Ekiti State witnessed a sensational rainfall which began on Sunday August 25. The downpour became heavier on Wednesday August 27 and ravaged sections of Ekiti communities.
The heavier downpour, which started around 6.30pm on Wednesday and lasted till the following day, Thursday 28th of August, cut off from the main city, certain parts of Ado metropolis and some parts of Ikere Ekiti in Ikere Local Government Area of the state.
Mainly affected in Ado Ekiti is Ureje area, along Federal Polytechnic road and other adjoining communities like Boom Town, Eminrin and Ijelu village, fondly called Aba Oyinbo by commuters.
A resident of the area, Mr Idowu Adaramoye, said the bridge on Ado-Ijan-Ikare road, which also linked the capital city to the Federal Polytechnic region was overran by flood around 1am and lasted till 6am.
He said commuters travelling along that route between that six hours had to park their vehicles at the nearby filling stations and waited until it subsided. The source said the flood also surged into a church and about five houses located within the vicinity of Ureje Bridge . “Nobody could cross that bridge to the Polytechnic side or go into Ado Ekiti city. Most of the residents had to wake up and catch a glimpse of the ravaging fast moving water.”
Also, residents of the Boom Town, Eminrin , had to stay indoors till 12 noon before they could cross Ureje stream that overflowed their environment. The Chairman of the community, Mr Yemi Oladimeji, appealed to government to dredge the stream to lower the water to prevent recurrence of the flooding. “This Ureje stream was dredged about three years ago but the job was not well done and the effect is what we are feeling today. About four houses could have been destroyed but for communal efforts made to ensure that we concrete the same inner Ureje bridge that linked us with Oke Ila region.
“There is need for government to do more thorough job to dredge inorder to reduce the water level.”
In Ikere Ekiti, aftermath of the downpour has rendered some residents homeless while property worth millions of Naira was destroyed by flood.
The affected areas are Kajola Adun Ogbon in Oke Osun, Alade filling Station Area in Odo Oja. When New Telegraph visited the affected areas, it was observed that the downpour led to flooding which submerged many houses, livestock gardens and cars.
Some occupants of the affected houses are now trapped within, while others are finding it difficult to get to their houses as the whole environment has now been flooded.
Flooding has been a usual occurrence annually in Ikere Ekiti. Some residents are stranded and helpless, calling for the assistance of government.
The Commissioner for Environment in Ekiti State, Olugbenga Agbeyo, said he was notified about the incident by the speaker of the Ekiti State Assembly, Right Hon. Funminiyi Afuye and since then, he had started contacting relevant authorities to do the needful.
Earlier, the Ekiti State Government said it has commenced proactive measures to save residents from flood and other natural disasters.
The Deputy Governor, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi, said the measures include enlightenment of the populace, moral and material support for disaster response agencies, among others.
Egbeyemi explained that the state government would aid the state fire services in providing emergency and prompt response services, to areas and individuals affected by natural disasters. Egbeyemi gave the assurance on Tuesday, while receiving the Head of Operation, National Emergency Management Agency, (NEMA), Ekiti State, Mr Olusegun Afolayan, in his office in Ado Ekiti. Egbeyemi stressed that the state government, through the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) has embarked on sensitization programmes that would discourage the people from blocking drainages with refuse and sewage that can prevent the free flow of water during this rainy season.
This was sequel to the forecast by the Nigerian Meteorological Agencies (NIMET) that over 20 states of the federation would be overrun by massive floods in the month of September.
Egbeyemi, who commended the efforts of NEMA across the country in bringing succour to natural disaster victims, urged the officials to shun nepotism, sectionalism and be fair to all disaster victims irrespective of their tribe, ethnicity, and location.
The Deputy Governor also added that the state government through SEMA was mobilizing all forces to ensure that the state is clean and to avert the 2019 flood prediction through the provision of waste bin to houses.
Egbeyemi promised that the state government would ensure full compliance to NEMA directives and advice that would make the state safe from flood and other imminent natural disasters. Afolayan explained that the essence of his visit to Ekiti State was to seek for the assistance of the state government in creating enabling environment for a functional SEMA, Local Emergency Management Committees (LEMCs)and other stakeholders in the states.
The NEMA Head of operation in the state, who commended the state government for cooperating with the agency in responding and tackling of disaster challenges, said vision of the agency was to build a culture of preparedness, mitigation, response and community resilience to disaster in Nigeria.
While disclosing that the agency recently embarked on repositioning, restructuring and reengineering its activities in tackling disaster challenges, Afolayan noted that concerted efforts and active collaboration were needed between all emergency response services to provide a viable disaster rescue response to the distressed.
Afolayan stressed that all hands must be on deck to mitigate and respond to imminent flood disaster that might likely occur as a result of heavy rain fall as predicted by NIMET, and NIHSA 2019 Annual Flood Outlook.
The NEMA Boss in Ekiti further appealed to the state government to fund SEMA and Fire Services to make them more proactive and provide operational vehicles to them to enhance their performance during intervention.
Afolayan wanted the state government to produce media jingles that would sensitize and enlighten the people of the state against indecent dumping of refuse in gutters and deviate from blocking waters ways to avert flood disasters.
Who took away Baby Gold?
On November 10, 2019, Gold Kolawole, a one-year-old boy could not return home with his mother after Sunday church service, following his mysterious disappearance from their church of worship at Sotitobire Miracle Centre, Akure, in Ondo State. ADEWALE MOMOH reports
or the Kolawoles, November 10, 2019, a Sunday began just like any of the worship day when they sought the face of God for the family and as well as given thanks to Him for His watch over the family of three.
Not minding the distance of over 48 kilometers, every Sunday, they journey from their residence in Ondo town in Ondo West Local Government Area of Ondo State to worship at Sotitobire Miracle Centre popularly known as ‘Ipe to Shaana (Strong Calling), Oshinle Quarters in Akure, the state capital.
Their weekly routine suddenly turned awry on November 10 when the place that has served as a sanctuary for them and a safe haven became a dreadful zone following the disappearance of the only child of the young couple, one-year-old Gold Kolawole.
Gold has been missing for the past three weeks, a situation which has continued to rattle the family and the state at large as to how a child could have disappeared from one of the most popular churches in Ondo State without trace.
According to sources within the church, the boy who was at the children’s department of the church could not be found after Sunday’s service on November 10, 2019, when his mother went to pick him.
The mother of the boy, Mrs. Modupe Kolawole, a member of the Church, alleged that she suspected foul play over the mysterious disappearance of her son from the church.
Mrs. Kolawole explained that the children’s department of the church where her son went missing is being guarded by 14 teachers, adding that some of the members of the church told her that they saw her son in the vehicle of the church’s founder, Prophet Babatunde Alfa.
She further alleged that when the issue was raised with the Prophet, he showed no remorse as he did nothing to help in the search of her son, adding he denied ever setting his eyes on the child that very day.
Mrs. Kolawole also explained that despite reporting the kidnapping to the church authorities and B Division police station, Oke – Aro as well as Anti-kidnapping office at Alagbaka, Akure, nobody had been arrested or interrogated by the police.
“They have been advising me in the Church for so long that I should take my child to the children section but I refused because I felt that he is too young because he has not started walking and on that Sunday, I decided to take the child to them at the Children department. Maybe, when he even saw some of his mates, there may be that would even help to start walking soonest.
“I decided to drop him there and I registered his name in their register as number 87 but after an hour, I went back to go and check on him but he was not facing where I left him. They have turned his chair to a lady who I think is part of their worker and I saw my child with buns and I challenged them that they should not give my child anything and I told the head of children department that there is nothing you wanted to give the boy that you won’t get inside his bag.
“I went back to the Church and when it was 11:45 am, I could not find my child again and I now started shouting that where is my child and they told me I should go and find him among 200 children there and someone among them said maybe someone has taken him out to play and I now said I don’t have any friend in the Church that can take him out without my consent.
“When it was around 3pm, I started harassing the church by checking on their children’s faces and when it was 5 pm that day, they ended the service and they reported the matter to Pastor and he said I should not worry that they will see my son.
“He even told me and my husband that we should go home and sleep; that we should not make noise. Later, I called my sister and I reported everything to her and she rushed down from Ondo town to Akure and we all started looking for him.
“I personally went to Sotitobire and starting begging him that the missing of my child occurred in your Church and said we will see him and up till now, we have not seen him.
“As am talking to you now, Alfa Babatunde, Sotitobire has not called me; nothing has been done to get my child back. I want my child. If I see my child, I will end the case. I am begging everyone to help me find the child.”
She, however, called on relevant authorities to come to her rescue as she cried out that Prophet Alfa has been using his connection to silence them as well as prevent security operatives from investigating the issue.
According to her, she confirmed that the paternal grandmother of the boy, Mrs. Kemisola Kolawole was arrested and detained by the police Anti-kidnapping Squad (SAKS).
She stated that her mother-in-law, who had been released was arrested following a peaceful protest at the church premises by family members, friends, and sympathizers over the incident.
The boy’s mother, Modupe lamented that nobody had been invited within the church by the police since the incident occurred.
She also stated that the family’s lawyer had already written a petition to the State Commissioner of Police to intervene in the matter.
“It is unfortunate that the police that supposed to be protecting citizens, is being used to harass citizens. My mother-in-law was arrested and detained. They didn’t allow us to see her throughout the period.”
Meanwhile, Prophet Alfa, who finally spoke to New Telegraph after days of ignoring calls and messages sent to his phone denied the allegations.
According to Prophet Alfa, who admitted that Gold went missing in his church, disclosed that the boy’s parents had not been cooperative towards finding the missing children.
“I was informed of the development around 3 pm that very day and I immediately directed all the ministers in the church to go to the children’s department find out the situation of things and as well search for the missing child.
“Later around 5 pm after the service, I saw the parents and the mother of the child was weeping profusely. As General Overseer and Prophet, I had to intervene. I also informed them to report the situation at B’ Division police station. After reporting the incident, the DPO told them to come by 10 am the following day but they refused to go back there. I also called them to come to the church but they also refused.
“I later called those in the children department who narrated all that happened to me. They told me that the lady and her sister brought the child to the children section. They also said it was the sister that was feeding the missing child before the incident happened. I called her and told her what I gathered.
“I was surprised when I began to hear different stories about me as regards the missing child.
“It was during this issue that we learnt that about a year ago that the boy when he newly gave birth to was kidnapped alongside his father. We were told that it was one of their aunts in the UK that paid about N1.5 million as ransom.
“Around 6 pm on Monday, I received a call that the family of the missing child were already in the church vandalizing anything they could lay their hands on. They were armed with cutlasses and petrol.
“I’m certain about one thing, where there is no man, there is Jesus Christ. They are not concerned about looking for their missing baby. All they are out to achieve is to tarnish my name.
“On Tuesday morning, they went straight to the market here in Akure with cardboards (placards) telling people what I didn’t know any about. Even at the Deji’s palace, they sent for them but they didn’t show up.”
Confirming the incident, the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Femi Joseph, who said investigation had commenced into the matter, as he assured that detectives from the state command would rescue the toddler alive.
Joseph, however, explained that there was no formal report of the incident from any quarters, based on the understanding between the parent of the missing boy and the church leadership.
The PPRO said the leadership of the Church reported the incident the following day when the father of the missing boy, Temitope Kolawole allegedly mobilized some thugs to the church and destroyed the church property and were about setting the church on fire when police were mobilized to the scene.
He appealed to some of the aggrieved relatives of the victim who invaded the church not to take the law into their hands, urging them to allow the security agents to carry out their investigation.
Similarly, the Police Command has appealed to the citizens of the state to avail the police of any information that will assist in finding the missing child.
The statement issued by the PPRO read, “The Ondo State Police Command wishes to inform the general public especially the good people of Ondo State about the sudden and unfortunate disappearance of a little boy by name Kolawole Gold who was last seen in a church program holding at Sotitobire Church, Oshinle Quarters Akure with his parents Mr and Mrs Kolawole on 10 November,2019 at about 11:30 a.m.
“The boy, who is One year Old and light skinned can Speak and understand Yoruba and English languages.
“While the Command has since launched an investigation into this unfortunate incident, we urge anyone with useful information that could lead the Police to where the boy could be found or rescued to quickly inform the nearest police station, or call any of the following phone numbers; 07068370450, 07034313903,080 3290 52 51,080 60 15 9998.”
Meanwhile, there have been outcries from various quarters over the development particularly when half-naked women were sighted in the church, cursing those perceived to be behind Prophet Alfa’s predicament.
Some residents of Akure were of the belief that Prophet Alfa ought to have used is prophetic calling to locate the whereabouts of missing Gold.
Putting old wine in new bottle
The popular ponzi scheme which dashed the hope of over three million Nigerians some years ago and was popularly known as MMM is back. It is not back as MMM now but as other schemes which is known by many names like cool cash, cash4cliicks, loom and all sorts. Most of them now operate through the social media but majorly through the conversational mobile app “WhatsApp”.
They have different modes of operation, part of it is that they now hack into peoples various WhatsApp account thereby using their numbers in sending random messages to their contacts. They usually tell them to join a particular group and to invest some amount of money where they are supposedly getting back double the money or they also tell them to click on the link and get more money without investing any money.
But the worrisome question however is “why do Nigerians still venture into it and what do they use in luring people to do it?
Speaking with Godstime Simon, he said most Nigerians now get involved with these ponzi scheme because of the level of unemployment in the country. He said: “The rate of poverty in the country as we know is very high and individuals look for easy and stress-free ways of making money while others are just being lazy to work. With this, you see them searching the internet hungrily in order to see these easy making money sites.”
Esther Olafemi said most youths now go into these ponzi scheme out of desperation to make money as the economy has affected them and majorly the mouthwatering deals which are being used to lure the attention of young Nigerians today such as “click and share and stand a chance to win up to 10 million Naira weekly.
These ponzi schemers tap into the naivety of some first time investors who only wants to invest and not looking for “A get rich quick scheme” but they just got into the hands of the wrong people, who exploit them by giving them “promising deals” to invest and make more money. Most of these first time investors out of lack of experience in the investment world are lured into a trap of unrealistic investments which leads to the loss of their money.”
These ponzi schemes are scams and are a sure way of losing your money but the presentation looks very attractive, and some youths love quick money. This leads to various crime in the society, one of which is stealing to be able to get funds to invest into these ponzi scheme. It also make the youths feel making money is easier and quicker without hard work or learning a trade.
These ponzi schemes take the attention and time of individuals for a certain period and then disappear without a trace with their money. The Central Bank of Nigerian(CBN) does not endorse any form of ponzi scheme. Most individuals have been enlightened on the various methods these ponzi schemers use in extorting money from them, while many others haven’t been led to the “lime light” due to the current poor economic situation going on in the country with the hope of having luck in making money.”
Speaking with Olusola Ogundare, he believes that it could be favourable to some people and they majorly venture into it because of the success stories of their friends and few of their family members who have profited from the ponzi scheme. He also said that some also venture into it out of greed by wanting to acquire more money and in the process, losing a lot of their money in it also.
He also believes that some others go into it because of illiteracy- the lack of knowledge in knowing what it is about but are being persuaded by the testimonies of other individuals and therefore believing they could also get a lot of money from it.
“These various ponzi scheme are majorly a form of swindling. People go into it due to lack of money. One of the manners they use in getting a lot of Nigerians is through the person to person way of advertising. By so doing, they allow the first set of individuals who venture into it to get back a whole lot of money. These individuals make others to believe it truly pays based on what they have seen that it worked for others and when these ponzi schemers get the amount of people of which they aimed to venture into it, they go off with the individuals’ money without a trace. They thus, leave them heartbroken. This could lead to the death of certain persons, who must have borrowed from banks or some other places to invest in the so-called lucky investment. Some may also have put in their life savings or company savings with the hope of getting back double the amount of what they invested.
This has led to the fall of many businesses and companies. But the sad thing is these ponzi schemers always seem untraceable.”
Groaning over border closure
Nigeria shares international boundaries with the Republic of Benin to the west, Cameroon and Chad to the east and Niger, to the north. Apart from these official borders, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) says more than 1,400 illegal border routes exist in the country as smugglers routes, creating security challenges. The former comptroller-general of the service, Mr David Parradang, says that although the country has only 84 approved land border control posts, there are also more than 1,400 illegal borders in the country. But Nigerian authorities note that the porous borders have resulted in crisis in economy sector that has been affecting the development of the country.
So, in August, Nigeria authority announced and enforced the closure of its border with the Republic of Benin. The operation under the codename “Ex-Swift Response’’ was a collaborative security operation involving the Nigeria Immigration Service and Nigeria Customs Service together with Nigeria Police Force and the Armed Forces. President Muhammadu Buhari attributes the partial closure of Nigeria’s border with Benin Republic to the massive smuggling activities, especially of rice, taking place on that corridor.
He expresses great concern over the smuggling of rice, noting that it threatens the self-sufficiency already attained due to his administration’s agricultural policies. Similarly, the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service, retired Col. Hameed Ali, says that the closure of Nigeria’s borders was undertaken to strengthen the nation’s security and protect its economic interests. Ali also observes that closure would stem the influx of smuggled goods, especially rice and tomatoes into the country, insisting that the closure has significantly increased revenue from import duties.
However, while the government claims to have acted in the best interests of the economy and Nigerians, some Nigerians and citizens of neighbouring countries most affected by the closure, continue to express worry about it, calling for an immediate reopening of the borders. Some economists believe that the decision to close the nation’s land borders could be painful to the concerned neighbouring countries, considering the relationship with them. According to them, one of the immediate gains of the closure could be a stop to the dumping of goods from European markets in Nigeria.
They are of the opinion that the action would go a long way in protecting our local manufacturers and producers. They describe it as policy that would address and redefine relations with our neighbours in a win-win situation.
But critics insist that border closure is an economic aberration as most countries don’t usually close their borders for trade-related reasons.
According to them, the closure has the potential to disrupt the economic lifelines of many traders who depend on legitimate cross-border trade.
Irrespective of this, Emir of Kano Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, says that the decision to close border is part of the measures to preserve foreign policy in the national interest.
“Last time, I was critical of Nigeria’s refusal to sign the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) and recently I have been in support of the decision to close the border. “Nigeria is 70 per cent of the population of West Africa and if we have an industrial policy that is aimed at protecting the productive sector of Nigeria, it is a fair competition.
“We cannot allow our neighbours to open their doors to this unfair competition and through the back door undermine our industry.
“It is not about smuggling petroleum or rice; but in 2017, the Republic of Benin was the world’s second largest importer of tramadol — an opioid pain medication that is being abused — to U.S.
“So closing the borders, I hope is not a permanent solution but what I hope is that is an opportunity to sit down and agree on rules and then opens up the borders.
“It is extremely important to have a Foreign Policy that is ready to take very firm decision to protect the national interest against dangerous trade activities,” Sanusi observes.
Sharing similar sentiments, Ghana’s former President John Mahama has lauds the creation of a joint-security taskforce on the borders of Nigeria but warns that the continued delay is harming the economies of the West African region.
Mahama believes that the greatest volume of trade in West Africa takes place in the Lagos – Abidjan corridor.
“I believe that an ECOWAS meeting of the Heads of States should discuss the issues and it could lead to the resolution of the problem.
“So, closing your border is the simplest thing to do; any country can say I’m closing my border to imports from my neighbours, but it doesn’t help to build the kind of integration we are trying to build in West Africa,’’ he said.
He also expresses the fear that by the time the borders are re-opened, some businesses that rely on each other’s export may have collapsed.
Economists note that one of the immediate consequences of Nigeria’s action is the backlash it will have on Nigerian traders in Ghana.
They allege that more than 400 shops owned by Nigerians have been closed for flimsy excuses that were, hitherto, overlooked.
Nigeria Union in Diaspora also alleges that Nigerian traders in Accra are being harassed and victimised.
In spite of this, authorities in Nigeria, having observed the encouraging changes in the economy, recently foreclosed re-opening of the nation’s borders. For instance, the Federal Government says 95 per cent of arms and ammunition inflow to Boko Haram insurgent group, kidnappers, killer herdsmen and bandits has gone down considerably.
Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed says border closure against importation of foreign goods and illegal immigrants will remain, observing that 296 illegal immigrants have been arrested.
According to him, the decision to close the borders is taken to secure the country which has been confronted by numerous trans-borders economic and security challenges.
“These challenges range from banditry, kidnapping, smuggling, illegal migrants and proliferation of light weapons, among others.
“The preference for foreign goods, especially food items such as rice, has continuously impoverished our farmers and adversely affected domestic government policies supporting the agricultural sector to enhance food security. “It is, however, disturbing that some neighbouring countries circumvent the ECOWAS protocol on transit.
“ECOWAS protocol on transit demands that when a transit container berths at a seaport, the receiving country is mandated to escort same without tampering with the seal to the border of the destination country.
“Experience has shown that our neighbours do not comply with this protocol. Rather, they break the seals of containers at their ports and trans-load goods destined for Nigeria,’’ he said. The minister, who expresses satisfaction with success so far recorded by the joint task force, observing that the singular decision has reduced importation of foreign goods, increased revenue generation and enhances security.
“On the economy, the partial closure of the borders has curbed the smuggling of foreign rice into the country, in addition to other prohibited items. “Our series of interactions and engagements with Rice Miller Association of Nigeria since the commencement of this exercise has shown that the border closure has enhanced more production and milling of Nigerian rice. “Patronage of local rice has increased and farmers are expanding their farms as well as engaging more hands.
“Border closure has also impacted positively on revenue generation which in turn will be used to build more infrastructures and develop critical sectors of the nation’s economy.
“The border closure has also curbed diversion of petroleum products from Nigeria to neighbouring countries,’’ he said.
Mohammed says further that 95 per cent of illicit drugs and weapons that are being used for acts of terrorism and kidnapping in Nigeria is through porous borders.
“Our conclusion is that the arms and ammunition these terrorists and criminal elements are using no longer gain access into the country.
“The drugs which affect the health and wellbeing of Nigerians have equally been reduced,’’ the minister said.
He assures the public that government, through diplomatic channels, would continue to engage the nation’s neighbours to agree to comply with the ECOWAS Protocol on Transit. According to the minister, goods that are on the prohibition list to Nigeria, such as rice, used clothing, poultry products and vegetable oil, should not be exported to the country. He also notes that the closure has provided a unique platform for the various participating agencies to jointly operate together, thereby strengthening inter-agency collaboration and reducing animosity. He insists that the purpose of border close is to promote a secure, peaceful and prosperous Nigeria. Mohammed, therefore, calls on all Nigerians to be patriotic by patronising local rice to help the country to attain self-sufficiency in local rice production and boost the economy.
• Enehikhuere writes for News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
Lack of financial support affecting Agbekoya – Ekiti Coordinator
Comrade Sunday Omoyajowo is the Ekiti State coordinator of Agbekoya Movement. In this interview with ADEWUMI ADEMIJU, he explains that Agbekoya is a movement basically founded for protection of the interest of commoners in the South-West. He, however, lamented the state of the movement, decrying the neglect by government and meaningful stakeholders, a situation he described as dangerous to safety
How did Agbekoya start?
Agbekoya began more than 60 years ago in Yoruba land with the main objective of defending the rights of the masses.
The movement stands for liberation of the masses against all forms of oppression. It started in the olden days with farmers .At a time when the government then was using force and coercion to collect tax, the tax collectors would go and waylay the farmers in the farm.
To compound the situation, the government made exorbitant increase in the tax. The farmers found it difficult to feed after they have been forced to pay the tax. Therefore, they made attempts to appeal to the government to be considerate and reduce the tax. Hell-bent, the government refused. So, they decided to talk to the government to devise a modality that will increase their profits in their cocoa businesses in order to meet up with the tax payment(like nowadays when workers would be asking government for increment in their wages as the refusal by government to pay minimum wage do attract industrial actions). The government then paid deaf ears to the proposal.
The farmers decided not to leave farming, so that their people won’t starve. So, they appointed strong people/warriors among them like hunters…… and others. Those appointed were the ones who used to face government tax collectors on their way to farms.
Soldiers of government couldn’t match the power of Agbekoya. It went on like that until the intervention of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who worked for peaceful resolution on the matter .So, the case between Agbekoya and the government was later settled. All powers utilized by government to conquer the farmers proved abortive. Thus, Agbekoya movement was formed on the basis of truth and sincerity.
What have been the activities of Agbekoya in Ekiti?
The movement started several years back in Ekiti when the state was witnessing some forms of insecurity alien during the time of our forefathers. Nowadays, people find it difficult to move freely to their various destinations.
People move and live in fear and despair not knowing what could happen in the next moments. In the olden days, there was peaceful coexistence among people. Little children then could go to the stream alone to fetch water and come back safely .Who dares that now? When adults are not even safe .
Fulani herdsmen are making moves to take over farmlands not belonging to them. Peoples’ lives are no longer safe .In consequence, Agbekoya in Ekiti put heads together, made necessary consultation with relevant stakeholders for Agbekoya movement to kick-start war against insecurity with the method of our forefathers. Nobody fights with Agbekoya and wins. God gave us the power.
Has Agbekoya become a National Movement?
Agbekoya is a Yoruba movement established for emancipation of the entire Yoruba race (South West). Arewa is for Hausa. East has its own… Agbekoya is the first set of movement in Yoruba land.
Oodua Peoples’ Congress(OPC) later emanated from Agbekoya. Yoruba people love peace. After the intervention of Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the feud between government and Agbekoya, the movement sheathe it’s sword and embraced peace. OPC later sprang up to keep the mission of the movement going. Agbekoya is the parent body of OPC.
In Ekiti State, there have been different cases of herdsmen attacks in some communities. Even some towns are alleging Fulani’s moves to invade their lands . What has been the efforts of Agbekoya in combatting the issue?
Our members are posted to farmlands of various communities for security monitoring. We also enjoined leaders of each Community to report any strange occurrence in our head office in Ado-Ekiti. We work in collaboration with the security agencies but the problem is with our leaders and power brokers, especially when culprit is from another tribe. Whenever these Fulani herdsmen are caught and arrested over farmlands invasion (it’s not as if they are not being arrested); when we arrest them, definitely they will be handed over to the security agency but surprisingly, after one or two weeks, order would come from Abuja that those arrested should be brought over and that would be the end.
Only God can save Nigeria when some people come from another tribe to destroy peoples’ land, committing graphic offence in another land; they should be tried where the offence is committed. Agbekoya is working but we don’t have power to detain anybody.
Power blocks are thwarting our efforts and this Constitutes a lot of hindrances to the efforts of the movement.
How is your relationship with OPC, VGN?
Agbekoya and OPC are the same. We are one, working to defend the land of Oduduwa. We embrace one another with robust relationship. The constraint Agbekoya has with VGN is that their leader is an Hausaman. This gives us a great concern for the fact that we clamour for the cause of Yoruba race. VGN is for all tribes .We took the issue to Aare Ona Kakanfo, Chief Gani Adams that Agbekoya is strictly for the security of Yoruba race but we thank God in Ekiti State.
Chief Jimoh Aliu is in charge of VGN in Yoruba land. He went with Agbekoya to the meeting with Aare Ona Kakanfo. Chief Aliu at the meeting threw light on the issue that only VGN members who are Yoruba would work in Yoruba land; that VGN members should function within their tribes .
The National Coordinator of Agbekoya ,Mr Tajudeen Olasunkanmi, at the meeting in Ibadan raised an alarm that a Hausaman who is a member of VGN living in Ibadan one time brought letter from the top to come and be working as VGN in Yoruba land.
Olasunkanmi stated that this could be a mole to security in Yoruba land. Chief Gani Adams therefore ordered that the territory of VGN members should be within their tribes.
Who are the financiers of Agbekoya?
Members, farmers and some good Samaritans who value security in the land, personally make financial contribution to support our activities. In Ekiti, our offices are spread across the 16 local government in the state. Our head office in the state is here in Afao road, Ado Ekiti. We allocate our members to various communities; we ensure that members are posted to the community they are conversant with for thorough security monitoring. Security agents are also trying their best but there is no way they can function better in a community than those who are born and bred in the areas.
A security personnel that came on transfer from another state cannot perform better in this regard than the natives.
Security of lives and properties are priorities to our Traditional rulers. We appeal to them for financial support. Only words of advice and encouragement are not enough. They are the owners of the land; everything shouldn’t be left to government. We have made several attempts to seek for financial support from them .We are also expecting from government.
Probably Agbekoya have not been receiving assistance from government as expected because the power at the national has no connection with the movement. That is even though they know how they assist movements in their own tribes.
For instance, when President Olusegun Obasanjo was in power, we witnessed the high rate the preservation of Yoruba tradition, culture and Agbekoya received at least reasonable assistance.
What kind of assistance are you expecting?
We need vehicles to move around and comb all the communities. At times, we do have emergency call in far towns within the state. Vehicular movement is needed to trace the destination even if it’s motorcycle. We need arms to tackle criminals in hideouts .
Is there any state in the South West where Agbekoya do receive support from government?
We hold meetings together. For instance, in Oyo State, they receive assistance. Some banks in towns like Iseyin….,they use Agbekoya as security. Recently ,we heard that they didn’t open banks in some areas in Kwara State, like in Ofa, Omuaran. Some places in Ilorin. These are Yoruba areas. We have met their monarchs. Agbekoya made moves to ensure those banks are opened and returned to business. Go to some other tribes, their movements are in place working on security. They are always on ground along their roads using local security tools and incentives. For instance during festive period like this, Agbekoya is supposed to be visibly on ground in the South West, protecting peoples’ lives and properties but no assistance for augumentation.
Where else do you expect assistance apart from government?
If God put it in their minds, we expect assistance from personalities and meaningful stakeholders in Yoruba land; traditional monarchs are prominent, chiefs and community leaders .
Let’s imagine for instance that our security personnel are 10,000 in number; with the operative system in Nigeria, where our leaders are fond of large security entourage. 7,000 would be monitoring our leaders. So what can the remaining 3,000 do in securing the entire people? This is the more reason why society should deem it fit to support Agbekoya, so that we can be a helping hand to the security agencies.
Some are of the opinion that power of Agbekoya has degenerated due to factions in the movement ?
Agbekoya power has never degenerated .The movement is based on truth, still strong and solid as ever .We have male and female members predominantly farmers, warriors.
We are one. We are still firm with full determination to defend the land of Oduduwa. Our National Coordinator is Mr Tajudeen Olasunkanmi. The National office is at Oritamerin in Ibadan.
A city overwhelmed by unusual means of transportion
They were supposed to relief pains for commuters pains on the roads. but in Lagos, the introduction of motorcycles, tricycles and small buses on the roads as means of transportation has become a source of pain to Lagosians. Not only are they reckless, they are also a threat to lives of other road users as OLUWATOSIN OMONIYI writes
hen a former Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, was in office, his dream was that Lagos State would live up to its status as a Mega City. He planned to rid Lagos of motorcycles, commonly called Okada and commercial buses, otherwise called ‘Danfo’. Hence, Ambode embarked on the acquisition of high capacity buses, which he believed would especially ease the traffic situation in the state.
But exactly few months after his exit, the Lagos transportation system has virtually collapsed.
Noticeably nowadays, they are probably more commercial motorcycles, better known as Okada on Lagos roads than commercial vehicles.
Ambodes’s dream of a mass transit system with importation of hundreds of buses has remained that: a dream. Lagos residents, who were looking for relief from the menace of the tricycles, popularly known as Keke, got a rude shock when the matter became compounded; mini-buses-Suzuki, with capacity for only seven passengers also became the new addition to the nuisance on Lagos roads.
As a matter of fact, Okada means of transportation has even upgraded in outfit and operation. From the conventional ubiquitous Okada, now to uniform-corporately operated Okada called O’Pay ride. They are seen at every nooks and crane of Lagos city, in most cases creating nuisance on Lagos roads.
Although, in the present day Lagos, it has become faster and more convenient to ride both local Okada and corporate bike-O’Pay within the city because of the horrendous traffic that seems to have become a permanent feature of Lagos State, especially in this December.
There is a noticeable sudden surge of movements in Lagos, consequently making it difficult to drive or go out freely in the state. Hence, most residents resort to Okada that is not really held up by Lagos traffic.
With the endorsement of O’pay ride however, comes a subtle penetration of unauthorized local Okada. They have also gained ground like O’Pay ride, bold on the road and uncontrollable. Unfortunately, most of the local riders cannot and do not understand English. Even the known Hausa language, most of them do not understand and cannot speak! They take one-way, face and zoom past oncoming vehicles. While Okada and its attendant nuisance is gaining ground, Keke becomes unbearable; they get on motorists nerves with their recklessness and audacious driving. They also take one-way and order motorists to give them way, also not minding the safety of passersby by the roadside. They occupy available spaces on the roads, (that meant for passersby mostly) hurl abuses at motorists, who dare challenge them. As a matter of fact, they seem to have overpowered the sanity of the state and that of enforcement agencies that ought to instill discipline within the transport system. Indeed, Police, LASTMA officials and Traffic wardens turn blind eyes to their indiscipline; they rather take money (bribe) that has become a source of daily contribution for them from the commercial motorists. They (officials) wave and even throw banters with both Okada and Keke riders.
For a week observation in some parts of the city, from Ogba motor park (Iju/Ishaga park) through Excellence Hotel by Aguda/Ogba to Omole roundabout, through to Grammar school and to Ojodu Bus stop, it was recklessness galore by Okada, Keke and even Danfo buses.
Also, from Ikeja under Bridge through to LASUTH, Oba Akran, Ikeja-Along, Ojota 7up, New Telegraph observed the way and manner some of the officials were collecting money with impunity (ranging from N50 to N200) from commercial bus drivers and Okada riders, who ply one way.
Riders and drivers express no fear of being harassed by officials. Rather, sighting them from afar, the riders would simply zoom past and hail the traffic officers on duty. But the practice is mostly done when the day is going down- between 3pm and 4,30pm.
Okada and Keke have so flooded Lagos roads that the fear and reluctance Lagos residents had towards patronising them during the Babatunde Raji Fashola and Ambode regime has waned totally. Both passengers and riders now see it as ‘usual business.’ Going through the African Shrine street down to CBD lane, except for private vehicles, the common sight around this axis has become long line of Keke and green colour helmet and reflective jackets of O’pay rider.
At the Central Mosque, Alausa, it is the line of mini Suzuki buses and Keke- all painted in yellow colour. From LTV 8 through to Agidingbi, it is usually a tug of war among private vehicles, commercial buses, Keke and Okada. To most motorists that New Telegraph spoke to, they describe them as ‘annoying and misfit elements’ within the Lagos transport system.
A disgruntled Lagos civil servant urged government to declare state of emergency on Lagos State transportation. Twice, he had to drag Keke Marwa drivers to the Police Station when a Keke damaged his Toyota Corolla car from behind. “They are very rough and reckless. I believe they are also wicked. I had seen the reckless way he was driving; I slowed down for him, watched his direction, then drove past him to be at his front. I thought I was safe that way, suddenly, I heard a loud bash from behind. I almost lost control of the steering out of fear of what could have happened. Alas! It was the keke driver who recklessly bashed my left side break light while struggling with his fellow keke driver for passengers,”
James Amadi, a lawyer, told New Telegraph that he had a terrible experience that made him thought his vow of never to patronise them again would hold forth. “Truth is that, they have become necessary evils within the Lagos transport system due to the mad traffic in Lagos. For me not to miss appointments and clients, I park my car at a safe park and take O’pay ride. It no longer really makes sense to take Uber or Taxify round Lagos because they are also bind and hindered by the terrifying traffic,” he said.
Samson Ogunbunmi, a writer has come to prefer Okada to Keke and the mini bus, in the case of choosing between two evils. “I narrowly escaped a terrible accident where the driver of the Keke that I boarded almost rammed into a bus in front of us. As he was trying to maneuver, he swerved to the left and I nearly fell off the keke on motion. But thanks to God that I only had a minor head injury and not my life,” he narrated.
He added that, “it’s shocking to see that government seems perplexed with the way Keke, Okada and mini buses have taken over Lagos roads. The level of indiscipline nowadays in Lagos is higher than the past two regimes. I am highly disappointed.”
For Cornelius Olufunsho, the riders have become a law unto themselves. He said since he noticed that they ride recklessly, he took the decision to install an iron protector in front and back of his car. “If you observe, the kekes are made of iron and the irons can damage one’s vehicle. That way, I no longer bother or fear any keke or bike would hit me. If they do, it would be to their damage and loss,” he explained.
Omoyetunde Oguntade, a medical doctor, said Lagos has gone eight years backward by allowing Okada loose on the road to do and move as freely as they wish at the expense of the residents and other road users. She said further that while Okada has become a monster that of keke riders is more of terror scaring Lagos residents in the face. “They (Keke) are more of pains in the neck of motorists and commuters in Lagos. They drive without regards to traffic rules and care for other road users. Their confidence level failed to put into cognizance that their tricycle is made of three-tyres. There is so much breakdown of discipline in Lagos, especially within the transport system,” she said.
However, the Public Relation Officer, of the Ministry of Transportation, Bolanle Ogunlola told New Telegraph that the ministry is trying its best in managing them. “We are trying our best to control their operations and the menace of this alternative means of transportation, it’s a gradual process, we can’t do it at once. But we have never stopped controlling them, though difficult,” she said. Ogunlola added that the problem started with the last administration that puts restriction on enforcement of law on them. She said the riders come from neighbouring countries like Benin, Ghana, Niger, to Lagos in particular do business because they see the customer urge and because it is a big city. She said that they come in large numbers in trailers around 1am by weekends with their bikes, they do what like, what we can do like. She stressed that they can’t do it at once because the riders come almost on daily basis along with their bikes in the middle of the night. “The last time we apprehended and took them to Oshodi Head Office of the TaskForce, there was uproar against the government for discriminating against them. We had to release them and look for better ways of enforcing the rules and regulations on them. Even at that, the riders don’t stay where we restrict them, they do as they like. So, there is nothing really that we can do about them than to be managing them as instructed by the new administration,” she said.
Betting: A new alternative job for youths
Betting has, no doubt, come to stay. It has especially become a lifestyle for most youths in Lagos State, with its enticing reward of quick and easy money. AUGUSTA OTTI and CHEKWUBE CHUKWUMA write
oth young and older ones have come to embrace betting business as a normal routine way of getting income for sustenance, while others spend the little they have on bets.
In the areas of Lagos populated with low income earners such as Orile, Ijora, Ajegunle and its environs, New Telegraph found it to be a lucrative business and a source of livelihood for some residents, mostly youths.
The betting companies such as Bet9ja, Bet King, Merry Bet offer coupons for soccer games, virtual games and zoom. New Telegraph observed that the soccer game which involves staking on the odds of various football team seem to be most popular among the youth; they predict the outcome of the English league, European competition and the German league among others in order to win money.
On the other hand, Baba Ijebu is a lotto where the players pick a number and the person with the lucky number becomes the winner.
With the economic recession, many of the youths have resorted to betting away their youthful age to the extent that gambling businesses and football betting have become a full time job for some of them as they spend their time judiciously monitoring their stakes.
New Telegraph observed that these betting centres are abundant in the aforementioned areas. As a matter of fact, it is almost impossible to pass two streets without coming across any “Baba Ijebu” outlet. Youths between the ages of 18 and 40, including adults, troop in and out of these gambling centres on daily basis.
Kingsley Ibeh, a Bet9ja player, told New Telegraph that, “winning is hard. I have won few times but I play because it just a game and reward for passion of football. It is not something I play every time. There are various things you can bet on, you can even predict the outcome of the US election and stake on it.
“Whenever I’m with my phone, I just like to try it because it’s cheap and I might win. You can stake with as low as N100. Once you stake N100, you will accumulate so many games to get a substantial amount of money like N10, 000 but more often than not, you will lose. People who stake with higher amounts are likely to win more than those who stake with lower amounts.”
He added that, “there are no jobs for the youth. Betting could be profitable which one could use to maintain oneself. I have used money from Bet9ja to pay my rent more than four times. Before these bets came out, there was lotto. So, it’s not something new. The main problem the youth have is playing the virtual game; I won’t advice anyone to play it. The virtual game is a fast betting which you just play and you see your result. The game is on every three minutes. If you win, they pay immediately. If you lose, you lose. Because the game is always on, you keep playing but it is not so with the soccer games which you have to wait for a whole day to know the result.”
In a chat with Oduyoye Tolani, a Bet9ja agent in Ijora, she told New Telegraph that betting is gamble, so people win and lose, though the numbers of those who lose are more than those who win and the number of times they win. Describing her job, she said, “I play the game for people; they stake depending on the odds. I’m having challenges working here because most of these guys who come to bet are touts. Sometimes, they just come and start shouting at me but I’m getting used to it now.”
She added that she wouldn’t advise anyone she cares about to start betting, saying that, “it’s a very dangerous game. It’s like a spirit. When you start playing it, you won’t want to go out from there. You would want to finish all the money with you and you would be getting angry because you are losing. But it is my job; I can’t advice people not play it. I would just do it for them.”
Chidiebere Izuogu, a regular Bet9ja player in Orile, said he will stop playing the game if he wins up to N1million. In his words, “I’m still playing this game because I have not won big money from it. There was one time I was supposed to win N1.7million. I would have stopped betting if I had won that money.”
He added that he wouldn’t consider any money he wins from betting free or easy money because he too has lost countless times to Bet9ja.
Speaking on if he would advise his loved ones to engage in the game, he retorted that he wouldn’t. He added, “I wouldn’t advise someone I know or care about to start betting because it sets people back. Why I’m playing this is because I don’t have anyone to help me, like sending me to school, provide for my basic needs and the rest. You can’t go and ask someone for money in this present economy to give you money and the person will just give it to you.
“The category of game I would not even attempted is the virtual game, popularly called ‘baby’. It is fast money. So, you keep playing and playing till your pocket dries out and it’s when your money finishes that your eyes becomes clear. I call that game ‘spirit’. It’s not good at all. Bet9ja soccer game is better because you have to wait almost the whole day before you can know if you won or lost before deciding to play again”.
He also said that, “I work and bet but some people have used Bet9ja as their jobs, they don’t work. They are there from morning till night and the game these kind of people play is not Bet9ja but Baby.”
Happiness Gideon, said she hates all forms of gambling. She said: “My elder brother bets. When he loses, which is most of the time, he comes home irritable and angry, shouting at the slightest provocation. He even goes as far as destroying things at sight!”
Wasiu Olaiya said he would not engage in betting first because his religion (Islam) forbids it and because it is naturally a game of risk which is not good. He added that people who bet are likely to become lazy. He said, “people who bet do not value hard work because they are convinced that whatever they could get from working hard, they could get it with just one bet and this is why some of the youths have become lazy.”
Coronation revocation: 21 Obas return to trenches
hen a former Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, constituted a panel of inquiry to review the 1957 Ibadan Chieftaincy Law and create room for installation of more lesser Obas to be accompanying the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Aje Ogunguniso 1, little did he know that he was about to stir an hornet’s nest.
Although the decision of Justice Boade Akintunde-led review panel was not wholly implemented as recommended, Ajimobi, who many observers felt merely wanted to diminish the status of the Olubadan as the paramount Oba of Ibadanland, in order to favour some of his loyalists, who by the arrangement, would climb the Olubadan ladder faster, said he was only implementing what the past government had proposed.
Ajimobi hurriedly installed and coronated 21 High Chiefs and Baales with beaded crowns and coronets on an unusual Sunday evening, August 27th, 2017.
Many people, including the Olubadan kicked and condemned the action but the self-acclaimed “Constituted Authority” called the bluff of everybody. Elevation and coronation of Obas was traditionally done on Friday or Saturday, but Ajimobi chose the fateful Sunday to frustrate any court action that might be filed on Monday 28th to restrain him and his government from taking the action.
Since the coronation, the affairs of the Olubadan-in-Council had hung on tenterhooks as the usual meetings could not be held. The resentment was heightened when the High Chiefs led by the Otun Olubadan (next in rank to the Olubadan), Oba Lekan Balogun, alleged that the Olubadan was desecrating the system of the palace by allowing his wives to sit with them at the Council meeting, calling the shots over them.
Described as laudable as it was akin to the development in some other communities in other states where many lesser chiefs do accompany their paramount leader to ceremonial occasions, the Olubadan and the Osi Olubadan, High Chief Rasidi Ladoja (former Oyo State Governor), however saw the review and eventual coronation of 21 Obas as a move to decimate the consenting power of Olubadan and rupture the age-long peaceful tradition of Ibadanland. Ladoja and Balogun had initially kicked against the move of Ajimobi and went to court but Balogun eventually withdrew from the litigation, saying that he had seen that Ajimobi meant well with the review.
Ladoja and the Olubadan instituted court actions against the review and in 2018, Justice Olajumoke Aiki, in a landmark judgment, nullified the review and declared the coronation as “null and void and of no effect whatsoever.”
Dissatisfied with the decision, Ajimobi and his government appealed same and it was still pending as at the time he left office on May 29, 2019.
The series of reconciliation meetings convened by stakeholders did not yield positive result as many observers and analysts insisted that Ajimobi’s action was only intended to rupture the most enviable peaceful transitional system of Obaship in the whole of the Yorubaland.
As an Ibadan man, who came in on the promise to right every wrong that Ajimobi and his All Progressives Congress (APC) party might have made, the incumbent Governor Seyi Makinde of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) injected an armistice by influencing the government’s withdrawal of the case from the Appeal Court.
The government approached the Court of Appeal with terms of settlement and the latter on August 23 this year referred parties in the controversial coronation of the kings to a lower court.
The High Chiefs and the other Obas however kicked against the settlement and withdrawal of the appeal as its result might strip them of their already won status of Oba within their various communities. Their proverbial claim was that their heads were shaved in their absence as their opinion and consent were not sought before the referral of the case to a lower court.
Led by High Chief Balogun, though, they claimed they were not averse to peace, they however insisted they were not going to drop their beaded crowns or title of Oba so long as the Olubadan also did not drop his new appellation of ‘Imperial Majesty’ . When few months ago they went to the Popoyemoja Palace of the Olubadan to pay obeisance and they did not put on their beaded crowns, Olubadan went to town, claiming that they had eventually agreed to drop their carton-made crowns (Ade Paali) and like a prodigal son, had come back home remorseful.
The Obas again kicked the following day, insisting that wearing of crown was not something that was done anyhow but periodically as the occasion demanded.
To them, not wearing it on the visit when they all prostrated for the Olubadan did not remove their status of Oba but was just a mark of reverence for the Imperial Majesty.
Fifty-three months after they were elevated and controversially coronated, a State High Court Judge, Justice A. Aderemi, on Tuesday, November 19, 2019 set aside all gazettes formalising the royal status of the 21 High Chiefs and Baales in Ibadanland.
In granting the terms of settlement jointly filed by the State Government and the Olubadan of Ibadanland, and High Chief Rashidi Ladoja, (as claimants), Justice Aderemi said since the parties had met and agreed, he was left with no option than to set aside the gazette.
The judgment of Justice Aderemi read thus; “that all the gazettes affecting the chieftaincy laws of Ibadan land particularly gazette Nos.14 Vol.42 of August 23, 2017;15 Vol 42of August 24, 2017 and 3 Vol 43 of March 29, 2018 and the subsequent elevation of High Chiefs and Baales in Ibadanland as Obas during the pendency of this suit be and are hereby set aside.
“That the right to wear beaded crowns and coronets granted by the state government during the pendency of the suit, are hereby revoked.
“That the first defendant shall take steps to reconcile all parties involved in the chieftaincy matters to foster unity and harmony in the protection of the tradition of Ibadan land as relates to the chieftaincy laws of Ibadan land,” the Judge ruled.
In court were the claimant’s counsel, Michael Lana and the State Director of Civil Litigation, Mr. Laolu Ogunniran, among others.
In the belief that the protracted face off was finally doused and that the jettisoned Ibadan Council of Obas meetings which had been truncated since would be reconvened, the affected Obas, two days later, specifically, Thursday November 21, kicked against the court judgment that stripped them of their crowns, describing the court process as shaving the head of a person in his absence.
As the direct beneficiaries of the law that promoted them from High Chiefs and Baales to Obas on August 27, 2017, they said the out-of-court settlement option which the judgment was premised on was without their inputs and there was no way they could accept such.
At the meeting of the Obas at Mapo Hall, headed by Otun Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Sen. Lekan Balogun, it was stated that the government had no business setting aside the gazettes as such action did not show commitment to governance.
According to the Obas: “Those behind the judgment did not consult the interest of Ibadanland. We, as Obas and representatives of the people reject the judgment and we are going to fight it all the through legal and legitimate means. They want to destabilise Ibadanland and we will not allow them”.
The Obas further disclosed that the issue at hand was beyond Ibadanland and the conspiracy against the promoted Ibadan Obas which the judgment was, could not and should not be allowed against the entire state, which the gazette of 2018 and the latest one captured.
They said they had briefed their lawyer, who would give the next directive according to law, reiterating however that their rejection of the verdict would not in any way affect their relationships with the paramount ruler of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso 1. They described the Olubadan as father of all who commands their respect and unalloyed loyalty and support.
They also said they would be waiting for the Olubadan to convey the Olubadan-in-Council meeting, saying, “we are not quarrelling with our father, Oba Adetunji. He should let our meetings go on regularly.”
The Olubadan has since remained unmoved, insisting that the last judgment stands and that everyone affected must return to status quo.
Whether Governor Seyi Makinde’s intervention would eventually yield a lasting solution or not is still being watched by all stakeholders.
Restoring Tafawa Balewa LG to its status
ollowing incessant crisis that rocked Tafawa Balewa Headquarters in Bauchi State in the past four years, the National President of Zaar Development Association (ZDA), Engineer Isuwa Galla, has disclosed that normalcy has returned to the area and they were now living peaceful with all the tribes in their various communities.
He explained that despite efforts by some outsiders to frustrate the peaceful coexistence amongst different ethno-religious groups of the area, the local government is now enjoying peace amongst diverse groups in the area.
The ZDA President, who stated this in an interview with New Telegraph in Bauchi, maintained that there was no problem with the Sayawa people and other tribes in the affected area.
So far, they were able to achieve peace through the peace initiative of Speaker, eight Assembly members of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; late Senator Ali Wakili and Honourable Aminu Tukur.
The ZDA President alleged that the ethno-religious skirmishes that used to occur in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area in the past were influenced by outsiders who were bent to see the fall of the local government, which eventually led to relocation of the local government to Bununu village.
Galla said: “Following the peace process initiated by the former Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, all the various ethnic groups in Tafawa Balewa have mended fences, hence the peaceful coexistence been experienced in the area now.”
Galla added that the presence of different ethnic groups during 2019 Lemp Zaar annual festival in Tafawa Balewa was an attestation that fences have been mended and the different people have resolved to live peacefully with one another.
He said: “We were able to share a common view on how to work out modalities for sustainable peace and development in the land. In fact, the aim has been achieved. You know Tafawa Balewa to say, once you mention the name, there is impression that is registered in the minds of the people, and that is, it is a trouble prone area. But when you find out, you discover that those troubles that have happened in the past were externally influenced.”
“The people of Tafawa Balewa have never gone somewhere to launch any attack on anybody. No! The trouble used to come from different quarters. Some outsiders used to invade the serene community and cause havoc on them. But with the peace process started by the former Dogara, which we keyed into and the one Barrister Kefas Magaji is championing now, I think a lasting peace has come to stay in such a way that we will never witness any uprising in that area again.”
Galla, who said his community had been marginalised in the area of infrastructural development by the immediate past administration expressed optimism that with Senator Bala Mohammed as the Governor of Bauchi State, the common resources of the state will be equitably distributed.
The ZDA president, who applauded the last administration for maintaining peace in the state however, scored them very low in the area of developmental projects in his area.
“In the fours years of the last administration in the state, you hardly see any developmental project captured in the state budget to be cited in Tafawa Balewa or Bogoro.” He said.
He added that apart from some of the developmental projects that were attracted to the three local governments of Dass, Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro by the former Speaker, only few pockets of projects were recorded in some of those areas.
“Since normalcy has returned, the state government should restore the local government headquarters to where it was constitutionally located before it’s relocation as a result of crises.
“The relocation of Tafawa Balewa Local Government headquarters from its constitutionally designed area to Bununu which has been described as unconstitutional by many groups and individuals needs to be reconsidered in the overall interest of the people of the local government.” Galla said.
The President also appealed to Governor Bala Mohammed to actualize the long waiting Zaar Chiefdom as gazetted by the successive administrations in the state.
“About the issue of Zaar Chiefdom, you know, many people have their traditional institution; many people have their rulers and leaders. His Royal Highness, the Emir of Bauchi is the Chairman of Bauchi Council of Traditional Rulers and the Zaar Chiefdom is still under the council of chiefs. So, if given the chiefdom, we will really appreciate it because that is what we have been agitating for.
“So, I think in the interest of justice, fairness, for lasting development, progress, sense of belonging and to balance everything, Sayawa Chiefdom should be actualised now.”
He recalled that several commissions and committees have recommended the actualisation of Zaar Chiefdom in Tafawa Balewa.
O’Pay battling against disgruntled riders
This may not be the best of times for owners of O’pay Motorcycle Company, the new alternative commercial motorcycle transport in Lagos- in place of the ubiquitous Okada. The difference between O’pay and the conventional Okada is that there are guiding rules and regulations for O’pay. While O’pay riders are careful and operate a corporate system, the conventional Okada is its usual rough and dirty form.
However, the company is facing some storm with its employees-the riders.
The motorcycle riders, who embarked on a warning strike action, October 28, alleged inhumane treatment meted out to them by their employers and the ACCOMORAN (motorcycle Union body) members who are treating them like animals.
The grievances against the company includes N2,000 remittance fee demanded by the company’s account daily after which they still have to subscribe for data services, maintain the motorcycle, call the customers assigned to them by the company with their money and update to the latest version of the App every two weeks.
But their annoyance is that the money the company charges is too high to cover all these bills as the fuel they burn to cover the long distance has even taken the bulk of the little money the company gives them.
A rider, Mudasiru Kehinde, told New Telegraph that, “the company is short-changing us as the money the company pays us is too low and we are still made to pay a huge N2,000 to them on daily basis as remittance fee. From the little money we make, we buy petrol, maintain the motorcycle, subscribe for data services, and call credit to contact the customers and the company pays us very little.”
Kehinde explained that from Ikeja to Ikorodu, the company pays them N200, “from Ikeja to Ajah, they give us a miserly N500. How much is this money? It is so ridiculous,” he said.
Another rider, Folorunsho Ahmed, said his grievances is that the company lacks consistency and they appear dubious, because the company brought in local Okada riders to join them and the motorcycle Union saw this as an opportunity to extort money from them. “Since they joined the local riders with us, we have to pay for tickets at every local government Bus stops to these Union officials and the sad thing is that one can’t use a ticket for the whole of Lagos State as you have to pay for different tickets across all the Local Government Bus stops you pass by, and how much are we paid? And these Union officials beat us mercilessly before forcing us to pay for the tickets. So, we complained about this to our company and they told us it’s our business; that we should resolve it amongst ourselves and later we were promised that they will refund the tickets money we paid but up till now, we haven’t been paid a dime and the situation hasn’t changed.”
Another rider who pleaded anonymity said the company lied to them in the case of the health insurance promised them in the agreement form. He said it is yet to be met and there is no provision for vacation or leave.
“Anytime anyone is sick or is being faced by an unexpected situation and can’t avoid not coming to work, he will still have to pay for all the times he missed. The O’pay Company lacks human feelings; they are only concerned about the profit, not sensitive towards the welfare of the riders,” he said.
The strike, which actually started on Monday, October 28, is set to last until the company meets up to their demands. The riders also complained about the seed of dis-unionism the company is planting amongst them, as the company allegedly blocked the WhatsApp platform created for the riders where they air opinions and come together to solve their problems.
Mr. Abubakar Saliu, another rider, while speaking to New Telegraph, lamented on the low welfare package of the company. He mentioned the case of a sick man who was bedridden for two weeks due to appendicitis complications and he was told to pay up the whole remittal fee of the days he was absent at work.
“In case a rider is sick, he will still have to repay the remittals for the days he missed, as these people only care for the profits they make and not about the welfare of the riders. When a rider is involved in an accident, the company will only come to pick up the motorcycle and leave the rider to his problem, without thinking of how to help the rider and to inquire about his well being. After recovery, you still have to pay for all the times you missed and inability to pay up will end you up in the police net. The equipment being sold to us is very expensive compared to what is being sold outside. For example, the head net sold to us for N1,000 is sold outside for N700. So we are tired of these entire tyrannical acts and that is why we will continue this strike until our demands are met. All efforts to get reaction from the company proved abortive.
Lack of organisation was written all over the company-not coordinated at all. When New Telegraph visited, it observed that the company had many Human Resources managers (HR) but none seemed confident enough to represent the company, speak to New Telegraph and address the situation as fear of responsibility was the order of the day, making the “numerous HRs” to be shifting the task to one another. After hours of being pushed around by the HRs, a seemingly qualified HR who is in charge of media and publicity offered to address the situation and asked for questions which were sent to him via email.
But up till the time the story was filed, there was no response from him neither did he pick his calls.
Eyesores called Lagos public cemeteries
ublic cemeteries in Lagos State are in deplorable, despicable and nauseating conditions, underscoring a total lack of respect for both the living and the dead in Nigeria’s chaotic economic capital.
A detailed investigation on the state of Lagos cemeteries, undertaken by correspondents of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) showed that Local Government authorities have failed woefully to maintain cemeteries, despite huge revenues generated from the burial grounds by the councils.
The poor shapes of cemeteries at Lagos Mainland, Ikoyi, Epe and Badagry show that people buried at the places may never rest in peace as envisaged by families of the dead.
At the Atan Cemetery in Yaba, classified as Nigeria’s oldest cemetery, it is a sorry tale of neglect, decay and repulsive smell at the public section of the cemetery, which is also overtaken by weeds with graves caving in.
A check showed that the public section of the cemetery, built in 1868 has been contending with congestion with little or no more spaces for burial of new corpses.
But the story is different at the private section of the cemetery, where some workers have been deployed to make the environment to look good.
A worker at the cemetery, who identified herself simply as Alhaja Korede, told NAN that the private section of the cemetery was maintained because it was costing a lot to bury corpses in the facility.
She explained that burying corpses at the public section of the cemetery was far cheaper, noting that families were paying various sums to bury their loved ones, depending on their choices.
”A single chamber vault at the private section is N250, 000 while the double goes for N500, 00. Three-chamber vault goes for N600,000 while the special three-chamber vault with gate, tiling and engraving of the deceased’s particulars goes for one million naira.”
The same scenario obtains at the Ikoyi Cemetery, managed by the Ikoyi Obalende Local Council Development Area. Ikoyi is home to the old rich in Lagos State.
Weeds and bushes have covered most of the grave sites, while some of the graves have collapsed, due to a lack of care and maintenance.
NAN correspondents noticed that graves were placed too close to each other, owing to inadequacy of spaces.
It was learnt that the cost of burying dead people at the cemetery, ranges from N300, 000 to one million naira.
Ita Marun Cemetery,Epe
”Burying one or two dead bodies would cost you the same amount, which is N950,000 while burying in a family vault of three would cost over a million.
”If you want to bury more than three bodies. It will cost even more and payments must be made a week before the due date so that the necessary preparations can be made.
”The price was recently increased from N750, 000 because the cost of maintaining the cemetery is high. So the increase was made to cover the overhead and others.”
At the Ikoyi Vaults and Gardens, the private section was well maintained, with burying cost ranging from N4 million to N10million, depending on the land size and design of the vault.
At the Ita-Marun Cemetery in Epe, east of Lagos, it is the same story of rot and neglect as the cemetery has been covered by bushes.
Most graves at the cemetery have collapsed while slabs have broken down, due to poor maintenance.
A resident, Mr Opeyemi Ibrahim, told NAN that hoodlums had turned the cemetery into their hideouts.
”The cemetery has been overgrown by bushes and hoodlums hide there to smoke hemp and do other nefarious activities.
”We are calling on the council to do something about the bad state of the cemetery.”
The Cemetery Manager, Mr Ayodele Adeola, told NAN that the bad state of the cemetery was as a result of poor funding.
He said the Epe Local Government Council was facing funding challenges and that the problem affected the management of the cemetery.
”The problem is funding. Once the money is available all these problems will vanish,” he said.
Giving the costs of burying dead people at the facility, Adeola said that burial at the private section of the cemetery, which is better maintained, costs between N150,000 to N300,000 while burial in the public section costs between N50,000 to N70,000.
The manager said that congestion was also a major issue at the cemetery, noting that corpses were buried close to each other or on top of each other because of space constraints.
In Badagry, NAN observed that the Ite-Olorisa Cemetery, one of the major cemeteries in the ancient city, has been taken over by weeds and bushes.
Some of the graves have collapsed while neglect could be seen everywhere at the cemetery.
A resident, Mr Sunday Avoseh, said that criminals were always taking refuge at the dilapidated cemetery and causing problems.
He revealed that hoodlums and fortune seekers were always taking advantage of the darkness at the cemetery to exhume corpses for ritual purposes.
”The state of the cemetery is a disgrace to Badagry town. This is not a befitting resting place.
”We are urging the Badagry Local Government, led by Mr Segun Onilude, to clear the bushes and put the cemetery in good shape,” he said.
NAN correspondents observed, however, that the Christian and Muslim cemeteries, located in different parts of the town are well maintained.
Dr Sunday Hunyinbo, Co-ordinator of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Badagry, said the Christian cemetery was managed by the council before CAN took over the management for proper maintenance.
”CAN, under my supervision, took over the christian cemetery in 2009 because we believe that where our beloved brethren are resting should be kept clean.
”Before, it was bushy. We met the local government people and we agreed on 70/30 per cent on the management of the place.
”Today, the place is very neat because we employed gardeners , who are taking care of the facility.”
Commenting on the state of the ”Ite-Olorisa” cemetery, the spokesman of the Badagry Local Government Council, Mr Adeyemi Adetunji, said there were plans to hand over the facility to a contractor for proper management.
”We will hand over the cemetery to a contractor soon to address all the issues.”
Adetunji said the Christian and Moslem cemeteries had been handed over to the leaderships of the two religions for better management.
The story is however, different at Ikorodu as the Ojokoro cemetery in the area is well maintained as a result of a recent rehabilitation by the council .
NAN observed that the environment of the cemetery a fence had been erected by the council to provide security.
A resident ,Mr Salawudeen Shokunbi ,who resides very close to the cemetery thanked the council for the renovation.
”I just have to commend the LG Chairman for the renovation and reconstruction of the cemetery.
”In fact,it seemed like it had been totally neglected until the council came to the rescue.
”At a point ,the cemetery was a hide out for criminals owing to the neglect apart from fact that people were dumping refuse and defecating there .
”Now,the story is different;we thank God and the council for the intervention ”,he said.
Another resident Mrs Aderonke Shittu said fencing of the cemetery had helped to banish the fears some people living close to the cemeteries used to have .
She applauded the council for improving the environment of the facility and improving the standard of things there in.
”The cemetery was an open place before and if any of your family members were coming to visit you ,they were always afraid of coming in the night due to the proximity of your house to the cemetery.
”Now that the place has been fenced,that is no more fear”she said.
Another resident, Mrs Aderonke Shittu, said that fencing of the cemetery had helped to remove fear among people living close to the facility.
She applauded the council for improving the cemetery and uplifting the standard of things there in.
Speaking to NAN, the Chairman of the Ikorodu Local Government Council, Mr Wasiu Adesina, appealed to residents to make good use of facilities provided at the cemetery.
He said the council would employ more workers to ensure proper maintenance of the cemetery at all times.
”Proper maintenance of the cemetery remains the priority of this administration.
”Rehabilitation is not completed yet. After everything has been put in place, we will employ more workers for proper maintenance,” Adesina said.
Bolaji writes for News Agency of Nigeria(NAN)
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