MIKE Egbayelo is is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Apapa Security Trust Fund. In this interview, he says that occupying political office should be an avenue to showcase one’s innate leadership quality rather than the flamboyancy that characterizes the lifestyles of many politicians. He also maintains that any national developmental agenda not anchored on grassroots development is doomed to fail.
As the CEO of Apapa Security Trust Fund, how will you assess the security situation in the country today based on your experience?
Security is the greatest challenge facing us today as a country especially with the menace of terrorism in some parts of the country. The security challenges we are facing today has greatly and negatively impacted on the development of the country. No country develops in the midst of the kind security challenges we have. Hopefully, our security agencies are trying their best and I hope by the grace of God, we will soon overcome it. Even in Apapa here, we have our own challenges security-wise but we confronted it head-on. When I was the General Manager of Apapa Government Reserved Area Residents’ Association (AGRA), because of the incessant security issues in Apapa, the local government in collaboration with AGRA and the business community set up the Apapa Community Security Trust Fund to address the shortage of security equipment for federal and state security agencies in Apapa.
The fund provided two patrol motorcycles to the police, donated communication equipment to the police and refurbished a police utility vehicle. It also organized emergency preparedness trainings for residents and a summit on the traffic situation in Apapa. And the local governments under the auspices of Conference 57 also donated two brand new patrol vehicles to the police in Apapa. The local government in 2009 also procured a patrol boat and engine for AGRA to assist in the effort to keep the Apapa GRA waterfront free from armed incursion from Ajegunle. We equally established a communication command centre in Area B police command in Apapa as well as emergency response centre. Before then, we were literarily sleeping with one eye closed. In fact the establishment of the trust fund was in response to the myriad of security problems facing the Apapa community. But there is still a lot to be done and we are ready to do them because without security there will be no development and investors will not come.
But do you think the present government is approaching the issue holistically?
Of course. You see, it is not as easy as people think. The government is doing its best and let me also say this; security is everybody’s affair so we should not leave it for our security agents alone. We need to give then maximum cooperation and support where necessary especially in the area of intelligence gathering.
What are the challenges being faced by the
Aside security Apapa is faced with many problems that need to be tackled because of its status as the commercial nerve centre of Lagos State and Nigeria. In 2015, I sponsored a study on Grassroots Governance Impact Assessment Study of Apapa and equally came up with a road map for the future. For instance, it was discovered through the study that there is weak waste management system in Apapa Local Government Area and there is the problem of pollution. Moreover, trucks and tankers discharge carbon emission into the atmosphere in an uncontrollable proportion that untimely affects public health and productivity. Also, there is an issue of street trading which contributes to a high level of environmentally unsustainable activities and violation of state environmental sanitation laws. Road setbacks are converted to shanties and roadside stalls by people mostly from the neighbouring communities. There is also serious sewage problem. The daily average sewage per person in Nigeria is 120 liters with an average of 27.6 person per dwelling unit multiplied by the average daily of 120 liters gives 3312 liters per dwelling unit. Also, Apapa is being tormented by flooding. The unpredictable and extreme weather events driven by climate change phenomenon caused frequent flooding in the previously safe flood plain and littoral settlement in Apapa. Apapa topography being below sea level did not help the situation at all while most streets are flooded during rainy season due to blocked drains. The study went further to reveal that we have poor state of trunk C roads in Apapa GRA. No street light in most parts of Apapa but the past administration did a lot yet there is still room for improvement.
In the area of health, Apapa GRA has only one primary healthcare centre located at Oluwole market. Ijora Oloye with a population of above 54,214 has only one primary health care centre and Apapa central residential area has a general hospital while the littoral community in Apapa-Nanti village has one Primary Health Care Centre. Besides the shortage the bed space is inadequate. In Apapa, the required bed space as at 2015 was 913 but we have far low beyond that and Ijora Oloye the required bed space as at 2015 was 712 but what is on ground is nothing to write home about.
In the area of social service, over 4000 people in Apapa are extremely poor, homeless and hungry. There is no sustainable social security programme for the elderly, widows and orphans in Apapa on a long term basis. Also, Apapa has no local fire service but only relies on NPA fire service and the Lagos state fire service at Sari-Iganmu for response to fire emergencies. The moribund fire service at Marine Beach also serves as back-up whenever any of their trucks is functional.
In terms of education, Apapa has a ratio of 6:7 of 13 percent of its schooling population dropping out of school annually while a ratio 11:12 of 25 percent of school age are not enrolled in school due to financial incapacitation. There is also the problem of unemployment. Apapa local government has 42.8 percent jobless youth percentage and 28.2 percent under-employed youths. Skilled youths in Apapa work as dock workers and engage in menial jobs at the ports. To me, this is unacceptable. Something has to be done to reverse the trend.
Apapa traffic congestion
Apapa is notorious for atrocious traffic gridlock and valuable economic time is spent in traffic by residents and workers thereby reducing the productivity of the workers and quality of life in Apapa. Businesses are relocating out of Apapa, while residents can no longer have good value for their property as the rents on property nosedive on daily basis. Residents are always attacked by armed robbers on Apapa-Ijora bridge on daily basis during traffic gridlock loosing valuables in the process while some and sustain serious injuries.
What I have always advocated is consistent enforcement of traffic rules as the long term solution to the problems. I think the Governor has got the right attitude and approach by setting up the Mobile traffic Court with that now it is relatively better but there are still rooms for improvement. The Federal Government must tackle Apapa’s problems holistically. If you look at the huge loss of revenue that the government suffers from the traffic gridlock on a daily basis owing to inability to access the ports you will understand what I am talking about