In the editorial of Punch Newspaper of Tuesday, January 31, 2017, the paper painted a gloomy picture of how crime has taken the centre stage in Ikorodu and its surrounding communities putting to question the commitment of the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode-led administration in fulfilling a basic component in the social contract he overt or covertly signed with the illustrious people of the ancient city when elected in 2015. It is the primary duty of government to provide security within the confines of its territory, but like The Punch rightly said, “Ikorodu area of the State is an island of insecurity”, a community abandoned given the unhindered display of criminality by some unscrupulous elements in the State. The Lagos State government willingly or unwillingly by its action of near silence has seceded the town to the criminal bandits or so it seems.
Without mincing words, it is worrisome that is has to take the reinstatement of the obvious by Punch Newspaper for Lagos State Government to know that the continuous neglect of the security situation in Ikorodu will dent the good image Governor Ambode is putting up for himself for obvious reasons. For the uninitiated, Ikorodu is the fastest growing community amongst the foundational communities (Ikorodu, Badagry, Ikeja, Lagos Island and Epe= IBILE), constituting the Lagos of today – Lagos Island and Ikeja are saturated and landlocked. The town also housed one of the biggest industrial estate in Nigeria – Odoguyan Industrial Layout, generating billion of Nairas into the purse of government annually and conveniently serves as an alternative route to Epe where Lekki Free Trade Zone, the largest free trade zone in West Africa is being built. Ikorodu is the second most populous community in Lagos State rivaling the title often acceded to Alimosho Local Government; this is attested to by the daily human and Vehicular traffic in and out of the town. Thus, Ikorodu is a town filled with socio-economic potentials which ought not to be neglected by the government.
Sadly enough, it is not that Lagos State government is oblivion of the situation; it just didn’t prioritize arresting the situation. Recall that during the 2016 One Lagos Fiesta held in Ikorodu, while the Governor was talking about improving infrastructure, tourism and economic layout of other divisions in the state, it is giving amnesty to criminals that dominated the Governor’s speech in Ikorodu. Meaning the Governor knew the situation of criminality in the town and how precious lives and business are brought to a halt each time the “Boys” struck, one only wonders why passive attention was given to the issue. For the record, Ikorodu returned the third highest number of the vote counted in favour of All Progressive Congress in the last Governorship election; so the residents are a people who believe in progressive, responsive and responsible governance.
Beyond the vestige of The Punch’s narrative, Ikorodu is the fastest growing cosmopolitan city within the Lagos State metropolis with a vibrant youth population who are doing exceedingly well in different works of life, talking about Azeezat Oshoala(Sport), Funke Akindele(Entertainment), Romola Adeola (Academics) amongst others. The likes of Dewunmi Ogunsanya, Chairman of Multichoice Nigeria and owner of Ikorodu United Football Club and Folorunsho Alakija are also eminent son and daughter of Ikorodu. The warm and accommodating attitude of its people can be attested to by many non-indigenous residents who have come to find a lasting abode in the community. If proper distillation is applied, one will understand that Ikorodu is not all gloom and doom. Government just needs to live up to its responsibilities by swinging into action to curtail the menace. Fortunately, The Punch has succinctly enumerated modern and proactive techniques to arrest the situation; we can only wait for decisive action on the part of the State and Federal government.
No doubt some heinous gangs who migrate from other adjoining communities and waterways are perpetrating these grievous crimes. Aside from point able internal factors, the displacement of many gangsters/cults and street fighters in Fadeyi, Idi Oro/Mushin have contributed negatively to the influx undesirable elements in Ikorodu Town. Also, the coastal residents’ habitation structure of Ikorodu allows many of the displaced Niger Delta youths to find abode in some of the creeks in the once peaceful town. The above situation can only be checked by the government because it controls the monopoly of force and waterways; it took decisive action on the part of the government to curb the Mushin/Idi-Oro menace, something needs to be done in Ikorodu without obstructing the peaceful way of life of her people. The Nigeria Police needs not start harassing and molesting residents under the cover of curbing crimes.
There are too many unorganized communities springing up around Ikorodu due to the huge inflow of people, the arbitrary allocation of lands by the omo oniles (“landowners”) and the ajagungbales (land thugs) to unscrupulous and people of unidentifiable means due to lack of structured and organized physical planning by the state is also a major cause of concern, a more reason why the Ikorodu Masterplan (2016 – 2036) facilitated by the State government should be given enforcement.
In the current scheme of things, the Youth needs to be concerned, not only are these unscrupulous elements hindering the establishment of viable enterprises to reduce the unemployment gap in the community, they are creating undue panic and an image difficult to relate with for Ikorodu. In the long run, the youth will suffer the consequence. The Youth should mobilise to assist the State and Federal government in identifying obscure hideouts of these criminals. If they are not proactive at this stage, the consequence can be more grief.
In addressing the embarrassing cult/fraternity-related crisis also captured in the editorial, the traditional rulers and elected officials in Ikorodu should be solely held responsible for empowering the gangs with their patronage in their quest for power. There is no gaining saying the perpetrators are not ghosting, they are known to their respective households, the leaders of the community should challenge themselves to bring the gang war to a final close not only for themselves but posterity.
It is saddening, how much moral and family upbringing have been eroded, Ikorodu used to be the most peaceful place to live. We are known for merriment, industry and peaceful coexistence, the current situation needs collective redressing before it consumes all of us. To the Governor, I must say,”Welcome to Ikorodu, is better than Sorry, Ikorodu, We cannot help you.” The residents humbly await your swift action.
Sulaimon Mojeed-Sanni writes via firstname.lastname@example.org, tweets can be sent to @OmoMojeed. He lives in Abuja