Hon. Yahya Ebudola Adeniyi Dosunmu, a veteran politician recently caused a stir during the commissioning of the new secretariat for Eti-Osa Local Government when he held participants spellbound with his vivid narration of how the present-day Eti-Osa community was liberated from the clutch of Ikorodu Divisional Council.
According to him, some young men of his age group, fresh from secondary schools and teachers’ colleges, gathered themselves to free Eti-Osa Community politically, socially and economically from the yoke of slavery from the then Ikorodu Divisional Council where they belonged before and after Nigeria’s Independence in 1960.
“Today, we all gathered here to celebrate, to honour those to whom honour is due. In May 1966, these few young men gathered themselves at Ansar-Ud-Deen School, Okepopo, Lagos and gave birth to an organ known and called the Associated Societies of Eti-Osa Development Council (ASSEDC),” he said.
Speaking further, Dosunmu noted that these young men had a dream, a vision and a mission. Their conclusion was that Eti-Osa Community can’t continue to live in dark ages in 20th Century of our time.
Their objective was to bring rapid development to all the group of villages in Eti-Osa – Ikate, Ajiran, Ajah, Addo, Lamgbasa, Badore, Shangotedo, Ogombo, Okun-Ajah, Okun-Mopo, Akinlade, Okun Lafiaji, Okun Alfa, Igbo Efon, Ikota, Idado, Agungi, Osapa London, Maiyegun, Gbara, Igbokusu, Ogoyo, Alafunfun and Imoba.
Each of these villages was represented in the ASSEDC by five (5) members. The notable among them were: Alhaji Adio Maiyegun, Prince Tijanni Adetunji Akinloye now the Oba of Ajiranland, Prince Yekinni Adeniyi Elegushi (deceased) the late Oba of Ikate Land, Mr. Musa Eshinrogunjo, the strong man of Eti-osa Mr. Lamidi Akinlolu (deceased) Mr. Afolabi Balogun (deceased) and Mr. Allison Balogun (deceased).
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Others were Alhaji Hakeem Adekanbi (deceased) Alhaji Shakiru Ologolo, Alhaji Afiz Ologolo (deceased) Alhaji Harafa Shitta, Alhaji P. O. Amusa, Pa Adewale, Alhaji Isiaka Abass (deceased), Alhaji Ganiu Atanda Abari (deceased), Mr. Yinusa A. Dosunmi (deceased), Hon. Yahya E. A. Dosumu, Mr. Alade Akinsanya (deceased), Chief Tolani Shekoni (deceased), Alhaji Owolabi Imam; Mr. Nurudeen Oseni (deceased) and a host of other unnamed members.
However, a few elites – one, two, three or four refused to be identified, because they were ashamed to say they were from a retrogressive area of Lagos State. Therefore, they claimed Ikorodu township as their place of birth; they were not proud of their source of origin.
On the other hand, those passionate members resolved on two issues that we must tear ourselves away from Ikorodu, for there to be progress and development in Eti-Osa. Secondly, they wanted us to stand on our own and have a Local Authority Council or at most, be merged with the then Lagos City Council.
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All said and done, we concluded that in order to attract the State Government’s attention to our area, we must embark on a self help road project.
Under the leadership of Alhaji Adio Maiyegun as president and myself (Hon. Yahya Dosunmu) as the general secretary, we were able to make a lot of in-road around that time. At that time, various different groups in Lagos State – the Aworis, the Ijebus, the Badagry, the Idejo, the Eti-Osa Community and other minority groups took advantage of the status quo to pension the military administrator that they wished to be classified as dominating major groups within their local government or Local Authority Councils. The Association of Eti-Osa Societies joined the bandwagon.
Collectively, we petitioned the military administrator – stating our facts and figures on why we should be carved out of Ikorodu. In our petition, we stated clearly that we do not have anything in common with Ikorodu. That they were Ijebu while we are Lagosians and more importantly that we were not trading partners. We also told them that by culture and language, we are different. Besides the taxes paid by our fathers and brothers have continually been used to develop Ikorodu while we wallowed in abject poverty.
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The resultant effect was that Eti-Osa remains a jungle – no road except footpath to our farm, no clinic not to talk of primary health centers. There were only three primary schools in a community of about forty (40) villages.
With these complaints, the military administrator set-up a commission headed by Justice Ogunnaike – “The Re-organisation of Local Government Councils in Lagos State.” Ikorodu, in its own petition, raised an objection on, why Eti-Osa Local Authority should remain in Ikorodu Divisional Council.
But in truth, Eti-Osa was educationally retrogressing – no lawyer(s), doctor(s) engineer(s) etc. but with our fathers, their native intelligence and our little education, we argued out our case before Ogunnaike Panel.
When the final report came out, we were separated from Ikorodu and merged with Lagos Island Local Government Council. The City Council was also divided into two – the Lagos Island Local Government Council and the Lagos Mainland Local Government Council.
The Military Government also set up a caretaker management committee in each of the councils in Lagos State. In this regard, Eti-Osa was given two representatives in the Council leading to Alhaji Adio Maiyegun and Alhaji Aliu Adekanbi being nominated into the Council 1972/76.
By that time, Eti-Osa Community and Ibeju Leki had partnered in Self Help Project On Road Network because the State Military Government had started giving out aid to rural areas who were doing one project or the other to bring development voluntarily to their communities.
Owing to the fact that we in Eti-Osa were so passionate about this road development project, we got a lifeline from Operation Crossroad Africa – the American Volunteers from US through the connection of Alhaji Adio Maiyegun and Prince Adetunji Akinloye (now the Alaiyeluwa Oba of Ajiranland). By then, we were able to construct wooden bridge on Ikota River.
Looking back now, I can vividly say that only one vehicle with an auxiliary gear could move around Eti-Osa.
In 1976, the popularity election otherwise known as “Zero Party” sharply divided these ASSEDC into two. One group wanted the young Late Prince Yekinni Adeniyi Elegushi as a Councillor to represent Eti-Osa in the Lagos Island Local Government while another group endorsed Late Mr. Alade Akinsanya. The Late Alayeluwa Oba Y. A. Elegushi eventually won the election which sharply divided a one-time Eti-Osa united family.
However, things changed in 1997 when political parties were formed. The Late Prince Elegushi group, led by Alhaji Adio Maiyegun went to NPN while the Late Akinsanya group headed by Hon. Yahya Ebudola Dosunmu went to UPN.
It was a call to service for the two groups. Each group unknowing to each other was negotiating first a “Motorable Road” that would link Eti-Osa Community with Victoria Island, Lagos; followed closely by electricity. With these two in place, we had a strong belief that other developments such as water, housing, commerce and industries will follow.
It is on record that I, Yahya Ebudola Adeniyi Dosunmu, Alhaji Semisemu Adio Maiyegun and Late Alhaji Jimoh Ogidan contested the elections. While I won, my two other brothers lost. That notwithstanding, they forgot their defeat and gave me their full support.
We later put pressure on Alhaji L. K. Jakande’s government to provide us with the land they promised. At a point, we wore rain boots repeatedly to the Lagos State House of Assembly just to attract attention and to constantly remind them that our road has not been given to us.
Alas! The original ‘Action Governor’ of Lagos State, Alhaji L. K. Jakande gave us a solid dual carriage ways – Left and right from Victoria Island to Epe without a toll gate since 1981. That was the beginning of serious development in Eti-Osa.
Looking back now, one can say that there is still room for improvement. We thank the present Lagos State government for modernising our villages today with drainages, roads, primary health centres and restructuring of our primary and secondary schools.
On a final note, Dosunmu beckoned on Lagosians to plead with ‘the incumbent governor’, Babatunde Raji Fashola to assist the people of Eti-Osa communities with a befitting General Hospital, good burial ground since the government has given away a larger chunk of their landed property to the so-called non-native of Lagos State, a Fire Brigade Service and for the input of Eti-Osa Obas in the ongoing compilation of street names before final approval by our councils.