By Ganiu Abisoye Bamgbose
Ajegunle, popularly known as AJ City or AJ, is located in Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government of Lagos State. The community is known to have produced notable national figures such as Samson Siasia, a former Super Eagles’ coach, and Daddy Showkey, a popular musician.
Ajegunle, a word which means “where riches dwells,” is a heterogeneous community with over a million residents who cut across different tribes of the country. Although the community was in the long past known for rascality and hooliganism across the state and beyond, the new millennium ushered in a new dawn in Ajegunle with a new air of peace, security and tolerance.
It is saddening however that the last five years have returned the community to a worse state of terror and insecurity. The large number of youth who roam aimlessly on the streets and who sustain livelihood through their daily commitment to atrocities has made Ajegunle a danger zone in recent times. Most scary are the acts of fighting, stealing and vandalising which take place at virtually any time of the day, thereby endangering the lives and property of the residents.
This article is an appeal to the government of Lagos State and Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government, community leaders and all well-meaning Nigerians to please rise to our plight in the neighbourhood. The preponderance of crimes which regularly result in injuries for those involved in the dastardly acts and many innocent people have made the neighbourhood unsafe for habitation. The sight of teenagers being actively involved in street fights, stealing and vandalisations makes a big worry for the future of the community.
As an insider, I propose, among many other solutions, the need to beef up the security of the neighbourhood especially through a close watch on hangouts and pubs. The number of hotels in the neighbourhood which are practically brothels and the unimaginable number of pubs which are found in almost every bus stop and street are evident stimulations of the unwanted situations; hence, the need for the government to see to the undesired increase in the number of such places and to place the existing ones under good surveillance.
To be silent on the patronage of these hoodlums by politicians is to make a partial submission to the public. The gangsters are seen with weapons that they definitely could not have procured, especially during electioneering; and this definitely points at a backup from the political class. We urge the leaders to fear for posterity as an unsafe society is a danger for all; the rich and the poor alike. The local government council can call for contributions from the public on how sanity can be returned to the community even if this involves organising a public symposium. A secret consultation with residents, especially landlords and religious leaders, can also help fish out the louts for the purpose of rehabilitating them.
Finally, the government, especially at the grassroots level, should seek support from well-meaning Nigerians to embark on organised and regular empowerment programmes for the youth, as of course, the devil finds work for idle hands.
God bless AJ! God bless Eko! God bless Naija!
Bamgbose is a doctoral student at University of Ibadan.