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The Mega City / Life

A community in need of survival

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Popularly known as ‘AJ City’, a commercial city, sitting right in the south of the Lagos metropolis, Ajegunle, famously known for the slogan, ‘a place where riches dwell’, is arguably Nigeria’s most notorious slum and one of the most popular ghettos in Africa.
Situated in the Ajeromi/Ifelodun Local Government Area of the state, the uniqueness of this infamous riverine community lies in the fact that it is a concentration of all the many ethnic groups in Nigeria.
It has over the years produced popular football and entertainment superstars such as Samson Siasia, Watford striker, Odion Ighalo; former Super Eagles defender, Taribo West; Emmanuel Amunike, Tarila Okorowanta, Daddy Showkey, Oritse Femi, Daddy Fresh, Baba Fryo, among others.
However, despite the potentials inherent in this community, residents have found themselves, over time, always on the run for survival and pitting their wits against nature.
This community of people, who have been left to fend for themselves, emits crude poverty, utter infrastructural neglect and foul atmospheric stench, begging the question: has any sitting Lagos State government ever visited this decaying community, which has birthed talents and is pregnant with myriads of potentials?
Conversely, in AJ City, it is the same all-inclusive waters that serve as means of transportation and food that also serve as the open-defecation latrine and the source of drinking and washing.
In Ajegunle, even kids are not exempted from fishing in canoes in the dangerous wild animal-infested Ogun River.
Their houses and shops are frail, decrepit, wooden shanties rooted deep in the swamps.
According to some of the elders, who spoke to New Telegraph, crime and unemployment are prevalent in this community of about 650,000 people in 335 streets.
“Our common enemy in this area is flood during the peak of the rainy season. And despite the rotten and neglected condition of Ajegunle, the state government has only learnt how to effectively tax us in such squalid conditions,” Pa James Orube, one of the landlords of a plank made house, said.
For Samuel Chinedu, a furniture maker, who set his business on the swampy side in the slum environment of AJ City, flood was his greatest combatant.
The flood doesn’t only disrupt his business activities but also brings out water reptiles. According to him, when it rains, the rising water threatens his business, making him to resort to constructing an 8ft-high wooden bridge so he could get to his shop, also on which he could display his furniture items.
Chinedu said: “The flood comes out once in a year around the period of August or September. Whenever the flood comes, we don’t work outside. We rather go on top of the bridge we constructed, so as to avoid the animals the flood brings out like snakes and alligators.
He, however, told New Telegraph that there has been no fatal incident recorded from the displaced wild animals.
Another furniture maker, who identified himself simply as Mr. Owolabi, lamented to New Telegraph about the greatest challenges of shop owners in this riverine community.
He said: “We can cope with the wild animals, the flood and other problems but the major challenge we face is the tax of N5,100 imposed by the government from each shops even when we have to use our money to build the wooden bridges.”
Owolabi also explained that apart from the tax, the state government collects, shop owners also pay rents to land grabbers, locally known as omo-oniles, despite their activities getting proscribed in 2016.
According to him, killing the displaced animals was to some extent forbidden for non-indigenes.
He said: “During the rainy season, the wild animals come out from the bushes and the water but we don’t kill them. Only the hunters who know much about the animals kill them.
“We can’t just carry cutlass and say we want to kill them because we are visitors in this area and the animals are likely to harm us if we kill them.”
New Telegraph found out that the community members living on and around the water love their environment as it is more like a blessing to them because of the free gift of nature such as the fishes, meat, fire woods, vegetables and the water they get.
A fisherman, Mr Ismaila Jimoh, who claimed to have lived in this area for more than eight years, explained that the community has its good and bad sides.
“The area is not safe for us, which is why we have security dogs. The good side is, we usually come across different kinds of animals such as alligators, fishes, snakes, scorpions, small cobra and wild birds. They are useful for us in the aspect of food and commercial purpose.
“In this community, we get almost all the things we need for free, except for the houses we live in and shops we work in, due to the activities of the omo-oniles. The lands aren’t really affordable despite the fact that it is a swampy area. A plot of land sells for between N200,000 to N500,000, depending on how close the land is to water.”
A housewife, Mrs. Foluke Ayinde, said that she is always afraid whenever it is rainy season. She said her house, built beside the river, usually becomes flooded to the window level, damaging some of her properties, while other members in the vicinity battle alligators and other wild animals which the flood bring to their houses.
“We pay for electricity, but the supply is erratic. Our husbands pay taxes in their shops, yet, they fight animals every day,” she added.

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The Mega City / Life

Collaborating for cleaner Lagos

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As part of measures towards ensuring safety of the citizens in a mega city, the Lagos State government has left no stone unturned in providing for a healthy environment by adopting appropriate waste management techniques with the recent one being Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI) managed by Visionscape resources.

 

 

However, there seems to be a recent upsurge of filthiness in the state as Lagos streets and medians have become mini depot of dirt.

 

 

The streets of Lagos seem to be in aggressive competition for highest prize of the dirtiest street. Dirt litters everywhere with wraps and leftover bursting out of bins and sacks accommodating such. Day after day, the filth goes beyond the streets to road medians, bus stops and market areas.

 

 

Concerned Lagosians spoke with New Telegraph on this new development. Mr. Stanley Okoro, a resident of Arobaba in Idimu said that the manner in which people dispose of their wastes after several attempts by the government to keep Lagos clean was not encouraging.

 

 

He believed that the mentality of most Nigerians, which is that of individualism, was responsible for the activities of some, who drop their waste by the roadside.

 

 

All they do is just to get rid of the wastes from their houses. “This is not fair at all. It is good to want to keep our houses clean but doing that at the expense of others’ health is not fair. How can a human being in his right senses drop dirt at the bus stop and still live with a clean conscience. That is a strategic place to spread diseases because a lot of people alight from buses at that same spot.”

 

 

He stated that when people start thinking beyond themselves to include other people’s feelings, such things would be reduced. He also called on the government and the managers of CLI to ensure the efficiency of the CLI in Lagos State. Mr. Ayobami Franklin, a barber, confirms that Lagos is truly dirty. “It is only the blind that would say that they don’t know that Lagos is dirty. It is obvious; it is there for all to see.

 

The streets are dirty but the markets are worse and now, waiting at the bus stops has become a problem, flies would just be perching on someone anyhow because of the refuse dumped there,” he said.

 

 

He asserted that Lagos residents are not to be blamed but government who is not stable in waste management policies. He noted that the government does not know the policy to adopt to make Lagos a cleaner place. “Even the new policy, CLI, has already started failing”.

 

 

He, however, believed that the people needed re-orientation first before anything because every policy would fail without people’s cooperation.

 

 

In a similar vein, Mrs Olabimpe Tijani believes that the people’s cooperation is key because “the waste we are talking about here is not coming from Ambode’s office, neither is it coming from the house of whoever is in charge of the CLI and this is not affecting them.

 

 

We are the ones that should be responsible for our actions. Government cannot do everything for us. After all, there was a primitive way of dealing with dirt which was burning.

 

 

Now, they told us not to burn again because there is something called Global Warming and decided to give us bin bags.

 

 

How many people would say they use the bin bags? Rather, people prefer to turn their wastes into the drainage when it starts raining, which is not proper. Let’s all support the government and everyone would be in a better position.” Mr. Rasheed Olowolayemo noted that the CLI is already toeing the path of the PSP and this, he believes, is a cause for alarm.

 

According to him, the PSP’s visitation interval to streets takes too much for the wastes produced on streets of a mega city like Lagos. The Visionscape’s waste trucks are also taking too long before picking waste from each bus stops “and what I have noticed is that the Visionscape trucks do not go into the streets. They pick refuse by the roadside and just move on.

 

 

Are they not communicating something to the people?” he quipped. In a reaction to the presumed inefficiencies of the CLI, the operations manager of the CLI, Mr. Aravind.V, spoke at great length in an interview with New Telegraph.

 

He said:”The government is focusing on waste management because the scheme has so many facets: health related issues, hazards and hygiene conditions. Moreover, cleanliness is godliness. Whatever waste generated has to be handled scientifically. So, we have been given the opportunity to bring better waste management system to Lagos.

 

The waste management companies of the past was working but the collection mechanism was a little bit poor. According to the information we gathered, in some areas, they were not constant in their visits to those areas and the truth is that once trash is generated, it should not be kept for a longer time.

 

 

It should be taken to the appropriate place. I am from India and I have been to some places in Lagos. I have not seen much difference between the Indian metropolis and Lagos city.

 

 

The people’s habits are almost the same. The government has been focusing on cleaner environment and all the officials over there are working hard to bring better waste management practices. So, for the last 20 years I have been working in this field”.

 

 

He maintained that the goal of a cleaner Lagos could only be achieved through a continuous and collaborative effort that needs some dedication, honesty and sincerity.

 

 

Citing Singapore as an example, he averred that 30 years ago, Singapore was very dirty but had the goal of making their city a better place and this involved a lot of sacrifices on the part of the government and the governed. He believes that if Lagos residents see this as a collective responsibility, the goal of a cleaner Lagos would be achieved in no time at all.

 

Aravind said that the state is in a transformation stage and that the CLI would take some time before its impact would be felt in the state but solicited for people’s cooperation and optimum support.

 

Also, he revealed that the company has plans of bringing in compactors and various equipment with which the waste can be managed properly, stating that the people need to be patient with the company.

 

He further stated: “We cannot expect 100 per cent perfection in the first place. So, basically, what we are doing now is to sensitize the people.

 

 

The people’s mindset has to change. They have to see it as their own house, their streets, their wastes. They have to take care of their trash. People should be responsible and not wait to be held accountable to how they dispose their trash before they get it right. Everybody really and strongly desires for a change but change does not happen in a day. So, it takes time.

 

This is a large project and you would see the results. It may take one year and a half but the result would be visible, so that ultimately, a day would come that there would be no waste on Lagos roads and we can say that Lagos is clean,” he said.

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The Mega City / Life

A different way of budgeting at Alimosho

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The current administration of the Alimosho Local Government under the leadership of Hon. Jelili Sulaimon, has really proven its worth. Barely three months in office, the administration has organised a stakeholders meeting where the people’s representatives from each ward and district were given the opportunity to present the needs of their people to the government.

 

 

 

This was done with a view to incorporating the requests into the 2018 budget. Some days ago, the administration organized another stakeholders meeting which involved the presentation of the 2018 budget to the stakeholders for executive endorsement.

 

The budget christened, “Budget of Human and Infrastructural Development” focused essentially on construction, education, health, capacity building, social engineering and poverty alleviation. Chairman of the occasion during his speech had claimed that the budget was not yet approved because of the acknowledgement of the fact that people are the ones to award the budget executive endorsement.

 

 

The 2018 budget for the local government which stands at the sum of N1, 445,257,332.74 (One billion, four hundred and forty five million, two hundred and fifty seven thousand, three hundred and thirty two naira, seventy four kobo is 24.9 per cent higher than the LG’s budget for the year 2017. It is made up of N370,930,443.83 (25.66%) capital expenditure and N1,074,326,888.91 (74.34%) recurrent expenditure.

 

 

Based on the breakdown, the recurrent expenditure includes human development and overhead while the capital expenditure includes the construction of a good number of roads as presented during the November meeting, construction of the Akowonjo Primary healthcare centre, provision of streetlights, and rehabilitation of markets, among others.

 

Hon. Jelili specifically stated that the budget also included the procurement of skill acquisition machines for all the governmentowned primary schools in the area. He stated that the machines would be used to train children in the senior classes in any trade of choice.

 

This, he believed, would not only be to equip the children for the future but also to provide them complete education.

 

Speaking on processes of arriving at the budget, Superintendent Councillor for Budget, Hon Yakub Raji, said that the 2018 Budget is a unique one as the legislators had to pass through rigorous processes in arriving at the total estimate.

 

According to him: “The chairman did not allow us to rest. We worked tirelessly on arriving at the final budget of the LG. He ensured that we covered the whole departments in the budget.” Speaking on what made the budget a unique one, the Chairman, Hon. Jelili said that the budget is the first of its kind in the whole of Lagos State.

 

 

“In 2017, we called for stakeholders meeting to hear from you. We gathered all the information given. We went for budget retreat and used the accumulated information to plan this budget. Normally, what happens is that when the legislators approve a budget, the executive continues to work with it but we decided to call you and present this to you.

 

 

We want you to give the budget executive endorsement because we believe that the people we are serving are the government. We are only representatives”. Stakeholders present at the occasion, spoke with New Telegraph on essence of the gathering.

 

The Oba of Shasha Kingdom, Oba Nasiru Lawal Ogunronbi, believed that the Chairman should be commended for the contents of the budget and the stakeholders meeting he organizes at intervals. He said: “The chairman has really done well.

 

If you go through the budget, you will see that the contents of the budget is different from what his predecessors include in their budget especially the idea of empowering primary school pupils. If that idea is executed successfully, it is going to go a long way in empowering the children”.

 

 

The Oba therefore called on the people of Alimosho Local Government to grant their full support to the LG chairman by paying their taxes because without revenue, there would be a limit to the execution of the plans included in the budget. Chief Edward Aderemi Obisesan, Alimosho LG APC chairman, stated that the Local Government chairman has done well and that he has been doing well since the beginning of his administration.

 

“All that he has been doing are things to improve the image of the local government. This year’s budget approval is the first of its kind in the whole of Lagos State. Never has this happened anywhere in this state.”

 

The chief thereafter urged the people to be patient with the chairman as a way of supporting him while bearing in mind that the programmes and policies of the Local Government means well for all the communities in the local government.

 

 

Also speaking, Chief Sola Ogunyombo, the CDC chairman of Alimosho LG said that the budget is a laudable budget because it focuses on infrastructure and human development. He averred that before the appraisal of the budget, the local government leaders called the CDA, CDC, artisans and all concerned to make their contributions which was incorporated into the budget.

 

 

 

Yet, the LG still called stakeholders together to assent the budget, which has never been done before. He maintained that it is a very commendable move which they all appreciate. He added that the next move by community leaders is to tell their people to contribute meaningfully towards the successful execution of the plans in the budget by encouraging the people to pay their taxes and all necessary levies, “Because if there is no income, it would be difficult to execute the budget”, he said.

 

 

“When they brought the budget to the house and we went through it, we discovered that it focuses on key areas, which is human and infrastructural development and since that is what we also wanted, we had to approve it but we want to beg the people to believe in our chairman and be patient.

 

 

He is a man that promises and fulfils”, the leader of the house, Hon. Ahmed Obadina said. Speaking on behalf of the entire youths of Alimosho Local Government on the level of their optimism concerning the budget, the President of the Youth council, Mr. Kolade Abdulrasheed, said: “Without any sentiments, the budget is indeed a unique one. It is the first of its kind.

 

This is the first time I would be seeing a program like this-the budget innovation, the budget process; it passed through the legislators, to the executive and now it is going to the populace before the final approval.

 

The normal thing that is usually done is for the budget to go to the legislature, it comes back to the executive for the final assent and implementation starts immediately, but this is a different thing and for me, it is the best”. He stated that the youths of Alimosho LG were highly optimistic of the success of the budget, considering the political will of the chairman.

 

 

“The chairman has the strength and the zeal to do it. Looking at the past budget, even though they started very late, they were able to achieve some things that we can see to show that this year’s budget would be a huge success”.

 

 

He said. Thereafter the group proceeded to the Akowonjo primary health centre already under construction and the Rauf Aregbesola Primary School, where the construction of a modern building is ongoing. Both are to be completed within six months.

 

 

 

Speaking on the new projects, Mrs. Lateefat Adebimpe, the head teacher of Rauf Aregbesola school expressed her gratitude to the chairman and strongly believed that the pupils would benefit a lot from the modern building the chairman has decided to construct for the school. Hon. Jelili emphasized the uniqueness of the budget, stating that as the name implies, the budget is direct and specific and that the budget answers both human and infrastructural challenges.

 

He however implored the people to pay their levies to the appropriate channels and ensure that they remain law abiding citizens.

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The Mega City / Life

Lagos reads riot act to butchers

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As part of measures towards the actualization of the mega city status of Lagos state, the state government, its various agencies and parastatals have adopted the people oriented governance as priority thus endless stakeholders meetings and workshops are held at regular intervals.

 

This is done to sensitize the people on how collaborative efforts help to move the state forward. Few days ago, the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture organized a one-day workshop for Oko-Oba Agege butchers stakeholders on the theme, ‘Lagos state abattoir and lirage complex, Oko Oba: Current status and way forward’.

 

Speaking on the essence of the workshop, the Honourable Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon. Oluwatoyin Suarau stated that it became necessary to call all the stakeholders together following a report released in a national daily which revealed the filthiness and other unaccepted practices of the abattoir. He averred that the management of the abattoir is not encouraging and that a stop must come to it.

 

“We are here to brainstorm not witch hunt; to point out things we ought to do that we have not done and to imbibe what is right. In other countries, they bathe their animals before slaughtering but we do not do that here. We are ready to hear from everyone here.”

 

Highlighting the objectives of the gathering, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr. Olayiwole Onasanya asserted that the workshop is aimed at ensuring that the Oko Oba Abattoir as the biggest abattoir in Nigeria is upgraded to a level that is of International Standards; to professionalize the abattoir by making sure that the professionals and the concessionaires that are supposed to be in the abattoir are the ones there and to ensure that the standard operative procedures for an abattoir is followed.

 

 

The stakeholders present spoke with New Telegraph on their cooperation with the government concerning the ongoing unacceptable practices in the abattoir.

 

 

Mr. Abdulganiyu Abdulmojeed, financial secretary of Eko refrigerated meat van said that the association is ready to cooperate with the government on the cleanup of the abattoir.

 

 

He said that the government has been assisting the union in ensuring that people make use of the refrigerated meat van but urged the government to do more by reading the riot acts to the people.

 

 

This, he believes would ensure the cooperation of the people with the Eko meat van association.

 

 

He said, “The essence of our own operation is that when they slaughter, we would take them to the market, but there are some hiccups here.

 

They’ve read the riot acts in the past and I know that’s what they’ll do today again and we are cooperating with the government on this one”. The chairman of Lagos state Butchers association, Alhaji Malomo Bakisu, stated that in the past, the state government had done a lot already.

 

According to him, the government set up a committee, the butchers travelled to Botswana and other countries to observe how meat processing was done there and that the stakeholders’ workshop is just a plus. He added that the union would agree with the government on this one.

 

He said, “What we would do now is to call all the butchers and let them know that what the government is doing is to add value to their business and ensure that meat processing is done in a hygienic way.” Alhaji Malomo stated that the association would discipline that any of the butchers who refuse to obey directives of the government.

 

He revealed that prior to this time, meat transportation was done with rickety vehicles and motorcycles but with the help of the Lagos state government, it was stopped “whatever policy government brings must be obeyed.

 

 

Now we are benefitting from our exports to Turkey, before now, they do not come to Nigeria for exportation because they say the way we process our meat is not hygienic but today it is. It is not government that is benefitting; it is we butchers that are benefitting”. Dr. Igbokwe, the Secretary General of the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association, Lagos chapter believes that the work- shop is quintessential considering the ties of Animal health and human health.

 

 

He said, “there is so much connection between animal health and human health. Over 60 per cent of the diseases that affect human beings actually come from animals. We are insisting that the way our meat is being handled is not up to the standard of a mega city status that Lagos is pursuing and the little that needs to be done must be done now.”

 

 

On the part of veterinarians, he added that the butchers are being monitored but that, that is not enough because there are issues of human resources, budgetary limitations on the part of government but he believes that such issues are not to be treated as secondary or even tertiary.

 

“There is an issue of compensation where the butchers shy away from condemning animals that have tuberculosis. Nigeria today has the highest number of tuberculosis cases in the world. So, if you tell them to condemn such animals, you have to compensate them by law.

 

 

In some cases, the butchers become violet and butcher the veterinarian.” He appealed to media practitioners to help shine more light on medical issues because there are lots to be done In an interview with journalists, the Commissioner for Agriculture said that the ministry has been on the issue of the abattoir for a while.

 

He revealed that before he became the commissioner for the ministry the abattoir was not fenced and the governor who found it difficult to operate in such manner approved the fencing of abattoir and the cleanup of the refuse that was there.

 

“After that, we had a lot of meetings with them that if they want the abattoir to be upgraded to the standard of Botswana and Namibia, that people would come and patronize them and this would add value to the business they are doing and they all agreed.” He added that, all of a sudden, the people started reneging on the agreement and people outside started complaining about the activities going on in the abattoir.

 

 

“People even live in the Lirage and that place is meant for Animals not human beings but when we tell them, our people would not heed. We want abattoir to be upgraded to the standard of having the meat exported. In Africa today, Nigeria has animals more than any other African country. So we need to upgrade to a level that will require patronage.”

 

 

The commissioner revealed that the butchers would be given the ultimatum of three to four months to transform the abattoir into the acceptable standard and anyone who refuses to agree with government would have to leave or the abattoir would be shutdown.

 

 

“We have management in the abattoir, they are private companies. We would sign a contract with them today, in the next six months, they should have completed that” The permanent secretary said, “What I expect from the stakeholders is to adhere to what the government wants them to do.

 

 

We need to improve the slaughtering process, ensure that the abattoir is cleaner than before and devoid of miscreants and be of international standards.”

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