Across all communities and tribes, the significance of rain is always attributed as blessings and a bountiful harvest for the people. Biologically, rain is of paramount importance for survival of living as it serves as the main source of water that keeps the cycle moving.
When it rains, particularly in rural communities, after the commencement of planting on farmlands, the satisfaction and fulfillment of joy on the faces of farmers can be likened to that of blossom and green cornfield that is always in contact with the rains.
However, the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET), as well as the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), had, earlier this year, predicted that most states in the country would experience torrential rains while about 600 Local Government Areas in the country are under threat of flood.
According to the NIHSA, in its warning, “no person should build structures within the flood plains, and people should clean their drainages.
“When the flood looks for a way to move and does not find any, it begins to pull down buildings and bridges.
“It is not easy to predict urban flooding. It occurs suddenly mostly, but river flooding can be predicted to a high level of accuracy because of equipment along the river channels in Nigeria.”
NIMET, on its part, had appealed to government at all levels not to take the prediction with kid gloves.
“We call on all policy and decision-makers in the three tiers of government to take these predictions seriously and prepare adequately against any eventualities.
“Let me advise that with the manner climate change events are unfolding globally whereby a number of predictions are upturned.”
Meanwhile, on August 3, 2019, it became evident that the warnings given were not yielded to by those concerned as the rains that fell in some parts of Ondo State came bearing sorrow and agony as it left the joy expected with it behind.
Following the torrential rain in some parts of the state, many residents were rendered homeless due to the flooding, which led to the collapse of residential buildings and shops.
Also, hundreds of hectares of farmlands which were almost ready for cultivation were swept off, with farmers gnashing their teeth as their investment went under the waters before their eyes. Mostly affected by the flood were those residing in Alade-Idanre and Odode-Idanre town in Idanre Local Government as well as those in Ayede-Ogbese community in Akure North Local Government Areas of Ondo State.
The flood, it was gathered, occurred as a result of heavy downpour in the state which subsequently led to the overflow of the rivers within the affected communities, particularly the Ogbese River, which stretches from Ekiti into Ondo State.
In Alade-Idanre, areas affected by the flood were, Oke Mapo, Opa, Yaba Alade Idanre among others while in Ayede-Ogbese many areas were affected.
It was estimated that property running into millions of naira were destroyed by the flood as it also made movement impossible as most of the affected residents were stranded all through the downpour.
Also, those whose houses collapsed completely groaned of having nowhere to lay their heads, stressing that they could not salvage any of the property during the havoc.
While calling for urgent intervention from relevant government agencies, particularly, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), to come to their aid, the affected residents lamented that the means of their livelihood have been swept away, adding that all they toiled to achieve in life were destroyed by the flood with nowhere to put their families.
According to one of the victims, Banji Akinkunmi, who pleaded with the government to come to his rescue, all his life efforts have been taken away from him by the flood. He expressed worries that due to his old age, he had nobody to run to nor had any income to fall back upon.
Another victim, Ayo Olusola, a retiree, lamented that his fishery business, which he set up with all his life savings was swept away by the flood.
Mrs. Rhoda Saliu, a widow in her 60s, who runs a poultry farm, narrated that the birds which she just purchased days to the disaster were all destroyed by the flood.
According to her, she was nurturing the birds for sales ahead of the forthcoming festive season in December.
Also, those still counting their losses in the incident were rice farmers in the state. The farmers disclosed that the flood, which occurred as a result of torrential rainfall, destroyed over 600 hectares of their rice farms located in both Eleyowo and Ogbese.
The farmers, who were obviously in pains, stated the rice farms which has been totally submerged in water were expected to be harvested in October.
Pastor Olayinka Labiran, who is the coordinator of rice farmers in the state, lamented that such calamity has never befallen his members since they ventured into rice farming.
The rice farmers group with the name, Federated FADAMA Rice Association, appealed to the federal, state governments as well as other relevant agencies to come to their assistance, stressing that over 373 rice farmers came together with their resources to cultivate the farm.
Labiran added that a member had at least one hectare, which was made possible through the loans obtained from the Bank of Agriculture under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Scheme.
“We are in a state of mourning because of the loss the flood had caused us.”
Meanwhile, on its apart, the Ondo State Government attributed the flooding in the state to the construction of buildings on river courses in the state.
It, however, unfolded plans to demolish structures erected on waterways in different parts of the state.
According to the Deputy Governor, Hon. Agboola Ajayi, who inspected the havoc wreaked by the downpour, the demolition is part of measures to prevent flooding in the state.
Ajayi, who is acting as governor, promised that the state government would try its best in terms of bringing relief to the affected victims soon.
“We thank God no life was lost. Small flood that is not much like this had killed, but we thank God such did not happen in Idanre.
“I was in Ibadan when this happened. We have inspected the houses. I will advise that our people should leave the affected houses to prevent another disaster.
“Some people build houses along the river course. We will ensure that no matter how highly placed the person is, we will demolish the house to have a free flow of water,” he said.
Speaking on the magnitude of the havoc, the Odopetu of Ayede-Ogbese, High Chief Oladimeji Abitogun, stated that the government is only chasing shadows with its intending approach to the issues.
According to Abitogun, the Ogbese river has never been dredged, adding that the drainage within and around the community, which has blocked, overtime, has never been channelized which he said was the resultant effect of the heavy downpour.
He cautioned that urgent measures must be activated to prevent such from recurring in the future instead of strategies currently being employed by the government at scoring unnecessary political points.
“Farms have been destroyed. Buildings have collapsed. Cars have been swept away. Beyond that, people have lost so much in terms of valuable property.
“Even crocodiles and other amphibious animals now lurk around the community. That is the situation with us in Ogbese now. “That kind of statement from a political leader that houses will be demolished is unfortunate. That is what I called a third world mentality. Leadership is more than political expediency.
“I have listened to some of the officials of the Ondo State government talking down on them as regards the flood as if the government does not have any blame in all of this.
“How about officials of the physical planning office, they do not do due diligence when they give approvals?
“They should look at the effects of erosion washing the riverbed as well as the blocked drainage. People have lived on these plains for centuries without any issue. “Will the government also say that the flooding that occurs on the airport road in Oba-Ile is caused by people building houses on waterways too?
“We must look at this in a more fundamental and germane way other than saying it is because the people are building houses on waterways.
“They should release the relief material first for the affected victims. They should provide short and long-time measures,” Abitogun stated.
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.”
Bad roads: Lagosians’ headache
Lagos roads are obviously bad, giving motorists and other road users nightmare. Lamentations have become deafening, especially as movements have also turned out to be difficult within the state. Kayode Olanrewaju, Oluwatosin Omoniyi, Ibrahim Awotunde, Henrietta Ahibuogwu and Paulinah Omobulejo report
agos roads are obviously and horrendously bad, giving motorists and other road users nightmare. Lamentations have become deafening especially as movements have also turn out to be difficult within the state.
In the vox pop conducted by New Telegraph, some Lagosians described Lagos as a beautiful and economic hub of the country, but in actual sense, the situation of the roads has watered down such beauty; as gridlock has taken the better part of the state with people spending hours unend on the roads.
“This is suffering and I do not see any reason we should be going through this stress and hardship. Lagosians, for whatever reason, I repeat do not deserve what we are going through in the last few months, on Lagos roads. The roads are utterly deplorable. This is pathetic and lamentable.
“Can you imagine this is my second time at the mechanic workshop this month to fix my car’s damaged chassis, replace the ball joints, shaft, and other parts due to the poor condition of the roads? If it is not the shaft, it will be ball joints tomorrow. It has not been this bad in Lagos in the last 20 years.
“Apart from this you can also imagine the hours we spend in traffic daily going and returning from work. Despite the economic situation, you have to look for money to fix your car since public transport is no go area because of the nuisance and irritant behaviour of the operators.”
This was the lamentation of Mr. Adeniyi Oluwole, a legal practitioner, as he narrated his ordeal and experience in the last few months, when New Telegraph cornered him at a mechanical workshop at Jankara in Ijaye-Ojokoro, a suburb of Lagos, where he gone to fix his car.
Oluwole is not only in this predicament, as a Clearing Agent, who identified himself simply as Wasiu also lamented his plight on Lagos roads.
He said: “Going to work nowadays is hellish. Moving from Abule-Egba to Apapa, is like embarking on a journey of no return. This will be the third time in the last two months that I will bring this my Honda car to the mechanic to fix the shaft. You can imagine how much we are spending on our cars because of the bad roads and it seems as if the government has no answer to the road problem. “They are talking about the rain, but how long are we going to continue, and who knows when the rain will stop. “Two weeks ago, I ran into a deep pothole at night, while returning from work. I was almost robbed if not for God because the shaft got broken and I could not leave the spot until I had to hire a towing vehicle that night to remove the car from the spot. If not, all the parts would have been removed by hoodlums before day-break.”
These are not best of the times for residents of Lagos, especially vehicle owners and other commuters, as they agonise and lament daily for spending several hours in traffic jam, and visiting mechanical workshops virtually on weekend basis to fix their damaged vehicles.
The irony is that, while vehicle owners are agonising, the mechanics are making brisk businesses and laughing to their banks daily.
According to Akin, a mechanic at Ijaiye-Ojokoro Local Council Development Area (LCDA), it has been a good business period for them.
Akin, who said he repaired an average of two cars daily with problem of shaft and ball joints, added that the owners of such vehicles spend between N7,000 and N15,000 depending on the cost of spare parts.
“Some people have to abandon their vehicles in my workshop when they realise that the problem was just too much and unable to meet the cost of repair. Hardly could you move round other mechanical workshops around here that you will not see vehicles with problem of chassis or shaft been repaired,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu unaware of the enormity of the stress and pain experienced by road users in the past few weeks, which was compounded by persistent downpour had appealed to residents to bear with the government.
This was as the governor had declared a state of emergency on Lagos bad roads and ordered massive repair work on critical highways across the state, beginning from Monday October 14, saying the efforts were to assuage the people’s pains and bring permanent relief to them.
Towards this end and to complement the major construction work on the highway, the governor said that the Lagos State Public Works Corporation (LSPWC) would be carrying out repairs of 116 inner roads across the state.
According to the state government, going by series of meetings with eight multi-national construction firms which began few weeks ago, the contractors, including Julius Berger, Hitech, Arab Contractors, Metropolitan Construction, Slavabogu Construction, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), Rajaf Foundation Construction, and RCF Nigeria Ltd, had been directed to commence major construction work on identified highways considered critical to the reduction of traffic congestion in the state.
“The governor said all the eight engineering firms had been given the mandate to immediately mobilise their equipment on the sites and commence major construction works on the identified roads.
“I am giving all Lagosians assurance that the contractors will start the construction in earnest and will deliver on the terms of agreements reached with them,” the government promised.
This, the government added, would be in addition to over 200 roads already rehabilitated by the Lagos State Public Works Corporation in the last three months.
“We expect the rains will begin to subside in this month of October and this is why we are mobilising our contractors to immediately start the major construction work on the identified highways and bring permanent relief to residents,” the governor said in a statement.
However, some of the critical highways and roads listed to be constructed to include Ojota stretch of the Ikorodu Road and Motorways-Kudirat Abiola Way; Apongbon Highway, Babs Animashaun Road, Agric/Ishawo Road and Ijede Road in Ikorodu, and Lekki-Epe Expressway from Abraham Adesanya to Eleko Junction, while there would be massive re-construction work on
Animashaun Road, Agric/Ishawo Road and Ijede Road in Ikorodu, and Lekki-Epe Expressway from Abraham Adesanya to Eleko Junction, while there would be massive re-construction work on a network of roads in Ikoyi, Ikeja GRA and Victoria Island.But, expressing worry about the state of the Lagos roads, some motorists, who spoke with New Telegraph, hinted that bad roads had added to economic recession in the state.
Recounting their ordeal, David Okpoma, a motorist, who lives in the Oke-Ira area of Ogba, Lagos said: “This is the seventh time I will be going to the mechanic workshop this month all on the same issue of shock absorber that is being damaged every time I run into potholes.
Still on his travails, Okpoma added: “I will not go to work or go out in my car again, as I would rather prefer to take public transport, since I cannot spend all my life savings repairing a car that has almost turned a liability because of the poor road situation in Lagos.”
Visibly angry about the situation, he stressed that the deplorable condition of roads in the state has increased patronage of the mechanics than ever and thereby enriching their pockets at the detriment of vehicle owners. “We are already spending the family resources that should have used to pay the children’s school fees or on other family upkeep on repairing our vehicles,” he added, saying: “I have to put the car down before it runs me into unnecessary debt.”
Another car owner, Mrs. Akanji, however, told New Telegraph that she has abandoned her car at home for past three months due to high cost of maintenance.
“I could no longer bear to spend any other money on what seems to be an endless streak of repair,” she lamented, saying though getting public transport is stressful because of the distance to their designated bus stops, she still preferred them as she has to take about three buses to get to her work place.
Mrs. Akanji, however, said that she was far comfortable with that than to spend a whole lot repairing her car weekly.
Like other Lagos road users, Mr. Michael Ashibougwu, while also narrating his plight, said his major problem is staying long hours on traffic hold ups due to bad roads everywhere in the state.
Ashibougwu, who lives in Ikorodu area of the state, said his car developed problem all the time because of the road x“The major parts of the car that frequently developed problem are the shock absorber, the breaking system, thyroid, shaft, bushing and the ball joints and this is because of the flood and potholes we pass through daily,” he lamented.
While calling on the state government to rise to the challenge of fixing the roads before Lagosians resort to trekking to work, he also recalled that he visits the mechanic once or twice a week because of the roads.
According to Kikelomo Ajisafe, fashion designer, Lagos would have been a beautiful city, but for the bad roods.
She bemoaned the situation of roads full of craters and potholes, leaving vehicle owners to agonise in traffic jam to and from work.
Ajisafe, who recalled how she had missed some of her customers because of the road situation, also lamented that the development is taken toll on every one as there is business lull in the state.
On his part, Uche Igwe, a business man, told New Telegraph how he had resorted to taking taxi to go out, saying: “The poor state of Lagos roads is the major reason I no longer take my car to my work place again; the roads are very bad. Like other vehicle owners, I spend a lot of money and time to repair the car every week especially during this raining season, the road that leads to my house is that bad, talk less of the potholes on the major roads resulting to long traffic queue.
“Now, operators of okada and the yellow bus (Danfo) charge exorbitant fare due to the poor roads,” he stressed, calling on Governor Sanwo-Olu to do something urgently and not just to fix the roads on the pages of newspaper.
The potholes on Lagos roads have become so terrible and unbearable that serious apathy has set in with operators of commercial buses and cars, Sunday Adebayo, a commercial bus driver, told New Telegraph.
The government, he added, should assist the people to fill the poor spots on Lagos roads, so the drivers who ply the roads almost 24 hours should be able to do their work to feed their families. “The government should fix the roads to help the drivers. I know how much I spend on my bus weekly but if there are good roads our buses or car will not develop fault at will, as we are now facing daily.
Going by the chaotic traffic situation on Lagos roads, LASTMA can only do a little job, as the main solution is to fix the roads,” Adebayo further argued.
Piqued by the deplorable condition of the roads, Oladimeji Aliu, an engineer, rather than calling on the government to fix the road, is seeking the concessionaire of Lagos roads to private companies, as it seems that the government could not handle the emergency.
Lawal Rafiu, a Danfo driver told New Telegraph that the major cause of the traffic congestion in Lagos is the bad roads, which according to him, is really affecting operation of cabs or buses.
He regretted further that the little money he makes most often is used to repair the bus due to the bad roads.
He said: “Apart from the problem of repairing the bus, he narrated how he resorted to the use of pain relief every night before going to bed because of the hectic situation of driving on Lagos roads nowadays.
“On a good day, I make more than six trips, but nowadays because of the traffic snarl and poor roads, I can’t make more than thrice, which is not supposed to be. I, therefore, plead with the government to help us fix the roads by filling the potholes to reduce traffic on the roads.”
While speaking to New Telegraph, a mechanic, who introduced himself simply as Agba Meko along Ikorodu Road, said that in his 22 years on the job, major problems of motorists which they usually come to his workshop to fix is bad shock absorber, bushing and several other parts like shaft and ball joints.
He further traced major cause of the problems to the deplorable state of the roads as they enter deep potholes, combined with the chaotic traffic situation in which car and other vehicle owners spend several hours in gridlock.
Agba Meko, who said though it is a good business to them, still empathised with his customers for spending so much despite the economic situation of the country.
“I have to reduce the cost of my workmanship most often out of pity for some of my longstanding customers,” he added.
Also, a mechanic, who spoke with New Telegraph, said he worked on average of seven vehicles weekly to repair mostly their ball joints, shaft and thyroid, as well as to replace the brake pads due to the bad road situation.
According to him, the roads are getting worst every day, especially the state major roads, while there are traffic everywhere, with trucks falling and killing people.
Similarly, a mechanic, Salami Olaoluwa, expressed worry over the deplorable condition of Lagos roads, and the stress car owners go through to fix their cars, however, regretted that a trip that ordinarily would have taken three minutes a times take over 30 minutes all because of the situation of the roads.
“This is frustrating and the government should do something urgently to fill the potholes,” he noted.
Plight of Kaduna’s torture centre inmates
As at the last count, not less than four rehabilitation centres or torture homes as many people now called them, some allegedly Islamic centres established for the propagation of the faith have been busted and shot down by security operatives.
Among the centres discovered and raided were, two centres located at Limanchi Corner and Marmara, all in Zaria Local Government Area of Kaduna State and Mallam Niga Rehabilitation Centre and another managed by Mallam Ismaila Abubakar, raided recently in Rigasa, all in Igabi Local Government Area of the State with at 458 victims rescued by the Nigerian police and the Civil Defence Corps.
Even though, some women in Rigasa recently protested closure of one of the centres, insisting that they voluntarily took their children to the home, many are still worried about the dehumanising condition and mode of operation used in either rehabilitating the inmates or teaching them Islamic faith. Some of the inmates were said to be foreigners from Cameron and Niger Republics.
Some of them according to the police are from Burkina Faso, Mali and other neighbouring African countries.
Pictures and experiences of inmates show that many of the victims were tortured, maltreated, put in chains and even denied food.
Others were also allegedly brutalised, molested and even sodomised, a development that had left many aghast and surprised. Among the inhabitants are children who confessed to been abused homosexually for over a period of time. The much elderly ones alleged that they were subjected to daily recitation of the Holy Quran and prayers accompanied with torture.
Many are kept with chains on their legs and the scars of injuries from torture, could be seen on them. But the operators denied all the allegations. According to Mallam Ismaila Abubakar, operator of one of the homes in Rigasa, “all those allegations of torture, dehumanisation and homosexuality are false and mere allegations. We do nothing here other than teach people Islam. They don’t do anything other than, recitation of Qur’an, pray and worship God. Those chained are the stubborn ones who attempt running away. Those who don’t attempt running away are not chained. Some were chained before and after settling down, they were freed. He added that,”most of them were brought by their parents from across the country and others from outside the country.” He said.
In Zaria where three persons were said to have died and 11 persons rescued, the Authorities of the Civil Defence Corps that uncovers the home disclosed that three persons died at the center because of the unbearable and dilapidated condition of the home.
The Kaduna State Deputy Governor, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe in company of the State Commissioners for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan and that of Human Services and Social development Hajia Hafsat Baba, were at the Headquarters of the Civil Defence to see things for themselves.
The Deputy Governor condemned the inhuman treatment meted out to victims in the name of rehabilitation.
Addressing Journalists, she assured that government would take necessary actions against the operators while the victims would be provided necessary medical care before handing them over to their parents.
She also urged parents to desist from taking their children to such centres, else they would be made to face the full wrath of the law.
Also narrating their ordeal, one of the victims, a 30 year-old Abdullahi Ishola from Osun State told newsmen that he was lured to the centre by a family member.
He said, “a family member just took me there and all of a sudden I found myself in chains. I was chained in the leg and hands and ever since then, I have been under unbearable inhuman treatment. I was beaten regularly and denied foods for several days,” he said.
On his part, Ishola, a National Diploma holder in Mass Communications from Ire Polytechnic in Osun State, thanked the Civil Defence Corps that he was finally rescued along with the others.
Also speaking, One of the operators of the centres, Muktar Aliyu, claimed that the inmates were brought to the centres by their parents and also denied maltreating them. He said, “inmates were brought to us by their parents for help which we try our best to give them” he however denied beating them.
In one of the centres in Rigasa Bello Hamza a 42 years old said, he was tricked to the centre by his family who are interested in taking over his share of family inheritance.
Hamza said: “I have spent three months here with chains on my legs. I’m supposed to be pursuing my Masters in University of Pretoria, South Africa. I got admission to study Applied Mathematics, but here I am chained.
“They claim to be teaching us Quran and Islam, but they do a lot of things here. They subject the younger ones to homosexuality. This is supposed to be an Islamic centre, but trying to run away from here attracts severe punishment; they tie people and hang them to the ceiling for that, but engaging in homosexuality attracts no punishment.
“Within my short stay here, somebody had died as a result of torture. Others have died before my coming due to poor health and torture. They give us very poor food and we only eat twice a day; 11:00am and 10:00pm.
“They have denied me many things here. I am a family man, I have responsibilities, but I am chained here not knowing what is happening to my family members,” he alleged.
However, the Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, Ali Janga who kick started the whole process by bursting the first centre in Rigasa stated that , “we received an information that something is going on in this rehabilitation centres or Islamic centers. So, I sent my DPO here to check what was going on. On getting here, we discovered that, this is neither a rehabilitation centre nor Islamic school.
“You can see it yourself that, small children, some of whom are brought from neighbouring African countries like Burkina Faso, Mali and others and from across Nigeria. Most of them are even chained.
“These people are being used, dehumanized. You can see it yourself. The man who is operating this home claimed that, parents brought their children here for rehabilitation. But, from the look of things this is not a rehabilitation centre. No reasonable parent will bring his children to this place.
“So, we are going to investigate them and get to the root of the matter. We will find out the real motive behind this centre, and if they are found wanting they will be charged to court.
“But first, we are evacuating all the people from this place to our station and we will make announcement for parents to come and recover their children.” He said.
Also while parading the operators of the Zaria home, Deputy Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Kaduna State Command, Mr Nnegha Aloysious Onyema, disclosed that three inmates died as result of unbearable conditions at the centre.
He said all the inmates were in leg and hand chains. The NSCDC boss said the 11 inmates were rescued following an intelligence report gathered by the corps. He added that the inmates are between the ages of 11 and 40 years.
His words, “We busted two of the centres, Limanchi Corner and Marmara Centres all in Zaria and evacuated 11 inmates ranging from 11-40 years of age from the two centres while one other centre had released their inmates following information that other centres has been bursted but we arrested the operator,” he said.
Onyema also said that five operators of the centres and the victims were in their custody and would be handed over to the Ministry of Human Services and Social Development for protective custody and prosecution.
A year dedicated to tackle cataract, others
he newly installed President of Rotary Club of Amuwo, Francis Ogugua has said over 100 patients from Amuwo and its neighbouring communities in Lagos State would benefit from the free corrective cataract surgery, to be funded and executed by the Rotary Club of Amuwo.
Ogugua made this known during his installation as the 33rd president of the club and induction of the Club’s Board of Directors, which held in Amuwo-Odofin, Lagos recently. Ogugua with the club’s Board of Directors would steer the affairs of the club for the next one year, 2019 to 2020.
The induction also involved the change-over of baton from the immediate past president of the club, Uzoamaka Akaneme to Ogugua while Anambra State-born Richie Okonkwo with stage name, Selassie and his dancing troup, entertained guests with music and dancing, thereby providing fun for the guests in the relaxed atmosphere.
According to Ogugua who is also a member of the Institute of Management Chartered, the cataract surgery will cost the club about N2.5 million.
Cataract, the most common cause of vision loss in people over age 40, is the clouding of the eye’s natural lens. Surgery, which consists of removing the damaged lens from the affected eye and replacing it with an artificial lens, is the only definitive treatment for cataract. The Rotary Club of Amuwo under Ogugua is set to impact people in its community in this sphere.
While urging both members of the Rotary Club of Amuwo and guests to donate generously towards to execute projects, he said Rotary Club was generally about service.
He said, “I want to seize this opportunity to invite our guests to join the over 1.2 million Rotary members globally and over 3,000 members of our district through the Rotary Club of Amuwo, the club of over 60 members who have distinguished themselves in the field of various human endeavours. Rotary club of Amuwo was started March 18, 1987.
He said, “Every year, clubs around the world come up with unique ways of rendering effective services to their community and such services,” which address many problems facing humanity such as children at risk, disabled persons, poverty and hunger, polio eradication, among others.
Speaking further, Ogugua said, “this year, the Rotary Club of Amuwo led by my humble self and my board, will be providing three water and sanitation boreholes, which will cost the club N3 million and the donation of 25 units of computers complete with Internet facility as well as past West African Examination Council (WAEC) past question soft ware to be distributed to five schools in Amuwo community.”
Other programmes include the provision of scholarship awards for 20 indigent students, which will cost the club N500,000. The donation of Ogugua’s Rotary personal dictionary to 2,000 senior secondary school students, which will cost N2 million, is part of the project planned for execution during the year in review.
Angered by poor state of roads
•Want Buhari, Fashola: Order contractors to sites
•Residents ferried through waters at N100 each
As a critical infrastructure, adequate road reconstruction, rehabilitation and maintenance has become periodically necessary. In this report, DANIEL ATORI writes on the protests that took place simultaneously in parts of Niger State as aggrieved youths declared that the responsibility for the building and maintenance of road network in the country be taken up by the federal, state and local governments.
s a critical infrastructure, adequate road reconstruction, rehabilitation and maintenance has become periodically necessary. In this report, DANIEL ATORI writes on the protests that took place simultaneously in parts of Niger state as aggrieved youths declared that the responsibility for the building and maintenance of road network in the country to be taken up by the Federal, State and Local governments.
It should be noted that, out of the total road length nationwide, about 35,000 kilometers are federal Highways, 50, 000km state are Highways and 150,000 of Local government feeder roads and Niger state has the highest number of federal roads in the country.
In Niger state, despite the paucity of resources, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello has remained undaunted to make federal roads in the state motorable. But yearly, the roads keep begging for intervention because they are exposed to tremendous loads that overwhelmed them.
However, activities were on Monday grounded in Minna, the Niger state capital when youths in their thousands under the auspices of National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) blocked the ever busy 98 kilometers Suleja-Minna highway to protest the deplorable state of federal roads across the state.
The protest which took place concurrently with the Bida-Minna and Minna Kontagora roads also blocked, had youths carrying placards with various inscriptions like “Fix Niger state roads.” “Niger state roads must be better.” “Save our Souls Buhari.” “Niger state is part of Nigeria.” “Our people die every day due to bad roads.”
The protesters who were chanting anti government slogans barricaded the Chanchaga bridge depriving all vehicles from moving in and out of Minna through the Chanchaga and Bida roads saying, these protests will continue from today (Monday) until President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola order contractors to sites to start work.
The protest which started as early as 6:30am left hundreds of travelers, students and many others stranded.
The well coordinated protests also saw the blockade of Bida-Minna, and Minna-Tegina highways thereby creating a standstill in the state capital.
According to the coordinator of the Minna-Suleja axis, Mohammad Etsu, “we will not stop this protest until President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola come to address the challenges we are facing.”
When New Telegraph visited the Bida-Minna road, articulated vehicles and commuters were trapped in the heavy gridlock as workers and residents alike were seen being carried on shoulders and backs to the other sides of the road by villagers across the river for a fee.
The villagers who took advantage of the gridlock charged each passenger N100 to be carried on the back to either side of the roads until the protests ended in the afternoon around 2:15 and the roads were opened.
Speaking to New Telegraph, the Chairman of the NYCN Niger State chapter, Comrade Bello Barau Shariff said the Federal Government has failed Niger state despite coming out enmass to vote in the Muhammadu Buhari led All Progressives Congress (APC), adding that, “we have decided that if these roads are not fixed we will continue to protest”.
According to him “after due consultations on the deplorable conditions of Federal Roads in Niger State which has resulted to severe hardship to Motorists and Nigerlites in terms of loss of lives, crippling economic and social activities in the State, we have resolved that, the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari should fund the numerous awarded contracts of trunk ‘A’ roads in the State.
“Facilitate and expedite action on the dualisation of Minna – Suleja road that was awarded since 2010.
“The Government of Niger State under the leadership of Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello should increase funding and rehabilitation of trunk ‘B’ roads within the State to make life, movement and economic activities easier for Niger State Citizens.”
According to the Director General Strategic Operations Unit, ICT and Public Enlightenment in Niger state, Abdullberqy U. Ebbo who was at the scene of the protests “at inception of the first tenure of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello’s administration in 2015, within the first 100 days in office, intervention and rehabilitation of federal road was effected at Tegina (2.4km) and Kagara town (1.7km).”
“Similarly, the maintenance of Minna-Zungeru-Tegina was carried out in 2016 by the Khalifate Engineering and Construction Company Ltd. Throughout the administration’s last four years and now, the Minna-Kakaki-Lambata-Suleja road has witnessed several interventions with the state government spending colossal amount of funds in the process.”
He lamented that “Heavy duty trucks, mostly carrying fuel are deemed liable for the collapse of the highways in the state. Without regulation, articulated vehicles with axial load of more than 35 tons have destroyed roads along their path and continued to undermine efforts made by the state government to repair them.”
Despite spending over N4billion, the Suleja-Minna road which has been neglected by the federal government is yet to be fixed because of the over 3,000 overloads articulated vehicles that ply the road on daily basis.
Also speaking, the leader of Concerned Nigerlites Comrase Muhammad Muhammad demanded that “the identity of the contractors handling all awarded Federal/State road contracts be disclosed to enable us follow up the process of work.
“If by the next two months contractors handling Lambata – Agaie – Bida, Bangi Road, Rijau Bridge and Suleja – Minna road were not mobilized to sites, we will be left with no option than to divert heavy loaded trucks from plying bad state roads.”
He also charged the state Government to ensure strict implementation of the existing law of restrain heavy trunk from plying trunk ‘B’ roads within 6am – 9pm, saying “Niger State is hereby given 72 hours to act”.
Furthermore, he admonished the military, Police and other Security Agencies who are part of the restriction team to be professional and transparent in the implementation of the restriction order.
Commuters and residents who were affected by the protests and gridlock gave their total support for the protest, decried the total neglect of all federal roads by the federal government.
Hajia Sadia Salihu, a teacher said, “since morning at about 6:30, I left the house with my son hoping that by 7am we would have gotten to school but met this protest. Although, it has affected us, I am in full support. The bad roads have caused us much hardship”.
A transporter, Suleiman Yakubu called on the Niger State Government to consider the dualisation of the Bida – Minna Road because of its economic importance to the State.
While addressing the protesters, Secretary to the Niger State Government, Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane said the Government will not relent, adding that “we will continue to do what. We should also remember that the rains have just ceased and I believe that most construction works will resume fully.
“I believe too that the federal government awarded contracts are also going to commence. For the past few weeks, Mr. Governor has been in Abuja and he has been having series of meetings with Mr. President and the Minister of Works and Housing to see that these roads are fixed”.
Despite interventions by the Nigerian Army, Police Force and Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), the youths remained adamant chanting anti Government songs.
While appealing to the untiring youths, the State Commandant of the NSCDC, Joshua Edem said, the youths have the rights to protest but said “there is the need to have a time frame so that other people can go about their daily routines.”
When the Commissioner of Police Adamu Usman visited the scene, he pleaded with the youths adding that “your message has been passed and you have made your point. Be orderly and peaceful; allow those travelling to start moving.”
It should be noted that, it was when the Military and other combined security agencies marched in that the situation got out of hand as the overzealous Policemen at about 9:45am fired teargas cannisters at the youths to disperse them. At this point the youths became irate and threw stones at the security men booing and chanting anti Government songs.
Fake ‘governor’: I wanted to build house with crime proceeds
popular African adage says “every day is for the thief and one day is for the owner.” The adage aptly fitted Iliyasu Ibrahim 33-year-old and his boss Sukni Zakka 39 years old both from Plateau State who impersonated Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed Abdulakadir and defraud innocent citizens up to N37M in the name of giving them Hajj slot. Iliyasu and Zakka were paraded along side with other 185 for committing various offenses at the Police headquarters Bauchi.
Confessing in an interview to New Telegraph, Ibrahim who impersonated the Governor of Bauchi State, said, he wanted to use the money to build a befitting house in Jos for his family. The father of four said his boss, former personal assistant (PA) to Senator Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir begged him to represent him as the Governor of Bauchi State Bala Mohammed Abdulakadir (Kauran Bauchi). Ibrahim said, “it was my boss, former PA to Kaura that initiated me into this business of collecting money from people who are intending Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. He made me to be his representative, that I should act as the Governor of Bauchi state while he will be my PA to the Governor.”
According to him, “as a Governor, I don’t collect money from victims directly or met with them face to face but the PA collected all the money from our victims and my own work as a Governor was to received phone calls from the PA who would be demanding for Hajj seats from me and once he call me I will let them know that the Hajj seat may not be possible but they should liaise with the PA for further details.”
“Anytime, the business arises, I will come from Jos and stayed in Guru village, a suburb of Bauchi metropolis while the PA will be at Government House gate with our victims. He will call me on phone so that I can talk to our victims so that they will be convinced to see him at the Government House,” he added.
He said further that, they have collected money up to N22M from the intending pilgrims in the name of helping them to get Hajj seat for them from government and those willing to sell the seat saying he was yet to receive his own share of the money but intended to build a house with the proceed. “I have never seen Bauchi State Governor face to face. I am a driver to the PA, he is my boss, I am just representing his interest in my capacity as a Governor. I told him from the beginning that I cannot act as a Governor but he insisted that I should do it for him. I wanted to build a befitting house from the money we raked from intending pilgrims in Jos but now that I am caught, I regretted everything. I am begging the Governor to forgive me,” he confessed.
Also speaking to New Telegraph, the PA to the imposter Governor Iliyasu Ibrahim, Sukni Zakka said he was at the Police custody because of a transaction between him and one Alhaji Idiris who gave them money to secure Hajj seat for him. Zakka, 39 from Dangi in Kanam local Government area of Plateau State said, Alhaji Idiris first gave them N15,000 each, later N50,000 each and then N600,000 each to help him get Hajj slot for him. Zakka, a father of 10, two wives explained that, “I collected the money from our victims in my position as to the Governor. I was former PA to Kaura when he was minister of FCT.
However, he blamed his victims for looking for cheap things, “going to Mecca is N1.5 but Alhaji Idiris insisted that I should help him get a seat at N600, 000. I told him that it would not be possible and it may be possible but he told me that even the one that legislators used to sell, I should help him get it for him,” he pointed out. He confessed that he collected N15, 000 from 28 people and N600,000 from nine people Speaking on how he met with imposter Governor, he said “we met with Governor that is Ibrahim in Kabir plateau state on my way from Bauchi to Dangi, when we met he say he needed my favour on one thing and that was how we started the business.” On his relationship with Bauchi Governor, Zakk said, “I have been with Governor Bala Mohammed before he was elected senator, later Minister of FCT but since he became the Governor we are not together again.”
He said his family is not aware of his business but want the Governor to forgive him and this should serve as the first and the last warning. “I am now feeling very bad in this situation it was a mistake I made and if there is no mistake that means no room for correction so I want the Governor to forgive me.” Parading the suspects recently at the Police headquarters Bauchi Commissioner of Police Habu Sani said the impersonators were arrested in Bauchi and they have their houses in the state capital. He said the suspects also have defrauded innocent members of the public the sum of N37M in the name of payment for 2019 Hajj pilgrimage to the holy Land. “One of the suspects by name Sukni Zakka acted as the personal assistant (PA) to the Governor while the other Iliyasu Ibrahim alias “Du” acted as the Governor during phone conversation. The impostor PA usually lured his unsuspecting victims and defrauds them by putting a call to the impostor Governor which in return answered the call and assured them a Hajj slot.”
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