Why Sanwo-Olu Should Pay Attention to Ikorodu

he Governor–elect of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, may be warming up for the job of running the mega metropolis with many expectations from various quarters, yet, there are some salient constituents like Ikorodu he must pay more attention to. This is due to the strategic role this constituent is playing in the development of Lagos State. The people of Ikorodu may have shown Babajide Sanwo-Olu love and support in the recent poll by casting the third largest votes, (coming next to Alimoso and Mushin) with 45,879 votes, the territory has more to offer the incoming governor and the city of Lagos.
Ikorodu as an inherent part of the mega-city has the key to unlock some of the challenges troubling our smart city. It has many opportunities waiting for the government to explore and use to the advantage of the entire state. The issues of traffic congestion and human habitation will reduce by half if the incoming state administrator take cognizance of the potentials awaiting him in Ikorodu. The rising population in Ikorodu coupled with the massive hinterland, present the state with innumerable benefits.
As a matter of fact, the 2006 national census proved that Ikorodu is the third largest inhabited Local Government in Lagos state with a population of two million five hundred and thirty five thousand, eight hundred and eleven people (out of 14.5 million people of Lagos). That was the stats available thirteen years ago, when you add the 6% increase in population and the recent influx of settlers trouping from the Lagos Mainland to settle in Ikorodu, the local government currently inhabits over twenty percent of the entire Lagos population. If a census is conducted today, we expect that Ikorodu will take the second place as the most populous LG in Lagos (our nation is over three years due for national census). This rapid growth in Ikorodu is due to the generous and massive landmass available here. The local government has the potential of affording fourty percent of the Lagos population with decent living, if well develop. That is where the incoming governor should calculate the cost of restructuring Ikorodu in terms of infrastructure and social institutions.
There are so many benefits for both the government and the people of Ikorodu in the proper planning and development of the region. Firstly, the problem of Lagos city housing could have a huge break if Governor Babajide Sanwolu, who is a professional town planner and being one of the contemporary minds behind the planning of the new Lagos, comes in with a massive housing projects in the towns of Ikorodu. One unique feature of Ikorodu is the fact that it now defines the middle-class as there are regions/towns with emerging estates afforded by middle class workers who have find decent living in the regions. The towns also cater for the housing needs of the commoners who are still struggling to make ends meet. Now is the time for the governor to come in and revisit the town planning map of Ikorodu to sanitize it. This is because the territory now suffer from indiscriminate buildings where settlers from the mainland build houses illegally and defy the government specifications and regulations for building. This could lead to the emergence of a city with irregular structures which will add to future urban problems in Lagos. There are massive lands in some Ikorodu suburbs like Ijede, Baiyeku, Igbogbo, Odogunyan, Isiu and Imota where the government can plan low-cost and medium housing estates with industrial layouts. Since the Lekki-Ajah axis is marked as highbrow areas, Ikorodu can be developed as the abode for the middle class, who are the real workers serving the city of Lagos. If well planned at this stage, Ikorodu region can provide decent habitation for at least forty percent of the Lagos population.
This now leads us to another major challenge bedeviling the Lagos metropolis- transport problem. The Lagos traffic challenge has come to an unspeakable point where it is costing huge business hours and affecting the health of reasonable numbers of Lagos residents. Ikorodu holds a key to reducing the Lagos traffic to a reasonable extent. The region has alternative routes to other parts of Lagos, ranging from the Lekki-Ajah, Victoria Island districts to the Ogba-Ikeja districts. A good road network in Ikorodu region would ease the mainland traffic congestions. Take for instance, if the planned Ajah-Begger route which is marked to run through Imota is built, a sizeable number of commuters will avoid the Begger-Obalende route and that will be a huge relief to other road users in the mainland. Besides, the Ikorodu waterways are suitable alternatives for the road users plying the Lagos Island from Ikorodu on daily basis. There are about three jetties in Ikorodu to Ajah, Lekki and Victoria Island which are currently operating below their capacities. The government need to come in and partner with the private waterways transporters in these jetties. This will reduce road traffic and reduce the emission of carbon dioxide release to the atmosphere by the hundreds of vehicles on the Ikorodu-Mainland route. There is no doubt that proper planning and managing of the Ikorodu waterways will bring succor to the teaming residents of Ikorodu.
Public finance has always been an issue for governments around the world, the Lagos State government can convert Ikorodu into a money spinning region if they look closer. The region has potentials of creating enabling business environment for entrepreneurs and investors. The Egbin power plant in Ikorodu has a capacity of providing many hours of power in the region. With the rise of hotels and cottage industries along the Ijede road, stable power supply will attract more businesses in this area. This very act will expand the tax net for the state government as rising SMEs will increase and invariably, the tax payment will rise. As the astute Bola Ahmed Tinubu recently advised the Federal government in his colloquium speech, not to increase the VAT but to expand the tax net by empowering and including SMEs/entrepreneurs in the tax net.
The new governor can take a cue from there by exploring Ikorodu further. The former rector of the Lagos State Polytechnic, Mr. Ayodeji Iginla believe that government has a lot to benefit from the development of infrastructure in Ikorodu. According to Iginla, these developments will create greater employment opportunities and increase personal income tax and the government can make a fortune from the land use charges. He explained that convenient access and transportation to and fro Ikorodu will benefit all and sundry.
While there are never one means of raising money, the region provides untapped sources of revenue for the state government. A researcher Steven Anu’ Adesemoye of the Lagos State Polytechnic, who is currently documenting tourism attraction destinations in Ikorodu and its environs, was thrilled by many tourism and film locations which are potential income earners for the government and the communities. “I discovered that every communities in Ikorodu has unique festivals which are celebrated annually and visitors from home and abroad love to witness. These could have a huge return for the communities and the state government, coupled with the fact that most Yoruba home videos are shot in the Ikorodu town and suburbs, there are a lot for the government to explore” Adesemoye narrated. The tourism attraction destinations in the Ikorodu community has attracted foreigners from Europe and America who film and take photographs of the ceremonial proceedings in the different communities annually, these could be developed into a standard business where local tour guides, historians, map publishers dancing and drama troupes will all make a living and pay personal income tax to the government. He believe that Ikorodu has landmass fertile enough to provide food for the teaming population of Lagos. The various communities of Ikorodu also have massive pieces of land suitable for crop and animal cultivation. The Governor could start by procuring ten farm tractors for the Ikorodu region where farmers could rent for soil cultivation. This will increase the rate of food production across the region. Livestock farming is currently thriving, the government can empower the local farmers to practice a complete agro-value chain from rearing/cultivation to processing and distribution.
Aside the money making avenues available in Ikorodu, the governor also has the obligation of carrying out his duty to the people. It is his duty to see to the welfare of the people of Ikorodu. The standard of education in Ikorodu at the elementary level may seem to be dwindling, since the influx of people from the mainland, many mushroom primary and secondary schools have sprang up. These schools barely attain the state government standard. And the number of government public primary and secondary schools have not increased in the last decade. To restore good basic education, Babajide Sanwo-olu must help build new public schools in the region to ease the over-crowded schools. Also, the number of maternity homes and hospitals could no longer serve the increasing number of pregnant women. There is a dire need for more maternity homes for the services of women and children.
As Babajide Sanwolu looks forward to work on the Lagos project, Ikorodu is a great place for him to start. He has nothing to lose.

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