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Exclusive: Residents Kick As Lagos Pulls Down Awolowo, Fela Statues On Allen Roundabout

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Residents Kick As Lagos Pulls Down Awolowo, Fela Statues On Allen Roundabout

…We Consulted Fela’s Family, Lagos Insists
…Reveals New Location For Effigy

By Augustine Akhilomen

Mixed reactions have greeted the removal of the statues of late Premier of the West African Region, Sir. Obafemi Awolowo and late Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti on Allen Roundabout, Ikeja, the Lagos capital.

Residents and passersby woke up to see bull dozers inside the two parks where the statues are located.

While the Awolowo statue was erected by the Tinubu administration, Fela’s was erected by the last administration of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on October 15, 2017.

Worried by the development, some Lagosians took to social media to vent their disapproval with the decision to remove the statues.

An art enthusiast and resident in the State, Durosinmi Adesoye in a chat with Thepledge said it came as a total shock to him to see bulldozers bringing down the statues.

“I was shocked to say the least. But for the fact that I was driving to meet up an appointment, I was going to confront them to find out why.

“Though I later read online that the government has intention to relocate the statues of our two great icons because it wants to remove the roundabouts, the location was just befitting, being the heart and capital of the State,” Adesoye said.

Another resident, Moses Fasoranti wondered why the State Government would decide to embark on such saying that there were other areas where urgent attention was needed to address gridlock.

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“Allen Roundabout is the least cause of Lagos traffic. I agree with the removal of Lekki roundabout, but this one in Allen is not really consequential. I hope the government knows what it is doing,” he said.

For Ranmilowo Dada, the first thought that ran through his mind was that the State Government was targeting the Fela structure built by the Akinwunmi Ambode administration.

“I was reading online that Lagos has pulled down Fela statue built by Ambode, I wondered why the government under Sanwo-Olu’s watch would concede to such.”

Femi Ilesanmi, a social critic, however, said that while he can confirm that the statues were not demolished but carefully removed from the roundabout to a location later to be unveiled later.

But the government in a swift response to the news making rounds on social media, said the removal of the statues had no sinister motive as it was part of the government’s plan for junction improvement in a bid to address traffic gridlock in some parts of the m hi uuetropolis.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had announced a few weeks back that some roundabout in the metropolis will have to give way to ease traffic congestion (Allen roundabout inclusive), while the Lekki roundabout has already been pulled down.

Speaking to journalists on Thursday, the State’s Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde who debunked the social media story said contrary to the malicious claims being spread by ill informed individuals, the statues were removed for the purpose of development.

Oladeinde said the need to carry out Junction improvements in some identified locations necessitated the removal of street furniture, statues of very notable personalities, art works and billboards.

The Commissioner noted that Lagos State Government holds the nation’s heroes in very high esteem and would not do anything to bring down the exalted heights they have attained during their lifetime directly or indirectly.

He said: “the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration, in a bid to finding a lasting solution to traffic gridlocks in the State, identified about sixty congestion points and have started work to improve traffic experience in five major locations.

Oladeinde said the government duly informed and consulted the Fela Anikulapo-Kuti family before the action was taken, noting that the whole process is for the benefit of Lagos residents.

The Commissioner said the Fela statue will be relocated to the roundabout between Allen Avenue and Opebi-Toyin Street.

“We are in the process of erecting the beautiful work of art, depicting Fela Anikulapo-Kuti at the Opebi-Toyin street junction. The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture is also working on a befitting location to erect the old Obafemi Awolowo statue,” he said.

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PDP Charges Nigerians On National Rebirth

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The Peoples Democratic Party has urged those behind mindless killings and terrorism in Nigeria to have a rethink and retrace their steps.

The party also charged those in authority to redouble their efforts in finding solutions to the challenges facing the country.

This was contained in a statement in which the party felicitated Nigerians as they celebrate this year’s Eid-el-Maulud which marks the birthday of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.

The statement titled, ‘Eid-el Maulud: PDP Felicitates with Nigerians, Urges National Rebirth,’ was signed by the PDP National Publicity, Secretary Kola Ologbondiyan.

It read, “The Peoples Democratic Party urges Nigerians to use the occasion of this year’s Eid-el Maulud for solemn introspection and make commitment towards a rebirth in all areas of national life.

“The party notes that Eid-el Maulud, the celebration of the birth of Holy Prophet Mohammed, presents a providential occasion for our nation to put behind, all issues that cause disunity, disaffection, strife and despondency and move to a new beginning by embracing the virtues of love for one another, tolerance, mutual understanding and forgiveness, in line with the teaching of the Holy Prophet.

“The PDP insists that such is the only way to move the nation forward under the present circumstance.

“Our party urges Nigerians to resist all forces that seek to disunite them for selfish reasons and continue to work together, especially in their determination to chart a new course for our dear nation on the platform of the PDP.

“The PDP also calls on Nigerians to use the occasion to make fervent supplication to God for divine intervention as well as show love by reaching out to one another, especially the less privileged and victims of escalated acts of terrorism in our country.

“The party also urges those behind the mindless killings and acts of terrorism in our country to have a rethink and retrace their steps, while charging those in authority to redouble their efforts in finding solutions to the challenges facing our nation at this critical time.

“The PDP felicitates with Nigerians and wishes them a happy Eid-el Maulud celebration.”

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FG Takes Delivery Of Final Batch Of Tucano Jets

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The federal government said it has taken delivery of the final batch of the 12 A-29 Super Tucano fighter jets expected from the United States.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this when he featured on a phone-in television programme “This Morning,’’ monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

“All the 12 Super Tucano fighter jets have been received. As at this morning(yesterday), all the 12 were here and they have been deployed to the North-East.

“We can see that the Tucano jets are actually game changer.

“Most of the successes we have recorded in recent time is because of the acquisition of the new platforms, not limited to the super Tucano,’’ he said.

The minister said with the recent notable successes recorded by the military on insecurity, he was amused by a story on Monday that the Nigerian Air Force paid N20 million to bribe bandits so that they would not bring down the president’s aircraft.

“Fortunately, the Air Force immediately debunked this because this exposes their ignorance.

“Between Zamfara, Katsina, parts of Kaduna and Niger states, there are about 150 bandit camps. Who then was the money given to?

“It does not make any sense and it is because they do not understand how bandits operate that is why they can peddle that kind of fake news,’’ he said.

Mohammed said with the improved security situation in the North-east and North-Central Zones the nation would experience improved food security.

“If you observe what is happening of recent, you can see heightened activities in the agricultural area.

“This is because of the superior fire power of the military which is now making it possible for people to go to their farms, especially in the North East.

“They have been able to put the criminals at bay,’’ he said.

The minister gave an assurance that the success of the military against terrorists and bandits would be sustained.

He therefore, solicited the cooperation and support of Nigerians for the sustenance of the military action.

The Nigerian Air Force on July 22 took delivery of the first batch of six of the A-29 Super Tucano aircraft from the United States.

The Director of Public Relations and Information, NAF Headquarters, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, who made the announcement, said the aircraft arrived in Kano.

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#EndSARS: Lagos Official To Youths: Protect Public Assets Against Vandalism

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Mr Olufunsho Elulade, General Manager, Lagos State Materials Testing Laboratory (LSMTL), on Tuesday appealed to youths to protect public infrastructure in their locality against any act of vandalism.

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Elulade said that public infrastructure were provided with taxpayers’ money, “so destroying them amount to hurting ourselves”.

Elulade was speaking against the backdrop of the damage done to LSMTL offices in Ojodu during the 2020 #EndSARS protests.

He said that the damage was minimal because some members of the public stopped hoodlums who hijacked the protest from wrecking further havoc on the facility and its operational vehicles.

He said operational vehicles of the Lagos State Public Works Corporation which shared the same compound with LSMTL were razed.

Elulade, a chartered highways and transportation expert who was part of the team that designed the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in Lagos, lamented the wanton destruction of the buses and other critical infrastructure.

He said the buses, buildings and other vandalised assets had direct benefits to youths and all other residents of Lagos.

“The youths should know that these BRT buses were bought to ease their movement from point ‘A’ to ‘B’, why would they destroy facilities that bring them comfort?”
Read Also: Anxiety over planned #EndSARS anniversary protests

Elulade urged Lagos residents to make infrastructure protection a collective responsibility.

He said that Lagos population kept growing daily, thus increasing pressure on government to keep improving and upgrading existing infrastructure.

According to him, destruction of assets amounts to slowing down progress for all residents.

He urged the EndSARS campaigners to tread with caution as their demand had been met by Federal Government’s disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in 2020.

The general manager also called for continued education and public sensitisation on the need for collaboration towards building a vibrant state and nation to transform Lagos into a 21st century economy.

NAN reports that the October 2020 #EndSARS protest against police brutality was hijacked leaving horrifying trails in Lagos and some parts of the country. (NAN)

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