Putting Ambode’s Political Will To Test

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Extortion, leadership tussles, killings. These have been the lot of traders at the popular Mile 12 Market. Kosofe Local Government, Agboyi Ketu Local Development Authority and Isheri Ikosi Local Council Development Area, all lay claim to parts of the market, as officials from the different councils come there on daily basis for one form of levy and tax or the other.

The extortion at Mile 12 market ranges from multiple taxation, land rent, area boys’ tax, local government and task force levies, among others. Each of the three local councils usually wants to exert supremacy over the other and the traders, who pay through their nose by way of levies and taxes, are the victims. The crisis has been a ding-dong affair, right from the days of the former Governor Babatunde Fashola administration. At a time, Fashola had to close down the market for some days to calm frayed nerves.

Crisis Assume Ethnic Dimension

Now, the crisis has resurfaced about nine months into the current administration of incumbent governor, Akinwunmi Ambode precisely on March 3. On this fateful day, traders, youths and street urchins (area boys) filtered into major streets of the violence–prone areas, bus-stops and markets to engage in bloody clash, while the police and other security agents were caught off guard. The crisis took an ethnic dimension with Yoruba traders and their Hausa counterparts attacking each other.
At the end of the clash, no fewer than 10 persons were reportedly mowed down, buildings and vehicles either burnt or vandalised. It was indeed a bloody clash, in which cutlasses, bottles, sticks and other weapons of war were freely used.

The destruction of lives and property coupled with the threat to peace were so high that Governor Ambode of Lagos State had no option, but to order the temporary closure of the market. He also decreed a restriction of movement in the area.

The movement restriction was specifically on four streets in the area, Oniyanri Street, Maidan Street, Agiliti 1 and Agiliti II streets. Governor Ambode stated that the decision to shut the market and restrict movement was to aid security agencies restore calm in the area.

He said: “In order to further restore calm, I have ordered that Mile 12 Market be temporarily closed and urged traders, community leaders and other stakeholders to eschew violence; be calm and law abiding“.The governor said the police and security operatives have been deployed to the area to quell the dispute, assuring residents that peace will be restored in the area.

Ambode reiterated that Lagos State would continue to be home to every Nigerian irrespective of their tribe or ethic affiliation, urging residents to continue to be law abiding.
“Let me assure Lagosians that the state is home to every tribe and ethnic group and nobody should give this disturbance any ethnic coloration whatsoever. Every law abiding citizens should go about their normal businesses,” Governor Ambode said.

State Government Sues For Peace
After the market closure, top government officials immediately met with all the stakeholders from Mile 12 Market, Agiliti community, Maidan and its environs to find a lasting solution to the crisis with a promise that a harmonious and effective solution would be put in place within few days.

Mr. Tunji Bello, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), who presided over the meeting held at the State Secretariat, Alausa, said that all the leaders agreed on the need to cohabit in peace irrespective of their religion, culture or tribes.
Bello urged the leaders to go back and assure their people to maintain the peace, stating that the government would consider the inputs of all those present in arriving at a decision.
Addressing the leaders which included those of the various sections of the Mile 12 market, traditional rulers from Agiliti, Maidan, leaders of the transport unions, commercial motorcyclists, community development associations and leaders from the communities, Bello said leaders also agreed to go back to their communities and assure their people of government’s desire to ensure that lasting peace reigns in that community.

The SSG who said the issue of disagreement is not new in the area, said what was uppermost was that everybody should see the next person as his brother, hence everyone at the meeting must live with an open mind of cohabiting peacefully with their neighbours and avoid bloodletting.

He reiterated the directive of Governor Ambode that the market remained closed and all trading activities be suspended to aid security agencies restore calm to the affected areas. He assured the market leaders that the government was studying the situation and would address all the issues that had arisen decisively with a view to ensuring that the crisis did not reoccur.

Participants at the meeting included the Iyaloja of Mile 12 market, Alhaja Iyabo Ahmed; Baale of Maidan, Chief Baale Ogunjobi; Baale of Agiliti, Chief Jimoh Onikosi; Serikin Nupe, Alhaji Jibril Magaji; Chairman, Shukura yam, Alhaji Mohammed Damdana and Chairman of CDA Central, Elder M.A Showande.

On the side of government were also the Special Advisers to the Governor on Civic Engagement, Hon Kehinde Joseph; Community Development and Communication, Hon Kehinde Bamigbetan and Permanent Secretaries from Ministry of Information and Strategy, Mr Fola Adeyemi and Cabinet Office, Mr Olushola Odupitan.

Lawmakers Moot Idea Of Relocation

Few days after the clash, the State House of Assembly, at its plenary on Monday March 8, 2016, called on the state government to consider a relocation of the Mile 12 market.
Reacting to the crisis, the House, under Matter of Urgent Public Importance moved by the lawmaker representing Oshodi/Isolo Constituency II, Hon. Jude Idimogu, stated that the incident was unfortunate and should be avoided.
The Assembly called on Governor Ambode to relocate Mile 12 and Owode Onirin Markets to another location, after conducting necessary feasibility studies and when accompanying infrastructures must have been provided.
While commiserating with the family of those who lost their lives in the incident, the House condemned the killings and the attitude of soldiers stationed at the market, but who could not prevent the crisis.
The House then called on Governor Ambode to constitute a high-powered enquiry into the crisis and punish the perpetrators.
The Speaker of the House, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, had earlier said that the incident was as a result of disagreement among brothers, adding that the state government should summon courage and come up with a political will on the issue.
However, while no official of government could readily confirm the plan of the Lagos State to relocate the Mile 12 Market to Ikorodu, an authoritative source insisted that Gov. Ambode was serious about moving the market and that nothing can stop him in doing so.The source maintained that if Governor Babatunde Fashola could change Oshodi to what it is presently, and Ambode demolished the old Oshodi Electronic Market and
moved the traders to another location, he has the political will to also relocate the crisis prone Mile 12 Market. The source also referred to recent donation of a fleet of state-of–the-art cars and modern gadgets to the Lagos State Police Command to make crime detection and combat more effective, as a sign of his determination to effectively combat crime in the state. Efforts to get Mr. Steve Ayorinde, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, to comment on the possibility of Governor Ambode moving the Mile 12 Market and if he can muster the political will to do so could not yield the desired fruit. Calls and text message for appointment or his comment could not be responded to at press time.

APC, Monarchs Commend Governor

However, Hon. Abiodun Salami, the Assistant Publicity Secretary of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos, commended the governor for the maturity he exhibited in averting a major clash in the state.But, as a positive sign that the governor will not have a problem moving the Mile 12
Market, the state’s foremost monarch, Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos, has already given his support to the proposal by the state Assembly. The monarch said the relocation should be embarked upon if it will bring peace and tranquility to the communities. Oba Akiolu also requested that Governor Ambode severely punish the perpetrators of the clash.

Akiolu, who spoke at a stakeholders’ forum organised at the Iga-Idugaran, Lagos Island, for residents and stakeholders in the communities, lamented that the recent clash between the Yoruba and Hausa traders in the market led to the destruction of property and displacement of residents, a development, which he said was unacceptable.
The monarch described the clash as one too many, urging residents to co-exist with one another, describing Lagos as a melting pot of ethnic nationalities in the country. The monarch urged traditional rulers in the communities to give true leadership to their subjects and swiftly intervene in disputes before they escalate.
Another monarch, Oba Oloyede of Ikosi, supported the call for the relocation of the market by the State House of Assembly, saying it was a step in the right direction.

Culled from: http://independentnig.com/2016/03/putting-ambodes-political-will-test/

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