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One controversial life pension bill

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One controversial life pension bill

It was meant to serve the interest of lawmakers in Bayelsa State. But the pension bill for pension of the lawmakers met stiff resistance that forced the state governor, Seriake Dickson, not to assent to it PAULINE ONYIBE in Yenagoa, provides details of the aborted bill and the implications to both sponsors and state

 

 

It is a well known fact that humans beings are insatiable. That played out in Bayelsa State when the state House of Assembly embarked on a journey that would have torn the state to shreds but for the timely intervention of the Governor, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson.

Although an exclusive bill sponsored by the majority leader of the House, Peter Akpe from Sagbama constituency, the constituency of the governor, political pundits said the governor must have been aware of the bill before it got to the house.

In any way, he was able to shelve what would have kept the state still boiling if the life pension bill for Assembly members was passed by not assenting to the bill.

Of course, the bill received immediate deliberation on the floor of the house without any hitch because it was theirs.

Bills like child labour bill and other pertinent bills that would move Bayelsa State forward are yet to receive attention on the floor of the House but the life pension bill received immediate and speedy passage.

However, it is on record that a state legislator in Nigeria supposed to receive an annual basic salary of N1.34 million, accommodation, N802, 335, vehicle maintenance, N267, 445, and recess allowance, N133,772 totaling about N1,203,553.34

A lawmaker also is supposed to receive , once in four years, a vehicle loan of N5.3 million, furniture allowance of N2 million and N2.6 million as severance gratuity totaling N81,000, 000.

Other yearly emoluments are N334,306 for constituency allowance; N334,306 for domestic staff; N133,772 for utilities; and N66,861 as newspapers allowance.

In addition, a state lawmaker is entitled to N25, 000 as duty tour allowance (DTA) per night and $600 Estacode while on foreign trips per night.

Going by the following, a lawmaker that has spent about eight years in the Assembly as most of them do must have made about N82,678,450 approximately.

Even though some argued that the demand was not out of place as a peep into a document titled, Pension Bill for Governors, Deputy Governors and members of the State House of Assembly, revealed details of its provision.

Based on the provisions, a speaker shall be entitled to monthly pension of N500,000; Deputy Speaker, N300,000; House Leader and the Whip, N250,000; Deputy Leader N200,000 and other members N100,000.

The life pension bill specifically provided that former lawmakers, including persons of Bayelsa origin, who served in the old

Rivers State House of Assembly, would enjoy life pensions.

It is on record also that before the bill, there was Bayelsa State pensions for Governor and Deputy Governor Law 2003, which made provisions for governors and deputy governors’ pensions only.

But they repealed the old law, provided new legislation to include their pensions and enhance those of the governors and deputies.

Section 10 of the new law said: “This law repeals the Bayelsa State Pensions for Governor and Deputy Governor Law.”

In the new law a governor’s monthly allowance is valued at 8 per cent of his Annual Basic Salary (ABS); wardrobe allowance, 50 per cent of his ABS entertainment, 40 per cent of his ABS, transport allowance, 50 per cent of ABS and utilities, 80 per cent of ABS.

A deputy governor’s allowances are monthly basic, 8 per cent, wardrobe, 25 per cent of ABS; entertainment, 20 per cent; transport allowance, 30 per cent and utilities 40 per cent.

But where the governor and his deputy successfully served second term of eight years, they shall be entitled to 150 per cent of their ABS.
A governor is also entitled to seven bedroom duplex and a three-room boys quarters in any location of his choice in the state.

A deputy governor is entitled to one residential five bedroom duplex and a two-room boys quarters in any location of his choice in the state.

While a governor is entitled to two cars and one backup car to be replaced every five years, a deputy governor shall have one car and one backup car to be replaced every five years.

Also, the state shall maintain three drivers, a cook, a steward and a gardner, who shall be pensionable while the deputy shall have two drivers, a cook and a gardner.

The governor is entitled to 60 per cent of ABS for vacation while the deputy has 40 per cent.

Looking at all these benefits, the law makers, who believed that the governors were also elected/ selected like them with a time frame of four years went on an agitation for their own life pension but alas Bayelsans vehemently objected, causing the governor to refuse assent to the bill.

Of course, the All Progressives Congress (APC) described the approval of bill as ungodly and self-serving.

APC, through a statement by publicity secretary, Doifie Buokoribo, accused the state lawmakers of making attempt to enhance their own lives at the expense of the vast majority of Bayelsa people living in pain and penury.

Buokoribo described the bill as unspeakable crime against humanity and the impoverished people of the state.

He said: “The party has also observed how the strange idea, which was proposed as a bill and passed by the House on Wednesday, has set the public pulse racing.

“APC Bayelsa completely rejects this life pension bill for members of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly.

“Regarding this latest move by the House of Assembly, we again say that the idea is avaricious, wicked, and insensitive. By proposing such a law, the lawmakers have merely portrayed themselves as a people who feel no concern for the feelings of their suffering constituents.

Of course the bill specifically provided that former lawmakers including persons of Bayelsa origin, who served in the old Rivers State, would enjoy life pensions for their services in the state as applicable to former presidents, vice-presidents, governors and deputy governors across the country.

To qualify for the speakership pension of N500, 000 monthly, the official must have served for two years and above.

The controversial bill has drawn a lot of criticism from the natives and non-natives across the state, with many calling it outrageous and corruption of the highest order, while others recommend compulsory Psychological Assessment for all the members of the assembly.

With the heavy criticisms that trailed the bill, a former House of Assembly member under late Governor Dipreye Alamiesieghia, said: “The problem of life pension bill is the failure of the society because the sixth and the seventh Assembly moved a motion that there should be independence of the legislature but Nigeria threw away the baby and the bath water.

“When the governors are hand picking the state assembly members, where were Bayelsans? When the governors were hand picking the National Assembly where were Nigerians?

“They did not rise up to the challenge. Now that the Bayelsa State House of Assembly is looking for a way out to make legislators dependent, that is the essence of this pension bill.

“Nigerians don’t do the needful for the legislators to be upright. Now, if you want a legislator to be up right and you know this kind of political time that we find ourselves.

“Look at Adi who is an opposition member, he was not paid his stipends for months and how do you want Adi to function?

“The only way Adi can function is when he knows that at the end of the day, he will fall back to something. If this government is not favourable to him, the next government will pay him pension. Then you will now see that he will be able to function very well.
“You are saying that Assembly members are rubber stamp, why won’t they be rubber stamp when they will go around begging.

“That money that we will be receiving at the end of every month, that is pension for an assembly man.

“What have the governors done that they deserve pension? If a governor can serve four years and he is pensioned like Sylva served one tenure and he is entitled to governor’s benefits till he dies, what about that one?

“So many things are wrong. So, the Assembly should not be attacked. It is the failure of the society that is causing this problem.”

Also another serving member, Salo Adikumo, said: “Whatever thing we are doing is for the good of the people. Let me tell you something. We are professional politicians and you guys are professional media men and we have professional civil servants, who go home on pension because they have to take care of themselves after retirement. You know how a pensioner values his pension money.

 

“Take me for instance. I have been a teacher for so many years before I retired voluntarily and I have been collecting my small pension and if I have not received that alert at the end of the month, you will see me lamenting and crying. So, it keeps us going.

“That is why we decided this (pension) for our people. Imagine the small stipend we are proposing to be going home with, a hundred thousand naira, compared to what we are receiving now. “You had my comment on the floor of the house when I said that some Permanent Secretaries are going home with almost their full salary as pension and over twelve to twenty permanent secretaries retire from the civil service every year and we are just twenty four. “The permanent secretaries, when they go home, they go home with about seven hundred to eight hundred thousand naira and we are only going home with only a hundred thousand naira. “You can see the reason behind this plan. We don’t want to over-bloat the system because we are aware of the government’s involvement in executing projects.”

 

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The Mega City / Life

Umunya monarch, subjects at war

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Umunya monarch, subjects at war

 

 

The crowd chanted war songs, carrying placards, calling for the intervention of Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano. They believed he is the only solution to a seven-year-old land dispute involving the Traditional Ruler of their community Umunya in Oyi Local Government Area of the state.

 

 

Most of the protesters, who were women, lamented what they called intimidation and molestation of their husbands and children by some thugs allegedly being used by Igwe Kris Onyekwuluje, the traditional ruler.

 

 

According to a petition signed by two of the leaders of Odumodu Ebonabo Improvement Union Umunya, Mr. Obed Nweke as chairman and Sunday Esedo as secretary, they alleged that: “On or about May 2015, Igwe Umunya ,  assembled some of the “never do well” and miscreants in our villages and promised to make them millionaires, only if they can do his biddings. He thereafter took them to ‘Ada Achalla’ Shrine through one Sunday John Oneze, a notorious fetish doctor, where they were made to swear an irrevocable oath of allegiance to become Igwe’s hit men.    

 

 

On the 24th May, 2015, Igwe Kris Onyekwuluje summoned the miscreants whom he had labeled “Odumodu youths” and demanded that they sign an already prepared formal petition to him complaining about the leadership of Odumodu Community, so as to enable him swing into action of doing away with the leaders of Odumodu as that can only pave way for him to start selling our Community’s land.

 

 

Upon signing the aforesaid spurious petition, Igwe Onyekwuluje subsequently approached his police friends at all levels and falsely complained that he had discovered a plot to assassinate him, which he claimed were covered in a video tape. He mischievously included all the Executive members and principal officers of Odumodu Community as the alleged culprits. Having falsely conscripted the police into the plot to annihilate the leaders of Odumodu Community and consequently force the people into submission to his whims and caprices, the Igwe then illegally inaugurated his hit men, now labeled “Odumodu Youths” as parallel Executives of Odumodu with the mandate to machete, gun down and viscously attack any principal officers of Odumodu Community on sight.

 

 

“Recall your Excellency, that on the 1st day of August, 2015, five leaders of Odumodu Community, including the eldest man then, Ichie Dennis Nweke (now late), were physically assaulted and seriously wounded with axes, machetes, etc, by the so called “hit men” on the orders and directives of Igwe Kris Onyekwuje. Subsequent attacks were carried out (as our people were ever defiant) simultaneously for two weeks thus forcing all the reasonable men and leaders into exile for fear of their lives.

 

 

“As the people of Odumodu took refuge in exile, Igwe used the opportunity to call in a surveyor who surveyed all Odumodu lands. With the survey plan, he has been able to use his exalted position to illegally dispose our lands, using his surrogates in Odumodu to deceive unsuspecting new allies of his who are yet to ascertain his dubious nature.

 

 

It has therefore dawned on every Odumodu indigene that they do not have where to farm or where the future generation of ours will live.”                   

 

       

“Your Excellency, may we with utmost respect remind you that apart from our various letters to your humble self, the IGP, the Commissioner of Police, Anambra State and the State Director of Department of State Security etc, other concerned individuals and organisations have written as well to request for your urgent intervention in our ordeal. It is most pertinent to state that in spite of these appeals aforementioned, the police deliberately or tactically failed to rise to the occasion as no meaningful investigation was ever carried out since 2015 till date. Indeed, the police and the Umunya vigilante appeared to be tools in the hands of Igwe Kris Onyekwuluje with which he oppresses and victimizes our community. For three weeks running, our people are being hounded, attacked, unjustifiably detained and unjustly victimised by both the police at Nteje Division and the Umunya Vigilante for daring to stop unknown trespassers and illegal land speculators like FECAN Ltd, Coje Motors Ltd, Zikan Nigeria Ltd, Ikemba Int’l Market, Adkan Ltd etc, into their communal land. What a brazen intimidation and naked show of power!” “It is in the light of the above that we, once again appeal to you, as the Chief Security Officer of the state, to use your good offices to: urgently call Igwe Onyekwuluje to order as an immediate measure, direct Commissioner of Police, Anambra State to order the DPO Oyi Division to respect our dignity and freedom as citizens of Nigeria, set up high powered commission of inquiry which will include officers  of the police force and the DSS to investigate our allegations and events in Umunya in general.”

 

 

At palace of the Igwe, scores of reporters had stormed the area, demanding the monarch’s reaction to those allegations leveled against him. The Igwe, while fielding questions on that fateful day said that: “I saw the video of those protesting and most of the women I saw are neither from Odumodu nor from Umunya in general. I however saw some four or five men whom I recognised as people from my community and they are those who have been troubling us. When this issue of land started seven years ago, I tried to invite both parties from Odumodu Ana and Odumodu Enu to resolve the matter but some of them did not accept it. They are the people leading the protest.”

 

 

“These same people have been intimidating them and selling their lands and when the Odumodu people wanted to question their activities, they threatened them. In 2011 and 2012, the crisis deepened and there were cases of attack on innocent villagers and as a traditional ruler,  I came into the picture.”                                                     

 

 

          “Those allegations are plans to tarnish my image because I was never involved in the act of land grabbing or selling of land. I am going to take a legal action on all those allegations leveled against me,” he said.

 

 

Igwe Onyekwuluje further alleged that four persons from his community, who led the protest to government house have been plotting to kill him.

 

 

“Go to the state police command, special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) and the Department of State Security (DSS) and you will see the records. They also have video clips of where they were holding meeting to assassinate me and they did not know that there was a device planted on the shirt of one of them by the police and it recorded their conversations. The community pleaded that I should forgive them which I did but the plot to assassinate me continued. This protest is aimed at discrediting me and our community and who knows their next line of action. They accused me of using some youths in the community to attack them which you know is not true.

 

 

“Even the allegation of conniving with the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) against my people is not true. In the last seven years, Oyi Local Government Area must have had about two or three DPOs and I wonder how only one man can pocket them all.”

 

 

Also speaking, the President General of Umunya Development Union (UDU) Engr. Kenneth Okafor, told reporters that: “Our Igwe has been doing all within his means to ensure peace in our community but these four people have been resisting it. They are those who have been selling Odumodu lands and pocketing the money and at some point, the people revolted against them and they started blaming our traditional ruler.”

 

 

Similarly, the secretary of Odumodu Youths in Umunya, Mr. Okwudiri  Okeke, dismissed the claim by the protesters, insisting that Odumodu people are tired of the actions of the protesters, who he said, have been selling their lands without recourse to the community.

 

 

Currently, the office of Town Union and Chieftaincy matters are said to be studying all the petitions, though it is not clear when its reports would be made public.

 

 

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Two years after, Mahin gets new monarch

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Two years after, Mahin gets new monarch

The Ondo State Government has filled a vacuum created by the demise of Oba Lawrence Omowole in September 2017. Babatope Okeowo reports that the people of the riverine community came out to witness the coronation of new Amapetu of Mahin

 

 

T

wo years after Oba Lawrence Omowole, the Amapetu of Mahin in the oil-rich Ilaje Local Government joined his ancestors; Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State has installed Prince Oluwasegun Williams Akinyomi as the new monarch of the riverine community.

 

 

The Amapetu’s stool is one of the first-class monarchs in the Sunshine State and commands respect both at community, Local Government and State level.

 

Akinyomi, 61 defeated other 16 other princes of Alagwe Ruling House to emerge as the Amapetu of Ode Mahin.

 

 

Although the Osuma Royal Family has dragged the state government to court for allegedly violating the rule of law, the people of the town irrespective of political party affiliations and social status trooped out for the installation of Akinyomi as the Amapetu of Mahin.

 

 

Apart from the governor who presented the staff of office, his Deputy, Hon Agboola Ajayi, former Governorship candidate, Chief Olusola Oke, former Commissioner, Chief Olusola Ebiseeni, the Olugbo of Ugbo, Oba Fredrick Enitiolorunda Obateru-Akinruntan and other traditional rulers witnessed installation of the new monarch.

 

 

 

The Osuma Royal Family in a suit filed by their counsel, Mr Olusola Oke said the government has given staff of office and instrument of appointment to Akinyomi as the Amapetu despite the pendency of a suit in court and the assurance given by the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice that it would obey the rule of law.

 

 

The Osuma Royal House had said it is its turn to produce the new monarch of the town and consequently filed a suit to challenge the government’s action, which they argued violated their right. The suit which had Chief Thompson Adepiti, Yemi Saanumi, Chief Omolebi Adepiti and Folorunso Obebe as claimants had Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and Akinyomi as defendants.

 

 

The governor however presented the staff of office and instrument of appointment to Akinyomi and asked him to reconcile with all princes who contested the stool with him.

 

 

Akeredolu said it was natural for all princes to be interested in the throne but added that only one of them would ascend the throne at a time, as such he appealed for their cooperation to bring development to the entire Mahin kingdom speedily. He also advised the newly installed first class monarch to make deliberate efforts to reconcile with groups and individuals not pleased with his enthronement.

 

 

In his prepared speech at the ceremony, Akeredolu said his counterpart in the southwest geo-political zone would involve the traditional rulers, local hunters and youth groups in tackling insecurity especially kidnapping in the zone.

 

 

Akeredolu who is the Chairman of the Southwest Governors’ Forum said the idea was one of the security models agreed at the last security summit held in Ibadan, Oyo State.  He harped on the veritable place of the traditional institution in the acceleration of development, and, said in the emerging Security Model initiated by Governors of Southwestern Nigeria, Royal Fathers, local hunters, and youths would be given strategic roles to play to secure the geo-political zone effectively.

 

 

While saying that security of lives and property has become multidimensional to be left for the government without citizens’ collaboration and cooperation, Akeredolu said genuine information to burst potential security threats must be made available on time to ward off all forms of criminalities.

 

 

The governor showcased some of the landmark achievements of his administration which he called, “share of the developmental strides” of his government. According to him, many of the projects which have been completed and some were nearing completion included the construction of Okitipupa- Igbokoda bypass, construction of Igbokoda-Ayetoro Phase 3 Road,  rehabilitation and asphalt overlay of Igbokoda-Ugbonla Road Route and bridge repair.

 

Other projects which have been completed, he said included the clearing, opening, and filling of Igbokoda-Ayetoro Oropo spur and Oke-Ipare-Olopo spur, construction of Aboto-Atijere road and clearing of waterways which are being carried out.

 

 

On the Araromi Seaside-Ibeju Lekki-Akodo Lagos Road, which had been facing some challenges, Akeredolu said in no time the project that was originally to be undertaken by the Niger Delta Development Commission, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the State Government would take off.

 

 

The Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mrs Lola Fagbemi said the installation of the monarch was a demonstration of the promise made by Governor Akeredolu that all vacancy stools in the state would be occupied in a peaceful manner. The Caretaker Chairman of Ilaje Local Government, Hon Otito Atikase in his speech lauded  Akeredolu for the unique way the administration introduced into the presentation of Staff of Office and  Instrument of Appointment to Royal Fathers while ascending their thrones in the State.

 

 

 

In his speech, Oba Akinyomi who adopted the name Alagwe V11 promised to maintain a cordial relationship with the monarchs in Ilaje, fellow monarchs in Yoruba land as well as other traditional rulers in other parts of the country. The new monarch promised to promote peaceful co-existence among the diverse ethnic groups in Nigeria and enhance the social-cultural and economic values of Mahin land.

 

 

While appreciating the State Government, for his appointment and presentation of Instrument of Appointment, the monarch said his appointment was in due compliance with democratic principles and rule of law.  “I promise to work diligently and selflessly in collaboration with individuals and corporate bodies for peaceful coexistence and development of Mahin in particular and the entire Ilaje land in general.

 

 

“It is also my desire to maintain a cordial relationship with the Obas in Ilaje land, my fellow Obas in Yoruba land as well as other traditional rulers in other parts of the country. Certainly, this will further promote peaceful co-existence among the diverse ethnic groups in Nigeria and enhance the social Cultural and Economic values of Mahin land

 

 

“I salute the good people of Mahin land especially the chiefs, elders and elites who strive to ensure that there is no perpetual interregnum in the land for my timely enthronement as Oba from Alagwe Ruling House and the Amapetu of Mahin land.

 

 

“Against the foregoing, I humbly call on our people, home and abroad to join hands with me for the peaceful co-existence an development in the land. In my own capacity, I shall make unflinching efforts to make Mahin great again.  It is our assurance that my people will at all times co-operate with the state government in order to engender meaningful development in the land.”

 

 

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Odo Ora: Sitting on keg of gun powder

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Odo Ora: Sitting on keg of gun powder

The crisis rocking the installation of  Obalemo of Odo Ora-Ekiti in Ido/Osi Local Government of Ekiti State, Oba Akin Adeyemo, took another turn last week as youths of the ancient community took to the street of Ado-Ekiti to protest.

 

 

The youth, totaling about 50 in number, displayed various placards urging the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi to instruct one of his aides, Mr. Wale Fapohunda to stop interfering in the Odo Ora monarch tussle.

 

 

According to them:”We demand justice over the protracted Court case instituted to dethrone the current monarch over alleged forgery and irregularities surrounding his installation.”

 

 

The aggrieved youths claimed that several attempts had been made to express their grievances but all efforts to do so proved abortive.

 

 

Some of the placards they carried read thus: “We want peace in our country home, Odo Ora-Ekiti.”   “The rule of Law must prevail.” “Governor Fayemi, please save us from injustice.”  “Odo Ora-Ekiti deserves peace, “Judges should not prevent us from getting justice.”  “Attorney General should stay-off Odo Ora case,” among so many other placards.

 

 

Speaking with newsmen during the protest, one of the leaders of the aggrieved youths, Comrade Sesan Ojo, said all what they want is justice on the Odo Ora Obaship matter.

 

 

According to Ojo:“We heard it from a reliable source that the judiciary may be bought-over in order to pervert justice on Odo Ora monarch crisis.

 

 

“We are appealing to Governor Kayode Fayemi to ensure that justice prevails. We have been making frantic efforts to see the governor in order to express our displeasure but to our own dismay, we were being prevented from doing so.”

 

 

Another protester, Mrs Tayo Ajayi, disclosed that they have no confidence in the matter the way it was going because of the so many challenges facing the community.                     

 

 

She said:“Our purpose of staging this protest is to express our feelings as a community and to tell the whole world that the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General should steer clear from the Odo Ora Obaship case. We appeal to the present government to come to our aid. We want justice and nothing more,” she appealed.

 

 

Oba Akin Adeyemo and Chief Samuel Fayigbe were arraigned before a Chief Magistrate Court sitting in Ado-Ekiti recently for allegedly stealing the community right.

 

 

The monarch is currently facing four count charge, ranging from conspiracy, stealing, forgery to fraudulent conversion of the sum of N2.453,000  (two million, four hundred and fifty three thousand naira) belonging to minor Chiefs of Odo-Ora Ekiti in Ido/Osi Local Government Area of Ekiti State.

 

 

Oba Adeyemo, alongside Chief Fayigbe were docked for forging the signatures of other Chiefs on the Odo Ora-Ekiti in Ido/Osi Local council Chieftaincy payment vouchers.

 

 

The Chief Magistrate, Adesoji Adegboye, had earlier granted bail to Chief Samuel Fayigbe on condition of N200, 000 with two sureties and N250, 000 each while Oba Adeyemo was granted bail on self recognition.

 

 

Efforts to reach the monarch for his reactions to the incident proved abortive, as several calls put across to his telephone lines were unattended to.

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Executive Order, Sallah: LAWMA begins waste evacuation in Apapa

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Executive Order, Sallah: LAWMA begins waste evacuation in Apapa

Following the removal of trucks and containerised vehicles in Apapa axis of Lagos, the Lagos State Waste Management Authority, (LAWMA) has begun massive clearing of waste generated during Eid-el-Kabir celebration in line with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s executive order Muritala AyInla reports

 

 

W

aste generation and management have always remained one of the challenges confronting most developing countries. It is even more in Nigeria given the attitude of most residents towards waste generation and disposal. In Lagos State, Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, environmental challenges resulting from indiscriminate waste generation and disposal remain most daunting that successive governments have to contend with Municipal waste generators in the state including household, commercial, industrial, agricultural and institutional establishments and among others. The quantity and type of waste generated vary from one area to the other. Those of the markets are different from the generated industrial areas. The composition of waste generated at abattoir is certainly not the same with that of domestic waste found in most residential areas. 

 

 

Yet indiscriminate waste dumping remains the practice among the residents such that public places like, parks, bus stops, markets are easily identified with heaps of refuse and garbage. In Lagos, drains are constantly blocked by refuse, (mostly sachet water pack) on items and highways, roads, kerbs and other places are frequently abused with filth. Virtually, every open space in Lagos have been turned to illegal dump sites.

 

 

Worried by the ugly development, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu  signed an executive order on the environment which was meant to ensure a total compliance to the environmental laws. The executive order also meant to ensure a better traffic management within the state.

 

 

While signing the Order, the Governor declared: “I think we have to make some points about issues that happen around transportation, potholes on our roads, blockages and rest of it, I think it is something we need to tackle immediately.”

 

 

The Order is to also ensure the attainment of zero tolerance for environmental abuse, including illegal and indiscriminate dumping of refuse and construction of structures on drainage points and setbacks. Similarly, he directed the Office of Drainage Services in the Ministry of Environment to commence aggressive cleaning of all secondary and tertiary drainage systems across the state to ensure the free flow of rainwater during the rainy season, just as he directed the Lagos State Public Works Corporation to commence patching and rehabilitation of bad roads.

 

 

However, following complaints by motorists and other residents on the state of the environment in Apapa after evacuation of trucks and containerised vehicles indiscriminately parked on the road, the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) has embarked on intensive waste clearing exercise in different parts of the Lagos metropolis to achieve its cleaner Lagos initiative. The agency said that the approach was also to clear state of the waste generated during Eid-el-Kabir celebrations.

 

 

Speaking on Apapa area of the state, the Managing Director, Chief Executive Officer of LAWMA, Dr. Muyiwa Gbadegesin said the exercise was in furtherance of the executive order on zero tolerance for reckless waste disposal. According to him, Apapa has been facing the environmental challenges  due to trailers parked on the road which made it difficult for highway managers to clean.

 

 

He said: ”We have to seize this opportunity of Sallah break when traffic will be a little free. We decided to come here to embark on massive clean-up of the axis, the LAWMA workers were all over the place clearing the silt and waste accumulated over several years because the area has been abandoned.’’

 

 

“We were there to monitor the ongoing clean up exercise of the Lagos metropolis which is in furtherance of the Executive order of the Lagos State Governor on environmental sanitation. You will recall a few weeks ago he issued executive order and we started the clean up exercise from Orile all the way down to Badagry Expressway. As you are aware, Apapa has been a major problem area, its being difficult to access this location. Gbadegesin appealed to Lagos state residents to support the government in its cleaner Lagos initiative and stop indiscriminate dumping of waste within the metropolis. To avert indiscriminate waste dumping, the LAWMA boss explained that the agency had before this year’s Eid-El – Kabir celebration distributed trash bags across the state to aid proper disposal of refuse during the period.

 

 

Gbadegesin said: ”We are pleading with residents of the state to use those trash bags to dispose their refuse properly. They should also make sure they have a waste bin at home. We don’t want people dumping their waste by the road side because this is something that can put us all at the risk of epidemic outbreak.’’

 

 

On when the government will begin enforcement, he said the state’s environmental laws on infractions are very clear, saying the executive order had since declared zero tolerance for environmental degradation. The agency said it has commenced massive waste evacuation in the Lagos West district which comprise Agege, Ikeja, Badagry, Ojo, Ifako-Ijaye , among others in compliance with the executive order.

 

 

He said the agency also commenced bulk waste evacuation from major locations between Lagos State University and Okoko using mechanical process (mechanical shovels, bulldozers, excavators and mechanical sweepers walking floor trailers and long chassis tippers).

 

Other strategies he said included, “Motorised collection for kerb side collection using compactors; Placement and regular collection of waste from appropriate receptacles and waste prevention activities which involves closure of illegal waste locations otherwise known as black spots, through deployment of waste policing personnel. “In addition to the above, same activities is on-going at the East district which has Lagos Island, Etti Osa, Epe, key, Mile 12 to Ikorodu etc.

 

“All these three districts are working simultaneously during the day but more at night to avoid activities being impeded by vehicular activities. The Authority is also planning to compulsory the usage of covered receptacles for waste collection,” he said.

 

 

According to him, the agency is equally encouraging culture of waste bagging as against loose waste which is unsightly; repositioning PSP operations for optimal services, while intensifying massive public awareness.

 

 

For emergency intervention on waste management across the state, the agency’s Public Affairs Officer, Mrs Folashade Kadiri said that the agency had given out numbers of officers to monitor and respond to waste management issues. She explained that: ”We have embarked on activities at West district which comprise Agege, Ikeja, Badagry, Ojo, Ifako-Ijaiye.

 

 

”We also carried out waste evacuation from LASU Gate to Seme which involves: bulk waste evacuation from major locations between LASU gate and Okoko using mechanical process (mechanical shovels, bulldozers, excavators and mechanical sweepers walking floor trailers and long chases tippers.

 

 

”We also embarked on motorised collection for kerb side collection using compactors and placement and regular collection of waste from appropriate receptacles. LAWMA engaged in Waste prevention activities which involve closure of illegal waste locations otherwise known as black spots, through deployment of waste policing personnel.”

 

 

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Celebrating New Yam festival in Akungba Akoko

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Celebrating New Yam festival in Akungba Akoko

BABATOPE OKEOWO reports that the people of Akungba Akoko in Akoko South-West shoved political and religious differences aside to celebrate the annual Akun Day and New Yam festival amidst pageantry

 

Hundreds of residents and indigenes of Akungba-Akoko in Akoko South-West Local Government Area of Ondo State thronged Holy Trinity Primary School, venue of the event to celebrate the annual Akun Day and the new yam festival amidst pomp and pageantry.              

Led by monarch of the town, the Alale of Akungba, Oba Isaac Sunday Adeyeye Ajimo, other prominent indigenes, traditional chiefs, princes, kingmakers, former Regent and the seven quarters in the town came out for the annual celebration.

Also, traditional rulers from adjourning communities, including Olubaka of Oka-Akoko, Oba Adebori Adeleye, state government’s representatives led by a son of former governor of the state, the late Chief Adebayo Adefarati Asiwaju Adegboyega Adefarati and an official of the National Council of Arts and Culture (NCAC) were on hand to witness the August Festival.

The agrarian town of Akungba was founded in about 1,650AD. It is situated in the center of Akokoland midway between the land area comprising the present Akoko North West, North East, Akoko South-East and Akoko South West.

This central position resulted in its being designated traditionally as an administrative headquarters of the Ikamerin zone. Akungba is situated on the rich cocoa belt of South Western Region of Nigeria and with above-average rainfall.

It falls within the sedimentary rock formation belt made up on Akumeren, Oke Oko Hill, Otapeje and Okerigbo. The town was named after a tree Igba by the first settlers following the trajectory of life that usually accompanied the people that left Ile-Ife, the revered cradle of the Yoruba, to sojourn elsewhere.

Akun people migrated from Ile-Ife and eventually settled under Igba trees (Okun Igba) in Akungba parlance. It was later shortened to Akungba. These settlers had a godfather, deity and, hero in Oroke, a mythological protector of Akungba Kingdom. He was a brave warrior reputed for his exploits in war.

However, an elated Oba Ajimo said he was happy to celebrate this year’s Akun Day and New Yam festival as he was not expected to eat new yam until the performance of the yearly rituals.

According to him, it was a joyous reminder of Akungba New Yam Feast, an ancestral heritage twhich was inherited from their forebears has being celebrated without rancour.

Oba Ajimo said the celebration “is a legacy bequeathed to us from generation to generation. It is, indeed, a historical event during which our ancestors rolled out the drums, sang and danced in appreciation of soil fertility, bountiful harvest, unity, and security in Akungba Community.”

He went on: “It is also a veritable forum to commemorate and celebrate our common cord of oneness and enduring philosophy of fraternity also known as the spirit and letter of: Akun ma wo no eero eero.

“As I stand before you here today, I am overwhelmed with joy and proud of the ability and capacity of Akungba people to disagree and agree, yet work in concert to chart a new developmental path for the Kingdom. No community is immune to conflicts. How we resolve ours makes all the difference.

“This year’s Akun Day Festival has a theme that gladdens my heart: ‘Akungba Reunion for Peace, Unity, and Development’. Drawing from the subject matter, it is compelling to notice the place of unity in community development. Unity, equity and tranquility all play vital roles in often leads to conflict, crisis and, if unmitigated, war.”

The monarch said Akungba, being a university town, had the menace of urbanisation and plural society. Despite this, the monarch said effort was constantly in place for the university and host community relations. 

His words:“We also have a cordial relationship with the police, other security agencies as well as socio-political and religious stakeholders. No wonder the relative peace available to Akungba indigenes and settlers.”

Oba Ajimo commended Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who had ensued that peace reigns supreme in the state and Akungba in particular.   He, however, asked for more amenities including electricity, piped water, paved street roads, modern public health centre, empowerment  for women and capacity building for business class and more seedlings to the teeming farmers of Akungba community. Besides, he implored NCAC to ensure that Akun Day Festival was not just listed in the country’s annual cultural calendar but also assisted technically and financially, to grow in leaps and bounds like the A-league of national festivals, such as Ojude Oba, Ofala of Onitsha, Argungu Fish Festival in Kebbi, and Osun Osogbo.

Meanwhile, Director-General of NCAC, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, congratulated the Oba-in-Council and the good people of Akungba Akoko for initiating and putting together Akun-Day Festival. Runsewe said with the revival and rebranding of the festival, the community of Akungba Akoko has found a viable Cultural platform for preservation and marketing of Nigerian cultural heritage as well as a forum for unifying the people of the community, state and the nation at large.

He said the different events and segments of the Akungba-Day Festival would have a far-reaching socio-economic impact on the people of the community and the state both during and after the festival. 

Runsewe said the key to the development of the African economy lies in the Culture, Tourism and Travel Sectors. 

“We at the National Council for Arts and Culture are proud and delighted to be part of this worthy event. It is my sincere belief that this historic effort by the good people of Akungba Akoko, under the supervision of His Royal Highness, the Alale of Akungba-land, to provide a credible platform that would open up windows of opportunities for the marketing of Akungba Akoko’s cultural heritage and tourism assets.

“I, therefore, appeal to our youths to seize the opportunities inherent in this Festival to improve their creative works, and for economic empowerment and networking.”

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Feeding fat from Apapa mayhem

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Feeding fat from Apapa mayhem

The ongoing restoration of sanity in Apapa area is undoubtedly bringing life into the metropolis with businesses resurfacing and absconded landlords returning to their houses.  But as commuters want the Mile-2 TinCan axis to be cleared, stakeholders want the tempo of orderliness sustained even as those who are benefitting from the gridlock are lamenting. MURITALA AYINLA reports

 

 

When the Presidency inaugurated a task force headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to clear up the gridlock in Apapa and its environs within two weeks, many residents and stakeholders in the area were not too excited. That was following previous series of such pronouncements which were never fulfilled.

The task force popularly called task team was set up as a result of a presidential directive, which ordered the removal of trucks on bridges and roads in Apapa as well as the restoration of law and order in that part of Lagos.

The directive mandated immediate removal of all trucks from the bridges and roads within Apapa and all adjoining streets leading into the Apapa axis.

The Presidential taskforce was headed by the Osinbajo

While the Vice President chairs the task force, its daily operations are supervised by an Executive Vice Chairman, Comrade Kayode Opeifa. The former Commander of the Rapid Respond Squad, RRS, Hakeem Odumosu, CP and ACP, Bayo Sulaiman , a former Chairman, Lagos Taskforce on Enforcement and Special Offence Unit led the enforcement team.

Other membership of the team is drawn from the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), Nigerian Ports Authority and the Nigerian Shippers Council, representatives of the Truck Transport Union and the Lagos State Government through the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA).

The taskforce was among other things expected to facilitate evacuation of trucks and tankers indiscriminately parked on the roads and bridges to vacate the Port Access Roads within the next 72 hours. But sacrosanct in the implementation of the order was continuous stakeholders’ engagement. The taskforce was also given mandate to restore law and order to guide Port Area traffic via the deployment of an efficient and effective traffic management plan for the entire port area traffic, including the cargo, fuel distribution and business district traffic and effective traffic management integrated manual Call-up system pending the introduction of an electronic call-up system among other plans.

Prior to the latest intervention, Apapa and its environs had become “no go areas” for many Lagosians. Nuisances resulting from indiscriminate and senseless parking of containerized trucks and tankers had discouraged many from having anything to do on the axis. Transportation was literarily halted as no one could move from one place to the other. Going out and returning home for residents was a Herculean task. Businesses gradually shut down with increasing transportation frustration. Moving in and out of Apapa became a mission impossible with plethora of stationary trucks on the road which made the roads impassable.     

For years that the problem was allowed to linger, the state’s economy was badly affected as business activities in the area were crippled. The conundrum has also claimed so many lives while values of properties became depreciated with so many businesses closed down with residents fleeing the areas in droves.

The irrational indiscriminate parking of trucks on Lagos roads, bridges and other suburbs was certainly Lagos ‘most daunting challenges that successive government have made efforts to address. Rather than the problem to subside due to efforts put in to address it, it’s growing at a very alarming rate such that its negative impact is creeping into other parts of the state it has never affected.

However, today, through the involvement of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo led Task team; the hitherto ugly narratives are changing. Residents and motorists on the popular Ikorodu Road no longer lament over the heavy presence of stationary containerized trucks, tankers and other Apapa-bound heavy duty trucks in front of their homes and on their roads. Those indiscriminately parked on the roads and bridges of Orile-Iganmu have also disappeared. For the inhabitants of Ijora, Gasikya, Mosafejo Amukoko and other suburbs, nothing else make them happier than having their roads free of trucks that have been parked for months.

Orderliness, sanity and decorum finally returned to their doorsteps.  Going in and out of the communities no longer create anxiety and apprehension for the people on the axis.

Why Apapa gridlock lingered

Speaking on why previous interventions failed, the Chairman of Amalgamation of Container Trucks Owners, Chief Olalaye Thompson, said they paid as much as N150,000 or more to access the port but they believe that has gone for good. He alleged that under the previous joint taskforce led by the Nigerian Navy, a lot of corrupt practices were responsible for the gridlock.              

“The way the previous joint taskforce operated was alien to the whole system. Whenever it is 9 to 10 in the morning, they stopped trucks from crossing until 8.pm, and by that time, terrible gridlock would have built up. People were forced to bribe their way to the port. Then, it became the highest bidder’s show. The drivers were forced to bid for the amount they can afford before they could be allowed to pass.  Somebody could offer to pay N100,000 while another one could offer to pay N120,000 or more.”

But commenting on the restoration of sanity in the area, Thompson said most Nigerians can testify to the fact that the new presidential task team has done perfectly well since the inception of its operation.

According to the haulage operator, the era of bribing security personnel and other touts who take as much as N150,000 or N100,000 to access the port has gone for good, saying only those who have genuine documents now have access to the port. 

He said: “I am saying this with all sense of responsibility. Nobody can say that he is paying N20,000 to access the port now. As the leader of the truck owners, if anyone is paying such, there is no way I will not know. Our members must have come to tell me that there is no difference between the presidential task team and other previous taskforce in the area.”

Also speaking, a member of the Presidential Task team, who refused to give out his name, said so many touts who disguised or attempted to swindle truckers had been arrested and detained, saying that some of their men are being criticised by those who benefitted from the old system.

Who benefits from the rot?

Investigations by New Telegraph revealed that needless blockage of roads by the previous military-led taskforce team gave room for extortion, which forced many truckers to always want to bribe their way into the port by paying large sum of money.

According to Thompson, previous taskforce operate through faceless people known as “Kelebe”. They help the law enforcement agents to collect bribe ranging from N100,000 to N200,000 from the drivers and truckers before they could allow them access the port.

“The military was using them (kelebe) to collect money from our members.  Among those who benefitted from the old system were street urchins also known as “Area boys” who disguise as council’s revenue officers to swindle truckers.

The implication of this, Thompson said, led to exodus of people from the axis, saying, “there was no single week that a business outlet will not close down due to transportation bottleneck that almost grounded the metropolis completely. In those days, you can’t go out of Apapa and return same day; it is impossible. Before now, so many houses were empty. So many people were contemplating moving out of Apapa. Already, so many have relocated. The residents’ complaints were dominant in the media. People went in the morning but can’t return home in the evening; access roads were also blocked. Many of them will be robbed in the traffic.  However, life is returning owing to the current approach by the task team.”

Return of life in Apapa

As life seems to be returning to Apapa, some of the residents, hoteliers, traders, truckers, agents, shippers and other stakeholders in the area expressed happiness, calling on the Federal Government to sustain the tempo of sanity to forestall return of the indiscipline which crippled the economy.  Speaking with New Telegraph, Mrs Augustine Chukwuemeka, who runs a shopping mall, said since enforcement of the Osinbajo-led presidential taskforce, has been recording remarkable improvement on her sales.  Also speaking on relative restoration of orderliness in the area, Gbade Amodu, a truck owner, said the manual call up being worked on by the task team would bring about an electronic call up that would finally put an end to the human interference which breeds corruption.

“For me, old glory of Apapa is being restored. Many of our colleagues who left the business now want to come back. So far, so good. We are impressed with the progress made so far. The current task team met a system that was not transparent and they adopted better strategies after listening to our plights,” he said.

Restoration: Different strokes for different folks

As truckers and other businesses are rejoicing over efforts of the presidential task team, those who benefitted from the old and corrupt system are lamenting over the evacuation of the trucks on the road.

For instance, those who collect tolls and other levies from truck drivers and traffic are dissatisfied with the current development.

Among those who benefited from stagnant of movement of trucks on Apapa roads were Okada riders also known as motorcyclists. They are also worried that they can no longer demand spurious charges as transport fares from residents due to free flow of traffic. Traffic traders no longer have their business as usual.

Mile 2-Tin Can: The Snag

Despite successes recorded on Apapa tanker and truck gridlock, Mile 2 to TinCan port axis remains the major challenge. New Telegraph gathered that despite palliative measures put in place, bad portions of the road are rendering the efforts futile.  While some residents and commuters are apprehensive over the delay or inability of the presidential taskforce to clear the axis like other areas in Apapa, others blamed the continued presence of trucks on bad portion of the roads.

“The road is really bad. Contractors are not helping matters. They start work in the morning and close by 5pm. They are causing the problem. There is no efficiency. We have tried to complain to the Vice Chairman of the presidential taskforce, but no serious changes have been made,” a trucker said.

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Jakande-Ejigbo Road cries for attention

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Jakande-Ejigbo Road cries for attention

The Jakande-Ejigbo road has over the years been a known as home for constant and unfathomable traffic.

Residents and business owners in this neighborhood have always complained bitterly about the road and have sought help from the government countless times to no avail.  Before the road was tarred in late 2015, residents of the estate and other places, especially women from the Jakande Estate took advantage of opportunities the traffic brought about for them by selling by the roadside.

As a matter of fact, the estate gate became a mini-market place, consequently, causing unbearable human traffic for people walking and plying the roads in their cars.

Commercial Motorcycle riders, yellow buses and tricycles were not left out as they also turned the road to a park where they pick passengers going to Ijegun, Isheri, Bucknor road, among other roads.

After the road had been fully constructed and tarred, the normal thinking would have been that the illegal and malicious activities would come to a sudden halt. It unfortunately gave room for a little larger mini market by the roadside of the other side, thereby, abandoning the small market built at the back of the road known as Borokini.

Touts also eke home their daily income by constantly harassing the market women and Okada riders for who do not mind playing along as far as they also have the chance to carry out their activities.

Unfortunately, these touts, otherwise called agbero cause heavy traffic snarl along that axis. Their daily routine is to stop commercial vehicles to extort N50 or N100 in some cases.

New Telegraph visited the road as early as 6pm to observe car movements and traffic report and it was able to categorically tell that the traffic on that road starts as early as past 5am each Monday morning.

From  the look of things, one would tell the frustration on the faces of commuters, both those in their cars and passengers in the uncomfortable Lagos Danfo buses.

Recently, after much rainfall and mismanagement from the road users, the road has given way to a big ditch which according to most commercial drivers, was as a result of so much rain and flood. Apparently, the rain had swept dirt dumped by the residents and market people into a small demarcation in the middle of the road and required construction workers to break the road just to get rid of the refuse.

The traffic is worst between the hours of 6-10pm as vehicles stay on a spot for more than five minutes without movement simply because those are the hours people who had gone to work are making their ways back home.

The other side of the road is greatly affected by the street of the road, so that people going out of the estate find it hard to leave the traffic early enough to their destinations.

New Telegraph further observed that the increased traffic in the past one week is very heartbreaking as it has left commuters fighting incessantly as they try to avoid the hole on the side of the road.

Speaking to some residents, commercial vehicles and private vehicle users on how they get by with the big hole posing as barrier for smooth road usage, some of them had quite some tales to tell.

Oparinde Akinlabi, a commercial driver plying the road from Jakande gate to Ijegun, said the road has reduced the number of passengers he carries within the past one week because passengers don’t see the reason they have to seat in the bus for such long hours. Instead, they start walking the distance using legs.

He said: “I’ve been driving on this road for the past three years and I have never experienced this kind of traffic. Usually after carrying passengers to their destinations, I have to turn back to gate. The  worst feeling is that I have to stay in that traffic for a long period of time. I’ll be calling passengers even while in traffic and only few people will enter my bus because they know I will spend several hours there. The only times the road is free is in the afternoon, between the hours of 12pm to 3pm and by that time people are already settled at work; only few people are moving from one place to another. This hole is causing a big problem. We were managing before but this hole has made things worse,” he responded.

Another passenger, Lawal Babalola, said the road has been a traffic zone since he has known it and with this hole, people should expect drastic increase in traffic and transport price. In his word: “Every time I come back to Jakande estate gate from work, what I meet does not surprise me because Jakande gate is popular for traffic. The only thing I do not like about the bad road is that they increase transportation fare. On a normal traffic day, going from gate to Iyana-Isheri should be N50 but when in traffic, it turns to N100 and from the Gate to Ijegun, if one wants to use tricycle, it can skyrocket to N200  especially when they notice any form of  rush,” he said.

For a  food seller by the roadside, Ifeanyi Ijeoma , the traffic and ditch are a blessing in disguise. She told New Telegraph that the traffic has helped her business because commercial drivers park and buy food from her while they wait on the traffic to reduce but that sometimes her market does not move.

She added that, “people buy food from me, some of them get out of their cars and buy takeaway from me and eat while in the traffic.”

A resident, Adelole Olotu, a medical doctor at Ikeja, told New Telegraph about how long he spends whenever he decides to follow this road to connect to Pako at Oke-Afa.

He said: “From my house at Iyana Isheri to Oke-Afa takes me roughly more than one hour if I leave home around past six. I have a dental clinic at Ikeja and sometimes, I give my patient appointment for 8 am.  I can categorically count how many times I’ve ever met up with the appointment. I get stuck in this Jakande-Ejigbo road traffic and I know it is about to be a very rough ride. Okada riders will almost enter your mouth. They will bash your car left, right, entering any available space they find. Truth is, this road needs a very serious attention and a quick intervention is very well needed. When I’m leaving work in the evening, the thought of getting into that traffic jam just weakens my bones but it has become a very unavoidable evil”

Another road user, Bolajoko, expressed her dissatisfaction to New Telegraph that whenever she wants to go pick up her children from their grandparents, she prays she doesn’t get stuck in traffic. “My parents in law live in this Jakande Estate. Sometimes, I go to visit them or drop their grandchildren with them for a week holiday. When I am going to greet them or get my children, I fall into deep thoughts about the traffic I will face. The very surprising thing is that when there is traffic at Jakande gate, you will already see the signs from NNPC-Ejigbo or even from Pako at Oke-Afa depending on where you are coming from. I usually try to leave early in the morning to visit them or I wait till around 1 or 2pm when the traffic would have reduced drastically but sometimes my calculations don’t work in my favour. I still get stuck in the traffic for some time.”

A resident, Mr Abbey Olubiyi, told New Telegraph that, “residents of this estate do not listen. They pour dirt into flowing rain water whenever they noticed it was raining just because they do not want to pay a certain stipend to LAWMA to cart their refuse for them. One late Wednesday night, one of those days it rained consecutively for few days this month, I saw this roadside sellers pouring their  refuse into the flood. Little did they know that it will further ruin the road and they too will suffer the consequence if the road gets eaten up by tide. Little  carelessness like this is what has cause the hole that appeared at the centre of the road which has now birthed the worst traffic on the lips of everyone using this road” he retorted.

The final visit to the road on Sunday evening showed the level of frustrations in the eyes of stranded passengers as they waited for the unavailable vehicles stuck in the traffic. The vehicles were supposed to turn back and carry passengers but because of the bad road, turning at the roundabout took a lot time and effort and from their expressions you would see they really need the government to come to their aid really quick as the broken road is making movement in and out of the estate really difficult.

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Face-off: Ajimobi’s Obas dare Olubadan again

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Face-off: Ajimobi’s Obas dare Olubadan again

Rather than thaw, considering the series of interventions that had visited it almost 27 months after the chieftaincy stream of Ibadanland in Oyo State was unsettled, the simmering strife between the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Akanmu Adetunji (Aje Ogunguniso 1) and his High Chiefs, has continued to fester. SOLA ADEYEMO reports from Ibadan

 

 

While the Olubadan has insisted that the High Chiefs who were on August 27, 2017 elevated by ex-Governor Abiola Ajimobi to the status of crown-wearing Obas without his approval would not be recognised or accorded participation in the Olubadan-in-Council meetings unless they drop their crowns, the High Chiefs have also re-drawn the battle line not to toe the line of Olubadan’s authority.

Respite appeared to be introduced to the face-off when on July 29, 2019, the Osi Olubadan, High Chief Rasidi Ladoja (who rejected the elevation from Ajimobi but pitched tent with the Olubadan), went to the Popoyemoja Palace of the monarch in company with his senior in Olubadan rank (Oba High Chief Dr. Lekan Balogun, the Otun Olubadan), and the Ekarun Olubadan, Oba High Chief Amidu Ajibade, to pay obeisance to the Olubadan.

The duo of Balogun and Ajibade did not go to the palace in their Oba crowns and in a closed door meeting, it was sniffed that the elevated High Chiefs were ready for an armistice.

The Olubadan equally said that he was ready to receive back his High Chiefs to allow for peace and progress in Ibadanland, noting that they had been trapped by the policy of Ajimobi which ruptured the peaceful and enviable transition of Ibadanland.

The palace, however, saw the act of not putting their crowns on during the visit as a sign of defeat and succumbing to the authority of the Olubadan, but the entire High Chiefs on August 1, 2019, reacted in anger to the misconception, saying that crowns are not worn just anyhow but on special and traditionally-deserving occasions.

The elevated High Chiefs have therefore insisted that they would not drop their crowns and return to the palace unless the Olubadan also drops his enhanced status of “His Imperial Majesty” conferred on him by the same Chieftaincy Review Panel that elevated them to crown-wearing Obas.

Since the controversial elevation when Ajimobi set up the Justice Boade Akintunde (retd) “1957 Ibadan Chieftaincy Review Panel” which recommended that 21 crown and coronet-wearing Obas, (drawn from among the High Chiefs of Olubadan and some Baales in different communities of Ibadan), the Olubadan-in-Council meeting has been in limbo.

Chieftaincy activities have continued to be smeared in dirty criticisms while its age-long enviable integrity has been on the tenterhooks.  Aside the fact that Justice Olajumoke Aiki of an Oyo State High Court on January 20, 2018 nullified the elevation and the hurried installation on a Sunday evening, contrary to the traditional Friday rites, the appeal filed by the then government of Ajimobi, has kept the matter in court till date.

Rising from a meeting held at the Alalubosa residence of Oba Owolabi Olakulehin in Ibadan where they pooh-poohed the ridiculous comment from the Olubadan palace regarding their visit, the kings justified their continued claim of Obaship on the fact that their new status as kings had already been gazetted, meaning they are legally recognized as kings and not as high chiefs. 

In attendance at the conference were Oba Tajudeen Ajibola (Osi Balogun), Oba Lateef Adebimpe (Ashipa Balogun), Oba Eddy Oyewole (Ashipa Olubadan), Oba Abiodun Kola-Daisi, (Ekerin Olubadan), Oba Amidu Ajibade (Ekarun Olubadan) and Oba Kola Adegbola (Ekarun Balogun Olubadan). They had resolved that before they would ever agree to lose their crowns, the Olubadan must also be ready to give up his title of ‘His Imperial Majesty’ conferred on him by the same panel.

After all, to them, what is good for the goose should also be good for its gander?

In his speech at the press conference, Oba Olakulehin had wondered why mischief makers were making mountain out of a molehill regarding their action, vowing that their status as kings had come to stay and nothing on earth could undo it. 

Olakulehin stressed that after Ajimobi who meant well for Ibadan and its people had approved them as kings, the court attested to it in March 2018 when, in addition to the earlier promoted 21 kings, another 27 kings were elevated and empowered by the Chieftaincy Laws of Oyo State Cap 28, section 28(i) vol. 1.   

In a statement signed by Royal Majesties, Oba Balogun, and Olakulehin on behalf of their other colleagues, the kings said: “The reform carried out by the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, was in the best interest of Ibadan and in response to the age-long agitation for befitting status for the Ibadan high chiefs within the larger Oyo State Council of Obas and chiefs.   

Oba Ajibola said: “What they don’t know is that even without wearing crowns to the Olubadan palace, we are Obas. For anybody to say remove your crowns before you come to us, is absurd. We won’t return to Olubadan palace as high chiefs but as Obas.

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A hotel’s black day

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A hotel’s black day

After its sudden collapse last week Wednesday, the popular Metroview Hotel in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital has been sealed off. UCHENNA INYA reports

 

Metroview building plan was approved on 20th February, 2001 and commissioned by a former Minister of Culture and Tourism and prominent politician in Ebonyi State, Ambassador Frank Ogbuewu on 28th May, 2005.

 

Since its construction, the hotel, which is situated at the front of College of Health Sciences, (CHS) of Ebonyi State University (EBSU), has continued to witness high patronage as people from all walks of life have continued to lodge in the hotel. But social and commercial activities in the 14-year-old hotel were brought to a halt last week following the sudden collapse of one of its wing. Though no life was lost nor anybody sustaining injury, properties worth millions of naira was destroyed following the disaster.

 

The hotel has 26 rooms; 24 rooms and two seats. The wing that collapsed has about 10 rooms. The hotel has been sealed by the state government following the collapse. The government said the hotel remained sealed pending investigation. Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE) committee identified as Prevention, Investigation, Failure and Analysis  Committee (PIFAC)  had visited the building for investigation. Special Assistant to Governor Dave Umahi on Capital Territory Development, Chief Ejem Okoro, who announced the government action, said 60 persons escaped death following the sudden collapse of the popular hotel.  “We got shocking news in the night that a wing of Metroview hotel has collapsed and we immediately dispatched our men to go and get underground view of the news. They saw that the building has collapsed and took photographs of it. We discovered that a wing of the hotel which looks like an attachment to the main building has pulled from the main building and the entire place collapsed.

 

“Up to 60 people lodged there and they are safely out from this place. We are advising people to get approval from the government when they want to build and as you are building, you take order.

 

“We have step by step on how to build and supervise building.  So, if we don’t supervise your building, you are building on your own and if anything happens to the building, we will hold you responsible. We have to seal the entire building till further notice because we don’t want to lose any life,” he said.

 

The Hotel Director, Chief Augustine Orji said they had noticed a crack on some of the pillars holding the building and they immediately cordoned off the side of building and started renovations, adding that it was on the process of the renovation that the building collapsed.

 

Orji said those who lodged in the hotel were outside the building for a seminar when the incident happened, stressing that no life was lost.

 

“The manager of this hotel showed me the pillar that was cracking and we immediately cordoned-off the place. We immediately evacuated all our guests in the hotel on that Tuesday to see if we can salvage the building and started work on the building on Wednesday. During the work, we discovered that it was coming down the more. We then left the job. Then at about 7:pm of that Wednesday, the building collapsed  and it came down.

 

 

“There is no truth in the insinuation that about 60 people were inside the hotel and they escaped death when it collapsed. No guest was in this hotel. The people the government saw were people who came when the incident happened. So, nobody was in the hotel as a guest when the building collapsed.

 

“We did not use substandard materials in constructing the hotel. It is only experts that can tell what happened. They said we didn’t come to Capital Territory to get approval before the construction work but we didn’t know we supposed to do that.

 

Chairman of Prevention, Investigation, Failure and Analysis Committee of  Nigeria Society of Engineers(NSE), Engr. Raphael Oko, said from a cursory engineering look of the building, there was a shell failure but that the committee needed to study different aspect of design and construction of the building to come up with stamp point of the remote and immediate cause of its collapse.

 

 

“We have procedures in Engineering. We subject materials to laboratory test and the outcome of that laboratory test will guide us. We don’t just speak in isolation. We must identify whether the materials fall short of the standard. We will also get to the manpower use,” he said.

 

 

He identified high rate of quackery in Nigeria construction industry as major causes of frequent building collapse in the country. “There is prevalence of quackery in Nigerian construction industry; a whole lot of charlatans come in and pose as Engineers and they cut corners. At the end of the day, the public bears the consequence of such actions.

 

 

“To prevent frequent building collapse in the country, the right people should be brought to do Engineering work during construction. This is because in the building industry, the safety of the building rests strictly on the Engineer. So, let the Engineer be allowed to do his work because he should able to mediate between the clients and the workers to bringing out the best result.”

 

 

 

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The Mega City / Life

Lamenting ban of Sniper

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Lamenting ban of Sniper

 

Nigerians have decried the recent ban on the sale of pesticide, especially Sniper and other agricultural formulations in open market following increased cases of suicide and misuse of the products.

 

They told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the ban might not help in reducing incidences of suicide, adding that it would affect the daily bread of some people who depend on the sale of the insecticide. According to them, the ban will not tackle suicide as there are other ways to end one’s life.

 

Also, they expressed the belief that it would also not solve the underlying mental health conditions that led to the use of poisonous or other means for people to take their lives.   The National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) had on July 11, announced the ban on sale of the pesticide and other agricultural formulations or dichlovorous which is from the class of the Organophosphate chemicals that were poisoning in nature and dangerous to human health. Mr Bayo Akinlade, the Chairman, Ikorodu branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), told NAN that the regulatory organisation had a very lax system of control of the regulation of food and drugs in the country. Akinlade said due to the poor control of food and drugs by NAFDAC, the ban on Sniper would not be effectively enforced, rather it would thrive in the black market. “The problem with NAFDAC is that they have no control; there are some drugs that are on prescription only, but they are being sold over the counter. “NAFDAC has never done its job well; it just gets some sort of confirmation from these pharmaceutical companies, give them a NAFDAC number and everybody has to take care of themselves. “NAFDAC can ban Sniper as they want, people will still get a hold of it; they just made it much more expensive to purchase,’’ he said.

 

 

A Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Tomi Imarah, said that the ban was not going to be effective in Nigeria, if done in isolation. Imarah, who runs an online mental health service, “Dr Tomi Haven’’, said that there was need to engage in a different approach to media coverage of suicide stories. “The sensationalism of suicide on mainstream and social media can occur through repeated reportage. “When we continue along these paths, suicide rates will not decline, even in the face of restrictions or bans on pesticides. “Many people did not know about Sniper’s ability to terminate life and how accessible its procurement was until it was all over the news. “If Sniper is banned and the attention shifts to a new method of suicide, you will quickly see a steady rise in the use of that method as well,’’ Imarah said.

 

 

She urged media to lend a helping hand to suicide prevention efforts by focusing more time on raising mental health awareness, publicising warning signs of suicidal behaviour. Imarah said: “The media should emphasize the treatability of mental illnesses, and publish lists of mental health services and help lines in the country.’’

 

 

Also, Mr. Jiti Ogunye, a lawyer and human rights activist, described the ban on Sniper as a ‘spontaneous reaction.’ According to him, the ban will be ineffective if the root causes that indicate why Nigerians resort to suicide is not adequately addressed by the government. Ogunye said: “When in a country there is usually a spontaneous reaction to issues that require very deep thinking, introspection and reflection for us to know exactly what we need to do, we will continually get things wrong. “Now that Sniper has been banned by NAFDAC, if an individual is driven to commit suicide, won’t that person look for other means to commit suicide? What will the ban on Sniper now achieve? 

 

“If the purpose of the ban on Sniper is to reduce the suicide rate in Nigeria, I do not think NAFDAC is going to succeed. We must address the root cause or reasons why Nigerians are resorting to suicide. “NAFDAC and government at various levels in particular, have to think about social provisions, economic prosperity, mental health issues and other issues that make people so vulnerable to contemplating suicide.’’

 

 

However, lauding the ban on Sniper, also a lawyer, Mr Ademola Adewale, said that NAFDAC’s decision was justifiable because it was in the interest of public health and safety. “The ban is justified, especially as it has been shown that Sniper had been fingered as the substance used in a number of suicide cases. “No fundamental right is absolute, and any government is allowed to take certain decisions in the interest of public health, peace and welfare. “If the authorities have seen verifiable data that Sniper is being used in instances that it was not intended, then, government is right to ban it,’’ he said. Commenting, a Medical Researcher, Dr Bamidele Iwalokun, urged the three tiers of government to create awareness and educate Nigerians on the health impact of sniper which could help to address and reduce increasing rate of suicides. Iwalokun, Head, Immunology and Vaccinology Research Department, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, told NAN that Sniper was bad to use in Nigeria.  According to him, the use was never regulated and its risk of high exposure are high in Nigeria. “It is increasingly being reported that Sniper is being used as an insecticide against mosquitoes indoor in houses as a preventive measure against malaria in both Northern and Southern Nigeria. “Sniper also known as Dichlorvos shortened as DDVP (dimethyl dichlorovinylphosphate) is a liquid organophosphate used intentionally as an insecticide to kill insects and pests. It is thus used for pests control to protect agricultural products.  “First, we should know that dichlovos negative health effects will start occurring at a concentration as low as 0.5 mg/m3.

 

 

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has set a tolerable limit of 1mg/m3 for dichlovos, and this organophosphate was banned in Europe in 1998. “From occupational health and safety viewpoint, workers should not be exposed to even sub-lethal dose of dichlovos for more than four hours per day. He said that in rat, dichlovos had been reported to cause birth defects. In Mice, sperm motility was affected following exposure. “In children and adolescents, dichlovos has been reported to be a major cause of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which an estimated 51.1 million people currently suffer from globally. “Dichlovos has also been listed as a class B2 carcinogen, meaning that it has the potential to cause cancer. “The adverse effects caused by dichlovos have been attributed to its neurotoxicity, cardiotoxicity and lethal effects on the respiratory system. “It acts as an insecticide by inhibiting an enzyme called acetycholine esterase, paralyzing nerves and body systems.

 

“When the brain is toxically affected, symptoms like headache, blurred vision, iris constriction and anxiety as well as complications such as convulsion and coma are experienced,’’ Iwalokun said. He added that Dichlovos can also cause nose and throat irritation, and can induce coughing, wheezing and sneezing. The medical researcher said. He said that the best solution was what NAFDAC did by banning the use of Sniper in the country. He also advised that governments needs to do more by providing poison centre or poison unit within the tertiary hospitals in every state of the country. “Sniper poisoning should be treated as an emergency to save life. The use of Sniper for malaria prevention should be banned and enforced with punitive measures to offenders. The use of physical and light traps for insects should be encouraged which can serve as alternative to Sniper.

 

 

Adding that, “there should be environmental monitoring of Sniper in our waterways, foodstuff, agricultural produce and irrigation water. “Tolerable limit for Sniper should be set, and backed by law, policy, guidelines, monitoring programmes and enforcement,’’ Iwalokun said. Speaking, Dr Raphael Ogbolu, a Consultant Psychiatrist, said that the ban on sale of Sniper would not stop suicide, noting, but it was a good start. Ogbolu said that NAFDAC and other agencies should look at how to tackle other means people could use and also focus on the causes. “NAFDAC has done its bit based on what is under its purview, other stakeholders should continue to address what falls under their jurisdiction. “Banning Sniper would help to limit the available means of suicide; it is a globally accepted approach and one of the keys to prevention. “Each country will be guided by local trends and certainly Sniper has become a popular trend of committing suicide in Nigeria. “The ban targets households which is good, but it should not be used outside of the farm pesticide purpose for which it appears originally intended,’’ he said.

 

 

 

Another Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Kafayah Ogunsola, said that reducing the spate of suicide would involve tackling many pertinent issues, including raising awareness about mental health disorders. Ogunsola, the Chief Executive Officer of an online mental health advocacy platform, Empathyspaceng, said that mental disorders, particularly depression, remained the single largest contributor to suicide. “Also, it is important to make people aware of where to get help for their illness and removing the stigma around mental illness, as it has been successfully done with illnesses like HIV infection. Ogunsola said that the way forward was for the government to pay attention to mental health as issues of mental health was currently on the front burner in the country.

 

 

According to her, passing the mental health bill for instance, should be the starting point. “With a Mental Health Bill, issues relating to patient care, access to, funding of care, availability and evenness in the distribution of mental health facilities in Nigeria and professionals within the facilities will be taken care of. “It will also ensure the protection of patients’ rights, including right to getting employment and not to be relieved of their jobs, because they have mental illness. Another psychiatrist, Dr Afeez Enifeni, urged the government to fund institutions that have mental health professionals, ensure laws were up-to-date, attempted suicide should not be seen as a crime, but a cry for help. Enifeni, a resident doctor at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, said: “Government should ensure there is a multi-sectorial, interpersonal coordination and cooperation. “If people attempt to take their lives, they can be referred to the appropriate quarters to know why and help their mental conditions, if any. “Generally, substances such as Sniper and other dangerous substances should be regulated and monitored effectively,’’ he said. Reacting, the Lagos State Government called for the licencing of all harmful chemicals in order to make accessibility to these chemicals more difficult. 

 

 

• culled from NAN

 

 

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