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How delays mar attempts to relocate Computer Village

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Lagos, a city of over 20 million people, is Nigeria’s economic hub. The city is famed for its ability to allow trade to thrive at any of its corners. Oshodi, Idumota, Yaba, Mile 12, and more are testaments to Lagos’ commercial viability.
Internationally, it is regarded as Nigeria’s commercial capital. According to numerous reports, it has the seventh largest GDP in Africa, larger than that of Ghana and Kenya.
Also, Lagos markets are famed for peculiar commodities. Oshodi (Ladipo) is known for spare parts, Idumota and Yaba (Tejuosho) for clothes, and Mile 12 for foodstuff. Each market in Lagos has an identity, making it a large concentration of specialised trading.
Ikeja Underbridge is to computers what Ladipo is to spare parts. It is the home of computers and mobile phones, including their repairs. It is the convergence of many digital activities in the state and from its gate young men try to convince customers that their devices are the cheapest.
Located in the heart of the city, Computer village is home to about 3,000 information technology small and medium enterprises. A Stears Business report estimates that about N1.5bn is generated daily in the market.
It is the home of technology devices for Nigerians, with major technology firms such as Samsung, HP, Dell, Toshiba, Tecno, and Nokia having physical presence in the market.
But with its popularity, the market is also synonymous with traffic. According to the Public Relations Officer of the Computer and Allied Product Dealers Association of Nigeria, Solagbade Olaifa, Computer Village was situated in an area that wasn’t intentionally designed to be a market.
He said the market sprang up as a result of its centrality and in response to the demand for technological devices. However, all this is about to change as the Lagos State Government has since announced plans to relocate the market from its present location to Kantangora in Abule Egba to solve traffic congestion and environmental problems in the area.
Olaifa, said, “The project has been on for a long time. This project started since the time of Asiwaju (Bola Tinubu) when they were pursuing a mega city and there was a new plan for Lagos State and particularly Ikeja as the capital.
“At the time, they said they wouldn’t want a market of such magnitude in that environment because it causes a lot of traffic, congestion. So, we were told to look for a place where we can move. We tried to look for vacant land but it was futile until recently when the Agbado Oke Odo Local Government decided to offer us a place so we could build.
“All the documents were perfected between the state and local government after which they put out a bid which Bridgeway won.
“Since then, they have been working. During the Fashola administration, the plan was to relocate the people residing and doing business in Katangora to Amikole, which is another location within Agabado Oke Odo. But when Fashola was governor, he discovered that Amikole had been allocated to another group. This hiccup took another period before it was cleared.
“The Ambode administration told the contractor that they must settle the people already there and still accommodate the new market as well. There are people selling used clothes, around there. So, an area for these traders has been constructed and completed. And the area for the new Computer Village has also been carved out in the area too.”
According to him, the logistics surrounding the project had contributed to the numerous delays over the years. He added that the market was no longer conducive to the environment it was situated at the moment.
He explained that it was causing a lot of menace within the axis as the market was in a privately-owned area with buildings converted to shops.
In 2021, Bridgeways Global Projects Limited, the contractor in charge of the new Computer Village, announced that the first phase of the new ICT market would be completed in 24 months.
The new proposed Computer Village is known as the Katangora Information and Communications Technology Business Park. The Chief Executive Officer, Bridgeways Global Projects, Jimmy Onyemenam, explained that the new area would provide infrastructure for the manufacturing of technology hardware too.
“The Katangora ICT Business Park will also provide the infrastructure to incubate and accelerate the development of technology solutions that can improve development outcomes in Africa.”
According to numerous reports, the project was expected to cost about N40bn. The President, Phone and Allied Product Dealers Association of Nigeria, Ifeanyi Akubue, stated that project has been slow paced.
He explained that the project’s site had been fenced and foundation for some buildings had been erected. He stated, “The developer and the market are working towards the project but there has been a delay.
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“I don’t know why there is a delay because the traders are not the ones in charge. It was contracted to a developer. The developer revealed at the launch of the project that in 24 months the site would be ready. This was last year. They promised that in 24 months we might be there. But there has been a delay, and we don’t know why.
“We went there physically to see the place when it began. They were doing perimeter fencing at the time. Then they laid the foundation. The work was going on, but there has been a delay in recent times. I do not know why there is a delay, but I am sure the market is still moving to Katangora. We are on it. We have the forms and are on top of it.
“Some people have invested; some people have bought into it. We are presently waiting on the government and the developer. That is how much I can say as a developer and a leader.”
Akubue said the forms were an indication of intent to buy or lease shops at the new site (Katangora) and people could buy forms and decide on the payment plan for the shop they wanted. He said they could pay outrightly or through the bank (Sterling Bank).
According to him, there were 12,000 businesses in the market presently.
He added, “In terms of capacity, the government has planned that place to have warehouses, residential areas, and many other structures. But the structure we saw when we visited was a three-storey building, which is the first phase of the project. There will be a lot of buildings, but we have seen the first phase which will contain a lot of shops.
“Presently, Computer Village has a lot of businesses. We have visible shops and invisible ones because of online business. We have close to 12,000 businesses which include individuals and companies operating from Computer Village today.
“This move will affect our businesses. But the present Computer Village was not designed to be a market and today there are many roads around the market which is making its expansion almost impossible. The truth is that the market has overgrown where it is today, and we need a better environment and place that will contain so many people.
“Our new site is the last bus stop of the BRT, and all the roads and bridges that are being constructed around the area are towards making that place accessible for everyone. The location of a market isn’t really an issue once it can be accessed from anywhere.”
According to him, there was no timeline for the completion of the project because of a delay from the developer of the project. He stated that the traders were enthusiastic about the move and could not wait for its completion.
However, the Managing Partner, Bodds IT Solutions, Emmanuel Osho, disclosed that a lot of traders were not happy with the intended move as it would impact their businesses negatively. He explained that the current slow pace of the project was because certain bigwigs in the market were kicking against it.
He said, “I am not in support of the move and a lot of traders are not excited about it. A lot of people like where the market is located.
“Moving the market means we would be farther from central Lagos, meaning a lot of people would have to spend a lot of time to get to their workplaces. Also, people would have to think twice before they plan to come to do business with us.
“Ikeja is central Lagos. Now, imagine they need to come to our new location from the Island. Ikeja was already stressful, but this will be an added stress for them and shop owners. People that are situated in Ikeja would have to be shuttling Ikeja to Katangora.
“What will make sense is to try to move people to central concentrations within the market. That is what makes sense. A lot of bigwigs do not want to move, and this is slowing down the project, they are fighting it in their own way.”
When contacted, the Commissioner for Information, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, promised to get back on the issue but did not do so as at the time of filing the story. Efforts to reach Bridgeway to comment on the story proved abortive.
Nigeria’s ICT sector is witnessing a revolution that is largely driven by the telecommunications aspect of it. Experts believe that other aspects of the nation’s ICT sector can also play a robust role in the nation’s attempt to fully digitise.
Nigeria is a major importer of technology devices – about 63 million devices are imported yearly. Today, Computer Village is a consumer market, producing nothing other than serving as a conduit for finished products. But experts believe it can be more.
However, for it to fully achieve its potential, they agree that the traders need to move to a properly planned space, where manufacturing can also thrive.

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News

FAD boss, Temitope Duker, losses dad, Hon. Ayodele Benjamin

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Honourable Ayodele Benjamin, a distinguished chieftain and party leader of the ruling Lagos All Progressive Congress (APC) political party passed away on Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at the age of 78.

Throughout his illustrious life, Hon. Benjamin served his community and country with unwavering dedication and distinction.

His numerous esteemed positions included being elected Councillor in the late 80s, former Vice Chairman, and later Acting Chairman of the Lagos Island Local Government Council, former Chairman of the Lagos Football Association, former Board member of the Lagos State Sports Council, and former State Treasurer of the Social Democratic Party.

Hailing from the esteemed Benjamin family of Olowogbowo in Lagos Island, the late politician left behind a legacy of service and commitment to the betterment of his community. His contributions to public service and sports development will be remembered and cherished by all who knew him.

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Until his death, he was also a community leader, philanthropist, and devoted Christian, who worshipped at the Methodist Church Olowogbowo Lagos, a generational church of the Benjamin family.

His dedication to faith and service touched many lives, creating a lasting impact on those around him.

In a statement released on behalf of the family, Hon. Benjamin’s daughter, Mrs. Temitope Duker, a filmmaker and co-founder of FAD MEDIA GROUP, which owns FAD FM 93.1 in Calabar, FAD FM 101.7 in Abuja, and FAD 360TV, announced that final burial details will be communicated in due course following a family meeting.

Hon. Ayodele Benjamin is survived by his loving wife, daughter, and three grandchildren. The family requests that you keep them in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

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ICYMI: No agreement yet on minimum wage – NLC

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ICYMI: No agreement yet on minimum wage – NLC

Organised Labour has rejected President Bola Tinubu’s claims that an agreement has been reached on new national minimum wages in his nationwide broadcast to make Democracy Day.

Tinubu had claimed that a consensus had been reached on the long-debated new minimum wage between the Federal Government and organised labour.

Also read: Minimum wage talks collapse again as Labour rejects N60,000

In his national broadcast to mark the 2024 Democracy Day in Abuja on Wednesday, Tinubu revealed that an executive bill will soon be sent to the National Assembly to formalise the new minimum wage agreement.

The President emphasised that his administration chose a democratic approach over dictatorship in addressing the demands of labour unions.

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However, in a statement on Wednesday, the acting President of Nigeria Labour Congress, Prince Adewale Adeyanju, said there was no agreement reached by the Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage at the time negotiations ended on Friday, June 7, 2024.

Adeyanju stated that rather, two figures such as N250,000 from Organised Labour and N62,000 from the government and Organised Private Sector, were arrived at and ought to have been submitted to the President.

The labour leader asserted that anything to the contrary was not only doctored but won’t be accepted by Labour.

The statement reads, “We reiterate that it will be extremely difficult for Nigerian workers to accept any national minimum wage figure that approximates to a starvation Wage. We cannot be working and yet remain in abject poverty.

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“The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) attentively listened to the Democracy Day Presidential address delivered by His Excellency, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, especially concerning the ongoing National Minimum Wage negotiations. While the President may have accurately recounted parts of our democratic journey’s history, it is evident that he has been misinformed regarding the outcome of the wage negotiation process.

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“To quote Mr. President; “As we continue to reform the economy, I shall always listen to the people and will never turn my back on you. In this spirit, we have negotiated in good faith and with open arms with organized labour on a new national minimum wage. We shall soon send an executive bill to the National Assembly to enshrine what has been agreed upon as part of our law for the next five years or less.

“In the face of labour’s call for a national strike, we did not seek to oppress or crack down on the workers as a dictatorial government would have done. We chose the path of cooperation over conflict. No one was arrested or threatened. Instead, the labour leadership was invited to break bread and negotiate toward a good-faith resolution.

“We appreciate the President’s commitment to those fine democratic ideals which allowed the work of the Tripartite National Minimum Wage Negotiation Committee to proceed unhindered despite some hiccups. However, we had expected Mr. President to have used this understanding as one of those who were in the vanguard of the struggle with us around the nation to rescue Nigeria from the hands of the military to harmonize the two figures submitted to him by the Tripartite Committee in favour of workers and masses. It would have been a fitting Democracy Day gift.

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“The NLC would have expected that the advisers of the President would have told him that we neither reached any agreement with the federal government and the employers on the base figure for a National Minimum Wage nor on its other components.

“We are therefore surprised at the submission of Mr. President over a supposed agreement. We believe that he may have been misled into believing that there was an agreement with the NLC and TUC. There was none and it is important that we let the President, Nigerians and other national stakeholders understand this immediately to avoid a mix-up in the ongoing conversation around the national minimum wage. We have also not seen a copy of the document submitted to him and will not accept any doctored document.

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“President’s advisers obviously did not tell him the truth that the leaders of the trade unions were intimidated and harassed. It is therefore important that Mr. President understands that we were threatened severally by his operatives perhaps without his consent. Series of media Propaganda calculated to intimidate and harass us were, and, are still being waged against the trade unions by senior officials of this government.

“Fully armed soldiers surrounded us while we were in a negotiation with the Government and despite denials, recent statements by senior officials of the Government reaffirmed our fears contrary to the assurances by the Government. However, we remain assured that the President’s democratic credentials will come to the fore in favour of Nigerian workers and masses.”

This response comes after President Tinubu’s address, which indicated a resolution had been achieved on the wage discussions, thereby causing confusion and discontent among the ranks of Organised Labour.

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The President speaking on his plan to fix the economy so that everyone has access to economic opportunity, fair pay and compensation for his endeavour and labour, said, “In this spirit, we have negotiated in good faith and with open arms with organized labour on a new national minimum wage. We shall soon send an executive bill to the National Assembly to enshrine what has been agreed upon as part of our law for the next five years or less.

“In the face of labour’s call for a national strike, we did not seek to oppress or crack down on the workers as a dictatorial government would have done. We chose the path of cooperation over conflict.

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“No one was arrested or threatened. Instead, the labour leadership was invited to break bread and negotiate toward a good-faith resolution.

“Reasoned discussion and principled compromise are hallmarks of democracy. These themes shall continue to animate my policies and interaction with the constituent parts of our political economy.”

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Crime

Inspector sentenced to death for killing phone dealer

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The Delta State High Court sitting at Asaba on Tuesday sentenced Inspector Ubi Ebri of the Nigeria Police Force to death on a murder charge.

The court presided over by Justice C. D. Diai convicted and sentenced the Inspector to death for killing a phone dealer, Mr Onyeka Ibeh, in Asaba.

 

Also read: Delta police arrest inspector for shooting boy during stop and search

 

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Ibeh, a popular phone dealer in Asaba, along with his wife was driving from Ugbolu to Asaba on April 5, 2023, when they were flagged down by the police team for a search.

The deceased was said to have stopped but after waiting for a while to be searched, and they were not being attended to, decided to move away

Infuriated by the action of the deceased, the police inspector immediately opened fire into the vehicle and the bullet hit the late Ibeh on the head and he died on the spot.

The wife of the deceased who sat in the front seat was unhurt.

The killing of the phone dealer led to protests by youths along the streets of Asaba and to police headquarters to demand justice.

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However, the prosecution, led by a director in the Ministry of Justice, Mr E.H. Edema, accused the policeman of killing Ibeh.

Edema alleged that the defendant was part of a police patrol team that mounted a stop and search exercise on April 5, 2023, along the Ugbolu Asaba Road in the state capital.

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Edema who told Journalists after the judgement said, “Today’s judgement is a landmark judgement because justice has been served in this case to the deceased and society at large.”

Also, the elder brother of the deceased, Mr Ifeanyi Ibeh, who witnessed the judgement, also commended the court for delivering justice to his family.

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