I Million-Man March to Epe’s Economic Eldorado

.Otunba Gbenga  Teejay  Abass

Anyone familiar with the evolutionary antecedents of the Epée division, one of Lagos’s leading geopolitical zones, would obviously be elated with current socio-political developments taking place in the town.

The simple way to say it is that things are beginning to look up again, as the region has begun to gradually regain its receded glory.

This reality is a tonic of hope to both sons and daughters of Epe, and an inspiration to better deeds for the future.

Before the socio-economic and political slide, Epe had many things going for it, things that kept it in top reckoning in the state and even beyond.

Epe used to have a thriving plywood industry, which fed not only the region, but surrounding neighbours and towns. There was also a boat yard factory and boisterous fishing business, meaning regular sources of income for the Epée people.

To say, that it was a town of important socio-political significance in the south-west of the region therefore, is to merely state the obvious.

But then, the tide changed; with the coming of the military in the Nigerian political landscape, Epe, just like other dominions began to lose its relevance. A bitter aftermath of the military antecedents was the killing of industries through a range of policies.

Succeeding dispensations, seeking to sustain political relevance, resorted to using dichotomy to keep Epée divided and by implication, in subjugation.

Thanks to sons and daughters of the kingdom, who in spite of odds have remained resolute, and dogged in the different fields of endeavour. Part proof and reward for that resoluteness is the emergence of the current governor of Lagos, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode.

Let us mobilise our resources,

human and material, towards

helping Epe to retain its place

With Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as inspiration, and with positive precedents set state-wide by his immediate predecessor in the person of Mr Babatunde  Fashola, Akinwunmi Ambode has since picked up the gauntlet, consolidating won grounds and exploring new and virgin frontiers.

His developmental strides in this first stanza of his administration have touched the different flanks of the state, and left many people applauding. In him has the Epe region found a worthy son.

Here, two illustrations would suffice: first, being the shower of encomiums on Governor Ambode, by someone who should know – no other than former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

Occasion was last year’s Annual Dinner and Awards of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) in Lagos. There, Baba said he had taken notice of Ambode’s administration’s programmes and policies, and that they were truly helping to improve the lives of the people of the state.

“I can see the little things you are doing here and there to make life worth living for the people of Lagos. Keep it up”, Obasanjo told the governor, adding: “There are great opportunities out there, as government we need to create ways for investments and conducive conditions for investments to thrive”.

In another instance last April, members of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) led by Dr Felix Omobude had come visiting the governor, with Dr Omobude, saying the fellowship was thrilled by what God had been using Governor Ambode to do in the State.

He cited what he called massive infrastructural renewal and various policies of the government, saying that they were impacting positively on the people.

He said the church must not only criticize government officials when they do wrong, but also commend them when they are working in the interest of the people, adding that of a truth, the giant strides of the State Government deserved to be commended.

It must be stated that, early enough, the governor himself has given indication of what was to come – pleasant surprises. Now, it is no longer a promise, but a delivery.

Not only is he changing landscapes and topographies, but also impacting directly on lives. He has demonstrated commitment to helping people navigate their lives from poverty to economic sustainability through some of the programmes he has initiated.

At this point, my mind easily goes to infrastructure renewal mission of the government, which has seen to the rehabilitation and  reconstruction of the Ajah and Abule Egba Flyovers, the redeveloped Berger axis along the Lagos- Ibadan Expressway and the completed Aboru link Bridge.

The recent approval for the construction of 285 new roads and the rehabilitation of several others typify the commitment of Ambode’s administration to infrastructural regeneration

In recognition of its metro nature, Lagos is investing massively in public security, re-branded Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps and with those employment opportunities for over 7000 Lagos residents.

The State Government made available a total of 177 salon cars and vehicles equipped with necessary communication gadgets, 377 motorcycles, 377 helmets, 4,000 bicycles, and metal detectors to the new improved Neighbourhood Safety Corps. The intent is to reinforce security at the grassroots.

It is difficult not to mention the hosting of international and continental entertainment events, for, through these, skill development is encouraged and youths kept off harm’s way.

The Epe people and of course, the Lagosisans are indeed happy with the governor. It has taken his dispensation to bring about a paradigm shift in the state of affairs in this politically and economically strategic region.

Epe; a once blighted neighbourhood is now a prime attraction, for investment and relaxation, because an industrious governor has, by virtue of the right policies, redeemed its lost glory.

You may not be able to appreciate this writer’s point of view, until you undertake your own independent investigation. For a start, a lot of Epée indigenes, long discouraged by its blighted status, have seen reason to identify with their home-town – they are coming home in droves, or showing earnest eagerness to do so.

They readily identify themselves as sons and daughters of the town, willing to take up a role in the sustenance of its regained status.

NOW MY CHARGE

Permit me therefore to say, that His Excellency, has provided us a good platform to make a clarion call on all sons and daughters of Epe to stand up for the full political redemption of their home-place.

This they will do by refusing to be politically indifferent, but play their active part in political decision-makings in our town, and in our state.

It must be stated that the numbers turned out in the last election by Epée is rather unimpressive. What is 32, 000 vote count in a situation where about 129, 000 registered as eligible voters! Absolutely nothing.

Yet, that was the turn out in the last local government polls! Politics is about number and any region cognisant of this would reap the benefits the reform.

And for this reason, we applaud the initiative of a 1million march, called Omo Epée Duro Fun Ambode (Epe sons and daughters back the second term bid of Governor Ambode), being organised by sons and daughters of Epe.

This march is to bolster support and mobilise widely so that Epe Division could maximise the potential offered by this initiative.

Incidentally, this is coinciding with the Governor’s birthday, and you will agree with me that there couldn’t be any better birthday gift!

There is a grand opportunity, and this is June 14, the grand day of the Governor’s Birthday. I am happy that there is already a plan in place towards mobilising the Epée people for the occasion, and I warmly congratulate the organisers – the Omo Epe Duro Fun Ambode – for the foresight, for the commitment.

I also call on royal fathers, political leaders , fathers, mothers, sons and daughters; let us all give our backing and make the day grand. Let us mobilise our resources, human and material, towards helping Epe to retain its place. Once the resolve is there, we will achieve whatever it is we set our hearts and minds to.

June 14,  is the date, when we all should come out to be counted.

 

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One comment

  1. Alhaji Bola Olaniun

    If as an Epe indigene, I don’t align with this type of progressive movement for the future benefit of our children,then, I should be tagged a “bastard, retrogressive and despicable pessimist” of the highest order. So heartily, I support & stand by the rally.

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