Mr. Rotimi Erogbogbo, is the Council Manager, Onigbongbo LCDA, Founder/Director, Rhoda Youth Centre, an institution seeing to the training and development of youths in Ikorodu and was also recently made the Chairman, Ikorodu Division Solution Alliance (IDSA). In this exclusive interview with KUNLE ADELABU, Managing Editor and FESTUS ENYAMA, Erogbogbo bears his mind on his growing up within a business family, RHODA Youth Centre; governance at grassroot level, formation of Ikorodu Divisional Solution Alliance and Ikorodu strategic and economic importance among others.



Impact: What is/are the ideas behind the emergence of RHODA Youth Centre?

Mr Rotimi Erogbogbo: Rhoda Youth Centre is not just a passion but also a way for me to seek for peaceful life for my family and myself. I came from very humble background and I know what sufferings and struggle are all about. We are not very rich, but at the same time not poor. We were always greeted by elders in Ikorodu as “ero gbogbo lo ri sile” (literarily implies, every thought is about making money), which implies that our ancestors are business conscious and always bubble with good economic ideas. They always thought we have so much money, but we learned from our background that it is not about physical cash, but ideas and what you can do with what you possess. To us it is about how we are going to use whatever we have for the good of the society; impact on our neighbours and make meaningful contributions on humanity. The idea of RHODA came up because of poverty that pervades our land and there is need to do something about it. As a man, I know what poverty and comfort are and from what I learnt from my parents who were not salary earners, you must make your money per day. As a family that sees opportunities anywhere we go, I was shuttling between Abuja and Lagos making good businesses before I venture into civil service. So, what those that are poor are lacking is opportunity and that is what I want to give to young people through RHODA. There are lots of potentials locked up inside these young men and if there is nobody to help them discover themselves they may not be any good to the society and they become burden. As individuals, we must all play our roles in the betterment of the society because government alone cannot do everything. RHODA thus came into existence to assist the young ones to discover the potentials in them and unleash them creatively. Through RHODA, I got my peace seeing these young people doing what they thought they would never accomplish; making impacts on the society through creative works and contributing meaningfully. Unfortunately, I went to a lot of people but they do not believe in my dreams. To them, I was too ambitious and stupid, but here we are today since December 2010. We have trained over 800 students who were tutored in several skills and there some we sent to Polytechnic for further studies. To me, the gain is all about fulfillment and joy and not about money. We have given ourselves ten years to ride the rough road and we know we are going places and there is future for our society going by what our students are exhibiting.


Impact: What are the challenges of being a senior public officer and managing the affairs of local government service in Ikorodu?

Mr Erogbogbo: Well, I just want to thank God that my colleagues in the Local Government Service in Ikorodu ask me to oversee their affairs. It is very challenging and interesting because the real governance is at the local level. As local government workers, we are the closest to the grassroot. These are people that are ready to work and make governance felt at the grassroot level so that common men could have sense of what governance is all about. I am the chairman because God wants me to be and I have also learnt a great deal from the position and through my colleagues. It makes me recognize the problems at the grassroot and yearnings of the people. These are the things that have given me the strength and information needed to face challenges. I accepted the position because I don’t turn down calling from my people even to the detriment of myself, because I know that God always has reasons why I am being called upon.


Impact: As somebody with business background, what are the prospects of business in Ikorodu and what do you think should be in place to encourage its full development?

Mr Erogbogbo: Business opportunities in Ikorodu have always been there from the inception. To properly answer your question, I will look at Ikorodu then, now and in future which many people are not yet seeing. If you look at Lagos Central today, Ikorodu people contributed a lot to its growth and development in term of business. Most Ikorodu families have houses and businesses in Lagos Island. Ikorodu Trading Company (ITC) was the first indigenous company to produce singlet and pants. When we talk about Water ways, Ikorodu indigenes started it and likewise the bottle water business. Itis very unfortunate that most of the Ikorodu people making waves in business and other spheres do not want to identify with the town due to personal, religious and other reasons. But to the advantage of Lagos Island, they are there still contributing to itsdevelopment. Ikorodu is strategically located in such a manner that we have so many natural advantages like waterways, which both state and federal governments are trying seriously to build and even when the Federal government was looking for highland where there will be no need for sand-filling to place telecommunication mast, Oke Ota-Ona, Ikorodu provided the Federal government that opportunity. Likewise, Voice of Nigeria also broadcast along

Ibeshe Road in Ikorodu. The town is also been populated by lot of people who are residing within but work in Lagos and many more migrating in on daily basis from different parts of Lagos which increases our market. Ikorodu is a town that is developing every day; it houses Nichemtex which is the largest textiles industry in West Africa and other big businesses. If you also see the way Ikorodu is been planned, the transportation network in Ikorodu is second to none. Of all the five divisions in Lagos State, Ikorodu ranked high in terms of economic potentials given our geographical location. The town is also good for agriculture while resources for clay for brick houses abound. A common man can build a house with N4million in Ikorodu if he gets a land with solid ground around Gberigbe and with the clay that would be brought out after been dug is enough to make good bricks and can get labour to set it. No bullet can penetrate it, but we are not looking in this direction and more importantly, Ikorodu has skillful citizenry.


Impact: Where do you see Ikorodu in the next five years?

Mr Erogbogbo: When you say five years you are driving too far. Say in the next two years, Ikorodu will snowball into an economic and social hub of the state and we are beginning to see that with the ongoing road expansion and other developments. When Ikorodu was linked to Lagos then, the economic potency of Ikorodu changed and now that it is going to be linked again why talking about five years, It is a revolution and other business ideas will come in their quantum. There is no need for Lagos population to explode and split to Ogun State when Ikorodu is strategically positioned for that. Our people are majorly enterprising in nature and know how to turn sand into hard currency and also are socialite of the highest order.

Impact: Recently, you were called upon by the entire youth in Ikorodu division to lead a new group, Ikorodu Divisional Solution Alliance (IDSA). Sir, can you please tell us what the group stands for? What are the mission and vision of the group?

Mr Erogbogbo: IDSA which I am the interim chairman is not a political group, though a lot of people have mistaken it for a political group because there are lot of politicians in the group. It is a group that came up due to a reason which is to move Ikorodu forward socially, economically and politically. We have been crying of marginalization all this while, what are the reasons for that if it exists at all? We need to find out. We must raise issues and exchange opinions. Why would not want to give a razor blade to your son? Why would you not want that young man to cross the express? There must be reasons for those actions and that is why IDSA was formed to unearth and correct some of the notions. Why would I not hold a razor blade as a child because it would cut me and knowing fully well that I can also use the blade for other purposes? Why would I not cross the express road as a boy, if I can? Recently, it was reported in the media that the governor accused Ikorodu people of not been paying taxes, as a group we will come around, discuss such issue and find out why if truly Ikorodu people have not paying taxes and sensitize them on why they should pay tax and that without it there is no how government can improve on our road networks and other infrastructural development, because we cannot rob Peter to pay Paul. It is the duty of the body to look at all these issues and see how we can influence the governments to make their presence felt in our community. We have to assist the government, so that in return, the government too can assist us and this cry of marginalization can stop. We all have to be involved in governance and the notion that it is only the political class that should be responsible for bringing development from government is wrong. We have discovered that there are others with practical contributions to the society and can contribute meaningfully to community development and influence development from the government. In this group, we have journalists, politicians, teachers, business people, administrators and public officer among others who have made practical contributions to the development of Ikorodu and such are needed on this platform to work together. It is deliberate that we do not make the political class part of the steering group because we understand that would be partisan. They have a way they handle things and hence cannot yield the navigation of IDSA ship to them. We have taken the management of the IDSA off their shoulders but we are going to involve them when we want to push any idea in order to achieve. IDSA is a community based organization where young people come around and exchange ideas on how to move Ikorodu up. If our fathers have waited too long to hand-over the baton, did we ask them why and where do they need our assistance? Such is what this group stands for and not challenging them into a duel or asking them to vacate the scene. We are still evolving and with time they would understand where we are going. As a body, IDSA will also from time to time call our representatives at the federal and state levels, councilors and other elected officials to give their accounts of stewardship and this would not be by force but through a process they too will be willing to embrace. Moreover such situation will not make them appear as if they are standing trial but it is going to be a participatory one where we too can see where we have not been helpful as constituents and together find a way out of our logjam. In Onigbongbo LCDA, a man came up with the idea of House of Citizens on the basis that if there is House of Assembly and House of Representatives, there is also the need for House of Citizens and we bought the idea as a council and gave them a secretariat. The body has been going round to find out where they can contribute in all aspects like education and other areas and they have been calling the council attentions to so many areas. Even though we do not have the money but their position has made the council to be very conscious to the yearnings of the people. This has also provided the avenue for the council to state why it cannot embark on any project because the expectations of the people is that government can do everything and you need to constantly engage them. As a way out, the council has been redirecting so many projects by asking for state help and also call upon organizations to come into our assistance. The local government just bought two big buses for the school children and there is also a computer centre that was just set-up by the House of Citizens and at time a tour to Senegal was organized to see how House of Citizens operates there. Those are the kind of things we are planning to evolve in Ikorodu and not a political group.


Impact: There is possibility that some people who are also stakeholders may not be on the same page with the IDSA like the politicians who may feel sidelined because they are not allowed to steer the group. How do you intends to deal with such situation?

Mr Erogbogbo: Everything is about process and we are going to be methodological in handling such situation. I am not saying the politicians are not good and that they are not going to partake, rather, my position is that they are not the best to push the idea forward and is not that they do not want to, but just that it is naturally constrained to do that. When you are doing this kind of a thing, you have to identify major stakeholders who have meaningful contributions to make and sell our ideals through them to others that may pose some difficulties and this will help reduce the level of expected opposition. Since our purpose is basically for development and no string attached attached, there is no need to be fearful because everybody wants development.


Impact: There is this claim by the leaders that the youth have been given chance in term of local administration but performed poorly and their position is that the youth can no longer be trusted with power?

Mr Erogbogbo: There is no power tussle between the youth and the elders in Ikorodu. I do not see the reason for power tussle between the two classes. And if the youth are willing to take up the mantle of leadership, they must prove and not by talking. Again, to say that the youths have failed when given opportunities are some of the things we want to look at, by asking ourselves questions. Did they actually fail? And what are the parameters in measuring their failure? There is absolutely no power tussle and nobody is eager to chase them out of the system. What we are saying is that let there be good leadership and it starts from the Presidency down to the last person in the council. And if I may tackle your question from another angle, in modern days, leadership belongs to the young people and by this I mean the execution of developmental policies. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu from his second term in office as governor started running the country and that is why he will say that he is the pathfinder and strategist which truly he is. Our leaders are our pathfinders and we can throw them out, but we should also endeavor to graduate from where we are now to policy executosr. The youths also have to come together if we are to achieve any meaningful thing. We must develop leadership within this group in different categories and aspects before we can say we are ready. Just like what you have said, If you are given one assignment to do and you failed, what excuse do you have as a young man and why should you be entrusted with another one? Look at Hon. Sanai O.B. Agunbiade at the House of Assembly, is he a failure?

Look at Omoluabi, when he speaks you will discover that he is gifted. So, want to use all these characters with other non-politicians to build leadership and achieve development for Ikorodu. It is not about youth exhuberance, but development of core leadership that will take Ikorodu to another level.


Impact: Ikorodu people have the history of coming together when elections are around the corner, which usually frizzles out when the elections are over. There is also the issue of not finding a common ground when interests are affected. How do you intend making IDSA a strategic group that will stand the test of time and not go by the way of other groups?

Mr Erogbogbo: All those groups you said from my personal research and investigations have hidden and political agenda and when the party is over, the usual thing is to tell the chair rental service people to pack their chairs. IDSA does not have political but a developmental agenda. We are talking about developing our people and society. If at this age we cannot give back to our society, then we are not fit to live in it. That was the idea we have about RHODA, giving back to our community. As far as this group is concerned, information about what we do is very important and strategic, so that people could see our intentions in proper perspective and align. In IDSA, we have one voice and stand for fairness and equity. But take it from me, people with hidden agenda would break off when they see that they cannot achieve their motive, but those with Ikorodu interests will stay.


Impact: As a strategic body, what is the IDSA agenda for Ikorodu in 2015?

Mr Erogbogbo: I will not say 2015 because that is just next year. If we are saying that a body that was just given birth to recently have an agenda for next year, we will be making mess of the whole thing. It also implies that there is a hidden agenda. It is a long term projection and agenda that will develop and take Ikorodu to a greater height. We have learned from past mistakes that things are not done in that way. You don’t build a house in a day, it’s not possible.


Related posts

Leave a Comment