‘We only want to give it a facelift’
ON Monday, November 4, 2013, Ojodu Local Council Development Area boss, Hon. Julius Olumuyiwa Oloro commissioned some new projects including Gbadamosi Health Centre, Erinoso drainage system, amongst others, as part of his efforts to give his people dividends of democracy. That same day, he also donated a brand new bus to the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE). He didn’t stop at all these, he also put smiles on the faces of the aged by giving them N5,000 each as social welfare package, which they are entitled to till the end of his administration.
ENCOMIUM Weekly had an interview with the amiable politician on these and other issues, including the alleged plot to sell Ogba Sunday Retail Market.
What has been the development since you became the chairman, Ojodu Local Council Development Area?
We took over since October 29, 2011. So, last month we were two years in office. Then, how far have we gone? When we came on board, we invited you people to come and celebrate with us. We have commissioned so many projects, including roads, education, health and a lot more. Our goal is that the people we govern must feel our impact. Then, how do they feel our impact? It’s by bringing succour into their lives, by making life bearable for them and making roads motorable for them. Also, making health centres accessible for them, by making schools available for their children so that they will be able to compete with their colleagues in private schools. All these and many more are what we have witnessed in the last two years and we’re still progressing.
We have five health centres built by the local government, the sixth one was built by LDP which has also been handed over to us. Out of the five we built, about three have been given a facelift, including Oke-Ira, Ogba-Oluwole and Gbadamosi health centres which run 24 hours.
How well equipped are these health centres?
When we said we have given them a facelift, that means all the facilities you can think of are there. As far as our health centres are concerned, we have an account called a revolving account. As I speak to you now, they still have millions in the account that they can easily access whenever there is need for any drug procurement. No matter how broke we may be, we don’t touch the money in that account. The money is meant for our health centres.
How far have you gone concerning the construction of drainage systems in your domain?
We are also progressing on that. We just commissioned Erinoso drainage, we have also done Agidingbi drainage. We have completed most of our drainage projects because we’re in the rural heart of Ikeja. So, we also do what will make our people happy with us. That’s why they are always able to pay our dues when required. We believe we need to touch all the areas that affect the lives of our people. We understand the fact that if we pay attention to one area and we neglect the others, our people will definitely complain. But as it is, we have a lot of roads in our areas being the least developed area of Ikeja. But because of the situation of this local government, they were not enjoying the dividends of democracy in the past. Nothing of such was happening at all. People believed they were not part of Ikeja because there was no development to show for it. But they have started feeling the development, since the last administration which I was part of.
You’re giving what could be called welfare package to the elderly within the local government, what informed the decision?
When we came on board, we discovered how these aged people supported us. We saw how they queued in the sun because they wanted to cast their votes. So, after the whole exercise, we now looked at the way we could also touch their lives directly like we do to the young and agile who can still work. We believe we need to let these aged feel the impact of our administration. We need to let them benefit the dividends of democracy, that was what informed what we called social welfare package by giving them N5,000 each. We now picked 60 of them for the first phase of the programme. The first 60 were picked within my one and a half years in office. So, the new set of 60 are the ones picked today and they will be collecting their N5,000 each till the expiration of this term.
What were the criteria used in choosing the beneficiaries of this initiative?
It cuts across all the wards in the local government. We give the assignment to the ward chairman. It may not get to every deserving person, but we give a certain percentage to the party which in turn distributes it across the wards, certain percentage was also given to National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW). We also gave some percentage to the market women. All these people also worked and voted for us. So, we asked them to give us the list of the expected beneficiaries of the scheme which they did. And we’re okay with what they submitted to us.
A couple of weeks back, there was this protest by shop owners at the Sunday-Sunday Retail Market, Ogba, accusing you of selling the market. What is your reaction to this?
Thank you, there was nothing like that. The people occupying the place are our people. They didn’t come from other planet. They are from the local government that I govern. The essence of governance is to bring relief to the people you’re governing. How then would I want to drive them away? Actually, the initiative to give the place a facelift started from the last administration which I was part of but unfortunately, we could not accomplish it before the tenure expired. Then, when I came on board, I continued from where the last administration stopped. Fortunately for us, we’re able to secure state approval to commence the development of that market. We called a stakeholders’ meeting. At the meeting, I made it known to them that the market development is going to be in phases. We’re not going to displace anybody, we are not going to demolish the market. We want to give the market a facelift. Even we have carried out our own survey, that’s why we are able to see some flaws in the structure of the market, and that’s exactly what we’re trying to address. And to do this, it’s going to take sometime. The last administration applied to the state government that it wanted to give the market a facelift, they were now given approval for the containers you see there today. These containers, I have told them, will only be used by few people that may be affected by the development project in the market. I told them, at the end of the day, that the amount we’re going to give out the shops to them will be spread for three years. If they can’t afford to make that payment, we have approached a mortgage bank, which will spread it for five years for them. So, there wouldn’t be any need for someone to say he or she was denied a space in the market because the person couldn’t afford to pay. So far we’re satisfied that you’re a genuine occupant in the market, your shop will be given back to you at the end of the project. Even up till now, I have not given them any quit notice. But all I am hearing is that by December, I am going to demolish it. It’s just fallacy. It’s coming from the enemies of progress, I mean the people who don’t want development in our local government. If our governor has preached that Lagos is a mega city, we can’t be comfortable seeing a market place in that same Lagos being a shanty. It must be a refined place where people will have access to excavator, police post and other things that matter in a modern day market. That’s the type of the market we’re expecting in this millennium.
But there was this allegation that you even connived with the market leaders to sell the place…
(Cuts in) How would I connive with anybody? For what? The market that was built during Jakande era, if by now we’re still using it the way it was built, we should be ashamed of ourselves. It should be upgraded. And I have assured them that nobody will be displaced. People only like peddling unnecessary rumours. In fact, there was a time I invited all of them to my office for a meeting. After listening to me, they all walked out on me. It was an embarrassment of the highest order but I had to take it as a father of all. I am of the opinion that Tejuosho is N7m, that’s about 700,000 per square metre, and I believe maybe this one will be within 400,000 and 500,000 per square metre, maybe it maybe N5m. So, people that are already there can be given concession, at the end of the day, what they will be paying may be between N4m and N4.5m, which will be spread for five years.
– TADE ASIFAT