Ijede community, one of the major and ancient towns that made up the Ikorodu Division of Lagos State, Southwest, Nigeria, has proven to be a major contributor to the tourism development of the division with great tourism innovation that surprised everyone.
Fun loving residents of the town and visitors were treated to a surprise but fun – filled 2021 Easter Sunday celebration at the beach that was created out of an abandoned water shore that has turned into a thick swampy forest and dump site for all sought of things.
The good thing about the beach is not only the way it was created but also, its location at the Odoro river site which is graded category three by the Lagos State Government in its law for the preservation, protection and restoration of historical properties 2011.
The Easter gathering at the new Odoro beach, which brought traditional authority, adults and youths together in the community, also marked the beginning of the resuscitation and preservation of the ancient and significant Odoro river which source comes from the underneath of the Odoro hill and flows into the lagoon.
Prince Adedamola Aderibigbe, Publisher of the Starlight and Chairman, Ajede Luwasa Day Celebration, addressing the gathering on how the idea of the beach came into being, said that it was an initiative towards the development of tourism in Ijede.
“Ijede is blessed with sons and daughters that do venture out to see happenings in other places. There are many places that do not have what we have and their local economies are improving, this is why we deemed it fit to develop what we have by improving our tourism potentials to aid our local economy”, he said.
“We thank God that the traditional chieftains gave us the permission to stage the Odoro carnival last year which was successful.
“We were actually planning to host the Children’s day in May when someone raised the idea that we could have a beach party for Easter since we successfully had the Odoro carnival last year.
“We called Mr Kabiru Tijani, one of the Odoro boys that brought up the idea that we can have a beach here which was formerly a thick swampy forest where people were dumping refuse and defecating, and other members of the Odoro Development Base and we resolved to start the process of creating the beach with commitment that we are going to be responsible for the finance.
“After we had agreed, I went to the palace to inform traditional authority and we were given the blessings to go ahead.
“We thought that it was going to be an easy task but what we faced was more than what we bargained for”, Adedamola said while recalling what the organisers went through in creating the Odoro beach.
“Our members were responsible for the clearing of the bush, filling the land with sands evacuated from the lagoon when Hausa men that we contacted refused to work on the site because of what the place looked like then”.
Speaking further with THE IMPACT, Aderibigbe said that the beach party at the shore of the Odoro river which is a significant tourism centre, is the beginning of placing Ijede on the global tourism map and developing the local economy.
“We are gathered here to explore and develop the tourism potentials of Ijede Kingdom since we are blessed with waterways and seashore, that is why we reclaimed the shore and sand filled it manually to achieve this.
“We are still going to expand it but we created this to create an atmosphere of togetherness for our people and at same time, develop our tourism potentials”.
He said that the Easter beach party is a prelude to the bigger things that will come during the celebration of this year’s Odoro carnival in November.
“It also adds to the fact that last year, we started the annual Odoro carnival which holds every last Sunday in October and this is just an addition.
“By the time we will be hosting the Odoro carnival this year, it will be a better and bigger one and it will take place at this waterfront”.
Adedamola also added that the development is a follow – up to the visit by the Lagos Assembly committee on tourism and called on the government, both at local and state levels, to come to the community’s aid and develop the beach and by extension, the historic Odoro river.
“This was a follow up to the last Odoro carnival and the recent visit by the Lagos State House of Assembly on Tourism and actually, we are improving our tourism potentials based on the advice that the Assembly men gave during their visit.
“We are hoping that based on that advice, the local and state governments would intervene and help us upgrade this place. We hope that the state government could provide a dredger to sandfill this place for us.
“All we did to achieve this was manual sand filling by committed members of the community. These same people contributed financially to the achievement of this without any support anywhere”, he said.
The Regent and Olisa of Ijede, High Chief Alliu Musediq who was very surprised by what the youths achieved with Odoro beach, pledged the support of the entire community and added that Ijede can now think of organizing a proper Odoro festival.
“This is very surprising to me because I did not expect that this can be achieved here. I can’t believe that our youths can drive the water backward and make this place what it is today.
“All the traditional chiefs and entire residents of Ijede are happy with this and that is why we are all gathered here today to celebrate.
“With this achievement, the entire Ijede can now think of holding a proper Odoro river festival”.
He also called on the government to intervene and further develop the place.
“I commend Damola and other members of his team for this wonderful initiative. Government should come to our aid and help us preserve Odoro river”, the Regent pleaded.
The Chairman of Ijede LCDA, Hon. Fathiu Salisu, speaking, also commended the organisers of the beach party and described it as a developmental effort.
He was represented by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Kabir Kareem.
“This is a developmental effort that we are very proud of. We are proud that our youths are taking up responsibility of bringing development into Ijede”, the Chairman said.
He charged the organisers not to relent but sustain the beach with more activities and engagements.
“I enjoin the committee not to relent but ensure that we hold festivals from time – to – time in this place.
“This act would place Ijede on the global tourism map”, he said.
In his remark, Comrade Kunle Matti, a civil servant and youth leader in Ijede, also commended the initiators and described the initiative as worth supporting.
“I decided to support the initiative with coconut trees when I heard about it because coconut trees are a feature of a beach.
“We need support to really develop this place for the residents and visitors and tourists that would be coming to Ijede to relax”.
Speaking on behalf of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Ijede branch, Comrade Lateef Adetayo, the Publicity Secretary of the body, also commended the organisers, particularly for providing the youth body with a good place to host their counterparts across the state whenever they are visiting Ijede.
The highlight of the memorable event was the planting of the ten coconut trees donated by Comrade Kunle Matti by traditional chieftains and other eminent personalities that were in attendance to give the reclaimed land a beach outlook.
Meanwhile, according to the organisers, there would also be beach soccer every Sunday to keep the place alive and enable residents and tourists to relax and have fun.
The beach party also showcased the abundance talents that Ijede is blessed with in music, dance and drama, as there were several exciting performances, particularly the one by Young Kadiri Saheed, a Junior Secondary School 2 student of Luwasa High School, Ijede, who entertained the entire gathering with his masterfully blend of Yoruba, English and Broken English hip hop performance and was well appreciated by the fun seekers who sprayed him naira notes.