BY OTUNBA T.J ABASS
This is the 2nd part of a three part serial on the recent political development in Lagos, drawing attention to its overall implication on Epe Division:
The Agenda Going Forward.
It bears repetition that what happened to Epe is a call to action, a strident summon on sons and daughters of Epe irrespective of the political affiliation and personal prejudice to rise to the challenge.
Rather than be a cause for mourning alone, it should also be for the region, a defining moment in history, especially as 2019 general election beckons.
Epe community has always had its share of dichotomy which had always been exploited for selfish reasons .The politicians have always succeeded in defining who we are, leveraging on our real and imagined diversities to their political advantages but the emergence of Akinwunmi Ambode as the Governor of the State was a moment we have always anticipated in 2015 considering the missed opportunity during the eras of Late Dr. Femi Agbalajobi and Chief Dapo Sarumi.
It was an opportunity to dream again and aspire for prosperous community peppered with unlimited opportunities; a pathway to economic Eldorado: an opportunity to open up the division for investment opportunities: a division that have not witnessed any meaningful development since the 1967 when Epe became part of the State.Indeed, it was a dream reminiscent of the booming era of Plywood and Boatyard factories.
Ambode was our messiah, our pride, the answers to the prayers of our progenitors, a symbol of unity and peace and it wasn’t long before we started seeing signs of transformation across the division and the entire State, and our dream of becoming the economic hub of the state was revived. We concluded, and justifiably too, that the journey to the economic Eldorado has begun.
Then, suddenly, the unthinkable happened. What started as a rumor became a reality; Akinwunmi Ambode will not return for a second term. We were all deflated; bruised and wounded .The entire community was left gasping for air wondering what the future holds.
It wasn’t quite long after this debacle when we realized that ongoing constructions works in Epe division had been stopped, throwing thousands of our youth into the unemployment market. This underscored the fact that our collective dreams and aspirations for a prosperous Epe division are just as botched as AkinwunmiAmbodes 2nd term.
With the tempo and developmental strides already initiated by the administration, another of our conclusion was that the time to really industrialiseEpe, utilizing its strategic location, natural resources and a ready work force, was here.
For now, the only employer of labour in the entire division, less the artisan trades, is the local government, underscoring the utmost need for industries to be sited in Epe. But lo, this also became a pipe dream for the singular reason that the very anchor for the realisation of such lofty ideas had been disarmed.
LEKKI- EPE ROAD
Our hope for a dualizedLekkiEpe Road/ Eleko beach/Okun and Ise axis has been crushed.
The dream of a dualizedEpe/Ejinrin/Itokin/Agbowa /OdoAyandelu to Ikorodu that should serve as a major outlet for commercial activities and link with other parts of the country has now become a pipe dream.Ketu to Itokin road has now become a death trap. Sometimes, commuters are now routed through IjebuOmu because of the deplorable state of the road.
EPE IJEBU ODE ROAD
The dream of dualizedEpe/Ijebu Ode road has been shattered!. Has anyone been to Mojoda recently? It has become impassable with vehicles somersaulting and falling in to big ditches.
The dream for the restoration of Ejinrin Market to its old glory as the vital commercial market is now an illusion. I had a discussion with our elected representatives both in the House and National assembly on this issue about six months ago and I was reliably informed that Governor AkinwunmAmbode had visited the place and he actually had a plan for the iconic market.
A dream of making LASU a true citadel of learning and a world-class institution rather than an institution overgrown with bushes and overrun by dangerous snake has equally been endangered. And this needs not be with the leadership role of Lagos in the nation’s scheme of things.
EPE AS A FINAL TOURIST DESTINATION.
Also shattered is a dream of making Epe the final tourist destination in the state which was the reason for our elation when the dredging and sand-filling of arguably one of the most beautiful coastline in the country commenced in 2017.
By the master plan, after completion, it would have been comparable to the last Vegas strip and the Lake shore of the Chicago. Uncertain is the fate of the two- kilometer Marina Road with plans to extend it to Ere Ise, embellished with businesses, banks, commercial centers and high rise buildings overlooking the beautiful lagoon. The original plan is to make that axis one of the largest commercial hubs in the state with the potentials of creating thousands of jobs for our idle youths. With the halt of all construction activities in the division including the sand filling, that prospects are now bleak.
The dream of transforming Oluwo market (a commercial hub) to one of the largest fish markets comparable to Seoul fish Market has been shattered, and with its the prospects of increasing the income potentials of our peasant class.
With the stoppage of all construction activities at the demolished Aiyetoro market site, the entire community is kept wondering the future fate of a once thriving hub, an institution that has served as an economic mainstay of the community.
With the disappearance of the contractors working on Marina OkeOyinbo road has gone our dream for the high rise 5 star hotels around the High court overlooking the beautiful Marina Lagoon. The Oke Oyinbo Marina road has now become a death trap not to even mention the likely effect of erosion.
EPE WALL OF FAME
I once had a dream of an Epe Wall of Fame –in which the newly constructed walls at Epe Plywood on Lagos Road and the one at Paramount would be adorned, in artistic decorations, names of accomplished sons and daughters of Epe Division, in different chosen careers.
This was a dream to compliment the efforts of the State Govt to urbanize the community through Infrastructural regeneration; a dream that almost became a reality when the contract of N40 million was awarded and the payment paid to the contractor.
Sadly though, the contractor was however halted due to shoddy performance, principally, a sharp deviation from the original terms of the contract.
To date, the contract sum is yet to be refunded and the dream of recognizing the contribution of the sons and daughters of the division to the socio-economic and political development of the of the division will probably never realised.
UNIFIED OJUDE OBA
We were already looking forward to a unified Ojude Oba in 2019 as promised by Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration, but the concern now is that that dream will probably never be realised.
Our collective dreams, aspirations for a prosperous community have been shattered, the prospect of any meaningful developments in Epe Division is in limbo.
The community is at a standstill with the entire community wondering: why depriving our children opportunities for a better future? Why depriving our youths thelitany of job opportunities that will take them out of the world of cultism but launch them into the competitive global labour market?
Why depriving our market women and artisan population to a better living?
How indeed did we lose out on opportunities that would have redressed the educational imbalance that had long existed in that community?
The parlous state of education has not changed from what it used to be years ago and when compared with the situation elsewhere. In other words, still in place in the division, is an educational system that has always put our children at a disadvantage position.
EPE, WE HAVE A PROBLEM
The crew of Apollo 13 was credited to have made a historic statement when they were reporting to their Houston base of a technical problem: “Houston, we’ve had a problem “ The same situation can be said of our community.
The harsh reality of Ambode not coming back for a 2nd term has taken away our ability to have lofty dreams. But I dare say that our destiny is still in our hands.
This can be secured by our making quick and sound decisions, our collective grief notwithstanding. With almost 1 million potential voters in the division, I know we have the potentials to make a difference, kudos to the legion of newly registered voters who identify with the development aspirations in the division as a result of Ambode’s administration’s ingenuity.
There are now new classes of voters whose conscience and votes cannot be bought. The voting pattern has now changed .
We have also had quite a number of unbroken chains of quality representation from our Representatives from both the lower and upper chambers which is one of the reasons for the surge in newly registered voters (at almost 1000 percent increase.)
Where do we go from here as a community?
To be continued