BUSINESS/SPECIAL REPORT – Ikeja Computer Village: A glowing tribute

A part view of Ikeja Computer Village, Lagos, Nigeria.
Hon. Adebowale Olasoji, former Member, Lagos State House of Assembly.

By Hon Adebowale Olasoji

The establishment of a modern market like the New Tejuoso or the Ikeja City Mall is often capital intensive as millions or billions of Naira are usually injected either from the government coffers or from within the banking system. Yet, the impact and benefits derivable from such market are often localized and limited.

But never has a neighbourhood market grown into an ‘enigma’ that has become inexplicable to both government and the private investors as the COMPUTER VILLAGE Market.

The market is strategically located in an environment that is easily accessable to both local and international investors due to its proximity to the airports, government offices, State Police Command, Post Office, Fire Service Station, railway station, State Teaching Hospital and only lately, the bus terminus.

The establishment of a Computer Village Market is a classical example of how citizens can collaborate as an association to contribute positively to the economic development of their environment, State, country and, indeed, the International economies without government financial investment or commitment. But what is the true story behind the emergence of this phenomenon called Computer Village and who are the brains behind its establishment and what are the prospects for the future development of the market.

IN THE BEGINNING

The Community is known as IKEJA. It officially became a residential area immediately after Nigeria’s Independence on 1st October, 1960. Hitherto, it was the Headquarters of the British Colony Province. This Colony Province also known as Ikeja Colony Province comprised of today’s eight local government areas, that is, Ikeja, Agege, Alimosho, Ifako Ijaiye, Oshodi-Isolo, Mushin, Somolu and Kosofe.

The euphoria that surrounded the attainment of our Independence from the British and other related circumstances gave birth to a community with a common agenda of unity and nationalism among the privileged landlords who took over the headquarters of the Colony Province immediately the land that was acquired by the British administrators in the 19th Century was returned to the original owners. The emerging landlords immediately commenced the development of their new community and by 1970, a full fledged residential area had emerged.

Glowing tributes go to those founding fathers and mothers who laid the foundation to what is today known as Ikeja Computer Village. Prominent among them were Prince C.A.O. Smith, a highly revered Chartered Accountant and President of the Landlords Association and Alhaji Amusa Amade, an International Businessman with Enterprises in both Nigeria and Ghana. He was the Vice President of the Association. Others included Mr. L.L. Oseni, Treasurer of the Association, Chief Joseph Oriade Olasoji, a director of Meteorology with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and later Aviation, Mrs. B.A. Bankole, a businesswoman and manufacturer’s representative, Alhaji A.A. Fadeyi, a retired Police Officer, Ms Joyce Pepple, Mr. S.A. Adekunbi, Mr. J. Ade Francis, Papa Emmanuel Olawale Olatokun, Alhaji Sikiru Temidire and Olori Ajoke Olufunke Odusanya (Mama Medical). They all served meritoriously but they are now of blessed memory. May their souls rest in peace.

There are others who have remained relentless in the service of their community; they include 92 years old Yeye Oba Fola Foster, a businesswoman of great repute, Chief S.A. Osundairo, a retired Police Officer and entrepreneur, Chief D.O. Famoroti, Alhaja Sidikatu Ajisegiri, Mrs. C.E. Boyo, Mr. Olufemi Aremu, Mr. J.A. Ogunode and many others who have contributed in no small measure to the development of the Community.

The contribution of Chief Jacob Olawuyi Ayeni, who was the first post-colonial Chairman of Ikeja District Council (now Ikeja Local Govt) must also be highly appreciated.

ARRIVAL OF COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISES

Professionals like lawyers, accountants and surveyors accounted for the first set of tenants into the community. They were later to be joined by Travel Agencies and Freight Forwarders. The neighbourhood also became the destination of choice to other business enterprises, including Multi-national Electronic Companies and Service Centers.

It was not until the early to middle of the 1990s that the community began to witness the arrival of computer and telephone companies and by the turn of the century, the Landlords had become almost overwhelmed with the demand for commercial accommodation. It was at that juncture that the critical decision to construct additional shops within each tenement was taken by the Association. Most of the Landlords immediately began the construction of these shops within available spaces of their houses.

This action of the Association was however frowned at by the Lagos State Government as contravention notices were served on violators of the Urban and Regional Planning Law and they were requested to remove such contraventions within two days after service.

However, the Landlords decided to send a delegation to meet with Government Officials at the Urban and Regional Planning Board. The mandate of their Representatives was to make a case for the employment opportunities that the market was bound to provide for the teaming population that was growing at a very fast rate and also with the pledge to remove all abatement on government set-back as soon as government is prepared for further development of the Community. After a series of meetings, the Board finally agreed to spare these constructions but it was not without penalties being imposed on violators before regularisation of their building plans were granted.

Upon the receipt of the approval of government, the Landlords proceeded to carry out a proper re-organization of the market. An audit of the companies operating within the market was carried out while the perennial traffic gridlock, which had become the signpost of the market was eliminated through the redesignation of some streets as ONE-WAY streets. Harmonious relationship between the Landlords and the Traders was thereafter firmly established. Security in and around the neighbourhood was beefed up with the construction of gates at all entry points into the community. Security levies, which hitherto was borne by the Landlords and some Banks was extended to the Computer and Telephone companies. There was substantial compliances and cooperation from all stakeholders and it was at this period that the market was named IKEJA COMPUTER VILLAGE.

Since its establishment, the Computer Village market has grown to become the most successful Community-Based Market Nigeria has ever witnessed both in terms of its management and its huge private capital investment, with partnerships that has spread across the world. It has continued to provide millions of direct and indirect employment to every category of Nigerians and non-Nigerians alike and especially the youths who could have otherwise become menace to the society.

Today, it is even more gratifying to note that inspite of the COVID-19 pandemic that is ravaging the world’s economy and Nigeria in particular, the ICT service sub-sector is contributing as high as 10% of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the future prospect is also looking good.

A LOOK INTO THE FUTURE

Not too long ago, the Lagos State Government granted approval for the re-development of Ikeja City Center as Landlords were granted permission to develop their properties to as high as six storey buildings. This is in order to conform with the implementation of the Ikeja Model City Plan after the completion of the Lagos Island and Mainland Model City Plans. With this new approval, both Local and International investors can take maximum advantage to enter into long-term property development agreements.

Additional collaboration and cooperation between the Landlords, the Market Board and other Stakeholders will
further ensure a better management and the sustainability of the peaceful environment which the community has been known over the years.

So, as we celebrate Nigeria at 60, let us all rededicate ourselves to the service of our beloved country by sincerely reflecting on the words of the former American President John F. Kennedy who said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”. Let every community vow to never allow the labour of their heroes past to be in vain.

Happy Anniversary Ikeja
Happy Anniversary Nigeria

• Hon. Adebowale Olasoji can be reached on
08033307688 (WhatSAPP)
olasojidebo@gmail.com

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