For a first time visitor to Lagos, particularly Oshodi in the recent times, the place is a sight to behold and a whole construction site of an emerging mega business and commercial centre. Night and day are almost now same; the street lights never fail and activities are round the clock
The once infamous slum greatly feared and loathed for its high level of criminality and scoundrels has become the epicenter of the Lagos megacity initiative.
Just over a decade before now, going through the place was a nightmare. Movement for vehicles and commuters on the ever busy Agege Motor Road, a well paved expressway, was near impossible; the human traffic hardly had space to walk on, vehicles were holed up in traffic for as long as it takes traders to close shops as street traders occupied every each of the road.
It was same for the Gbagada, Oshodi, Murtala Muhammed and Apapa Expressway, which equally passes through the area. Oshodi was a heaven for street urchins, pick pockets, day light robbers and drug peddlers. The miscreants do their drug and freely smoke cannabis unchallenged, puffing smoke into the air amidst the hustling and bustling centre in a no man’s land Oshodi became.
The place was a dread, boys and girls, carrying bloodshot eyes, who no doubt abandoned their homes from across the nation, hibernated under the Oshodi bridge, smoking, drinking and engaging in sodomy from nightfall. The miscreants totally lost their minds, they copulated freely before traders and passersby, Oshodi turned a centre, producing social miscreants, drug addicts, touts, thugs of all sorts and social misfits.
Going through there at day or night was dreaded, yet, it undoubtedly remains the centre of Lagos, the nation’s economic engine room. All routes into and out of Lagos converge on Oshodi, The major roads in and out of the nation’s gateways, the Apapa seaports of Tincan Island and Wharf and the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) go through Oshodi. The same for going from Lagos by road to any of the neighbouring West African countries or coming in.
Oshodi needed to be reclaimed from the vultures and marauders, exactly what the State Government is doing now in the pursuit of the megacity goal even though it is taking a toll on the ways and life of the people. Until recently, the people enjoyed wild parties; celebrations and their countless festivals all year round. Roads were closed and every each of space occupied for feasting, drinking and winning; but that is not anymore. The government has long put a lid on that and not even such public places as schools are permitted anymore to host parties and public celebrations of any sort.
The people are the worse for it, the cost of the proliferating private event centres from this policy have become highly prohibitive and far beyond the people. Parties and celebrations have literarily gone on hold and with complaints about all of that almost going cacophonous, community leaders in the area under the umbrella of the Community Development Committee (CDC), Oshodi/Isolo Local Government Area recently took the decision to embark on a fund drive to complete the community hall project it began some years back and make it available to the people.
Started over a decade ago with the support of Oshodi/Isolo Local Government, which as well provided them with the space within the council secretariat, paucity of funds has stalled it at the level it has remained since then. To overcome this, the community has mobilized all business houses, including banks, hotels, hospitals, filling stations, celebrities, politicians and public office holders of its localities of Oshodi, Shogunle and Mafoluku for a N50 million fund raiser on Thursday, November 16, 2017 under the chairmanship of Senator Olamilekan Solomon Adeola aka Yayi, representing Lagos West Senatorial District.
Scheduled to hold at the Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji Legislative Council Hall in the Oshodi/Isolo Local Government Secretariat, two prominent residents of the community, Alhaji Abdul Razaq Sanni aka Provida and Alhaji Soliu Ibrahim aka Too Much Money will lead the pack of the fund launchers as chief launchers while the Lagos State Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Alhaji Muslim Folami will be Special Guest of Honour at the ceremony in which a number of frontline residents of proven contribution to the development of the community will be honoured. The Chairman of the Local Government, Hon. Idris Bolaji Muse-Ariyoh is the Chief Host while the Elewu of Ewuland, Oba Shakiru Adeshina Kuti will be on hand as Royal Father of the Day.
For the people of Oshodi, this is an opportunity to realise their dream of a common meeting house that would once again enable them to resonate their age-long cultural and traditional festivities and free celebrations in a way that would not offend the now emerging megacity status of Lagos.
Rev. Babajide Otegbade is the PRO, CDC of Oshodi/Isolo LGA. He can be reached on 08022436116