BY LEKE ADESERI, South West Regional Editor & MONSUR OLOWOOPEJO
DO you remember the statue of the three Lagos white cap chiefs?
Originally, the statue was placed opposite Ojodu Berger bus stop at the point of entry to Lagos from the Ibadan end of the expressway by the administration of Colonel Raji Rasaki in 1991. Even at inception controversy trailed their positioning as many were against it for whatever reason.
Some complained that the white cap chiefs were not welcoming in their posture especially when the inscription under them said; ‘This is Lagos, the state of aquatic splendour.’ There was also a fabrication that the incessant accidents that used to occur at the point were as a result of spiritual attachment to the monument.
After a while, precisely in 2004, the statues were burnt down at night by some unknown characters.
Not daunted, the state government re-fabricated the spectacular work of art but looked for a new home for the ‘elders’ opposite the Michael Otedola Estate.
Through some coincidence or by design incessant accident cases shifted to the area of their new location. Again, the enemies of the elders were looking for an opportunity to destroy them. The chance actually presented itself during the fuel subsidy protests when the statues were again burnt down.
75 per cent damage
Lagos State Government speaking to Vanguard about the latest damage to the three wise-man statues popularly called ‘Ere Meta’ put the extent of damage inflicted on the statue by anti-fuel subsidy removal protesters, at 75 percent which government said caused the delay in their return.
Speaking in an interview, Director of the Lagos State Council of Arts and Culture, Mr. Adesina Elegbede, added that the protesters who mistaken the effigies to be a Federal Government property, attacked it burning it beyond recognition.
According to Elegbede, “It took the state government months to get the sculpture to site because we were unable to get the contractor, Dr. Bodun Shodeinde who designed it in 1991. And when we got him, we had to wait for him to evaluate the extent of damage, the cost and the duration of repair.”
It would be recalled that the sculpture was erect during the administration of Colonel Raji Rasaki. It was first rehabilitated on December 17th, 2004.
Although he did not disclose the cost of the rehabilitation, but said that it took the state government time to allocate the fund for the rehabilitation of the statue; the reason was that the fund was not captured in the 2012 budget.
Speaking further, Shodeinde said that due to the extent of the burns, the work took more days than expected, adding “53 days was earlier scheduled for the full repairs but it took three and half months before we could fix it.”
He said that attack on the statue was arson. And the portions affected by the fire were reduced to ashes.
The Sculptor however, faulted the present location of the sculpture saying “the present location of the 21 feet by 14 feet sculpture placed on a 7 feet pedestal, has affected the purpose of the statue.”
Shodeinde explained that the sculpture was designed to depict the state cultural heritage which distinguishes it from other states, and to usher in visitors and tourist into the state. He however said that the purpose has been defeated with the present relocation of the effigies.
On the best location, Shodeinde said, “The best location would have been across that road at the entry point to Lagos on the Lagos-Ibadan Express road.”
It would be recalled that the sculpture was removed from the express road after it was first damaged and rehabilitated on December 17th, 2004.
According to him, “it can be constructed on a purposeful built pedestrian bridge that would serve dual functions of beautification and pedestrian crossing.”