Ilu Aje is a relatively large agrarian community with vast lands located between Ilora and Jobele towns in the Afijio Local Government Area of Oyo State. Semantically, “Ilu Aje” is literally a town of prosperity in sales or business transaction. However, history bequeathed it with a weird homophonic nomenclature of “Ilu Aje” (Town of Witches) following the intervention of a herbalist (Ifa diviner) from the town, who cast a divination for the late Alaafin Ladigbolu of Oyo regarding a Prince of his who was missing.
The divination came true with precision unlike others who had tried in vain. The herbalist who had divined it in the presence of the then Alaafin that his missing son would be found in exactly seven days; lo and behold!, the son who had been missing for a long while, surfaced on the exact day that the herbalist had divined.
The surprised Alaafin therefore christened the herbalist “Adifase bii Aje” (One who divines or foretells with precision like a witch). Subsequently, some people started making jest of the natives of the town, adulterated the name and dubbed it town of witches (Ilu Aje).
To some people, it has been opined that because of the eerie feeling associated with the town as a result of the name, many, including government officials (who felt that witches would kill them if they agreed to work in the town), have since been keeping the town at bay in terms of relationship.
In order to remove the stigma, a one-time Head of the town later christened it “Ilu Ooye”, (Land where natural resources are deposited with people living in sound health). The socio-political implication of the popular name (Land of Witches) had nevertheless stuck on the town, thereby getting investors and even philanthropists scared of having anything to do with the town.
The two- and- a- half- kilometre journey from Ilora town to Ilu Aje (both under the consenting authority of the Alaafin of Oyo, His Imperial Majesty Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi 111), is a tortuous one because the road is in a deplorable state. Some sections of the stretch of the untarred road where some streams traverse it are always damaged by erosion during raining, in spite of occasional repair done by the residents. Vehicular movement is therefore a very slow one as a result of the bumpy and gully parts that dot the surface of the road, thereby discouraging access to the community by many.
The Head of the community (Baale) was late, but the Otun Kabiyesi, Chief Oyebamiji Adeyemo, is overseeing the communal affairs of the town with other lieutenants like Chief Oyebamiji Fatorisa, the Odofin of Ilu Aje.
The town is peaceful and the atmosphere is serene with the inhabitants harmoniously living with many Fulani people that settled there, carrying on their cattle rearing business, as well as, farming. However, many social and infrastructural facilities are lacking in the town. It is one of the communities suffering from the common social amenities like pipe borne water, electricity, educational facilities, as well as, medical facilities, among others.
A visit to the town last week by New Telegraph, exposed a deluge of tale of woes from some of its residents, who said that electricity poles were facilitated and erected from Ilora to the town during the time of late Governor Lamidi Adesina, but its eventual experience was unpalatable to many of them.
According to Otun Adeyemo, they had a laudable gift from a member of the House of Representatives, representing Oyo Federal Constituency, Hon. Segun Taiwo, who facilitated electricity poles that were erected to the town during his tenure between 1999 and 2003. “The electrification project was contracted to some people who had erected the poles and laid wires on them. Shortly before the inauguration, while transformer was being expected to be brought to the community, some robbers started invading the road in the dead of the night, removing the wires from the poles. They started carting away the wires. We then organised our men into vigilante groups mounting nocturnal surveillance to get the bandits apprehended. We spent about N420,000 fortifying ourselves to ensure that we got the thieves arrested. We even invested in jazz (juju) in order to track down the bandits.
“When later they were coming with guns, shooting at us indiscriminately in the night, many of us then ran for our dear lives. The contractors could no longer continue with the project. But to our surprise, policemen came and rounded many of us up and whisked us to Iyaganku Police Division in Ibadan, alleging that we were the thieves who connived with the robbers to steal the wires. Some of us spent between two to three months in detention for a sin we did not commit. The police did not help the situation at all then.
“Our Council Chairman, Tunji Akinbiyi also tried during the administration of ex-Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala. He procured a transformer for us, but because almost the entire stretch of the cable wires laid had been carted away, nothing practicable could be done. We have since continued to sleep in darkness.
“The major road that links this town with Ilora and villages like Aba Bello, Tayese, towards Fiditi, is in deplorable state. We are majorly agrarian here but many people do not want to come and buy our farm produce because of bad road network. The few vehicles that come to transport our farm produce to the urban centres do so at our detriment. We have markets but transporters fear plying the road. The commercial motorcycle operators charge us double the fare we should normally pay. And can we blame them?
“Finance is another hurdle. We need loans to boost our markets; establish shops for our wives to eke out a living, but all these are lacking. We have vast lands but industrialists are not accessing here because of the lack of social and infrastructural facilities.
“All the successive administrations that we voted for have not given us the deserved attention despite our cries and appeals. Engineer Seyi Makinde came here for campaign and we told him our predicaments, and we promised to vote for him if he would pull us out of the woods. He promised us and we thank God he has won and sworn in. We place our hope on him, believing that he will make good his promise to lift us out of this under-development situation we have been wallowing in for years,” the community leader said.
An old woman with her son was seen traditionally breaking shells of palm kernel on some big stones. It was her source of livelihood, according to her. She disclosed that apart from that, women like her in the community process extraction of palm oil from palm fruits “but the system could have been better if government could assist us with modern machines to do the processing. This is an area where we need soft loans, but nobody is ready to help us,’’ she said.
New Telegraph also assessed the medical situation of residents of the community and found out that two health care facilities had at certain times been provided by past governments. However, only one of the two was partially functioning. One was completely abandoned with the building already swallowed up by bushes. The functioning one has only one government- employed Nurse with some staff attending to patients there, but as soon as it was 5 p.m, people in the community said she would leave for the town.
Asked what became of them in the night in case there was any emergency like a pregnant woman in labour, about to be delivered of her baby, Chief Fatorisa said, “The staff in the Clinic don’t stay overnight here because of electricity problem. If we have any emergency, we rush our patients to the Ilora General Hospital for treatment. We are always in despair whenever we have such emergencies. Our plea to Governor Makinde is for him to assist us with electrification of this town so that living could be much better for us.”
In the area of education, facilities are also begging for attention in Ilu Aje. The Commercial Grammar School in the town is a three-classroom building with a Principal’s Office. Each of the classrooms is used for two classes. JSS 1 and 2 are in a classroom; JSS3 and SS1 are in another, while SS2 and SS3 are combined in the third classroom.
A peep into the JS3 and SS1 classroom showed two teachers’ benches and desks with eight benches for 16 students facing a black-painted wall, while six benches for 12 students back the other class, facing the opposite black-painted wall in the same room. Apparently, two teachers teach simultaneously in the same open classroom.
New Telegraph gathered from some residents of the town that some parents who could afford it did not allow their children to attend the Grammar School constructed through the Local Empowerment and Environmental Management Project (LEEMP), because they know that teaching could not be qualitative in such an environment. To them, the ex-Governor Abiola Ajimobi administration did not do anything to better their education condition for the eight years he spent in office.
Chief Fayorisa even said that many of the children of the Fulani people living among them were always being transported to Ilora on daily basis to attend their Quranic school because there was none in Ilu Aje. “If government can establish a Quranic school in this town, and post teachers with qualification in Islamic Education here, the Fulani children will not be going out every day. Their operation here would even boost commercial and social activities in the town. But the problem is that many of our politicians are highly deceptive. Whenever they need our votes, they would come, making promises upon promises. But once they get to office, you hardly see them again. We only hope that Engineer Seyi Makinde, our Omituntun Governor will change the tradition and attend to our request. We pray for his successful tenure,” the Chief said.
Border closure: Return of essential commodities
Border closure is no more news in the Nigeria economy scene, as this recent development has led to increase in prices of food commodities, especially rice.
The worrisome question however, is why locally produced commodities also increased in price. Since the federal government partially closed the western border of the country to Benin Republic and the Northern border to Niger Republic and Chad, prices of commodities in the country have gone up as most of the goods are being imported from the West African countries including the popular and common staple food in almost every Nigerian home-rice!
With increase in the price of rice, other food commodities have joined suit as food prices have gone times three against the formal prices. A trip to Elepo and Igando markets, rice dealers and other food stuff traders like palm oil, yam flour (Elubo), all, told tales of woe on increased prices and lamentations of customers. To most of these dealers and traders, the boarder closure is a curse and cobweb of poverty around them. Mr, Adeline Alanna, A general condiment seller told New Telegraph that, most of the condiment he sells have now become expensive because of the border that has been closed for some months now, he added that, “assuming the citizen of Benin Republic have been able to smuggle themselves to come into Nigerian, it could have been better but they can’t come that is why most of the things are now getting expensive. We sell a gallon of groundnut oil at the rate of N11,500 before but now is at the rate of N14,500, a carton of spaghetti (Golden penny)was N3,600 but now sold for N4000. Other brands in the pasta category have added money. Also, a 25kg Semovita was N2,700 but it’s now N2,900.”
Mr Alanna added that other ingredients and seasonings such as, tomato paste, thyme, curry, maggi and many others are not expensive, they are still sold at the old price, but by December if the boarder is not opened, then prices might increase. Naturally, goods are sold for higher rates by December than normal days,” he concluded.
Linda Okorie, also condiment seller said that a kilo of frozen chicken has increased also from N1000 to N1600, but other things like maggi, curry, tomato paste are stable. She also corroborated Alanna that if the border closure continues till December things will be more expensive than it is now.
A woman selling yam flour said yam flour has become expensive ‘gold’, even though the supply is from Oyo state. She added that yam flour is sold for N5000 naira for a big paint rubber and is now N7000. The woman’s worry is the high rate of lamentation on the new increase price. “Most of my customers question me if the border closure should have effect yam flour?” The answer of course is NO. But whatever that is been sold to us at a high price will surely be resold at another higher price by adding our own profits,” she added.
Adeolu Sadiat, a palm oil seller said the price of palm oil has also been affected. She said it has become expensive now just like every other commodity because of the closed boarder. Ordinarily, palm oil is sourced in Nigeria which shouldn’t be expensive, “but reverse is the case as we now sell it between N8000 and N8, 500 per gallon (25 litres) but it is now N12, 000 even more than that,” she said.
While speaking to New Telegraph, Emmanuel Ebere said that the price of a bag of rice depends on the type of the rice, as there are two types of rice-polished and unpolished rice. The polished rice, he explained that, is more expensive than the unpolished rice especially the one brought in from the north but the one sourced locally in the west is sold within the range of N19,000—N23,000 but wholesalers sell the polished rice for about N20,000 while the unpolished rice is sold between N17,000 and N19,000. He also said the prices of commodity aren’t that costly for the time being, as prices in the market are stable for now unlike few months ago because most of the things are now gotten from the north. He went further to say that the price of rice will definitely increase by December because the demand for rice is usually high during festive period. The border closure he said did not only affect the price of rice but also prices of other foodstuffs like.
According to Peter Agboh, A foodstuff trader, a bag of “Nigerian” rice is now expensive unlike before the closure of border, the one with ‘stones’ also referred to as the unpolished rice costs N18,000 while the one without ‘stones’ also called polished rice costs N20,000. He also said the border closure affected the price of rice as foreign rice which was sold for N15,000 is now N20,000—N27,000, and the price of local rice is now cheaper than the foreign one.
New Telegraph also met with Mrs. Oluwaseun Oluwashina, a rice dealer who said, “Rice is not in its stable price now as everything has increased in price, And there are two types of rice, there’s foreign rice and Nigerian rice”. She also explained further that foreign rice is expensive than Nigeria rice due to the border that has been closed for more than a month now . “We sell foreign rice N14,000 before but now is N26,000, but truth is some people don’t really like Nigerian rice. We are getting closer to the month of December now, if the border is still not opened by then, prices of commodities will go up,” he said.
Getting their nod in road construction
The Lagos State government has held a meeting with residents of Somolu on the planned reconstruction of Fadipe Street. MURITALA AYINLA reports
othing could make Lagosians happier than to see an aggressive rehabilitation of roads across the state metropolis. Certainly, most residents in the state are tired of countless potholes on major highways and inner city roads that make driving in the state a herculean task.
Although, worried by the deplorable state of the roads, the state governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu had declared emergency on the road, but motorists are yet to see difference as almost all the roads are still being left unattended to by the construction firms said to have been mobilsed for the rehabilitation projects. They are either laced with potholes or too deplorable for vehicles to manage. Some needed a facelift, others demand urgent and a total rehabilitation to make them past the test of a fairly manageable roads.
While many commuters and motorists attest to the fact that the men of the Lagos State Public Works Corporation were fixing some of the roads across the state, the others said to be handled by the construction firms are yet to get attention. Hence rhythm of lamentations over bad roads continue to dominate the air, weeks after the emergency declaration on the deplorable roads.
But amidst the lamentations over bad roads, some roads are lucky to have gotten approval for expansion, rehabilitation and total reconstruction.
One of them is Fadipe Street in Somolu Local Government Area where the sought the cooperation of the residents for the smooth commencement of the reconstruction of the road in the area.
Speaking during the Stakeholders’ Meeting in the Conference Room of the Ministry on Wednesday, the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr. Idris Salako stated that the stakeholders’ meeting was convened to sensitise stakeholders on the reconstruction of the road on Fadipe Street, Somolu and deliberate on the sustainable physical and socio-economic development of the area.
Dr. Salako who spoke through the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Arc. Foluso Dipe said that the existing road would be upgraded to a modern road infrastructure and would provide many benefits to the people among which are improved aesthetic value of the area, improved connectivity index, improved rental and capital value as well as improved level of socio-cultural interaction and evolution.
He said: “this road reconstruction is in line with the determination of the Administration of His Excellency, Mr. Babajide Sanwoolu to provide key infrastructure that is vital to development. This target can be achieved more easily with the cooperation and total support of the citizenry.”
He urged residents of the area to cooperate with the State Government and its agents, particularly the contractor in actualizing the project as it was intended to provide succor to the people.
“I want to reiterate that this project is your project which you all need to rally round and see to fruition. Therefore, it is in the paramount interest of members of the community to jealously guide and monitor the facility for it to serve us for long” he said. He stressed that the Lands bureau would be contacted to compensate the affected property owners within the Right of Way of the project as the process of payment of compensation was part of the package for owners of property that would be affected.
He enjoined members of the community to bear with some form of inconveniences that the road construction could bring about, saying that with the cooperation of the people, the project should be completed within the stipulated time.
On his part, the permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works, Engr.Olujimi Hotonu, who was represented by the Director Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation, Engr. Lateef Somide, said that the road which was 16m by 480m in dimension would be upgraded with modern facilities such as Paved Stone Surfacing Materials, Covered Drainage and Culverts, Service Ducts and Streetlights.
In her remarks,the Permanent Secretary, Office of Civic Engagement, Mrs. Rhoda Ayinde called for the cooperation of the people as the road construction was intended by the State Government to make the area more livable for the residents of Fadipe Street.
Speaking on behalf of the Residents, Mr. Anthony Oladele Idowu expressed his support for the project, saying that it would improve the lot of the people while he urged the Government to consider speed breakers along with the project as the road is a bye-pass to other major roads in the area.
Taking over Ibadan with OPay, ORide
Ride Street, since its launch in Ibadan in July, has literally painted the city yellow with its products and services. ORide is a service/platform in OPay app, owned by the Chinese company, Opera.
Opay is a Central Bank of Nigeria licensed mobile money operator. The app contains other platforms like ORide, OKash, OFood and OBus.
“There is currently over one thousand OPay agents in Ibadan,” Country Manager of OPay, Iniabasi Akpan, said.
Ajayi Tosin, an OPay agent at Bodija Market, stated uses the app fordifferent purposes including Cash Deposit, POS Withdrawal, Cable TV Subscription, Airtime and Data, Betting, and Electricity Payment.
Tosin said people come with cash or with their ATM cards and he helps them do mobile transactions with the app. “We charge our customers commissions, which can be any amount, depending on the type and the amount of transactions they do,” he said.
Another Opay agent, Durotola Sulaimon, who owns an electric shop at Agbowo, stated that he had OPay app two years ago before they stopped operation. “When they started again in July, with new packages, I reconnected.” He uses the app for cash deposit/transfer and for cable TV subscription businesses.
An agent could get the OPay POS by carrying out at least 150 bank transactions (cash deposit) with the app in one month. The monthly total value of the transaction should be at least N3.5 million. Once these conditions are met, the POS would be issued to the agent.
The modus operandi of ORide in Lagos is different from that of Ibadan. In Lagos, what is in operation is ORide Green, where new motorbikes, with 200cc engines, are purchased for the riders of OPay. However, in Ibadan, where it is called ORide Street, Akpan says they adopted a third-party model where motorbike riders use their motorbikes for the business.
ORide Street is currently offering discounted pricing (bonanza) for trips. About the discounts, Akpan noted that when ORide Street was launched in July, the bonanza was N50 for trips less than N1,000. For August, it was N100. For September and October, it is N100 for trips less than N800.
Some riders spoke on how they learnt about ORide Street. Samuel Obadaye said he heard about it through Facebook and joined because he believed he would make more money from it. Adejume Ismaheel said he learnt about it through his friend who is an ORide Street rider.
Olaleye Adekunle said he noticed some yellow helmets on the streets and became curious. He satisfied his curiosity and tried it.
According to Akpan, two major benefits OPay and ORide Street have brought to Ibadan are employment and security. They currently have three offices, about 500 staff, and over 2,000 active riders in Ibadan.
Asked if female riders are qualified for the business, Akpan answered, “There is no law preventing woman from being commercial motorbike riders. As of now, we have a number of female riders.”
In terms of safety and security, Akpan stressed that since ORide Street started in Ibadan, the rate of motorbike-related robbery and kidnapping have significantly reduced. He stated that with the ORide platform, which tracks the movement of both riders and passengers, location detection is very possible.
Akpan explained how ORide Street works. Once interested motorbike riders show interest, ORide inspects their motorbikes and accompanying documents and also test them to confirm if they can read and write. Applicants who cannot read and write will not be accepted.
There are forms to fill too. The forms contain fields like, but not limited to, physical address of applicant, next of kin and address of next of kin. Akpan noted that they have members of staff who verify the addresses. Once the application is successful, the prospective rider is scheduled for training by ORide training staff. Part of the training includes practising with a demo version of OPay app, which contains the ORide platform.
Some riders narrated their training experiences. Muhammed Audu said they were told to be friendly with customers and not to drink or smoke on duty. Mathew Ikape stated they were taught how to operate on highway and how to observe traffic laws. He also stated that ORide training staff checked their chassis number, plate number and engine number of their motorbikes, and instructed those without complete driving papers to get the valid documents to complete registration with the platform.
Samuel Ayoola said they were taught how to dress with the kits and how to observe personal hygiene.
Olaleye Adekunle said security and safety were stressed in the training. “You are not to carry a passenger who refuses to use the helmet, because whatever happens between you and law enforcement officers, you are on your own,” he said.
Part of the training involves letting the riders know the penalty associated with each rule they break. Akpan stated that serious infractions will lead to the termination of the rider from the business. “There is zero tolerance to fraud and reckless driving,” he said.
Once they are certified by ORide, the riders are given their kits: a smartphone, which includes the OPay app; a reflective jacket, for easy identification in the night; two yellow helmets; two yellow rain coats; and a hundred pieces of hair nets, to reduce heat from the helmet and to prevent hair infections.
Akpan says all the other kit items are free, except the phone. “The normal price of the phone in the market is N43,000. But we sell it to the riders at a discounted price of N27,000.
The mode of payment for the phone is on a daily basis for three months. The company deducts N300 from the daily earnings of the riders before paying them. These transactions are done through the OPay app.
“If the phone gets lost, the rider can replace it with any smartphone of his choice, not necessarily the type the company initially gave him. In the event of loss or damage of the helmet out of negligence, a rider can buy another one from ORide. However, if the loss or damage is by accident and there is proof for that, ORide will replace it for free. Also, if the reflective jacket wears out or is lost, it could be purchased at ORide offices.
At the end of the three months, if a rider decides not to continue with ORide Street, he only needs to return the other kits. The phone is his. On the other hand, if he wishes to continue after three months, he keeps all the kits and pays five per cent of his daily earnings as a commission for using the OPay app.
Some ORide staff and riders explained the process involved in requesting for a ride by a customer till the customer gets to their destination.
Once a customer makes an order by selecting their current and destination locations through the ORide platform, riders closer to the customer will receive the order. The riders, through the platform, will see the customer’s current location, name and phone number. The first rider to accept the order will attend to the customer. Then, he will call or text to enquire the customer’s exact location for pick up.
Oladimeji Wasiu said, for instance, if he is around Makola Roundabout and accepts an order from Sango, he will call the customer to wait for three or five minutes for pick up. “If the customer can’t wait, I’ll know when he or she cancels the order,” he said.
If an order comes in and the rider refuses to accept it within twenty-four seconds, another rider will accept it or the platform will automatically cancel it. Also, once a rider accepts an order, another order cannot come in until the previous one is completed.
Lucky Ajige once had a network problem when he patronised ORide Street and had to pay N460. The real cost of his trip was N460, as was reflected in the app. But, with the bonanza, he would have paid N100.
Akpan stated that network problems are from network providers who provide data services and not from the app. However, he noted that it is rare to experience network problems with the app.
Olaleye Adekunle once had six orders that were not paid for, due to network problem. “I had to call the customers some hours later to inform them to pay me through the app,” he said. He was able to rectify the problem with OPay customer care service.
The professional aura OPay and ORide Street have brought into Ibadan commercial motorcycle business is unmistakeable. The owners of the business said they are ready to collaborate with the masses, the Oyo State government and the law enforcement agencies of the state to make one of their slogans: ‘Move around safe and fast, pay less with ORide’ a sustainable one.
Tafawa Balewa, Bogoro communities demand chiefdoms
he people of Tafawa and Bogoro communities in Bauchi state have cried with a loud voice to government, council of traditional rulers and other relevant stakeholders to hasten the implementation of the approved and gazette Zaar chiefdom as recommended by various committees and commissions. Speaking at this year Zaar annual festival, National President Zaar Development Association (ZDA) worldwide Engineer Isuwa Galla said that Zaar chiefdom is one of the major problem facing them as a community.
According to him, “lack of commitment by government, traditional rulers and other stakeholders to complete the implementation of the approved and gazette Zaar (Sayawa) chiefdom and the possible handing over of the staff of office to the Zaar people as recommended by various committees and commission is one of the major problem of the Zaar community.”
He explained that, the agitation of Zaar people in the two local government areas of Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro to have a chiefdom of their own, started long ago before they were born but wonder why the delay in giving their Paramount leader a recognition by giving a staff of office since it has been approved and gazetted. The President said, “may I seek the indulgence of this people oriented government to please do the needful as the Zaar people are counting on it for this same course and promise to be law abiding in its waiting days.”
Isuwa Galla said that lemp zaar is a time when the Zaar nation’s converse in Pusji (Tafawa Balewa) to thank God for a bountiful harvest and to also appreciates the hand of God over the land while calling on government to hasten the actualization of Zaar chiefdom to help them preserve their language and culture. He pointed out that they gathered to also show case their rich culture and art to the world hoping that the annual Lemp Zaar would be converted by government into a national festival to preserve minority tribes and their cultures I the northern Nigeria.
“May I aptly appreciate the grand Commander in chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, our Executive Governor Senator Bala Mohammed, Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadeeq Abubakar, and the minister of Education Malam Adamu Adamu and our most illustrious son Professor Suleiman Bogoro the Executive Secretary of Tetfund for dimming it fit to site Air Force University in Tafawa Balewa. Indeed, our joy knows no bounds for this development stride. It would no doubt boost employment and development levels in our land, state and Nigeria as a whole. We are ever ready and committed to support its full takeoff,” he said.
Speaking, at the annual festival, Bauchi State Governor Senator Bala Mohammed advised other tribes in the state to emulate Sayawa community in culture and language preservation. Represented by the Speaker Bauchi State House of Assembly Honorable Yakubu Suleman culture is a total way of life adding that celebrating cultural festival help communities to show case their heritage and traditions. “Whoever abandoned his culture has abandoned his original way of life and his life will be tasteless. I commend the Sayawa for preserving their culture in various ways including Lemp Zaar annual festival. Bala Mohammed further urged the Sayawa people to use the annual festival in preaching the gospel of peace and brotherhood among all tribes and religions in the state. He said the event should not be restricted to cultural dances and music but should be a platform for discussion and sober reflection on the status of Sayawa in term of development, economy, education and youths’ empowerment. In her remarks, the first lady of Bauchi State Hajiya Aisha Bala Mohammed urged Sayawa community and other tribes in the state to continue to live in peace and harmony assuring that government would be fair to all tribes I the state.
Speaking to our correspondent at the event, Bogoro Local Government Committee Care taker Chairman Mr. Iliya Habila, a son of the soil said the annual event was set aside specially to thank God express their gratitude to Almighty God for the protection, guidance and preservation throughout the farming season and provision of bountiful harvest. He said the annual cultural festival is known as lemp-zaar which brought all the Sayawa together from Diaspora and within to celebrate and share pleasantries together with families, friends and reunite for the future. His message at this year’s event include, calls on all the tribes around and those living in the area to unite together tolerate each other despite religious differences and Forge ahead for better development in the land. Mr. Iliya Habila a renowned Journalists recalls that in the past the celebration was done by their fathers who were known Christians or Muslims but since they people embrace religion they are doing it in a different way to glorify God even though their fathers do it to unknown God. The Caretaker Chairman, described the Sayawa people as law abiding citizens, humble, respectful to both traditional and constituted authorities and are well known for their hospital to all kinds of people “they are well informed in all fields of endeavors, with a common saying that, there are no illiterate in Sayawa land which makes them rank second to none in the state.
“We have every reason to thank God, because God has elevated sons and daughters of this land to high places in Nigeria one of them is myself, Late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa of Blessed memory and many other in Army, Civil servants business men too numerous to mention.”
The people of Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro local Government Area are located in the southern part of Bauchi State migrated from the former Kanem+Borno empire presences in Ngazargamu in present Yobe state Nigeria and settle where they are today. The Sayawa’who are predominantly Christians by faith, farmers by occupation and generally industrious are also spread across the country in large proportion especially in states like Kaduna, Taraba, Adamawa Borno, Yobe, Kogi, Lagos, Kwara, Maiduri and Nassarawa States while some fraction of them can be found in Cameron, Chad and Ghana. The two Local governments share boundaries with Kanam, Mangu, Barkin Ladi, Panshin and Kanke in Jos south and North of Plateau state. The Zaar people who are popularly addressed by the Hausa and friends as Sayawa celebrate their annual cultural festival every 1st November every year in a unique and district way giving thanks to God for bountiful harvests and good health.
This year’s festival attracts eminent Nigerians who include, Tetfund Executive Secretary Professor Suleiman Eliars Bogoro, Speaker Bauchi State House of Assembly, Ambassador David Bala Gambar, Chief SD Gani former deputy Governor Taraba State, Dr. Biteus Pogu President Middle belt forum and General Marcus Take (Rt). In his vote of thanks, the chief host of the festival, the Gung Zaar Select Air Commodore Ishaku Komo said that Zaar people otherwise known as Sayawa are located in two local governments of Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro. He said his people are predominately farmers by occupation and industrious people while willing to welcome guest and visitors at any time. According to him the community have unique distinct and we’ll developed culture, traditional, religion and customary as well as defined social norms that stand the test of time.
A thought for workers with hearing impairment
o adderess the aged-long communication challenges among the workers with hearing impairment in the estimated 150,000 civil servants in the state, the Lagos State Government recently trained workers on signed languages.
Over 200 civil servants drawn from various Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, were trained in the 3-Day workshop which the government described part of the strategies to facilitate all inclusive government, Lagos State Government.
The government said that the training of 200 civil servants on communication skills was to enable them communicate effectively with people with hearing impairment.
Beyond this, the government said that special people in the society, especially those with hearing impairments, would be carried along in the developmental agenda of Lagos State.
Speaking at the end of the 3-Day training on sign language communication for over 200 civil servants drawn from various MDAs, the state’s Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Segun Dawodu, explained that the training was to sharpen their skills to communicate effectively with people with hearing impairment.
He explained that the importance of sign communication as an effective method of communication between people living with hearing impairment on one hand and members of the public on the other hand could not be over-emphasized.
Dawodu, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Youth and Social Development, Yewande Falugba, said that LASODA, as an agency that promotes better welfare services; rights, privileges and social inclusion of People Living With Disabilities in Lagos State, was aimed to advance the special people’s law of the current administration.
He said: “It is in line of our responsibilities to facilitate workshops like this for greater public awareness and their participation in sign communication skills for better understanding when communicating with those concerned i.e. deaf/hearing impairment to be precise.
“Presently and for the past few years, our focus has been on training the Civil/Public Servants and to integrate them on the usefulness of sign language in bridging communication gaps.To further attest to this, sign language placards are hung at some MDAs to show the importance Government attach to sign Language communication.” Dawodu said.
He charged the participants to pay more attention in order to acquire the needed sign communication skills that would be of immense values and benefits to them.
“For the beneficiaries of this workshop, it is my believe that you will make good use of it as the objective of training you is to ensure that in every MDAs of the state government, the private sector and federal agencies in the State; there must be at least, one or two persons who should be able to communicate with persons with hearing impairment who may be there to make inquiries, solicit information or for other legal purposes and would need someone to interact with,” he added.
Acting General Manager, LASODA, Mr. Adegboyega Alejo, said that the training would expose participants to sign language communication and adopt pragmatic approach in their relationship with people with hearing impairment.
He added the training was aimed at breaking the barrier in communication experienced by people with hearing impairment when transacting businesses with government offices and others.
La Campagne, Radisson Blu launch boat cruise on Lagos waters
Poised to deliver on its promise of offering the best of experience in the leisure world to the people, the management of La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort has launched a new project, which is aimed at exploring the beauties of Lagos waters and also cut down on the travelling hours from any part of Lagos to the resort, which is based in Ikegun Village, Ibeju Lekki axis of the city. Tagged La Campagne, Radisson Blu Boat Cruise Life Style, the new service by La Campagne in partnership with Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel, Victoria Island, was launched recently at Radisson Blu during a colourful ceremony witnessed by a number of guests and stakeholders in the industry.
The formal launch ceremony climaxed with a boat cruise from the hotel’s jetty to the resort, with the over 40 minutes cruise time on the Lagos waters offering guests a foretaste of what the new service has to offer.
The experience on this day was quite unique and went beyond the normal boat cruise offerings. It was all embracing package, spiced with entertainment onboard and climaxing with a bouquet of dining and leisure packages at the resort, including an array of water sports and entertainment by Atunda Entertainment, as the trio of Anu Lady Ekwe, Olo midan bata and Ara (Thunder), enthralled the guests with a blend of African and contemporary tunes.
Speaking during the launch ceremony, the President of La Campagne, Otunba Wanle Akinboboye, who is also the founder of Motherland Beckons, an organisation devoted to building the continent of Africa through arts, music, culture and tourism, described the boat cruise project as harvesting the vast wealth of Lagos waters for the benefit of the people.
For him, it is a yet another dream come through even as he lamented the waste being visited on the vast coastal line across the country and Lagos, as it has remained under – utilised over the years by the government and Nigerians, a situation, which he said has contributed to the poverty and suffering in the land. He reeled off some astounding statistics to the amazement of the guests in underscoring the depth of wealth that is laying fallow across the country’s coastline.
For instance, he disclosed that Lagos lagoon spans a space of 211 kilometres, with over 198 kilometres of beachfront spread across while Nigeria as a whole boasts over 804 kilometres stretch of beachfront spread across over six states, with Lagos blessed with the largest beachfront.
The good news, he said, is the fact that La Campagne has now found a worthy partner with whom they can now explore the fallow Lagos water so as to offer a new experience in water leisure, as it is done in other saner climes, to Nigerians, especially tourists, who for years have hungered for the opportunity to explore the beauties and riches of the Lagos waters
. For him, Lagos waters is very calm and is a rich attraction for water leisure enthusiasts but like most other attractions in Nigeria, they remain attractions because no attempt have been made to turn them into tourist attractions or a tourist destinations. But with the new partnership with Radisson Blu Hotel, all that is now changing, as Lagos waters is going be turned into a tourist attraction that everyone will desire to explore in the coming days.
‘‘We are breathing life into Lagos waters with this new project,’’ which according to him, will make a difference in the way people travel and explore the waters because it is the break of a new dawn for lovers of water sports and leisure. As the boat cruise is not going to be the normal boat cruise,’’ adding that this is a leisure boat cruise with a lot of entertaining offerings attached to it.
‘‘It is not about cruising on water only,’’ said Akinboboye of the boat cruise, explaining that the boat will ferry guests from the hotel in the early hours of the morning after breakfast to the resort. While onboard they will be treated to lavish and savoury offerings such as live musical entertainment, dance and comedy shows of all sorts.
According to him, a fully equipped and stylishly fitted boat will be deployed for the service. Onboard entertainment, he said is going to be first class and nothing near what people are used to before. The onboard entertainment, he further noted will feature such sessions as sax time with popular saxophonists and keyboard time with popular keyboardist as well as time out with Atunda Entertainment crew, led by Anu, Olo and Ara.
At the resort, the guests will further be treated to exciting top packages designed in the unique style of the award winning and world acclaimed African theme resort. With the resort recently taken delivery of top class water sports and leisure equipment, he said guests will have enthralling moment at the resort with dining on the lagoon
On his part, the Director of Sales and Marketing of Radisson Blu, Wellington Mpofu, expressed delight over the project, disclosing that it is a way of the hotel contributing to developing the tourism business of the city hence it has partnered the resort in birthing the boat cruise project, which he said will not only boost the profile of both the hotel and resort, but also offers a new experience to their guests.
With the boat cruise, ‘‘you are going to have an amazing time of your life,’’ said Mpofu, adding that: ‘‘We are going to have a good ride on Lagos waters. This is going to revolutionise the way we view tourism in this city. It is a new paradigm shift and what we do with people visiting the city.’’
Furthermore, he said it is not only going to typify what the city has to offer visitors but that ‘‘the synergy between the two organisations is a development that is going to change the face of tourism in the city.
People have been seeing this waters doing nothing with it, but now we have both decided to build an exciting packages around it that our people will find difficult to resist.’’
Agonies of Oke-Ira swamp land dwellers
Slums are normally on the outskirts of cities. In Lagos, however, it is not difficult to sight shanties, slums in almost every corner. The reason is not far-fetched- affordability of accommodation in a decent and dry environment seems to be out of reach of average Lagos residents. Consequently, most of the slums are overpopulated, lacking in many basic facilities. AWOTUNDE IBRAHIM writes
ost of the slums that New Telegraph visited, lacked good and well paved roads, potable water, electricity, decent toilets, in fact, most of them do what is termed as ‘shot-put’. They pass faeces on used newspaper and throw inside the refuse around them. From a week observation, their lifestyles could be described as terrible, loose in morals and values, the crime level/ tendency is inexplicable. A child as young as 7-year-old understands facial signal to run away or deny a crime, when signaled to!
However, they seem to be contented with their lives despite the circumstances surrounding them. Although, they do not like it, they have accepted what fate brought across their ways and make the most of it. They have become used to the stench oozing around them. In fact, to them, it is their natural perfume. Gutter water flows around, under their shanty built rooms, yet they do not mind. And when nature-rain brings about flood their ways, they find a way to deal with it. To these set of people, they are determined to make the better part of the bitter taste life aims to throw or already throwing at them. Judging by their philosophy, if government refuses to come to their aids by giving them decent environments and basic amenities, they would find their way round it.
For residents living at the tail end of the Ola-Aina Street, Oke-Ira , Ogba , Lagos , it is a galore tale of woes or otherwise, the proverbial song of late Fela- ‘Suffering and Smiling.’ There are dingy corners of houses providing excellent sanctuaries for teeming multitude of malicious mosquito, heaps of refuse lying around, different stench oozing from the drainages, marshy pathways and remains of human wastes were seen carelessly all over the environment.
For Sunday Adeleye who live with his family within this slum, a creaky mud laden bridge leads the way to his half swamp filled house which on entering a first time visitor will think there is a fish pond in the sitting room which is actually the biggest room in the house. The occupants who still wish to continue to live in the house placed a strong wood across the room to serve as a bridge to move across the room. They are used to the constant sounds of frogs, toads and small fishes which have turned the stagnant water to their new home. The incessant flood had washed away the once beautiful green paint which is now a ghost of its former self as it is now a faint whitish green colour which most of it had scraped away. The flood had frustrated every effort of renovation as even the newly cemented door frame has been destroyed due to pressure of the flood and its residents had resorted to the use of a thick blanket to serve as their door. Mrs. Mary Adeleye, the woman of the house, said they have to wrap themselves up with insecticidal nets in order to protect themselves from their mosquitoes neighbours. The bedroom is a no-go area whenever it rains as they have to vacate the room to return only when the rain subsides and they have to scoop the water out before they can sleep on their make-shift beds made of bamboo trees with mats spread on them as they only desire to have a roof over their heads and a place to call home, not the luxury aspect of it.
However, the Adeleye’s are not the only one in this swampy situation, but the whole residents of the tail-end of the Ola Aina’s street, Oke-Ira, Ogba Lagos.
According to Mr. Adeleye, who said the place wasn’t originally a swampland when he and his family moved there in the early 2000’s as it was another developing area which they saw as aeconomic fertile area, believing people will soon come to join them to industrialise it. But their nightmare began during the second term of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola when the area began to be flooded due to the blockage of the canal in the area l, but the then government came early to their rescue and cleared the canal giving them their own share of the governance.
Shockingly, their joy was short-lived when a new government came and decide not to focus on drainages but in other important things, making the people of this area living their worst night mare .Mr Adeleye who further lamented bitterly that the scenario would have been prevented if the local government in their jurisdiction which is the Ojodu local government have done something to help the people of its constituency as the stakeholders of the community had gone on several occasions to appeal to the local government officials but which all fell on deaf ears.
Speaking to another resident, elder Adékúnlé Fasasi, 72, who said he has been living in the area for more than 22 years but the past six years seemed to be the worst of his life as it seems the government operating within those years have abandoned its people in the aspect of environment.
Mr. Fasasi who jokingly said that majority of the people living in the area are Yoruba’s as against the popular notion of the people of the surrounding areas that probably they are Ilaje’s who are probably used to living in such aqua – terrestrial environment. “But if I had known that this is what will happen here, would I have bought a land to live here? This flood turned swamp had wreck economic and physical havoc on us as majority of tenants living here had left when they couldn’t bear it any longer and as big as this community is, only two tenants live there and they don’t pay rent because who will pay for living in such condition!”
“This swampland has turned us into regulars at the hospital treating malaria and dysentery always and it has wrecked a lot of small businesses as nobody would want to come to a swamp to buy goods” The septuagenarian concluded bitterly.
Speaking to New Telegraph, another resident, a woman in her late fifties who doesn’t want her name in print lamented bitterly that the flood turned swamp has destroyed her business as it wrecked her vegetable farm where she plants varieties of vegetables to eke out a living for her family but she couldn’t continue her farm practices because the swamp has made the land unfit for agricultural purposes and the little arable land she has left her customers doesn’t patronize her again for the fear of the disease it might have accumulated from the surrounding swamp. While responding to if they couldn’t leave the area and migrate , the woman said they couldn’t abandon the houses they built and as the economy is now hard and there is scarcity of houses and lands in Lagos and the little left are expensive so they have to make do with what they have.
Meanwhile, when moving around the swampy community, New Telegraph observed that there are lots of abandoned houses , many completed and some uncompleted, and it was gathered that the occupants of these houses had to abandon it when they couldn’t bear it any longer.
According to environmental specialists at the last United Nations convention held in New York, said it is due to the effect of climate change as it has resulted into an upsurge in the sea level thereby increasing the flood cases. They therefore advised governments to build more artificial water ways like canals so as to help control floods back onto the ocean and they won’t be stagnant on properties which may later turn into swamps which are not ideal for an hygienic environment.
Red carpets for 1,000 Perm Secs, Directors, others
Last Thursday, the tempo of activities at the Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa was unusually high as Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, honoured 1,000 public servants who have spent over 30 years in the service of the state. MURITALA AYINLA reports
or hundreds of workers, friends, relatives and well-wishers who graced the 2019 Lagos State Long Service Awards last Thursday, the day was indeed what the Lord has chosen to rejoice and felicitate with the awardees who were recognized for dedicating over 30 years of their lives to the service of the state. They were so honoured for over three decades of active service to the development of the state.
According to the state government and other analysts, the 1000 award recipients played an active role in the development of Lagos State such that whatever Lagos State must have attained in the last 30 years or more, the award recipients played a key role in the making of Lagos as the economic hub of the country and fastest growing mega city. They were one way or the other involved and helped in the implementation of the Lagos developmental blue print in the military and civilian government. Hence, the story of Lagos development cannot be told without the input of the awardees.
Among those honoured by Governor Sanwo-Olu were 17 serving permanent secretaries who have spent between 30-34 years in the service, the Clerk of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Director of the Public Affairs Unit in the Lagos State Ministry of Budget and Economy Planning, Mrs Olowu Adekoya-Olubunmi, her counterpart in the state Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mrs Olufuwa Olabisi and other categories of workers who have dedicated over 3 decades of their lives to the state public service. As early as 8:30am, hundreds of dignitaries comprising the awardees, relatives and friends had filled the expansive, well decorated and lit hall. They all appeared radiant in their elegant attire, accompanied by their spouses who came from far and wide to rejoice with them. It was indeed a gathering of Thanksgivings for many of the awardees as not all who took appointments with them were still alive or still in active service.
Speaking at the colourful event, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who congratulated the celebrators, said that his administration would always recognize and reward diligence and commitment to the service. He said over 3o years in the service of the state deserve accolades and special recognition. The governor, who was represented by the Secretary of State Government, Mrs Folahade Jaji said that his administration remains committed to the payment of N30,000 new minimum wage, urging workers in the state to key into his T.H.E.M.E.S agenda to take the state to a greater height. Explaining the rationale for the award, the state’s Head of Service, Mr Hakeem Muri-Okunola said that the recognition would further encourage diligence, commitment and loyalty among public servants in Lagos State. He added that the award would spur them to continue to put their best in the service of the state, adding that the award was a mark of honour to distinguished them among the state workforce. He said: “I congratulate and rejoice with the 1,000 proud recipients of today’s awards and their relations here present not only for the grace of God which saw them through the last 30 years in the service of our dear state in good health but also for their dedication, diligence, loyalty and invaluable contribution to the public service.
Muri-Okunola appealed to the workers to keep up their good attitude to work and continually perform their jobs roles to further align with the 6-pillar agenda of the state government, urging them to familiarize and key into the T.H.E.M.E.S agenda which he likened to the mission and vision statement of the state government. “My advice to all the awardees is that you should not rest on your oars but must continue to exhibit a high sense of responsibility, commitment to duty and unalloyed loyalty which today’s recognition and celebration are designed to reward,” the HOS said. Speaking, one of the awardees, Mrs Olowu said she would remain grateful to God Almighty for the gift of life, health and unblemished records in the service, saying that she would continue to give her best to the service of the state. “To God be the glory, I will always thank God for the gift of life. It is by His grace that we are alive to witness today. We are not better in the sight of Almighty than those that are not here today. To God be the glory!”
On her part, Mrs Olufuwa, who was Chief Press Secretary to the former First Lady, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, said that the award a gains of years of dedication and commitment to service, saying that he would remain grateful to Almighty God for counting him among the recipients. Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary of Local and Chieftaincy Affairs, Dr. Taiwo Salaam, described the whole gamut of service and recognition as God’s uncommon gift that he would always cherished. “Spending 33 years in the service is not a child’s play, it takes the grace of God to be alive. I can only give thanks to Almighty Allah for keeping this long in the service and sparing my life to witness this in good health. Within three decades, a lot has happened, but we remain grateful to the Almighty God. “
Ibadan: A rustic city that defies modernity
The evergreen poem of the famous Nigerian poet, John Bekederemo Pepper Clark, written in 1965, on the ancient City of Ibadan, capital of the Pace Setter Oyo State, has remained relevant till today in spite of effects of modernisation.
The graphically analysed and topographically-captured land mass, layered with structures that were devoid of formal town planning regulations, got scripted by the Ijaw-born poet when he described Ibadan thus: “Ibadan, running splash of rust and gold-flung and scattered among seven hills like a broken china in the sun”.
Intended to be an ode, but which has since been described as a form of criticism by the non-native who schooled in the premier University of Ibadan, the poem is filled with didactic imagery and allusion. Standing on the hilly side of Beere or on the gallery of the ancient Mapo Hall in the Ibadan South Eastern part of Ibadan, one can see the indelible historical painting of “…running splash of rust” which is an allusion to brown roofs of Ibadan buildings. The imagery of “flung and scattered” in the poem paints a picture of disorderly houses which do not align with town planning prescription as there are no layouts or spacio-temporal facilities within the compounds linking the different communities in the areas.
To further underscore the fact that the houses built then were scattered about, in favour of the ownership of the different members of each family, Clark likened Ibadan to “broken China”.
Fifty-four years after the poet wrote on the City, his facts have not been significantly disputed by either the mass of the indigenes or the successive governments. Houses in many of the compounds still remain clustered with little or no space to accommodate modern infrastructural facilities. Many have gone dilapidated because of poverty that continues to stare the owners in the face such that they were unable to maintain the old structures. Communal factor also plays a role in the seeming status quo condition that many of the houses are for ages. Many of the houses in the compounds were built through the efforts of members of each family. The unwritten law of ownership and distribution of property per stripes and per capita is manifestly affecting the unchanging structures of many houses in Ibadan land. In cities like Lagos, many unplanned areas are being periodically restructured by successive governments to meet modern dictates. Old buildings are given out to professional developers who carry out minor or major structural adjustments that give room for social and commercial developments. Blue chip companies lease such buildings for a number of years while the developers run it on Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis for the enjoyment of the family owners.
Aside the economic importance of the modernisation of the structures, the restructuring also enhances beauty to the environment in which such structures are situated. However, this scenario is not amply noticeable in the city of Ibadan. Reasons for this are diverse, but chief among them is traditional and communal. When New Telegraph went round some parts of Ibadan, the picture painted by J. P. Clark five years ago were seen seen at such proletariat-inhabited areas of the Hoi polloi class including: Oje, Irefin, Beere, Mapo, Idi Arere, Oranyan, Orita Aperin, Ita Merin, Oke Padre, Oniyanrin, Born Photo, Popoyemoja, Foko, Ita Merin, Gangansi, and many other interior communities of the ancient town. The areas which are a bit free from this structural logjam are those housing the elites of the society and such areas of bourgeoisie class including: Old Bodija, New Bodija, Eleyele, Elebu, Oluyole, Apata, Oke Bola, Oke Ado, Molete, and such recently-developed and developing areas like Apete, Arapaja, Amuloko, General Gas, Olorunda, Olodo, among others, in which layout of plots with adequate streets and avenues are being planned for.
Many houses in these modern environment observe town planning regulations and their structures attract investment from business interests and blue chip companies which situate their offices in such residential but commercially-converted residences. Most of them are flats and duplexes with vast parking lots and necessary drainages which are alien to the communities of the ‘commoners’. Modern developments are however regrettably difficult in the real interior communities mentioned above because no family will want to lose their ancestral settings and the age-long legacy bequeathed to them by their fore fathers. Even, any member of the family who has the financial means and is ready to renovate or redesign the family house to meet the modern taste will contend with antagonism from other members who might read ulterior meaning to the move. When a son of the soil who still resides in his family house at Mapo area close to Oranyan, Otunba Olukunle Ayorinde, was spoken to, he elucidated on reasons why many of the buildings in the area are still in decrepit state, chief among them lack of trust among members of the extended family.
His words, “There is lack of trust. If anyone brings any developer here now, other members of the family would believe he has sold the house. And this is affecting every family. It will even be worse if the initiator of such renovation idea is educated. The uneducated or semi-illiterate among other family members will smell rat and gang up against the person.
“If you see any dilapidated family house that has been contracted out to developers to change its structure and quality, and it succeeds, it must have meant that the remaining children of the family are no more than two. In such a situation, they could easily agree on the terms necessary, or might even just decide to sell the building off.
“Another problem that can be envisaged is the fear that if the house is given to a developer and it is rebuilt on the Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis wherein the developer will let or lease out the building or shops adjoined to it for a number of years, any member of the family who feels he might have died before the handover, would not want to cooperate. The worse case is if such a member does not have any surviving child around to reap the sharing benefit whenever it is due”, Ayorinde said.
Another leader of his family, Mr Mukaila Bello, whose family compound is at Oje, said that “We agreed to let out some shops carved out of our house to tenants. Members of the family agreed to this arrangement and we are sharing the proceeds of the rent accordingly. We however find it difficult to give the house to developer because the proceeds will take a very long term of years before the family members could be benefitting. No one is ready to wait that long. And the developers who would have committed so much capital to the restructuring or rebuilding will want to re coupe their own money back immediately. Nobody knows tomorrow and so no one is ready to take a such risk”, Bello said. An elderly man residing at Idi Arere, who preferred not to disclose his identity, gave another dimension to the story. To him, “if anyone sticks out his neck to renovate the old family building, he risks the dangers associated with envy from other members of the family. Those who don’t have the financial muscle might feel that the person who wants to renovate or rebuild the building only wants to display ego in order to rubbish the remaining members. “If he should moot the idea of bringing in a developer, those who are not literate enough to understand his intendment or not rich might think that he wants to enslave, cheat and hoodwink them. The fear that he might eventually sell the building would not allow them to support the idea. The diabolically-inclined ones among the family might even want to harm him so that the lofty idea does not see the light of the day”, he said.
Where there is love and unity among the extended family members, renovation and restructuring of ancient buildings could be possible. To Pa Adegbite of Amuloko area of Ibadan, “The only problem is lack of ample space to meet the modern commercial purpose. This is because the buildings in such densely-populated areas like Beere are strewn very close to one another such that even if any family members intend to develop their house, there might not be enough space which will attract investors. No investor or business person will want to transact business in a compound that is not easily accessible to customers, or which does not have parking space and motorable way”.
Asked what role the Oyo State government could play in re-designing and developing these traditional settings, some of those spoken to said that unlike in places like Maroko in Lagos State where a whole community was displaced and the place eventually re-allocated to the wealthy and influential persons in the society who turned it to a mega city , no governor will have the political courage to displace traditional owners from their ancestral buildings in Ibadanland. If he does, one way or the other, his own lineage might eventually be affected in the long run. Though many members of such family houses have relocated to other more befitting areas, while many more might have relocated overseas, those remaining in the homestead will love to continue to keep the legacy alive. Those overseas would like to come home and proudly point to their ancestral stead where they hailed from in order to show that they are free-born of the community.
Even if government brings in investors to the state, they will prefer socially-developed areas where there are amenities to aid their businesses. Or better still, they would prefer virgin areas where development could be rapid. Efforts made to seek the opinion and plan of the Oyo State government towards this idea however proved abortive as the Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Hon. Kehinde Ayoola, could not be reached before filing in this story.
Roads: Ogun await Dapo Abiodun
The expansive yard of Ogun State Public Works Agency (OGPWA) is situated along Quarry Road, Abeokuta. However, the adjoining roads of this maintenance agency, few metres away, are filled with all shapes and sizes of potholes and craters.
The failed portions on nearby Agbeloba, Kuforiji-Olubi and Oriyanrin roads are just a tip of the iceberg, anyway.
In fact, bad roads are fast taking over the length and breadth of Abeokuta. With the season of rains yet to subside, residents have continued to experience excruciating pains as they seek their means of livelihood daily on these roads.
Apart from Abeokuta, the state capital, it has been tales of anguish and lamentation for people in other parts of Ogun State, notably Akute, Magboro, Ibafo, Aseese, Arepo, Mowe, Ofada, Sango-Ota, Agbara, Atan, Ilaro, Owode, Ilogbo, Papalanto, Sagamu, Simawa, Ogijo, Ijebu-Ode, Odogbolu, Ago-Iwoye and Ijebu-Igbo. Many of the roads in these areas are filled with numerous dangerous potholes and during heavy rains, they usually become impassable for commuters.
Only articulated vehicles and heavy-duty trucks dare navigate these bad roads. Private cars and commercial buses that attempt to brace the challenge rarely emerge unscathed. The situation often results in serious gridlock in many areas. Even motorcyclists reputed for their ability to maneuver through traffic congestion and difficult terrains find the roads hard most times.
It is an understatement to say the deplorable condition of roads has adversely affected businesses and investments. Transportation costs have also soared. Sadly, in addition, many productive hours have been lost to the attendant terrible traffic snarl on these roads.
Although the immediate past governor, Ibikunle Amosun awarded several road contracts during his eight-year administration, most of which somewhat transformed the landscape of Abeokuta metropolis, the reality on ground shows that wide gap still exists in critical infrastructure within the state.
Some of the road projects awarded during Amosun’s tenure included Ilo-Awela road in Ota; Moshood Abiola Way, Ojere/Adatan/Asero road and Lafenwa/Aiyetoro/Ajebo road in Abeokuta; Sagamu-Benin Express/Oba Erinwole junction road in Sagamu; Ilara/Ijoun/Egua/Oja-Odan/Ilase road in Ipokia; Ilishan/Ago-Iwoye road; Ikangba-Ilese road; Ejinrin/Mobalufon/Ibadan road in Ijebu-Ode, Ofada/Mowe/Ibafo roads; and Sango/Ijoko/Oke Aro/Ojodu Abiodun road. These roads, which spanned across the three senatorial districts of the state, were handled by different construction firms.
In addition, the Amosun administration also constructed several flyovers which, though added to beauty and aesthetics, came under criticism for being exorbitant and misplaced.
However, some of the roads constructed by the immediate past administration are already showing signs of fatigue and cracking. Some others were abandoned and not completed till Amosun left office as governor. Thus, the euphoria and excitement that once greeted the roads revolution in the state appeared to have fizzled out.
“It has never been this bad in this country to have a total breakdown of all infrastructural facilities,” Yomi Ogunsanu remarked about the deplorable condition of roads. Ogunsanu, a resident of Abeokuta, stressed the need for government to declare a state of emergency on roads situation in the state.
He added: “It will be very unfair to restrict this to Ogun State because bad roads are not peculiar to Ogun State; it’s all over the country.
“Talk about Sango-Ota-Abeokuta road, talk about Sango-Idiroko-Owode road, everywhere is collapsed. Talk about Ewekoro-Itori road, talk about the Sagamu-Mokoloki-Papalanto road, I don’t know what government is doing. It is not peculiar to states; the Federal Government also has its share. I think a state of emergency needs to be declared on roads situation in Nigeria.”
Another resident, Taiwo Adeleke, said relevant authorities must urgently rise to the occasion and save the people of deteriorating infrastructure. The civil servant lamented that poor roads have almost demobilised his vehicle, which he often takes to work every day.
“The situation of roads in the state is alarming and horrible. My car now develops fault frequently due to bad roads. In fact, I have become a regular face at mechanic workshop to repair my car because of terrible state of roads. We cannot continue like this,” Adeleke said.
For Mrs Bosede Ajayi, a trader at one of the major markets in Abeokuta, the bad roads have contributed to rising cost of goods. According to her, commercial transporters usually capitalise on the road situation to charge market women and traders.
But the incumbent governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, seems to have taken up the gauntlet. He recently ordered palliative measures to be carried out on some failing roads not only to alleviate the suffering of the people, but also as a stop gap to give room for proper planning and execution of major road projects. As a result, various gangs of the OGPWA have swung into action.
Already, the governor’s intervention has been seen in major towns and highways of the state. And, interestingly, the reactions of residents of the affected localities have been positive and they are asking the government to extend the gesture to other areas in dire straits. Abiodun had promised, during electioneering, to reinvigorate the Ogun State Road Maintenance Agency (OGROMA). He followed up with an enabling bill to the state House of Assembly upon assumption of office, and the OGPWA was berthed.
The governor has also vowed to ensure that taxpayers’ money is judiciously expended in the execution of capital projects, saying: “in order to maximize the full benefits of government spending on infrastructure, we shall ensure adequate planning, evaluation and preparation before infrastructure projects are embarked upon.”
Therefore, in the quest to strike a balance between ensuring proper planning and making sure the people are not made to suffer unnecessarily, the state government started palliative on some roads in the state. The palliative projects are being handled by the OGPWA.
One of the roads in which extensive rehabilitation has begun is the 32kilometer Sango-Ojodu-Abiodun road awarded and abandoned by the Amosun administration. The road, which cuts across some border communities between Ogun and Lagos states, had been in deplorable condition before the emergence of the present administration.
The joy of residents, who have almost lost hope, especially with the political bickering between the former and current governors, however, knew no bounds as Abiodun ordered immediate palliative works on the abandoned road.
Abiodun recently declared that rain or no rain, his administration would stop at nothing to fix the intra and inter-city roads in the state.
To this end, he directed the OGPWA to step up its game because he wouldn’t brook any excuses about rain.
The governor’s Consultant on Works and Infrastructure, Engr Ade Akinsanya, acknowledged the pressure being mounted on the OGPWA to ensure that people have roads to go about their business as a matter of right.
“Indeed, he challenged us to reverse the public infrastructure deficit in the state within the next few months – rain or no rain,” Akinsanya was quoted as saying recently.
“What we have done is to segment the works into phases. There are some that could be done in the rain. These ones, we are doing straightaway. The ones that cannot be done in the rain will have to wait till the rainy season is over. But the governor is pushing us hard to deliver on public works and infrastructure,” he added.
Akinsanya pointed out that besides the road construction and rehabilitation, the state government had also begun the redesigning and proper channeling of drainage in different parts of the state to avert man-made and natural disasters.
Speaking with our correspondent on efforts by the state government to address the plight of the people, the governor’s Consultant on Public Works Agency, Engr Gbenga Akintola, said the OGPWA has adequate equipment and manpower to carry out interventions on roads.
Akintola explained that the agency has been divided into six zones – namely Ijebu-Ode, Sagamu, Abeokuta, Ifo, Ilaro and Ota – to make it more functional and responsive towards meeting the infrastructural needs of the people.
He, however, warned against practices that undermine the integrity and lifespan of roads, especially the asphalted ones.
“Each of these zones has zonal engineers that are dedicated to be in charge of scoping of the roads that have issues or problems. And under each of these zonal engineers, we have internal gangs that will be deployed to carry out repairs and to make the road motorable to the good people of our dear state,” he said.
Akintola pointed out that the agency had embarked on several initiatives to sensitize and enlighten residents “with respect to jurisdiction of roads.”
He said: “There are three major categories of road. We have the Trunk A roads which are mainly federal roads and these are roads connecting cities to each other. We have Trunk B roads which are state roads. These are roads that connect one area in a town to the other. We have the Trunk C, which are in the majority. These are local government roads.
“So, when people do come for assessment of their roads, we need to understand this jurisdiction whereby if you have a situation on a federal road, the agency to call is the FERMA. If you are in a state road, then you should call OGPWA and if it is local government road, then it should be the local government.
“However, the governor has mandated us that irrespective of the jurisdiction on these roads, so long as the people ply these roads and it becomes a threat to life and limbs, then we can go there to offer palliative so that at least, we would get the road safe for people to use before we now talk of long term repairs.
“While we are trying to carry out these works, we want to make the people of our great state to know that government hasn’t got the resources to take 100% care of the road infrastructure. Even if you multiply the total income coming to the state by 20, it is not enough to fix the road infrastructure.
“Don’t forget that we have other sectors of the economy – education, health, environment, etc that also require attention. Our governor has been very clever in a way to making sure our presence is felt on some of our roads that are very strategic while there is long term plan to make sure that the other roads are captured for future intervention.
“And also, it is important to let our people know that there are things that they need to do. There are some habits that we have inculcated over a long period of time which are negative. These habits are such that they are affecting the lifespan of our roads. And one of these habits is the dumping of refuse in drainage channel. “Secondly, there is this issue of indiscriminate cutting and digging of roads. You see people just dig or cut roads without going through the proper channel which is to get approval from the ministry of works and infrastructure before they cut or dig these roads. Because when they cut or dig this road, they don’t bring them back to their original state in which they were and what normally happens is that when you do that, the integrity of that road is compromised.
“Thirdly, we have the issue of excessive vehicle load. These roads are designed to carry a particular weight but most of the vehicles that ply our roads are in excess of what the road is allowed to carry. You can imagine putting three bags of cement on someone’s head. You know what is going to happen to that neck! That is exactly what is happening to our roads when we ply with excessive vehicle load. “And also we have the issue of people that have turned our roads to their mechanic workshop where they pour petroleum and allied products like grease, engine oil, brake oil and what have you and the moment they do that, that section of the road, the integrity is compromised and it weakens in no distant future.
“And also we have the issue of people that cook on roads. The road is not meant for cooking because when you subject the asphalt which is made up of bitumen and aggregates, to heat, it’s going to disintegrate and then there would be a hole inside the asphalt, water gets in and that is the end of that road.
“And we have the issue of people that like to burn tyre on roads. This is the kind of advocacy that we want to propagate to our people. We should not be burning tyre on roads because when you do that, that section of the road, the integrity is compromised and it will go bad in no time.
“So, while the government is trying to do the best they can within the limited resources available, the people that use these roads as well must look at these roads as our collective heritage that must be protected at all times. If we do that the roads will stand the test of time.”
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