About two weeks ago, precisely on the 8th of August 2023, the body of Miss. Omoniyi Boluwatife a graduate of Nursing of Lead City University, Ibadan was discovered with her womb already gone after a night hangout with friends to celebrate her induction into Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria at one of the leading lounges within the Bodija Estate and environs which brought an unnecessary negative attention to the environs and inhabitants of the estate.
In 1958, Bodija Estate came into being for residential purposes setting the pace like every other pace setter establishment in Oyo State as the first housing estate to be developed in the country as a leafy residential estate created by Old Western region. Bodija Estate was once home to expats, professionals, and high-ranking civil and public servants. However, a recent uncontrolled sprawl and emergence of commercial activities has since changed the face and bastardized the estate with clear indications that the state is now prioritizing what many may see as immoral economic interests above welfare and healthy living of people living in the area. The level of pollution, indiscriminate parking, unnecessary loitering by miscreants and prostitutes around the estate has reached an all time high and are all in a clear contrast of the state housing law of 2001 being aided by the activities of lounges/nightclub owners.
A recent reports Indicated that the surge in security breaches is already reaching an unacceptable maximum threshold that was preceded by the residents on behalf of Bodija Estate Residents Association (BERA) crying for mercy and intervention of the state government as far back in 2021 when Online Tribune in her publication December 21, 2021 reported about efforts of the residents asking His Excellency Governor Seyi Makinde to regulate the approval of night clubs and lounges due to the amount of noise and other criminal activities causing them sleepless nights.
The article went further to report the indiscriminate parking on both sides of the road and other available space that has now characterized the estate due to the growing uncontrolled commercialization of the “residential” estate which is a clear contrast to the rules behind initial set-up of the estate, thereby preventing occupants of the estate a reasonable level of peace.
In response, as indicated in another Online Tribune publication dating January 7th 2022. The then Chairman of the corporation who is now the Deputy Governor of the state in person of Barrister Bayo Lawal and other top management staff on behalf of government held a close door meeting with lounge and club owners within the estate, security operatives and umbrella body of the residents, Bodija Estate Residents Association (BERA) in a close door meeting to mediate and ensure there are regulations in place for the smooth running of operations of the club owners. At the end of the meeting, a 12-points resolution was agreed upon.
Inside Oyo News (another online publications of the same date) revealed that part of what was agreed in the communique was to investigate any outfits that has changed purpose of use from the original, strengthening of culverts to allow ease of accessibility into respective premises of establishments, provision of uniformed security guards to not only provide adequate security but also swift control of traffic which further directed that vehicles are only allowed to park on the left hand side of road in a strict adherence to traffic act, erecting of signposts that reads “No Loitering”, “No parking” and working with Nigeria Police Force to ward off insecurity and prostitutes from lining themselves along this road amongst other points listed in the communique.
A recent Investigation revealed that fight broke out one night few days ago around Arigidi street which left plenty broken bottles littering the street gate. About four boys from nowhere looking for club/hotel chased a whole neighborhood guards from their duty post and went as far as ensuring that the nearby armed security was not spared. Lounges are now being built right behind people’s residential apartments playing loud and uncensored music not suitable for young kids, which is aside the drug abuse at night, plastics and environmental pollution that has now characterized the face of Bodija Estate. A morning drive around Awolowo Avenue down to Osuntokun to Aare perimeters on either of Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday will leave one wondering the caliber of people who now inhabits the estate. These and many more are a pointer to what is to come if drastic actions are not in place to forestall unexpected occurrences.
Findings and reports revealed that the growing concerns of the residents has since led to efforts in getting the audience of the Governor to wade in and put the matter to rest as a matter of urgency necessitated by recent happenings. A meeting which was scheduled to be held on Wednesday 16th of August between the Deputy Governor, Club/Lounge Owners and representative of BERA has since been postponed to Wednesday 23rd of August 2023.
Going into this meeting, it is important to ask the following questions as regards the supposed implementations of the resolutions from the communique released after the meeting that was held last year when the Deputy Governor was still the Housing Corporation Chairman.
When was the last agreed quarterly meeting held?
How many of these lounges/night clubs complied with the sound level being reduced to 45 decibels from 10pm?
It was also agreed that drugs should not be allowed to be peddled around and within premises of these outfits, yet some of them did not only allow for open smoking of all sorts of illicit drugs without control but went as far as accommodating kiosks that now allegedly sells these secretly without anyone reporting cases to appropriate agencies in fulfilling their own end of the bargain to prove innocence.
It is very important to also ask questions about the activities of ministry of environments and natural resources with respect to their continued silence over the activities of these night club/lounges. Issues that surrounds environmental pollution and disturbances being caused should have have possibly led to arrest or closure of some of these lounges. Clogged drainages, dirts and wastes lining up the road among many other related aftereffects of nights of activities should have arose some serious government presence.
It Is understandable that the conversion of Bodija Estate did not start today and can be traced to successive administrations. However, recent events have not only drawn a bad publicity for the entirety of that neighborhood but should provoke enough reasons for comprehensive assessment of the entire situation and ensuring that decisive action is taken to rid Bodija Estate of the seemingly extreme immoral activities.
It Is becoming increasingly so important that the State government under the able leadership of Governor Seyi Makinde reacts swiftly to the growing concerns in an effort to not only promote the peaceful coexistence of business and residents but also ensure adequate protection of the legacies of our founding fathers.
We hope that in the days ahead, we shall have regulations and enforcements in place that guides the operations of these lounges, nightclubs and other commercial ventures such that everyone goes about their various businesses without affecting the livelihood of others.
Itesi waju Oyo, ajose gbogbo wa ni.
Idris Animasaun writes from Ibadan, the Oyo state capital.