… As govt demolishes Jakande Estate shops
By Ola Kehinde-Balogun
Many residents of Jakande Estate, Isolo, Isolo Local Government Area of Lagos State, are now counting their losses.
On Tuesday, bulldozers, soldiers, policemen and government officials of the state’s Ministry of Environment stormed the neighbourhood at about 11am and pulled down what they said were illegal lock-up shops.
Government officials’ argument, many residents recalled, was that the shops were illegally erected by the roadside, a few paces away from the gutter, at the emd of the blocks of flats. The estate, which the former governor of the state, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, had built with taste and splendour many years ago, until now, had many lock-up shops by every side of the road.
According to the residents, government officials argued that the structures contravened the road map and the estate’s master plan. Many said they only saw their lock-up shops, including empty containers that had been converted to shops, marked for demolition a few days ago. That was when many affirmed that they were just learning that an eviction notice had been issued a long time ago by government. The residents claimed that no warning got across to them, even as some alleged that the warning only ended up on the table of the Landlords’ Association of the estate.
When this reporter visited the scene of the demolition, some walls were still standing in the midst of the rubble of demolished shops. Such walls were still bearing the mark by the Ministry of Environment on it. Many residents, however, said they were not expecting that the mark on the building could mean much.
“We didn’t believe government could mean to demolish such a high number of shops within the neighbourhood in the twinkle of an eye,” said Mrs. Uchendu, a victim and resident of the estate.
A shortly distance from the estate’s gate, the ruins of the demolished shops lined the two sides of Isheri Road for over a kilometre. It was the same situation on Sheikh Ibrahim Niasse Avenue as well as Iyana-Isheri Junction, all in the estate.
Many of the victims gathered in groups wearing long faces, even as some were too distraught to make a comment. All through the demolition, some residents alleged that the government officials, who came in the company of soldiers and armed policemen, prevented people from making a recording of the act.
“They were seizing people’s phones and they prevented us from making a recording of the activities. How many people would dare such in the face of guns and heavily armed soldiers? Nonetheless, people still snapped and recorded what they could,” Mr. Uchendu said.
It was also a field day for many truck pushers and commercial bus owners who besieged the estate to help the victims transfer some of their goods away from the scene. Some others used cars to transport goods in their shops away. Some street urchins were equally on ground as their made bargains with the victims who had contracted them to help move the heavy containers and some building materials away from the scene.
Many of the victims lamented that they were caught unawares, even as others regretted that the demolition came at this time. One of the victims, a teacher with a private school in the area, who simply identified herself as Mrs. Albert, said it was a wrong and mean gesture from government against the citizenry.
She said: “Even if they must demolish these places, it is a very wrong time. Many people are only trying to survive in this recession. Why create a harsher economic condition for people who are struggling? I happen to be a teacher in a private school around here. My family only thought of expanding our economic survival to augment what we earn monthly. To procure this demolished container and other things, we spent over N300,000 just a few months ago. Everything is at a loss now. And I tell you, many other shop operators around here depend solely on the meager income they get from their shops for the entire family’s survival. What does government want these families to live on?”
Another victim, Mrs. Adelaid Sunny, who said she was into catering and laundry services, said she was the breadwinner of her family. The woman, who was being comforted by many other passers-by, said her household had just lost its livelihood.
“Where do we go from here? This is one callous exercise. What are we going to eat now? What will my little baby feed on? This is the business that the whole family depends on. What government fails to realise is that people sold these places to us and they leased places to some of us. Why didn’t they investigate those people and deal with them as well? Why is it that it is the masses that suffer at all times?”
Asked how he got the portion of land where he erected the shops on, and whether they made payment to anyone, Mr. ßAlbert said: “Government built these houses initially, and they have sold them to different persons over the years. So, the individuals who bought them just apportioned the corresponding spaces to themselves to build shops, sell them or rent them out to other residents within the neighbourhood. Now, government has demolished them with the claim that they are blocking drainage, and they are illegal. But the timing is not ideal. Shouldn’t government consider people’s survival in this hard time? As they have demolished my wife’s shop now, we will have to look elsewhere outside the estate to go mount the container.”
When COWLSO brainstormed on strong family, nation
By Moshood Adebayo
Between October 24 and 26, 2016, female dignitaries across the country converged on the Eko Hotels & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, for the 16th edition of the National Women’s Conference, organised by the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO).
Wife of Lagos State governor, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, chaired the occasion with the theme “Strong Family, Strong Nation.” Many papers were delivered during seven plenary sessions.
COWLSO is the initiative of the wife of former military governor of Lagos State, the late Mrs. Obafunmilayo Johnson.
Wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, while opening the conference, said social vices would continue if families, which she described as the foundation of life, were not cohesive.
“Family values are important and should be cherished and nurtured. Love, support, friendship and guidance are key qualities necessary to form the family bond,” Mrs. Buhari said.
According to her, poverty, crime and declining school performance are some of the challenges a country could face when families were not cohesive.
Represented by the wife of the Imo State Governor, Mrs. Nneoma Nkechi Okorocha, the President’s wife urged families to unite and bond together in love and in nation’s interest.
Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, his counterparts from Oyo and Osun, Abiola Ajimobi and Rauf Aregbesola, respectively, also described women as an important unit of a family.
Ambode, Ajimobi and Aregbesola said a nation could not make meaningful progress if the family were not strengthened.
“As a result of this, government at all levels must give priority to issues as they affect women,” they said.
Ambode stated that the “importance of the family unit to the overall development of any nation is not in doubt. The family is the foundation and smallest unit of any nation. The heart and conscience of a nation is formed, to a large extent, in the family. However, the issue is the amount of commitment we, in our individual capacities and as a nation, have shown towards strengthening the family unit.
“Women are the glue that hold families together and we believe strongly that an empowered woman, with a sense of self-esteem, will be better positioned to make a success of her career and at the same time be a pillar of strength for the family.”
Chairman of COWLSO, Mrs. Ambode, in her welcome address, traced most of the social challenges currently confronting the nation to the breakdown of families.
Her words: “When family units are bound together in love and children are raised in the fear of God and high socio-moral values, it begets a good and peaceful society and country, where social vices are reduced to the barest minimum. To build a strong and virile country, therefore, we must go back and build strong family units.”
During the closing ceremony, Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, praised Ambode for his interventions in the last 18 months of his administration.
The governor said the Ambode administration had impacted greatly on the state, particularly in the area of traffic reduction. He also commended Mrs. Ambode for sustaining COWLSO.
Oshiomole said the intervention of Ambode was not only reducing traffic and fuel consumption, but was also bringing back the good times of family bonding as travel time has reduced.
The governor said, over the years, as Edo State governor, he had cause to learn and borrow from the template that Lagos was running.
In her closing remarks, Mrs. Ambode said the conference had opened the minds of participants to new ideas, information and statistics, saying that the women were better empowered to become change agents.
In the communiqué issued at the end of the conference, women were charged to bring back cultural and ethical values, which the committee said had been eroded by modernisation.
Highlights of the event included the presentation of the Inspirational Woman of the Year Award to Mrs. Tara Fela-Durotoye and the investiture of Senator Oluremi Tinubu as the Grand Matron of COWLSO.