Home News Femi Okunnu: Lagos is witnessing severe environmental degradation

Femi Okunnu: Lagos is witnessing severe environmental degradation

Alhaji Femi Okunnu speaking with members of the Isale-Eko Descendants Union

Alhaji Femi Okunnu has criticised the continuing environmental degradation that Lagos has seen in recent years. “When we were young all of this place was an open field and we could breathed in fresh year all around,” says the former Minister for Works and Housing.

Incidentally, he was in a part of Isale-Eko known as Reclamation Road (near the Obanikoro ancestral home) and addressing members of the Isale-Eko Descendants Union, who were on a walkabout tour of the area on Sunday 30 December.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who turned 85 in February, also complained about the fact that many old and familiar landmarks of his youth have either been pulled down, sold to private developers or repurposed.

“For example, that building over there which is now a shopping complex used to be the Domestic Science Centre,” he says, pointing to a building some feet away with his walking stick. “It was compulsory for all girls in primary school at the time to go there every week and learn how to cook, sew and other skills.”

Another elder in the community adds that the same building was later a post office.

As a minister in the 1960s and 1970s, Okunnu, quoting a report in The Punch, “was among the first administrators to set Nigeria on the path of physical growth by patriotically ensuring a plan and implementation of a network of roads for the country in the 60’s, that have become the landmark routes after more than half of a century.”

Okunnu, who is also a trustee of the IDU was on the ground to guide and advise the younger indigenes of Isale Eko on the itinerary for the walkabout, reeling out a long list of palaces, landmarks and personalities to be visited: Iga Bajulaye, Iga Onikoyi, Iga Suenu, Iga Eletu Odibo, Akala Shrine, Enu Owa and Oju Olobun (the oldest market in Lagos), among others.

The tour started from the City Hall with a drive through Broad Street, Tinubu Square/ Fountain and Nnamdi Azikiwe Road; on the way, the guide Lanre Shasore identified various historic and public buildings that dot the route: CBAAC Building, Shita Bey mosque, Lagos Central mosque, the clocktower at Idumota, Herbert Macaulay statue (CSS Bookshop building).

“We should encourage our children to come home, to know their ancestral home,” Okunnu says, just as the tour was rounding off.

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