SPECIAL REPORT: The gods of Lagos speak again, as Gen. Olanrewaju, Bode George, Dallass open can of worms about “Lagos NURTW: How they created a monster”

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From Left: Commodore Bode George (Rtd) and General Tajudeen Olanrewaju (Rtd).

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By KEMI KASUMU

 

There are many members of All Progressive Congress (APC) who are Abuja Boys with Babatunde Raji Fashola as their Arrowhead supported by the likes of Muiz Banire who equally are Lagos indigenes. Questions are that, why are the Omo Eko Pataki excluding them?  To fix these loopholes, those ready among them are making moves. The extent of the moves being made is unknown to the making of this report.  But some top indigenes, from the contents of issue they now raise, appear to be ready. They are: General Tajudeen Olanrewaju (Rtd), Chief Olabode George, retired Navy Commodore, and Mr. Gbadebo Dallass.

 

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There are three strong forces currently in battle for recovery of the soul of Lagos, who believe the state of the aquarium splendour though could have been so open and receptive to people from other parts of the country whose states enjoy the constitutional rights of a federating unit but that, it must not be treated as no man’s land.

They are of the strong opinion and sad that some of those accommodated in the state to thrive and become great in affluence and influence not only pushed the state, handed over by Military Governor Brigadier General Mohammed Buba Marwa (Rtd) to civillian Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu on May 29, 1999 as truly “Centre of Excellence”, to one where indigenes are excluded from accessing benefits of their land of birth and meted with high degree of bad treatments and also sad it has now been turned to a state where lives are now so difficult even for other members of the resident community settling in due to activities of what they called the “monster” in NURTW.

The NURTW, that is National Union of Road Transport Workers, did not enjoy under Military Government of Marwa the parralel ‘government’ powers it has enjoyed since 1999 under Tinubu till date. Today, it has moved from inside the motor parks to every bus stop with its purposefully created touts, agberos, unleashed everywhere causing traffic jams and “constituting nuisance” to security and safety of the society to the helplessness of the same police officers and men being vilified for problems that politicians ruling the state caused.  The touts the NURTW administers are now inside market places exploiting petty traders whose capital is worth not more than, for instance, between N300 and N2,000 – respectively – and forcing them to pay taxes we found out not to be recognised by either Federal or state laws.

This department of the agberos is said to be working for Iyaloja of Lagos, Folasade Ojo, whose father is Tinubu. Activities of these people with associational rules that allow hoarding for the purpose of pressuring supplies with a view to skyrocketing prices are reasons not even a minimum wage of N200,000 can make an average Nigerian live well in Lagos under the current situation. Unfortunately, the Organised Labour don’t consider this in demanding for equal minimum wage across states of the Federation. You cannot be supported by even God when you want, for instance, Government of Sokoto State, where both leaders and people fear Allah not to cheat one another and where they make life so easy for themselves to live, to pay same minimum wage as paid in Lagos, where governance is in the hands of unseen influences.

 

“You cannot be supported by even God when you want, for instance, Government of Sokoto State, where both leaders and people fear Allah not to cheat one another and where they make life so easy for themselves to live, to pay same minimum wage as paid in Lagos, where governance is in the hands of unseen influences.”

 

Lives in Lagos have therefore been so hard and unbearable, reason no amount of and no matter how good policy formulated for the good of people of Nigeria at the Federal level to go to grassroots, it is never felt in Lagos. Unfortunately, when the progress of Nigeria is measured, those who want to be mischievous about Nigeria or about any sitting President go to the streets of that same Lagos and take their samples, whereas in other states where food and other items that support living and development are produced and brought to Lagos, lives are averagely good that some Lagos residents, who are aware of this fact, do not pretend not to know.

“For how long are we going to continue to fold our arms and look at these going on?” Some of the indigenes have repeatedly asked. Each time indigenes made effort to complain, either death was announced from within their circle or money was used to neutralize their plans. This therefore is reason the spirit of Engr. Funso Williams will continue to roam around individual or group of people who allowed themselves as circumstances for his gruseome murder, no matter how powerful, wealthy and influential he is or they are, until justice is done to his killers and their sponsors.

To critics, who say Lagos indigenes are not serious about taking their state, this special report will be an evidence that they have been hit in two ways: impoverished because their hands are removed from accessing state benefits as indigenes and they are cowed by fear that any of them who complains will meet his death either mysteriously or by hired assassins like it happened in the case of Funso Williams, the only blueblood Lagos indigene that ever really decided to stake his life to the project of emancipation of his people, pushed to poverty by people allowed to grow amidst them but turned around to hold back the hands of their accommodators.

“That is what they use those NURTW touts to do. Militancy against people who complain or oppose them from continued grip in the state,” one of the complainants said.

“In your Ondo State, can I come to claim political office through election as Lagos indigene?” He asked and the answer he got was that Nigerian Constitution was not so designed.

But there are some top Army Generals, retired, who are indigenes of Lagos, and there are in the Navy of equivalent status and successful businessmen, businesswomen and professionals who are now saying “Enough is Enough!”.

They formed themselves into an “Omo Eko Pataki” group in standing to their rights, not from Federal but from the powerful politicians within their own state. Our findings however revealed uncertainty of their seriousness because the method they explore in pursuing their course does not seem to encompass everybody especially young retired officers and professionals among them.  Also, to think that they can always only pursue their course by playing opposition to the party at the centre, they may have it a longer journey to travel unless they change.

There are many members of All Progressive Congress (APC) who are Abuja Boys with Babatunde Raji Fashola as their Arrowhead supported by the likes of Muiz Banire who equally are Lagos indigenes. Questions are that, why are the Omo Eko Pataki excluding them?  To fix these loopholes, those ready among them are making moves. The extent of the moves being made is unknown to the making of this report.  But some top indigenes, from the contents of issue they now raise, appear to be ready. They are: General Tajudeen Olanrewaju (Rtd), Chief Olabode George, retired Navy Commodore, and Mr. Gbadebo Dallass.

Chief Olabode Ibiyinka George, CON, FNSE, retired Navy Commodore, former Governor of old Ondo State and Atona Odua of Yorubaland. He is the Leader of Ọmọ Eko Pataki.

Major General Tajudeen Olanrewaju rtd, psc+, ndc, DSS, former General Officer Commanding (GOC) Third Armored Division of Nigerian Army, Jos and former member of the Provisional Ruling Council. He is Trustee, Ọmọ Eko Pataki.

Mr Gbadebo Dallass, MSc, former MD, NERFUND. He is Trustee, Ọmọ Eko Pataki.

Few days ago, they jointly released a statement titled, “Lagos NURTW: How they created a monster”.

In the statement they said:

“In the days of innocence and truth, when life in Lagos was simple and fair, when justice was affirmed in equitable balance, when the roads were smooth, free, uncluttered with vehicular burden – there were legendary transporters like Charity Transport Company, owned by Prince Ogunwọ; Wẹrẹ Ni Transport Company owned by Mr. Ajiọrẹ and GL Gaiser Transport Company owned by Chief Sodipọ.

“And of course there were Zarpas Bus Service; Elias Transport Service; Oshinọwọ Bus Service; Benson Transport Service; the old and reliable Lagos Municipal Transport Service; the Scholar’s Buses, which transported students for free and others too innumerable to mention.

“There was a commonality among all these transport companies and their unifying leadership. This much was observable in the factory clean, decent, new, raving and rousing engines of the buses. It was equally defined in the predictability of the arrival of the buses at their various stops and terminus.

“The effectiveness of the transportation system of old Lagos was also alive and bristling in the organizational purity of their services.

“The conductors were kitted in bright and shine uniforms, always urbane, civil as they rolled out the tickets in the simple manual machine slung across their necks with fanciful colored tiny fabric. The conductors pulled the steel strings at the top of the bus, which rang out a loud bell as the bus drew closer to a stopping point, which was at once announced and lit clearly upon the board behind the driver.

“Nothing was amiss. Nothing was perceived in untidy, indecorous vulgarity. You could send a 6 year old from Lagos Island to Ishaga in Surulere, without any fear. You could enter a bus and even sleep off, well assured that an inspector may enter unannounced, rouse you up to check your ticket, without molestation and with all sense of dignity and civilized appropriateness.

“In that civilized clime of old Lagos, where orderliness was the norm, where urbanity, honor, dignity were the watchwords – there were also honorable men in the informal sector, who complimented the private and government management of the transport business with selfless commitment, with genuine vision and sincerity. They were often tough and strong hewn, reasonable, cultured men with ascertainable pedigree who controlled their neighborhoods with soft and sometimes stern iron fist.

“The roll call: Baba Campos, well respected and honored; whose presence alone, even from afar, would stop any rift, halt any feud. He was always greeted with a popular salutation: “Gbese o loogun meji.” (Indebtedness has no two anectodote). And he would respond: “Sanwo folowo.” (Pay your debt to your creditor).

“In that cryptic exchange is invoked the necessity of trust, the values of Ọmọluabi, the sacredness of a promise and ultimately the guiding principle of societal order.

“There was Extankopadi-Iyabọ, a rough hewn Campos enforcer, notable for his dash and bravura, but ultimately for his ability to ensure peace in his neighborhood. His side-kick was young Agbab, a scion of the Agbabiaka family in the greater Campos area.

“Baba Oṣa, whose fame and ardor went far beyond his Isalẹ-Ọffin base into the uncharted reaches of Agege, was acclaimed for his generosity, his fearlessness and his street wise wisdom.

“There was also Omo Pupa of the Mushin fame, who alongside Baba Oṣa and Chief Lemboye, founded what is now known as the National Union of Road Transport Workers at Ebutero.

“Chief Ọshijinrin, another famed transporter in Agege; Alausa, Shiko, Baba Tọnjọ, Toughman – Anreti of Isalẹgangan, Baba Dania, aka Agbelepaṣẹ and to some extent, Bayo Success, Ajibola Entebbe, Razak Majiyagbe and Shina, aka Sala of Olowogbowo area, were all equally defined in legendary tough molded characterization, pacifying their neighborhoods with discipline and native exemplary ingenuity.

“These men in their days were the original Amọtẹkun, protecting, defending, hovering acrosss the neighborhood with vigilant immediacy.

“That was yesterday. Those were the golden era of transportation business in Lagos, when dignity was greater than money, when truth superseded material acquisitions, when a good name was better treasured than the transient tinsel of the moment.

“Aaaaaah today! The luster is gone. Duty, honor, truth are now replaced with crude cronyism. Transportation business in Lagos has been transformed into brazen partisan extension since the 1999 Bola Tinubu’s aberration.

“The Agberos are presently lords of the manor, extorting all kinds of tolls and illegal charges from motorists. They take money at the garages. They take money at the bus stops. They manhandle motorists on the highways, choking up traffic, provoking endless gridlocks, where precious man-hours are wasted. They inflict virtual lawlessness wherever they choose, deciding the routes of motorists, cyclists and sometimes, even pedestrians, by putting tolls on rickety neighborhood bridges.

“The honor system is now reversed. The tail is now wagging the head. The motor boys of old, whose sole duty at the few interstate terminal points is to help bring in passengers to the buses by shouting out the destinations, and then rewarded with few pennies are now today’s strong men, who own the garages and dictate what the drivers must pay.

“It is an inverted logic, consciously determined, defined, orchestrated by the architects of the state, who now use the Agberos of yesterday as political goon squad, useful in breaking heads, snatching ballot boxes, instilling fear in ordinary citizens, often summoned to carry out all kinds of illicit activities to strengthen the political hold of their paymasters.

“In this general malady , the leadership of the Lagos State NURTW is coveted and even ranked almost like a gubernatorial position.

“A former Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources in Lagos state, Mr. Olawale Oluwo, in an interview observed that “the NURTW makes N82 billion every year from Lagos, which is almost 10 per cent of our budget.”

“Oluwo further claimed that the Akinwunmi Ambode administration was predicated on building modern bus terminals, lay-by, and stations to eliminate the nuisance of touts. Because this conflicts with the vision of the Lagos overlord, Ambode was pushed out .

“Oluwo’s figure is apparently conservative. Our findings show that for every vehicle that leaves or enter Lagos, Oluọmọ collects N5,000. Multiply that by thousands, apart from the intra state tolls, the figure is humongous!!!!

“With the obviously more than N82 billion naira tax-free slush fund going into the pockets of a greedy few, releasing Lagos from the grip of servitude will remain an Herculean task. This is also a threat to national security. When one man, sitting in Bourdillon, controls such magnitude of slush funds, President Muhammadu Buhari should be wary and watch his back.

“But we in the Ọmọ Eko Pataki remain undaunted. Our position is clear and obvious. We are committed to rectifying the wrongs without fear or favor.
We do not need Agberos and political garages in Lagos State. The model of the past is the best exemplar.

“When a government turns common touts and street urchins into an extension of political structure, we are all trapped in the vice grip of impending anarchy.
There is no rocket science here. Just look at the past to rectify the deliberate wrongs and the imposition of the moment.

“The common joke out there is that there are three different governments in Lagos state. One is controlled by Babajide Sanwo-Olu, another is the elephantine Alpha-Beta and the third is NURTW, controlled by one Musiliu Akinsanya, aka MC Oluomo, who goes around Lagos with heavily armed mobile police escort that will be the envy of some state governors. The IGP should look into this. Who authorized the mobile police protection for MC Oluọmọ? This persisting aberration must be halted immediately.

“We hereby insist on the following demands:

“• The NURTW as presently composed and structured in our state should be dismantled entirely.

“• Who pockets the N82 billion raked in every year by the NURTW?

“• The EFCC should, as a matter of national urgency, investigate where the N82 billion goes into.

“•Political garages given to the “good boys” should be totally revamped and transferred to professionals to manage on behalf of the state.

“•The chaotic present traffic system of multiple agencies clogging the roads should be jettisoned for the once proven and trusted system of the old Motor Traffic Division at Ijora which was headed at various times by Officers Gajere, Ejemai, Ifejika, Jinadu, Fynecountry and Mary Iyabo Oyebode, aka Iya Toyin. The vision and the principle behind this highly successful division should be dusted up and put to work.

“In conclusion, we will continue to intervene in the affairs of our state, along our established vision of non-partisanship. We will continue to affirm and assert the great idealism of Justice Ishola Oluwa. We hold no grudge towards anyone. And we equally owe no apology to any political overlord. The protection and the defense of our Lagosian heritage will never be compromised. On this resolve we remain firm resolute and steady, defiant of the slings and the arrows of the failing powers. This is our stand,” the three too Nigerians who speak for the rights of their Lagos people said.


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