Wale JAGUN, Olatunji ADEMOLA & Ebunolowa AFOLABI (SIWES student)
-Infrastructural deficits, local govt. administration, responsive usage of social media, others formed major focus of discussion
Guests, most of whom are participants on THE IMPACT Newspaper’s WhatsApp Chat platform, replicated their no hold bar informed and engaging discussion online when they gathered at the inauguration of the much awaited initiative of the newspaper, IMPACT Monthly Square Discourse on Friday, September 27, 2019.
The maiden edition of the initiative, which is aimed at creating a physical platform for participants and residents to discuss issues affecting Ikorodu Division and community media, was held at the Falcoms Bar and Lounge, located opposite Mobil Petrol Station, Ipakodo, Ebute.
The event also marked the celebration of the 5th anniversary of THE IMPACT newspaper and the World News Day (WND).
Kunle Adelabu, Publisher of THE IMPACT, while introducing the monthly discourse initiative, stated that there is need for residents of Ikorodu division to physically discuss the economic, social and political challenges facing the division and proffer solutions to them .
“The main purpose of our gathering here today is primarily to inaugurate the monthly square discourse. We started this online in 2016 and it has been a model which other WhatsApp platforms have copied and imitated” , he stated.
“We feel that it is time we make the discussion physical in order to accommodate more people and engage ourselves more effectively.
“We are going to be gathering here every month to discuss issues that are germane to Ikorodu Division and community media. To achieve this, we are partnering with a leading hospitality business in Ikorodu Division, Falcoms Bar & Lounge, to host the event”.
Adelabu also called for concerted efforts in developing tourism potentials in the division.
Mr Ayodeji Iginla, former Rector of the Lagos State Polytechnic and chairman of the occasion, commended THE IMPACT publisher for his paper’s reportorial activities, online presence and administration of its WhatsApp Chat platform.
He stated that the monthly discussion would afforded residents to discuss issues affecting them.
“The topic for discussion is broad; things that concern Ikorodu Division; the rich culture and tradition of Ikorodu Division; the bad roads; the fact that Ikorodu does not have a stadium; how the lagoon front can be improved and turned into a tourist resort.
“These and others are what we are going to be discussing when we gather here monthly. The monthly discourse will provide avenue for participants to discuss about any part of Ikorodu division that is of interest to the readers of this community newspaper”, he added.
Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, the Majority Leader of the Lagos State House of Assembly, while commending the organisers, also condemned the way and manner youths in Ikorodu are making use of social media platforms.
“When you go on the social media, you will weep for Ikordu because of the way our youths write and articulate their positions. It’s always abuses and criticisms that lack merit and which portray the critics as people who do not know what they are criticizing”, he stated.
“Some of our youths are only criticising based on their grievances, disappointments and at times, frustration about the system”, he added.
In challenging stakeholders in the division to get involved in governance as a way of attracting government’s presence to the division, he said:
“In other climes, those that move the society are not the politicians but who-is-who in the community. You will see them moving closer to the government but are our big clubs (members of social clubs) in Ikorodu closer to the government? , he asked.
“Governance has gone beyond saying ‘it is our turn’. It is now about your inputs in constituting the government.
“Our people are too confrontational to power. In 2017 when we pursued the Ikorodu for Governor campaign, we were unable to get it because we were not in any of the parties that were capable of getting our sons nominated as candidates”, he recalled.
“We only stayed back in Ikorodu and kept sloganeering that ‘it is our turn’. Politics has moved beyond sitting back and not getting involved”.
The four term lawmaker, therefore, called for better articulations of issues concerning Ikorodu division.
“You cannot participate or be functional in a government unless you are part of it. What we ought to do is to find a better way of articulating our positions as a division.
“I am not saying that our youths should not criticize but when doing that, you must be seen to be well informed”.
Hon. Agunbiade stated that the marginalization of Ikorodu division is self-inflicted and called for unity among the people of the division in order to move the division forward.
“Enough of all these shouts about marginalization because nobody is marginalising us except ourselves. Let us position ourselves and forget about this rhetoric of marginalization.
“The youths must also come together and see how they too can positively participate in governance.
“Why we keep fighting ourselves, others keep arranging themselves. Let’s start showing love to ourselves. Love begets love and hatred begets hatred”, he charged.
His Royal Majesty, Oba (Barr.) Semiudeen Orimadegun Kasali, the Adeboruwa of Igbogbo, called for the usage of Yoruba language to prevents its extinction.
“We have been told that our language is gradually going into extinction and we have to do something about it by encouraging that it is spoken in forum like this”, he appealed.
“Then, there used to be a Yoruba magazine, ‘Atoka’, which had since been rested. We need to do more in publishing Yoruba magazines such as that.
“I want community publishers to look into that and find ways to address that. I thank everybody for coming and congratulate THE IMPACT for today’s programme and I wish you well.”
Otunba Elesho, a former Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Lagos State and the Agbaakin of Ikorodu Kingdom, in his own address, called for an umbrella body that would coordinate scattered socio-cultural, economic and political groups across Ikorodu division.
“Ikorodu division needs an overall body that would coordinate the activities of other groups. It is high time that we do that so that these groups will not be talking in different directions”, he suggested.
“This is one of the major purposes of Village Square that THE IMPACT is inaugurating today. Let’s always have a topic to discuss every month with speakers and discussants and allow others too to make contributions.
He stated that the organisers of the monthly parley should endeavor to take resolutions to appropriate quarters for implementation.
“We don’t have any good road in Ikorodu and that is the topic that we are going to discuss.Let’s have resolutions, issue communique and send them to appropriate quarters and follow them up”.
On local government challenges, the former Commissioner stated that:
“Our problem is not from the people from other states but in-house. When others are creating more local governments, Ikorodu refused to do the same. Some of us as young as we were at that time spoke with the late Oba Oyefusi, who was the Ayangbure of Ikorodu at that time, to reconsider his stance on the issue but he refused” , he recalled.
“When we were in government, the late Oba of Lagos, Oba Oyekan would always come to Alausa to knock on Commissioners’ doors to make demands for his community and we told late Oba Oyefusi to as well do same in getting our needs in Ikorodu but he said no, that was where our problems started.
“Today, we have one Local Government and five Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) sharing the allocation that is meant for one local government, whereas, there are retinue of officials and that is why the bulk of the allocation always go into overhead expenses” , he stated.
Otunba Elesho, therefore, appealed to the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, review the constitution to accommodate the Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) as full-fledge local councils.
“Federal Government should assist us in amending the constitution and create more local governments, particularly for us in Lagos State so that all our LCDAs will be made local governments. Until that is done, we might not move forward”.
Prince Rotimi Ogunleye, former Commissioner for Physical Planning & Urban Development and former Editor with Daily Times, stated that THE IMPACT Publisher has taken community media practice to another level by creating platform for people to engage online and physically.
“He has taken community journalism to another level through his online media. I am not a fan of online media because it’s not controlled. As somebody that practiced journalism to the highest level as editor of Daily Times Group, I know journalist through and through and that’s why I have to come here today to identify with the publisher of THE IMPACT newspaper”, Prince Ogunleye added.
He called for responsible and responsive journalism:
“I want to tell others that are using their papers to intimidate, harass and abuse that the law of defamation is there just in case they don’t know. They can be sued within six years of their action”.
Alhaja Abodun Ogunniyi, the Principal, Oriwu Senior Model College, Ikorodu, who was represented by Alhaja Olawunmi Nimota Adegoke, a Counselor in the same school, called on the publisher of THE IMPACT to assist in giving career talk to students in secondary schools to help them choose careers, especially in Mass Communication.
She lamented the dwindling state of students enrolling for Humanities (Arts) Class.
“This (Journalism) is a career and we want you to extend your expertise to secondary schools because majority of our students are not knowledgeable enough in choosing careers” , she appealed.
“This will make students learn more about Mass Communication as a course that they can study. Nowadays, we don’t have much students in Humanity Class because they are all focusing on Science and Business Classes”, she lamented.
“We need you to speak to our students from-time-to-time regarding this “.
She also called on political leaders and other leaders in Ikorodu to ensure that speed-breakers are constructed in front of schools to prevent accidents, while also adding that the government should rehabilitate the Ikorodu-Igbogbo (Oba Molaja) road which she said is in deplorable state.
Alhaji Monzor Olowosago, Publisher, Oriwu Sun newspaper, stated that Ikorodu division should focus more on demanding for infrastructural development in the division from the government instead of clamouring for more political appointments.
He frowned at media houses covering political activities free and opined that “politicians seeking for coverage or publicity must pay for space”.
Speaking on political and infrastructures development in Ikorodu Division, the foremost community media practitioner, stated that:
“Ikorodu should advocate for more infrastructures instead of asking for more political appointments.
“Most of our political office holders are not responsive to the yearnings of the people and are only interested in their own well-being”.
Prince Akeem Olukunga, Member of the Governing Board, Lagos State Sports Commission, charged the division to do everything possible in making the State government construct the stadium its promised to construct at the Lagos State Polytechnic premises.
“Ikorodu has missed the opportunity of having three major sporting facilities.
“First, Ikorodu had been given the opportunity of having a standard stadium (the 40 acres of land earmarked for Ikorodu stadium which is now housing Jubillee estate and other facilities), where is it? Secondly, the division had gotten the opportunity to have an international golf course, where is it? Thirdly, Ikorodu had also been given the opportunity to have a mini-stadia but it is no more (the collapsed Ipakan Mini-Stadia).
“My appeal is this, we have missed it three times and this is the fourth time. The government is partnering with the Lagos State Polytechnic to have a standard stadium. Ikorodu should rise up to that task”, he charged.
Dr Adeyemi Idowu, a Medical practitioner and former member, Medical Advisory Committee to Gov.Babatunde Fashola, SAN, condemned the mushroom associations in Ikorodu which he alleged that are not making any impact.
He added that, “Ikorodu should focus more on development rather than politics”.
Mr Smart Oluwole Abejoye, a journalist and public analyst, while also contributing, stated that development can only be achieved with functional local councils and charged community news media to rise up to the occasion in spotlighting council administrators and their performances.
“I have always been an advocate of community newspaper and community development.
“The catalyst for nation’s development is the local government and we are still getting it wrong as a nation. If the local government chairman cannot see to the smooth running of our primary health centres except he or she gets order from Alausa, such a place would not develop.
“This is where community newspaper will probably have to do more”, he challenged.
“If the council chairman and his cabinet cannot see to the smooth running of roads, policing the environment and others, this is where community paper will have to do more.
“I am an active participant on THE IMPACT Whatsap Chat platform but I observed that some people are not receptive to views contrary to theirs”, he stated while registering his reservation about the platform.
“I think community newspapers have to start looking at how to develop local news content as a way to develop our local governments”.
Alhaji Kola Akinsanya, a sports administrator, safety ambassador and internationally recognised first aider, simply stated that:
“We need stadium in Ikorodu. We need to convey this message to the Governor”.
Kunle Bada, the Publicity Secretary, Ikorodu-Oga Development Association (IKODASS), also charged THE IMPACT to encourage the usage of Yoruba language at its programmes and publications.
“Kunle (Publisher of THE IMPACT), you should try as much as possible to encourage the use of Yoruba language at your events because it is going into extinction.
“We have so many challenges in Ikorodu and we must look at ways to make use of THE IMPACT to bring notable people and other stakeholders together to discuss our challenges and proffer solutions to them”.
While also stating that there is infrastructural deficit in Ikorodu division, Bada lamented the state of roads and schools in the division.
“We don’t have roads in Ikorodu and most of our schools are in terrible state. People should go round schools in Ikorodu to see their conditions. There is none that is conducive for learning”, he stated.
“In some classes, there are about 100 students with only a teacher attending to them and we want such a teacher to perform optimally”, he asked.
He stated that THE IMPACT platforms should be used in canvassing Ikorodu’s positions to the government while also calling for maximum utilization of body of waters surrounding Ikorodu division.
“Let us use THE IMPACT newspaper to channel our positions and look for solutions to all these.
“We also need to harness the opportunities on our waterways in Ikorodu division.”
Mr Treasure Bayowa, the Guinness Book of World Record holder in Read Aloud Marathon, like other speakers, also called for responsive and responsible journalism.
“Social media wields significant social influence. This further revealed why journalism is the fourth estate of the realm. This, for me, is an understatement.
“For us to have a developing society, we must have responsible and responsive journalism”, he stated.
Bayowa also called on journalists in Ikorodu division to always balance their news report and not be partisan.
“I have never seen a community in my life as political as Ikorodu, everywhere in Ikorodu, someone somewhere belong to a particular caucus and everything that you say and post are being judged from that angle”.
Mrs Funke Awoyemi, a community developer, called for support for THE IMPACT for the sustenance of the monthly discourse and development of journalism.
Prince Ladega, a broadcast journalist, while stated the reason for creating Local Council Development Areas, also called for more media reports on the councils’ administrators.
“Idea of creating LCDAs is to bring governance closer to the people, hence, there is need to get the right people at the grassroots to run them as well as community media to focus on them.
He also called for the dedication of a special column for reporting councils’ activities.
Comrade Semiudeen Akinlawon Fasasi, Chairman, Non Academic Staff Union, Lagos State Polytechnic chapter, condemned the absence of the local government chairmen and other political office holders at the event.
“The essence of this gathering is to bring up robust discussion. It’s quite unfortunate that council chairmen failed to attend. It is a failure on their part.
He also lamented the infrastructural decadence in the division.
“Infrastructural development in Ikorodu is at its lowest ebb”.
Fasasi also called for transparency in the local government administration:
“We want our local government administrators to public make their budgets public so that we can know what their plans are. They should also make their finances public”.
Hon. Azeez Jimoh Olosugbo, former Councilor Leader, Ikorodu Local Government and political strategist,while also contributing, raised issue on the over N2bilion naira being expended by councils in Ikorodu division on their workforce with little or no output.
He added that this among other issues are what THE IMPACT Square discussion should be looking at.
Second edition of the IMPACT Square Discourse will hold on last Friday in October.