Fresh crisis is brewing in one of the glamorous and popular residential estates in Nigeria, Lekki over the performance of the Chairman of the Residents’ Association.
The Chairman of Lekki Residents Association (LERA), Mr. Kayode Otitoju has come under attacks over his alleged poor performance and nonchalant attitudes to the security and development of the estate.
The Street Journal reports that a group known as Lekki Stakeholders Forum, led by Chief Wole Akala, Mr. Paul Kogolo, and Mr. Kanny Awe, had berated Otitoju for mismanagement of the estate, especially during the lockdown period.
The crisis rocking the association hit a new low this week as Awe accused Otitoju of lies and living a double life.
The new crisis started when a resident, Ademola Folarin requested for a thorough appraisal of the stewardship of the LERA Chairman.
Mr. Otitoju used the opportunity to address issues which Lekki residents have continuously expressed concern over.
These include the abandoned Pavillion, the influx of beggars, street trading, loitering, kidnapping, robbery, phone and bag snatching among many other issues.
Awe criticised the report of the LERA Chairman, accusing him of presenting a false account of his stewardship as the estate prepares for another election.
The Chairman assumed office in June 2018 and his tenure is expected to end this month.
Awe said Otitoju ‘lacks leadership qualities and does not understand what his portfolio should be,’ stressing that someone with bad leadership qualities cannot and should not be re-elected into office.
“It is when we succeed in the choice of a good chairman to lead us, that we can have a good estate devoid of miscreants, beggars, hoodlums and all sorts of negative unsolicited tenants.”
“The report presented by Lera current chairman was full of lies. And by these lies he has shown us again how living a double life gets him nowhere beyond the end of May.
“He has equally demonstrated that he’s really not who he claimed to be as presented to us during his 2018 campaign when he wanted to be chairman of this great Lekki phase-1 Estate. He’s truly a typical Nigeria politician (as he described himself) that will promise and not deliver to his electorates,” he added.
Relationship with Stakeholders Forum
Otitoju noted that his relationship with Mr. Awe and other LERA residents have been nothing but cordial.
He reiterated that LERA Constitution only recognises the BOT, LERA EXCO-both Central and Zonal together with Standing Committees.
He accused Mr Awe of parading an illegal association called Lekki Stakeholders Forum.
“I by my oath of office to defend the LERA Constitution made all necessary efforts to educate and inform the members of the ‘Lekki Stakeholders Forum’ that their group was amorphous and illegal and that whatever they do, no matter how lofty, was illegitimate without LERA’s approval,” Otitoju said.
The chairman said he has put in place measures to tackle the insecurity challenges in the estate.
“On Security, I phoned and WhatsApp Police Area ‘J’ Commander and the Maroko DPO requesting them for extra patrol and surveillance on Lekki. They responded with immediate alacrity. There was a day about 38 miscreants were arrested by the DPO and they were transferred to Panti, Yaba! Still on emergencies; I phoned the Lagos State Fire Service to put off a major Fire outbreak at a Resident’s house located at the junction of Jerry Iriabe/ Hope Harriman Streets during the month of April under review,” Otitoju said.
With LERA having 11 zones, the Chairman said he instructed all zonal Chairmen to employ securities (LERA Sheriffs) for each zone, using the compulsory N5,000 to N10,000 security dues paid by residents.
Otitoju also claimed that he has not abandoned the Pavillion project, which he inherited from the previous administration.
“Bidding invitation was sent out in March and a reminder was sent out a few days in May. When the final bids are received, the Exco will constitute a small Committee of experts, that will open the Bids and determine the winner who will then be given the job. By LERA’s tradition, it will be supervised by a volunteer professional among its membership.
“Administration of LERA is a continuum. If it’s possible for the current Exco to complete the Pavilion project, so be it. If it is by another regime, no problem, after all the about to be remodelled structure was built during the 2014-2016 regime!” he added.
Mr. Otitoju said under his watch, the association refurbished and executed infrastructural projects.
”LERA has been able to get many infrastructural facilities refurbished, managed or initiated and executed during our tenure; the paving of the Freedom Way and the Admiralty Way; the construction of Bisola Durosimi Etti Way, Hakeem Dickson Road and the ongoing linking of Adewumi Adebimpe(Maruwa/Lagoon School)Road with Bisola Durosimi Etti Way through a link ramp over the Durosimi Etti parallel canal.
“Also, prompt attention has been given to our requests for some projects and programmes by the LASG through its MDAs hence we had the Siji Soetan Street linking Rasheed Alaba Williams street and Kenneth Agbakuru street linking Wole Ariyo street started and properly finished with paving stones and good drainage, all done in January and February 2020.”
Otitoju has failed
Mr. Awe accused Mr. Otitoju of lying when he reported that the number of beggars, street traders and other crimes had reduced when he assumed office.
Mr. Awe said:
“Now on the bag & phone snatching gangs, it’s now apparent that you cannot stroll or walk safely in Lekki phase-1 without looking at your back for fear of being attacked. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t matter to them if you’re alone or not, these gangsters now attack ladies in twos or threes.
”There are so many occurrences of this happening and because there’s no effective security apparatus to monitor these crime operators within the estate, the result is increased activity.
“Recently, a member of the Lera environment committee was walking home from his jogging activity on Admiralty way, between road 12 and road 14, he was attacked by two men on Okada, he fell twice into the gutters, got wounded and lost his phone & keys to the attackers.
”Barely two weeks before that time, three ladies were attacked at gunpoint by another set of Okada riders on the road that passes beside the Ascon oil petrol station. All these activities do happen either very early in the morning or in evening times.
Mr. Awe accused Mr Otitoju of feigning ignorance to these worrisome developments. He further said the Chairman dismissed security reports that arose during the lockdown period.
Mr. Awe continued:
“Within 24 hours of this announcement (the lockdown), Kayode Otitoju wrote a formal memo circulated on the Lera email and all WhatsApp platforms stating that the Lera secretariat would equally be closed and all services shut down. But should there be any need to contact the Pavilion for any emergency, residents should call his number and or the Divisional police officer (Dpo) at Maroko police station.
“Barely two days after this circular, we started noticing miscreants and hoodlums on our major roads and clusters of them at shopping centres and eateries. The feared looking boys were usually carrying placards stating “we’re hungry, give us money”.
”I was almost mobbed by them on getting to Domino pizza hut on Admiralty way on one of the days, thank God that a couple of Security guys were on hand to deliver me from them on that faithful day, it couldn’t have been easy to leave without parting with all the cash with me & possibly the pizza I bought for my family.
”On getting home, as I was relating my experience to my family, a WhatsApp audio message was received wherein a lady was reciting her experience by Ebano stores area and the fact that if care wasn’t quickly taken to arrest the situation, we in Lekki phase-1 might begin to have sleepless nights from armed robbery attacks.
”I summed up everything together and put a call through to Mr. Kayode Otitoju explaining the situation and that something has to be done fast. I didn’t stop at that; I asked my wife to call him and discuss issues bothering on how to get foodstuffs in the market since all markets were supposedly closed. And the fact that he, as chairman should be the face of Lekki phase-1 relating with the government officials on palliatives for the aged and those children at the motherless babies home inside Lekki phase-1 and Oniru extension area.
”Our chairperson dismissed the issue of a possible attack on the Lera residents if and only if we can feed them in our different zonal areas. However, should we refuse to feed these hoodlums there’s absolutely nothing he could do, end of discussion.
”I immediately called on a few residents of Lera who are my friends and who coincidentally had been noticing these placard-carrying boys, and who also have neighbours that have had experiences such as the blocking of feeder roads leading to their residences with tyres and sticks by these so-called area boys, and without wasting time we came together again as we did during the Okada ban to enforce and a clampdown on Okada riders.
”We held meetings together and asked other members in the group to speak with Otitoju to recall the Lekki sheriffs for patrol of the Estate but all yielded no positive result, it was after this, when we noticed that the number of these area boys/miscreants were increasing that we decided to meet with the top hierarchy of the police in Lagos state for help and assistance. The police with the help of the Maroko police DPO joined us in this noble course to rid Lekki phase-1 of the miscreants.
According to Awe, there was a resolution to set up a food bank to feed the miscreants, however, outside the Lekki gate.
The gesture was reportedly hampered by the LERA Chairman’s daughter, Taiwo Otitoju.
”We yielded to Otitoju’s advice of feeding the miscreants but we came up with a strategy to feed them outside the gates of Lekki phase-1, a way of ensuring that once they’re fed, they would leave us alone and go back to wherever they came from.
”To our greatest surprise, as soon as we set up a food bank to share food for them, our chairperson through his daughter, Taiwo Otitoju began campaigning & soliciting for money from Lera residents with advertorial stating her bank account clearly on same flyers.
”Her intention was to distribute her food to the needy within the Divine mercy Catholic church premises which we frowned at and refused to allow because it’ll defeat the purpose of getting the miscreants out of Lekki phase-1, this was the beginning of our problem with Otitoju.
”We, of course, invited the police to enforce the service of all food to the needy outside our shores and we tried as much as possible to maintain social distancing among the fed even with increased private security consultant with personnel on hand to maintain peace throughout the period of the lockdown.
”Meanwhile, as we tried our best to feed them in the morning/midday time, we were raiding them in the evenings with the police, even with the active participation of the DPO who upon arrest assist in taking their bio-data before transferring them to the Panti state CID office at Ebute-metta.
”Our experience revealed that most of the people arrested by us were coming from Obalende, Ajah, Ikoyi prison & Badagary prison, these are recently released/pardoned inmates that have made up their minds to wreak havoc on Lekki phase-1 residents.
He further noted that the 38 miscreants who were arrested and taken to the state CID, Panti Yaba was as a result of the ideas of the Stakeholders Forum and not that of Otitoju as he claimed.
”Fellow residents our current chairman can be likened to a man who likes to reap where he didn’t sow, he should be told that white lies leave black Mark’s on a man’s reputation. Otherwise, how can he ascribe glory to himself in an exercise wherein he didn’t participate. He should be made to know that truth will rise above falsehood as oil above water.
”Nothing shows dirt like a white lie which Otitoju is peddling around, even though it may appear to him that a lie may take care of the present, but I want him to know, that it has no future. Kayode Otitoju should know by now that a shady person never produces a bright life.”
Awe countered Otitoju’s claim of refurbishing and executing infrastructural projects during his administration.
”Our current chairman has also lied here by saying to us that he was instrumental to or facilitated the paving of the completion of Freedom way, Bisola Durosimi Etti way, Hakeem Dickson road etc. These are Lagos state road projects that were done during Governor Ambode’s administration before the current Lera administration was sworn into office.
”The only feasible activity carried out by the current Governor in Lekki phase-1 was the tree planting on Bisola Durosimi Etti dual carriageway, and it wasn’t Otitoju’s doing, it has been in the state’s plan of activity,” Awe said.
Even as a new tenure draws near, with Mr. Otitoju seeking to be re-elected, Mr Awe has urged residents to make credible choices in order not to face regrets in the future.
”And to my fellow residents, I wish to enjoin us to think back and see if the current Lekki phase-1 is the community we dreamt of living while making the investment to have a property here.
”We should be very objective in our assessment of the current situation and take a stand whether to continue in this form or make room for a better change. We must be truthful to ourselves in the face of realities that we’re confronted with.
”The obstacles we’re currently facing in protecting our investments vis-a-vis our Lekki phase-1 Estate in the hands of the current chairman are merely a call to strengthen us, not to quit our resolve to achieve worthwhile set goals,” Awe charged.