A leadership tussle capable of hampering the peaceful co-existence of residents is brewing in Festac Town, Lagos. The tussle which has pitched the incumbent President of the Residents Association, Mr. Jola Ogunlusi against some members who are no longer happy with his brand of leadership, came to the fore at a recent meeting of the Festival Town Residents Association, FTRA.
The aggrieved residents are campaigning for the immediate resignation of Mr. Ogunlusi for allegedly polarising the association. At a reconciliatory meeting earlier in the month, some residents alleged that politicians have hijacked the association which was founded as a non-partisan group. The latest meeting was the fourth in the last 10 months convened by the stakeholders to mend their leaking roofs.
Festac has about 500,000 inhabitants. Three of the communities that make up FTRA alleged that Mr Ogunlusi who is in his 11th year as president, has breached the provisions of the constitution of the association. They levelled 28 charges bordering on dictatorship and alleged corruption against him.
The aggrieved group further alleged that Ogunlusi has formed an unholy alliance with the Chairman of Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area.
In the 30-page document detailing their misgivings, the group alleged that the Central Working Committee, CWC, and the Central Executive Committee, CEC, were the ones that should make most of the decisions which the incumbent chairman is unilaterally making.
One of the aggrieved petitioners, Dr.Alex Edoh told Vanguard Metro, VM, that Ogunlusi must step down from office. “Why does he not want to step down with all the allegations against him?” he asked, explaining that the chairman wants to further perpetuate himself in power.
“The evidence is glaring. How can one man manipulate everybody all these years? He has been doing things illegally for a long while. We have given him advice several times. The position has become lucrative so he has been milking all of us. We were part of the people that made sure we have some subvention from the local government but Ogunlusi has been collecting it alone and keeping mute. When he sees the truth, he fights you with all his strength,” he alleged.
A youth leader in the area, Mr. Intola Akintunde alleged that Mr. Ogunlusi unilaterally wrote a letter to the State Government calling for the return of Okada to the middle class neighbourhood. “He has aligned with the Local Government Chairman but the alliance has selfish motives. He sold the land at second Avenue and the buffer Zone. The land is 1,000 by 600 square metres,” he alleged.
Responding to these allegations, Mr. Ogunlusi who is a veteran journalist, said he cannot be intimidated to resign from office. “They cannot intimidate me to surrender. Our election is conducted at two principal levels. I am the Chairman of a community and it is because I am elected as such that I can go to the electoral college to contest for the centre.
The communities will conduct election a month before election at the centre. It is when you are elected in your community that you can participate in the electoral college which produces the central executive. Having been elected as Chairman of Community Two, I contested as president at the centre and won by majority of votes cast.
“Somebody lost election and because he was not satisfied, he has to break the organisation. Those making allegations are in Communities 1 and 2. Even in Community 2, none of the members in Community 2 support their action except Umar who is not in my executive. Whatever he says is his own opinion. When they say, I should go, are the interests of the other communities taken care of?
“I wrote the letter to the Governor on Okada and Keke Marwa. As at that time, I had about five Keke Marwa and the law banned both Keke and Okada in Festac. They accused me of using our letter headed paper for the letter. I was not the only one who wrote the letter, it was with my colleague at Mile 2, because more than 50 Marwa riders came here to seek for my intervention. What I did was to appeal to the Governor to have a second look because they are our children and some of them are graduates. If they so hate Okada , they should not use it but they are still using Okada,” he clarified.
“I laugh at them because they don’t know what is involved. They are not representing the residents; the residents want Festac to be recovered,” he said.