From Badagry to Ambode (1)
THE general result of the 2015 elections as it affects Badagry Division is of the major concern here. Badagry Division, before the creation of local government areas in 1989 (where Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Ojo and Amuwo Odofin Local Government Areas were carved out) was made up of three District Councils – the Egun-Awori, Ajeromi-Ifelodun and Awori. These three District Councils were merged together by virtue of the Lagos State Local Government edict of 1976 under one umbrella to form Badagry Local Government in which area of jurisdiction extended Westward from Seme border and Eastward to part of Apapa in Lagos.
The Local Government area was then bounded in the North by Ado-Odo Ota Local Government in Ogun State and in the South by the Atlantic Ocean. Contemporaneously, the Local Government Areas that make up the Badagry Division, that is, those carved out of the old Badagry Local Government Area created by the Local Edict of 1976, apart from the newly created Local Council Development Areas in 2003 by the Lagos State Government are: Ojo, Amuwo Odofin, and Ajeromi Ifelodun. These four local government areas including Badagry constitute Badagry Division with its headquarters at Badagry Township.
The division, prior to the headcount of 2006, had the highest population in the State with Ajeromi-Ifelodun local government area being the most densely populated area in Nigeria. During the election preceding the 2006 Census in Lagos State, Badagry Division had always turned out the highest votes. But the Division was one of the most backward in terms of socio-infrastructural development and political power sharing compared to other divisions in the State. Over 80% of the division, to a very large extent, can be classified as rural or semi-rural, even the divisional headquarters Badagry is more or less an abandoned community in terms of social infrastructure. But a sweeping statement like this will lack merit if Fashola administration’s modest contribution towards building a modern Badagry is not acknowledged. Generally, however, the socio-economic importance of this community to Lagos State and the nation at large is not yet discerned.
The break-up of the Lagos State into five administrative divisions by the Mobolaji Johnson’s Administration with the Edict of 1968 with the choice of Badagry as the Administrative Headquarters was not accidental. It was certainly not unconnected with the political affluence and influence of Badagry during the defunct Western Region administration before the creation of Lagos State in 1967. The most influential political figure in the whole division then was Prince C. D. Akran (later the Oba of Badagry with prescribing authority). He was an elected member of the defunct Western Region House of Assembly in September, 1951 and became Minister of Local Development and Economic Planning the same year. He steadily rose to political stardom and became a prominent Cabinet member who, on August 8, 1957 was the Acting Premier that presided over the Executive Council meeting in the absence of the Premier, the late sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo who was then on leave in the United Kingdom. On August 8, 1960 he was re-elected to the Western House of Assembly and re-appointed Minister of Economic Planning on Monday August 15, 1960. After the national emergency period he was appointed Minister of Finance in 1962. He was like the colossus bestriding the political landscape of the entire Badagry division.
In spite of all these political exploration and adventure of Badagry spearheaded by the late C. D. Akran, the historical antecedence of Badagry as the watershed for the British political interest in what later became known as Nigeria in 1914 was also a significant factor. Badagry stands today in history as the first port of call where the Union Jack (the British Flag) was first hoisted in today’s Nigeria in 1842. That singular act marked the beginning of British interest and take-off of the process that later led to the birth of Nigeria and Badagry provided the launching pad. Therefore, making Badagry the Headquarters of the Division was not accidental. It was the only community then exhibiting evidential features of modernity, wielding very strong socio-political influence that transcended today’s Lagos State. Of equal consequential effects were the activities of the early British explorers as far back as 1825, the European slave dealers, ocean liners and more importantly the landmark activities of the early missionaries in Badagry between 1842 and 1850s which invariably made Badagry the cradle of Western Civilization in Nigeria and as well launched Badagry into global reckoning before their departure en-route to Abeokuta and later to Lagos.
But since the beginning of the Fourth Republic in 1999 till date, the political status of Badagry, unfortunately though, continues to witness progressive descent. The period between 2003 till date to many well-meaning Badagry people seems that Badagry was serving some sort of political punishment. It was a period of tacit political blacklisting of Badagry as it has continued to be denied every opportunity to grow out of its chequered history. And to advance reasons or justify its being taken to the political guillotine of Lagos State, the name BADAGRY, in the political parlance of the State was turned to BAD-AGREEMENT. Badagry, more poignantly, was regarded as a permanent catchment area for the opposition party. It must be emphasised that the political philosophy of the people derives from the dictum that politics is all about the people. At any election they vote for candidate and not party. They will always rise against wrong candidates who will not serve their best interest and vote for their choice of candidates, regardless of the party they belong.
Hence, since the election of 2003 that gave birth to the second tenure of the Governor Emeritus, our own national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Governor of Lagos State, the period when the entire Badagry Division, (that is, from Badagry to Ajeromi) voted en-mass for the opposition party, Badagry has been condemned to the backstage of political theatre of the state. The reason for the voting pattern then, apparently, was the opposition party zoning the position of the Deputy Governor to Badagry for the first time in the division’s age-long political history.
• To be continued.
• Olaide-Mesewaku contributed the piece from Badagry for Badagry Change Project Team.