Open letter to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, by the United Voice of Badagry People Initiative (UVOB)
UVOB appeals to the Governor to encourage unity, fairness, equality, peace and security in Badagry
June 1, 2016
His Excellency Akinwunmi Ambode
Executive Governor of Lagos State
Lagos State, Nigeria
Kindly permit us to write you this open letter. Traditional leaders have played an important role in our communities and they continue to do so today. They present themselves as leaders of the community and represent the people’s voice, yet they must also act as role models in our society. We believe you can play an important role in making sure this happens. We believe you can be instrumental in fostering unity in Badagry. For this reason, we are writing you this open letter.
Disunity gives rise to inequality. Disunity hampers development. Disunity creates insecurity. For sustainable development and growth in Badagry’s environs, we need peace and security. But this peace and security can only be manifested when we have unity in our communities. And the problem, Mr Ambode, is that there is very little in Badagry.
Unity, fairness, equality, peace and security are important values in any democratic nation. However, some of these values including unity are absent from Badagry’s communities. We implore your administration to place Badagry at the forefront of its agenda in helping address the divisions pervasive across most of Badagry’s quarters.
We ask that you encourage all Badagrians to respect the rule of law and seek peace with their neighbour. We ask that you promote unity, fairness, equality, peace and security. Finally, we ask that you uphold the oath of your office: to “devote [yourself] to the service and well-being of the people of Nigeria”. And the reasons are clear:
1. Across Badagry, our people do not have regular power supply. Businesses and homes are being run without electricity. From Ajara to the Seme border, many Badagrians cannot turn on the light. Living life on generators is no life at all. Living in the biggest economy in Africa, arguably the most economically important state in Nigeria and the second largest commercial town in Lagos, it seems beyond belief that the law-abiding citizens of Badagry do not have electricity. Some have begun complaining that people in Ibereko, Aradagun, Mowo and Ikoga benefit from the presence of a hotel and army barracks, while those in Ajara and Seme “suffer” in darkness. It is time to power up Badagry!
2. Earlier this year in March, Badagrians urged you Mr Ambode, and fellow lawmakers to prioritise the provision of water. Residents made the plea in an interview with Lagos Metro, which visited the area during the official commissioning of eight modern boreholes offered by Hon. David Setonji, a lawmaker from Badagry Constituency II. While the provision of these boreholes to the Olorunda Local Council Development Area (LCDA) and Badagry Central Local Government Area (LGA) are welcome developments, it is simply not enough! Badagrians have been struggling with poor water supply for decades, using power generators to pump water for example. Mr Ambode, it’s time for change! We ask that you improve water supply across Badagry.
3. Yet the problems Badagry faces go beyond water supply. It touches the need for good roads and relief transformers, accountability and transparency as well as peace and security. Since May 2011, we have appealed to the Governor’s office to work together with us in dealing with the issues that affect Badagrians’ lives. While we have made some progress, more needs to be done. Mr Ambode: will you help us?
4. Recently, a 14 year leadership tussle ended in Topo, a community in Badagry, which saw two ruling houses fight bitterly over which house the new Baale should come from. And while it seems this battle has ended, many continue to flourish. There is an on-going tussle between three houses in Akarakunmoh for the right to Baaleship for example.
5. Just a few days ago, a traditional ruler of Itoga in Badagry petitioned your administration, following alleged attempts to install a parallel monarch in his community. In the petition, dated May 11, 2016, it is claimed that the Onibereko of Ibereko in Olorunda LCDA, Oba Israel Ade Okoya, has been making attempts to impose another monarch on his domain shortly after his installation by the Akran of Badagry. While the matter has been taken to the state High Court in Badagry, Oba Okoya, in a telephone interview with The Nation, denied knowledge of attempting to install another monarch and went further to claim that Itoga was not a part of Badagry Local Government and thus the Akran of Badagry had no jurisdiction in the matter.
6. Mr Ambode, from paragraphs 4 and 5, it is clear that disunity and divisions have corroded relationships in Badagry’s communities. Those who are meant to set an example in public service – using their position to serve and support the needs of the Badagrian people – have brought unrest to Badagry. Court battles are more commonplace than regular power supply. It’s time for unity. It’s time for change!
If you walked around Badagry’s communities, the level of disunity is clear to see. We were once a happy, friendly and jovial people. But as the decades have progressed, many law-abiding citizens have become disgruntled, frustrated and disillusioned by traditional and political leaders who perpetually fail to fulfil their obligation while in office: to “devote [themselves] to the service and well-being of the people of Nigeria.”
We implore you the Lagos State Governor, Mr Ambode, and Badagry’s lawmakers to walk around Badagry. We implore you to seek the truth. You cannot want development, yet not peace. You cannot say you love Badagry, yet watch its people tear their own communities apart. You cannot call yourselves representatives of Lagos and ignore your own people when they ask for help. Come to Badagry – the people are waiting!
As Badagrians, we value democracy. We value leaders who make it their mission to serve the people’s interests, who encourage development and who seek peace. Our traditional leaders are not gods, they are human beings. They are not above the law, but subject to it. We can no longer allow bitter rivalries to tarnish Badagry’s name. It has never been more important than the present to bring stability back to Badagry.
Power plays are continuously being made in most of Badagry’s environs. Many of our leaders use their influence at state level to oppress the common man. Court cases involving our traditional leaders are causing more instability than resolving tension. Unity of mind, people and love is missing in Badagry. It is blurring the sight of development and creating opportunities for ill-treatment. It is dividing our people Mr Ambode.
Badagry is an economically active town that has been host to so many new developments such as the Sea Port and the recent discovery of oil. Without unity in our communities, the stability of these projects will be called into question. Mr Ambode, the Governor’s office can no longer turn a blind eye to Badagry. No longer can a blind eye be turned to corruption, disunity, inequity and injustice.
Democracy was created to serve the many, and not the few. Public services are public so they benefit all people. Public office means serving your people. One community cannot be lifted from the gutter, while another left to rot. It would be like restoring sight to one eye, yet removing the other. And even so, there are many individuals within Badagry’s communities who are contributing positively to its growth. They make every effort to contribute to the wellbeing of their people – let us not only recognise their achievements, but work with them for a safer, more prosperous Badagry.
Mr Ambode, disunity creates the opportunity for insecurity. Insecurity creates the opportunity for uncertainty. Uncertainty creates no opportunities. The days of ‘business as usual’ are long gone. As Badagrians, we have had enough! We want clear direction and respect for the rule of law. We want unity and we want it now! It is only a matter of time before the mood aloof of love reaches boiling point. And when it reaches boiling point Mr Ambode, do not expect a high-pitched whistle because there will be no such thing. Wait for an explosion – an explosion of divisions, and in the worst of outcomes, violence!
Radical action is required to reform current behaviours, but we believe that you can make a difference in our communities. We believe you have the capacity and the power to transform Badagrian affairs. If only you would pay attention to Badagry! All we are saying, Mr Governor, is to give us unity.
As a politically neutral non-governmental organisation, we believe that it is our responsibility and duty to the Badagrian people to ensure their voice is heard by those who lead us. Our community spirit is fraying, but we are willing to rebuild its fabric. Badagrians want to hear your voice and they want to know you are listening. As a democrat acting without prejudice, acting with the obligation to serve your people and acting with the love of Badagry, we pray the Almighty God gives you the wisdom to deal with this matter accordingly.
As Badagrians, we vociferously challenge your administration to resolve the question of disunity in Badagry. Mr Governor: what will you do?
We hope to receive a favourable reply to our letter.
United Voice of Badagry People Initiative