Ogun: Lagos's Stunted Twin


Ogun has the heart of her own, but Lagos's breathe powers her body.

The capital of Ogun is Abeokuta, a fine tuned ambience where the affairs of the state is discussed. In recent years, Abeokuta has added more colours to her image, not only because it homes the governor's office or the epic Olumo rock. But the wholesome number of people from all over the country that troupe and gather in her face to celebrate Ake Arts and Book festival. Ogun is the nearest state to Lagos; the commercial heart of Nigeria. The cosmopolis, the gateway of Nigeria, is open to Tom Dick and Harry and straddle Lagos state to the south, Oyo and Osun states to the north and Ondo state to the east. A fact never more obvious than when you move six feet to the backyard of your house (in some parts of Ogun) and realize you have left the state. Ogun borders the nation- Republic of Benin, making room for diverse goods smuggled into the state by "fayawo"- a dust misted car with a tinted black glasses, carrying overloaded goods inside out.

Every monday morning, most of its inhabitants, from the state's capital to Ota- the suburbs, stand at bustops with their well polished shoes, meticulously ironed clothes and bags to their left hands/back. Eyeballing the next Danfo/federal assistant buses commuting to lasgidi. My parent's failure in taking the advantage presented by the greener pasture they hear people talk about in Lagos, made them settled in Sango Ota. I still couldn't fathom their reasons for settling in Ota instead of settling in Abeokuta, maybe the believe of the extension of Lagos's verdancy still pulsate in their heart.

Seventeen years ago, the uptown of the state called Sango-Ota; is today soon becoming the downtown with a tight grid of shopping complex, motor parks, schools, shopping mall, commercial, manufacturing and government buildings.

In its quest to replicate the good road network in Lagos and put to work the rebuilding mission propagated by Amosun, the governor of Ogun state. There's been tearing down lately.

On the eve of 2014, men hired by Lagos State Teaching Hospital arrived at the village extension of Pakoto's settlement for demolition with soldiers and policemen armed with  Kalashnikovs. During the demolition, those whose house are yet to be demolished, legs tripping and mouth screaming rushed in and out to take out their belongings with little or no help at all as majority of people are busy taking out their belongings too. After the bulldozers have pulled down the houses, few things survived: fowls, goats, slates and blocks. What mostly remained was the people. They go back and front carrying their left over belongings on their heads to neighboring street and town where they took shelter. The demolition have been said to have happened due to illicit occupancy. Days later, the outcry of the inhabitants reached the government as news spread of the ripping.

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, few days after the demolition. In January 2014, Amosun visited Pakoto to address the outcry of the people. When words on the street spread of his coming, residents didn't give ears to what the pastors are saying any longer, many even forgot the Sabbath day. After the rushed service, I joined other residents whose house have been demolished (ours included), waiting for the arrival of the governor. In (not) a matter of time, Amosun arrived with a number of escorts, soldiers and policemen. Hovering over the place. He got down from his G-wagon wearing a fila, folded to the left hand side with entwined circles stitching, a white buba tunics and an insribed APC (all progressives congress) wristband. People grumbled as the megaphone was being handed to him. The governor finally spoke "I never knew people were this many here, I wouldn't have ordered them to go on with the demolition. I was only shown footages of bush here and there. However, people affected by the demolition will be made provision for". "The 31st of December 2017 will make it 4 years since this statement was made with no action; and nothing have been done towards the purpose of demolishing the buildings" stated Bayo, one of the affected residents. Seemingly, this is one of the many unfinished work done by his administration.

Supporters of Amosun, or "SIA", as many omo Ogun fondly call him, hail him as a transcendent leader who is rebuilding Ogun from a dilapidated state into an entrance of investment. He has built the capital's road, modern schools, empowered SME (small and medium enterprise) and provided security. But as his term draws to a close and rebuilding afoot. One question still stands clear; will he be able to accomplish fully the rebuilding he has started and will his successor work in his footsteps?







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