Epe, one of Lagos’ sprawling neighbourhoods had never seen a thing like that in the recent. There was a kind of political force that seemed to pull everyone at the same time, male, female, young and old. In fact, that Saturday June 16, would enter into annals as a historic day for the Epe division, not only on account of what happened, but also in the manner in which it took place.
It was the day for the historic 1 million man-march in support of the second term bid of incumbent governor of Lagos state, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, a son of the soil, and the Epe people did make a profound statement of it.
They defied the rains of that early morning and trooped out in their thousands, singing solidarity songs, dancing or raising solidarity effigies. Some who came out with their umbrellas put it to another use, a symbolic insignia of support. They were emerging from every quarter, some with banners of different sizes and designs proclaiming, either their membership, or solidarity with Omo Epe Duro Fun Ambode, the group under which auspices the march had been organised.
Its coordinator, Princess Bolanle Kazeem was a point man of sorts. She could be sighted in the middle of the pack, mobilising, at the beginning directing and sometimes, close to the rear, motivating. There were on hand, a legion of other patriotic sons and daughters, leaders in different rights, who equally demonstrated total sale-out with the march. Drenched in the rain, they trudged on as if their entire livelihood depended on it.
Our reporter was told from unconfirmed sources that even some parties, out of their own resolve that the march succeeded, had reached out to the rain makers. True of false, the rain came. But come or not, the Epe sons and daughters remained undaunted. In fact, there couldn’t have been a better way of showing solidarity and support. For a while, it seemed the entire division was headed towards their Marina, the popular water front where a village of tents had risen, awaiting the marchers.
There, Princess Kazeem was profuse with appreciation and thanks, it showed on her face, it was evident in the way she rocked her frame from one side to another, her face radiating amidst the damp weather. And by the time, she latched on her roll call of distinguished Epe sons and daughters billed for the day’s event, you could understand why. They were, in many rights, proverbial shakers and movers of that society, and by extension, Lagos state.
Community Network Initiative/Integration, a group of media practitioners and students of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ) were also on hand to show their solidarity and support for the march, special thanks to Otunba T.J Abass, and members of the CNI for the effective mobilisation.
Political juggernauts acknowledged included Senator Gbenga Ashafa; Hon Olayinka Oladunjoye, Hon members of the House of Representatives, Hon members of the Lagos State House of Assembly, His Royal Majesties, including Oba Akeem Adesanya, the Alara of Ilara kingdom; Oba Shefiu Adewale, the Olu Epe of Epe; Oba K.I Animasaun, the Oloja of Epe land; Oba B.O. Ogunlaja, Aladeshoyin of Odo Noforija kingdom; Oba Adegboyega Adefowora, the Alaketu of Ketu; Oba Rafiu Ishola Babatunde, the Elejinrin of Ejinrin kingdom as well as Oba Olumuyiwa Ogunbekun,
In her address, Princess Kazeem expressed her utmost pleasure to the members of the group for making the march possible, and to the distinguished list of Epe sons and daughters for honouring the invitation.
According to her, the group which had a combination of all Epe division indigenes all over the world was borne out of the initiative to identify and support Ambode, whom she said had indeed worked and deserved some accolades, but much more so, support to do a second term in office.
Princess Kazeem listed some of Ambode’s achievements to include, employment of sons and daughters of the division into the lagos state civil service; construction of link roads from Oke-Osho to Aiyetoro, with street lights; from Aiyetoro to Manpower at Odomola with street lights, from Oke-osho to Poka; from Manpower Odomola to Omojoda as well as construction of inner roads.
Ambode, she added, also worked on the Marina waterfront and the expansion of the Epe Junction express road
In all, she said the governor deserved credit for 21 standard roads under the two local governments and these were commissioned in one day.
Other accomplishments she credited the governor with, included, infrastructural development within 57 LCDAs with about 295 inner and link roads within the last two years of his administration, rehabilitation of government hospitals, prompt payment of staff salaries, improvement of security in Lagos state, investment in agriculture youth empowerment and welfare and social economic programmes.
“Part of the achievement of our governor has brought together for the very first time in the history of Epe division, all Epe indigenes from home and broad to come together and unite as one and to discuss developmental strategies to uplift Epe division and to affect the nation positively.
“Öur brother, leader father and son, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode who is focused, undaunted, brilliant, unwavering, intelligent, committed and resolute, has proven himself to be a good citizen of Epe and Lagos state as he has followed the good footsteps of every Epe indigene that has ever attained the height of leadership in history”.
She reeled out a long list of such distinguished Epe indigenes, including her own father, late Olu Epe of Epe, Late Chief Micharel Otedola, Late S.L Edu, late A.S Adebowale, Late Chief Femi Agbalajobi and late Chief Omotayo Seriki amongst several others.
Princess Kazeem mentioned current trail blazers in the state to include the governor and his wife, Mrs Bolanle Ambode; Alhaji Akani Seriki Bamu, Chief Dapo Sarumi, Chief Lanre Razak, Chief Yomi Edu, Chief Femi Otedola, Hon Tola Kasali, Alhaji Bode Oyedele, Hon Yomi Aiyeola and Hon Dele Onobokun amongst others.
The march has left many lesson, foremost being that when a leader does well, he is sure to get the support of his people. Ambode was far away in Russia as at the time of the rally, but back here in Lagos, there were thousands, who, appreciative of the hope he had engendered in office, were campaigning for him to come a second time. That is actually how it should be.
Indeed, the march was novel, unprecedented and a huge success.
–COURTESY: theeagle.com/CNI features