noting that the effects are irreversible.

While Fashola had taken excerption to the minister’s use of military personnel to disrupt the ongoing project, Obanikoro, who represents Lagos in the federal cabinet of President Goodluck Jonathan, had wondered aloud why the state government has decided to build affordable houses on water and with barely a year to the expiration of the governor’s tenure.

“It is no longer a secret that most of the affordable housing communities in the world were built on land and not water. Moreso, the location of the Ilubirin project breaks all the laws on setback requirements for highways and roads.

“This administration has consistently done amateur-styled land reclamation projects across the state, an action that has caused severe environmental damage and extreme discomfort to many families living in Lagos,” he told The Guardian.

Though the act of reclaiming land from the sea is a global practice, it is surprising that the latest one by the state government to build a low-cost housing estate has generated controversies. With the expertise employed by the government in all its sand filling projects, the existence of fears about ecological and environmental impact assessment of the projects, has somewhat been sustained.

Governor Fashola (middle) in discussion with his security team

Governor Fashola (middle) in discussion with his security team

Commenting on the growing incidence of land filling and reclamations going on in Lagos Island, Emeka Okonkwo, an estate surveyor and valuer, said it is a project driven by fraud because the cost of sand filling is going to be ten times the cost of opening another place.

“There are tablelands all over Lagos. There are places even in swampy areas that can be recreated and redeveloped than going to pour sand in water, which is unreasonable. They reclaimed a lot of places in Dubai but the costs of those apartments are simply ridiculous.

“The island is already chaotic. How are you going to manage the traffic? Yet, the government is spending so much money reclaiming the land when there are slums littering Lagos that could have been redeveloped like Badia. But in the face of profit, money, and tax for government, the action may just make sense. However, as a professional, my advice to government would be opening up other areas instead of sand filling,” he said.

An environmentalist, Chief Osawe Irabor, said he saw nothing wrong with the exercise. “If done in an organised manner, I believe nobody will complain. But when it becomes rampant and reckless, the people must resist it because usurping natural settings could be disastrous in the long run,” he said.

Backing his argument with contemporary examples, Osawe said: “Nearly every part of the Netherlands was reclaimed from the sea. What is happening in Lagos should not be different. Statistics have it that China reclaimed 13,455 hectares of land from the sea in 2010, resulting in earnings of more than 7.82 billion yuan.

“However, with every sense of purpose, I will say that what is happening in Lagos is being driven by the desire to make money. It is business on the part of those doing it because poor people don’t benefit from the houses being built on the reclaimed land. I hope they are being done according to the best practices in order to protect the ecosystem,” he stated.

Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, Minister of State for Defence (middle) on a recent visit to Naval Base, Apapa

Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, Minister of State for Defence (middle) on a recent visit to Naval Base, Apapa

Still on his worries, he said there are possibilities of buildings erected there to sink while the state stands the risk of being swept off by earthquakes and tsunamis.

A professor of Geography, Prof. Kaine Amikpume, in his environmental impact assessment of the project told The Guardian that there are inherent dangers associated with sand filling.

“We must tell ourselves the truth that this is a coastal state. And we are not immune to natural disasters associated with littoral states. It is just that we have been lucky not have experienced something beyond an ocean surge. Continuous reclamation of land from the sea distorts the ecosystem. But if done in an orderly manner with proper environmental impact assessment, the possibilities of failure will be minimal.

“I understand what the state government is going through in trying to meet up with population explosion, but the future of those you are trying to cater for should not be endangered by the same process. Other alternatives to sand filling should be explored to prevent the long-term effect, like opening up tablelands because you pay less to open up tablelands. But when you reclaim, you pay much and that informs the high cost of properties on reclaimed lands.”

It would be recalled that the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had called on the Federal Government to halt the sand filling of the ocean and lagoons in the state in the overall interest of the country. The party also berated the state government over what it described as “deceptive and diversionary evacuation of occupants from areas tagged slums, which was worsened by direct government negligence.”

Ilubirin 3

In a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Mr Gani Taofik, the party said the call came on the heels of the frequent ocean surges, which recently claimed lives and property at the beaches.

It alleged that the unnecessary loss of lives and property should be blamed on the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration, which has “remained adamant, irresponsible and only pursuing business interest that it chose to sand fill the ocean in its purported Eko Atlantic Project, where a plot of land is being sold for N350 million.”

The APC had in its reaction through the state Publicity Secretary, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, said: “We take it that Lagos PDP is far gone in mischief or it is on its well known antics of conning Nigerians for sympathy when it blamed the ocean surge on the laudable Eko Atlantic City, which is generating worldwide attention.

“We feel that PDP’s greedy inclination which sees every opportunity as fat cow to be milked by greedy party men is leading it into reading such negative meanings into great projects that promise to lift Nigeria from the quagmire it had sank the country into.”

Micheal Adegbola Dominic, governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Lagos during the 2011 election, sees it differently. “I can only say that Fashola is sinking concrete into the Atlantic Ocean, building bridges across the lagoon to Lekki and Banana Island and all that, but that is not what the majority of Lagosians need.

“The people of Lagos don’t need those concretes he is burying inside Atlantic Ocean, what they need is motorable roads in places like Ayobo, Ejigbo, Ikorodu, Ikotun, and so many other places in Lagos. Fashola is doing something good for himself and his elite friends. The people of Lagos are suffering, they are living in slums.”

Fashola Has No Approval From NIWA To Build Houses On Water, Says Obanikoro

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor
THE Minister of State for Defense, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, at the weekend replied the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, on his comments that the minister took soldiers to disrupt the ongoing Ilubirin Housing project on the Lagos Island.
Fashola had at an event last week decried attempts by Federal Government to take over reclaimed land at Ilubirin, earmarked for housing estate by the state government.
Speaking yesterday, Obanikoro said Fashola description of his personal visit to the planned Ilubirin housing estate as “Rambo like” was mischievous.
The minister, who is representing Lagos in the federal cabinet, noted that the governor has refused to get the required approval from the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA). “He has objected to getting an approval from the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). He does not even want the consent of the Federal Ministry of Works. The location of his site breaks all the laws on set back requirements for highways and roads.
“Despite all pleas, the governor has turned deaf ears on economic hazard of his project. As at today, the only approvals he has are the ones he manufactured for himself using various state ministries, departments and agencies. I am still confused about the logic behind building houses underneath high electric-powered cables.

KORO.

“As a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), I expect him to know that the construction is illegal. He needs to stop using the name of Alhaji Femi Okunnu to legalise his illegality. It only shows the recklessness and impunity that he governs with,” the minister said.

According to Obanikoro, it was suspicious that after being in office for over 15 years, the state government, with less than 15 months to go, is considering building affordable houses for Lagosians.

Obanikoro said:“ Surprisingly, Lagos State Government chooses to build these houses on the water. It is no longer a secret that most of the affordable housing communities in the world are built on land, not on the water.

“I have always supported housing projects, especially for families living in densely populated areas of the state. They need affordable houses. But the governor seems to have easily forgotten that Mosan-Okunola, Ijede, Ojokoro, Badagry are densely populated areas in Lagos. Residents in those areas have been crying for affordable houses since 1999.

“I know what affordable houses look like. My family and I lived in one of the good affordable houses built by former governor Lateef Jakande. Why does Fashola pretend not to know that 97 per cent of the families living in Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Alagbado, Agboyi-Ketu, Oke-Odo, Ayobo-Ipaja, Bariga, Epe and Igando do not have access to Government Housing Estates?

“Many families in Itire-Ikate can only afford to live in one room. Most Lagos State University (LASU) students still live in severely overpopulated environments. My advice to the governor is focus on building houses for families living in the areas that have the lowest house ownership rates like Ifelodun (4 per cent), Shomolu (8 per cent), or Mushin (8 per cent).”

The return of ‘Koro’

Ko si Koro, ko si ibo

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor

Tuesday’s clearance of Senator Musiliu Olatunde Ishola Obanikoro and nine other President Jonathan’s ministerial nominees by the Senate has established the reemergence of Obanikoro into Lagos politics.

   As expected, the former High Commissioner to Ghana got a soft landing from his colleagues as he enjoyed the ‘bow and go’ treatment, but was after briefing his audience and the nation on some details about his life.

   Obanikoro narrated his humble beginnings: From being a newspaper vendor in the streets of Lagos, to an apoti trader and a former cleaner, to his rise as a council chairman, commissioner, promotion to the Senate, an ambassador and now, a minister.

   No doubt, the listing of Obanikoro as a ministerial nominee didn’t come as good news to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party in Lagos State, who have been forced to return to its strategy room for a proper analysis of the implications of a ‘Koro, as the minister-designate is called, coming onboard the federal cabinet, a year to the general elections.

   For the Lagos State chapter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Obanikoro’s new national assignment is an acknowledgment of his previous excellent services to the nation.

  In a statement, PDP stated that it is very proud of the former Ambassador and Senator.

   “We thank Mr. President for nominating Senator Musiliu Obanikoro as Minister. We particularly commend the president for allowing the state to have the benefit of the Southwest ministerial slot. Indeed, Senator Obanikoro is a tested and trusted public servant, whose ability to deliver is not in doubt,” statement reads.

   The PDP also commended the Senate for rising above partisan politics by confirming the nomination of Obanikoro and nine others as ministers. The party noted that all the Senators unanimously suspended further debates on the issue of defection in order to confirm the nominees, thereby putting national interest over partisan politics.

Image

While the APC vacillates on its choice of who succeeds Governor Babatunde Fashola, it is glaringly clear that the PDP would put its best foot forward and all indications point to Koro.

   Many who witnessed the feverish 2007 governorship campaign involving Fashola, Obanikoro and Jimi Agbaje will not forget in a hurry the many violent scenes on the political fields across the state and would gladly not look forward to a repeat of such.

   Of the many Obanikoro’s catch-phrase campaign slogans, Ko si Koro, ko si ibo, meaning ‘No Koro, no vote,’ comes to mind.

   Tracing his long career in politics, which began in 1989 as a Caretaker Committee Chairman of Surulere Local Government under the National Republican Convention (NRC) and Chairman, Lagos Island Local Government, he was able to win Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s heart in 1999 because of his Lagos Island followership, when he was appointed Commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture.

   He was elected Senator for Lagos Central in April 2003, running for the Alliance for Democracy (AD), but later defected to the PDP. According to an APC stalwart, one      reason he has not been able to come back to the progressives’ fold is that the manner in which he betrayed Asiwaju was drastic.   

   “He swore to Asiwaju even in Kabba, Mecca, that he will not go anywhere only for him to return to Nigeria and defect. It was a very difficult time for the party because that was the period former President Obasanjo seized Lagos council funds. Good for him that he has found a sort of solace in the PDP structure, from an ambassador to becoming a minister, but will he achieve his aim of ruling Lagos, it will be fight to finish,” said the stalwart.

   Another APC chieftain at the Acme Ikeja secretariat recalls that Obanikoro’s campaigns are always violent. “You recall the incident at Oregun during his 2007 campaign where several women were shot at. His coming as minister at this time is strategic. Already, there is a Lagosian in the cabinet in person of Aganga. We understand that the only reason they giving him the chance is strictly politics.”

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PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN, MUSILIU OBANIKORO (LEFT) AND DR. ADE DOSUNMU.

Feelers from party men confided in The Guardian that Obanikoro’s nomination has made APC edgy in Lagos, as this is happening at a time there are some restiveness in Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA). FERMA has been hiring new recruits that are being drilled daily at their office at the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway old tollgate area in Lagos.

   First to sound a note of warning on this development was the chief security officer of the state, Governor Fashola, who told newsmen recently that he doesn’t know the purpose of such mass recruitment by a parastatal under the Ministry of Works.

   “If they are recruiting, what is the purpose? If they want to police federal highways, what is now the role of the FRSC? Have they appropriated funding for it because you can’t have an agency in a constitutional democracy without having appropriation for it in the budget? Or are you funding them with slush fund? Is it SURE-P money, meant for the development of Lagos State that is being used to do this?
   “Again, you ask yourself, ‘what is the need for such a task force?’ There are about 10,000 roads in the state, out of which 6,000 belong to the state government. A little over 3,000 belong to the local government. Less than 120 belong to the Federal Government. So what do you need such a large army for, unless there are some ulterior motives? I hope we are not going back to the days of machetes,” Fashola said.

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One of the theories flying around is that Chief Federick Faseun’s Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) is behind the FERMA-trainee project, considering his relationship with the Federal Government and the recent contract he won to police pipeline installations nationwide.

   “The impression is that already, foot soldiers are being created for Obanikoro to use to engage Lagos in the next election. It has forced the APC to start getting prepared; that with the emergence of Obanikoro, we should expect more violence, more of pedestrian talk and cheap propaganda,” a source said.

   The immediate hurdle to cross for the APC is the choice of a candidate on the basis of religion, which is a worry for party leaders. “If we choose a Christian candidate and Obanikoro enters the mosque, APC may kiss the election goodbye. On the issue of violence, we believe that the APC can take care of him.

   “What may not be so clear is whether a Muslim versus Christian ticket would be decisive in Lagos. Christians within the APC have been saying that they have been voting for all our Muslim candidates in Lagos over the years.

   “But in a year whereby you have a Jonathan also running as president, who is a Christian, there may be a way the Muslims may feel alienated in the state, having a Christian run at the centre and in Lagos,” another source concluded.