By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor
At Ifoshi road, housing the palace of the Ojon of Ejigbo, Oba Moruf Adekunle Ojoola, July 6 was not an ordinary day. The day started and ended as an Owambe special for friends, associates and subjects of the traditional ruler, who rolled out the drums for the 15th anniversary of his ascension to the throne.
Surrounded by traditional rulers, chiefs, community leaders and high-ranking officials of Ejigbo Local Council Development Area (LCDA) led by the Chairman, Kehinde Bamigbetan, Ojoola excitedly reminisced on the journey of the last 15 years.
According to him, a lot of developments have occurred in Ejigbo during his reign to be thankful for. “There is nothing in life without its good and bad side. But in our case the good has overshadowed the bad. This gladdens our heart because God has been by our side. There is nobody on this earth that will be liked by everybody. Whoever is liked by the world is already a dead man.
“During the last 14 years, a lot has taken place. There was no bank before my ascension, but today, we have over 20 banks in Ejigbo. It was during this period we were given an LCDA. We now have a customary court and several police stations, unlike the single police post that served the whole of Ejigbo before. The only major road we had was the Isolo-Ikotun road, but construction is ongoing at Ejigbo-Ajao link bridge and at Idimu road,” he said.
While appreciating the support received from former chief executives of the state, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (Rtd) and Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu, he called on the incumbent, Babatunde Fashola, to bring more developmental projects to his domain.
“Tinubu is our own and he is ours, as confirmed by the recent chieftaincy title of Aare Ago (Field Marshall of Supreme Eminence) conferred on him and his wife by the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo.
“Fashola is trying. No matter people’s expectations, government is a continuum, no single person can finish it and you cannot satisfy everybody; but our elected representatives should strive to do their best for the people.
“Ejigbo needs government’s urgent intervention in many areas. We have for long been marginalized and it is high time we are compensated for the long years of neglect, especially with good roads that will stand the test of time. And for the local government, any road project must be given to quality engineers. They should not be in a rush to do so many roads that won’t last. The next administration will continue from where they stop.”
Canvassing support for President Jonathan, Ojoola urged Nigerians to be patient with him as he is human battling challenges on many fronts. “We voted for Jonathan to experience change, because we all saw ourselves in him, as a young man with a past we could associate with and who understands where we are coming from, but we have not seen the transformation. He, however, needs our support to actualize the change he promised.”
The monarch’s advice for residents is for them to abide by the rules of the land. “It is all for our own good. Even if we have to disagree, we can protest responsibly. And for government, when they want to make new laws, we should be consulted so we can add our inputs. Not the usual style of inviting us to a stakeholders’ meeting after the decision has been reached.
For instance, the okada law is good. There is no family that does not have a member who has been a victim of okada accident or robbery. It is, however, a good means of employment. What it requires is to work within the ambit of the law, like using helmet, not carrying more than one passenger and not plying restricted routes. Not everybody would go to school and acquire MSC, PhDs to live conveniently.”
Chief Akinwande Aguda, the Agba Akin of Ejigbo, described Ojoola as a detribalised Nigerian, who has the interest of the community at heart. “Anybody can say a lot of things about him, but it is only when you move close to him that you will discover he is truly humane. I am from Abeokuta, yet he made me a high-ranking chief.
“My relationship with him predates his ascension to the throne. I live around the pipeline area and he made me the head of the monitoring team for the NNPC pipeline from Ejigbo to Idimu to ensure it is not vandalised. Since I have been given the task, there has never been any incidence of such.”
Vice Chairman of Ejigbo LCDA, Monsuru Bello, also used the occasion to call for more state projects in the council area. He said Ejigbo has suffered over 50 years of continuous marginalisation, especially when it was under Oshodi-Isolo local government administration.
“This is the reason why any incumbent must work extra hard to fill the gap. If you are coming from Isolo or Okota, immediately you climb the bridge at Oke-Afa, your perception changes. It is not because we are sleeping; rather our efforts are little drops in an area that never got government’s attention or intervention until recently. More so, our people’s expectations are expectedly high and the resources at our disposal are not enough to do the job.”
Taiwo Adebayo, Special Adviser to the chairman on Chieftaincy, Boundary and Cultural Affairs, said the monarchy structure is so effective in Ejigbo. “The oba’s relationship with the council is cordial. On several occasions, he has had to send his chiefs to reach out to the people on the importance of paying their taxes, making them know that paying tax is their obligation to the government.”