In 24 years Imota grew bigger 15 times
Petty Jealousy, Rivalry Killing Our Core Values
By September 2017, Oba Mudashiru Ajibade Bakare-Agoro, the Ranodu of Imota in Ikorodu Division of Lagos State will be 67 years old. But before his birthday celebration, the oba will in June be marking his 24th anniversary on the throne of his ancestors. Even as arrangements are underway to mark these occasions, Oba Bakare-Agoro, a chartered accountant, had this interview with the Palace Watch in his Palace.
Imota, your domain, is the second largest town in Ikorodu Division of Lagos State. For some years now, there have been deliberate efforts by successive governments to develop Lagos into a Mega City. How will Imota benefit from this?
WHEN talking of a Mega City anywhere in the world, three things come to mind. These are: Business, pleasure and traffic. These three factors are viable in present day Lagos city, which is characterised by its vigour and an intensely motivating atmosphere. Every time of the day, everyone in Lagos seems to be going somewhere fast, Lagosians are always on the go. They are always itching to leave their footprints on the earth of this gorgeous city known as Lagos. On a typical Monday morning rush, if you listen closely enough, you could hear the pounding hearts of men and women, who somehow, have to get somewhere in time. The combination of all this is what makes Lagos “The Centre Of Excellence,” the blood supply of the nation called Nigeria. If Nigeria were a human being, Lagos would no doubt make up the entire circulatory system. If Nigeria were a cup of coffee, Lagos would be the cream that had risen to the top. Whatsoever happens in Lagos has a way of percolating down into the surrounding areas. So, while Lagos is developing such areas as Imota, Ikorodu, Badagry and Epe, just to mention a few, other places are definitely enjoying their own development. Moreover, we have been blessed since 1999 with focused governors right from the time of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu till date.
I must confess that I am very proud and happy with the present state of Imota. The Imota I met when ascended the throne almost 24 years ago, was a far cry from what it is now. It has become much more developed and better than it was. The present-day Imota is about 15 times bigger in size and more developed than the one I met. This is enough to give me joy and happiness anytime. Today, we boast of modern infrastructure that helps with our development. All of that was put in place during my reign.
So, how did you attract such development to Imota?
One very interesting thing about Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, which will not make most Lagosians to forget him in a hurry, is this. When he was voted into office as Governor, the first thing he did was to reach out to the grassroots. With this, he was able to identify the peculiar needs of each area in Lagos, after which he set to work. Before his tenure, Imota, though the second largest town in Ikorodu had no social amenities. Everything coming down to this corridor stopped at Ikorodu. Often times, we didn’t get to know of such amenities until they were constructed. This was the situation until Governor Tinubu decided to create more Local Government Development Areas.
Imota was one of the areas that benefitted from the new LGDA created in 2003 by Tinubu administration. And this was the magic we required to develop Imota. Since then, my domain began to harvest what is known today as the dividend of democracy. This was how we were liberated from people who felt that they were more powerful than the Imota people in terms of administration.
Before Tinubu’s government eventually gave us a local government council, we had been agitating for the creation of Local Government Areas during the Native Authority era, way back in the colonial days, as far back as 1936. From 1936 to 2017 is about 71 years. This is to tell you how much the creation of Local Government Council meant to the Imota people. It was like liberating us from slavery. So, the creation of Local Government Council is one of factors upon which development is predicated in Lagos State, as every LGC has to benefit from the programme of the state government. Unlike when we were still under Ikorodu Local Government, when everything went to Ikorodu, today, we have our own bowl with which we collect our food directly from the state government.
After the Local Government Development Areas were created in 2003, the Tinubu administration immediately made an attempt to establish a lirage and a modern abattoir in Imota, but this did not materialise before Tinubu left office, as it was turned to dairy farm, which again did not materialise. It was the Fashola administration that started opening up Imota for development, because by then, we had a direct link with the state government.
It was the Fashola administration that began construction of the rice processing meal, which is acclaimed to be the best in Southwest Nigeria, in conjunction with Kebbi State government in terms of technology. This is what is now known as the “Lake Rice.” Whosoever is eating Lake Rice cannot forget Imota, where it is produced. This has not only provided means of livelihood for my people, it has also resulted in more economic activities in Imota. Before Fashola left office, he also constructed the Imota Asphalt l yard. So today, we have the second largest Asphalt yard in Lagos State.
When Ambode came on board, he did not only decide to continue from where his predecessors stopped, but he went a step further to improve on their performance. It was Ambode administration that directed that the present Mile 12 Market be relocated to Imota. He named it: ‘The State Regional Market, Imota’ while I call it “Amu Aje,” meaning pot of prosperity.
Already, massive construction works have started at the site, where the market is to be located in an area of about 260 hectares of land. The state government has started work on 7.5 hectares of land since January this year. Imota is now wearing a new look. The day Governor Ambode came to visit the site, he made reference to the rice mill already in existence here. I was a witness, when Lagos State Government signed a Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with Kebbi State Government, whose farmers are good in rice farming.
From the statistics made available on that day, the total rice consumption in Nigeria, both locally produced and imported combined, Lagos State alone has a total consumption of about 83 per cent. And because of the huge market for rice in Lagos, it was again agreed that another rice processing mill, twice the size of the original one be constructed, and that construction is on going.
As a Chartered Accountant, has your training aided the development of Imota?
Like all professionals, my training as an accountant, has helped me in no small measure in looking at things from a professional point of view. In every situation I find myself or negotiation I have to do on behalf of the Imota people, being a professional has helped me in knowing what to expect, ask for and what to refuse, no matter how tempting.
In October 2016, Senator Oluremi Tinubu presented a bill for the Federal Government to accord Lagos State special status, as the commercial capital of Nigeria. Do you think this is at all necessary?
I must confess that I was not only sad, but also disappointed about the present crop of politicians in the country. They are not at all nationalistic, as they are petty, unreasonably jealous and envious. But this attitude is not good for our national growth. Majority of the people in the National Assembly, at one point or another have had cause to live or visit Lagos. They know the problem of managing the huge crowd and daily influx of people into Lagos.
They are also very familiar with the huge contribution Lagos State presently makes to the Federation account. All these are enough reasons to have granted Lagos the special status and grant, so that it can make more contribution to the economic growth of the nation. But rather than put all this into consideration, our politicians look at primordial sentiments and other funny consideration. I had expected our politicians to be more mature. This is the difference between them and the first generation politicians, who would have taken their time to look at the overall benefits this type of status. I am very sorry to say this, but we no longer have politicians in Nigeria. What we now have is unnecessary rivalry and jealousy, which is not good for our collective growth as a nation. I am honestly worried about the way and manner Nigeria is going.
Lagos was the capital of Nigeria for several years before Abuja was created. And because of this attitude, all Federal Government infrastructures in Lagos are wasting away. These are infrastructures running into trillions of naira. If this status were given to Lagos, the state government would have been in a position to take adequate care of them and ensure they are properly maintained.
It is unimaginable that such a huge investment as the former Federal Secretariat in Ikoyi is wasting away. This is not good for our country, and is also not good for our development as a country.
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