By Uche Mbah
The African Hub of Information Technology, generally called the Sillicon Valley of Africa, the Ikeja Computer Village, has been shut down by protesters because of attempts at imposition of an Iyaloja and Babaloja, market leaders meant for local markets of onions and pepper on the market. This, apparently, has been ordered by the Iyaloja general, the daughter of the strong man of Yoruba politics, Bola Ahmed Tinubu Mrs Tinubu Ojo.
Iyaloja and Babaloja are meant to be market leaders of local salt and pepper markets, usually selected from the oldest market men and women.With the death of the last Iyaloja, Tinubu unilaterally imposed his daughter, who was never a market woman in the traditional sense of it, as the new Iyaloja General of the whole Lagos state. Since then, it has become an avenue of imposing market taxes on every little pepper seller-a veritable penny pinching-allegedly for the benefit of the alleged Black Maffioso
Recently, the same crisis emerged in the old Trade Fair complex in Ojo, where the Market was closed temporarily.
These are Igbo dominated business areas, fueling speculations that it is part of the ongoing onslaught against the Igbos in Lagos, which came to a head during the 2019 presidential and governorship elections. But a large percentage of the businesses, particularly real estate part, are owned by the traditional indigenous natives of the South west.
“This is becoming too much for the traders in Computer village”, said Ikechukwu Amanze, one of the traders in the Market. “Do these people understand that this is not Otto Market, where foodstuffs are sold? This is the African ICT hub, for crying out loud, not some local market”
Wassiu Agbaje, an information Technology expert, queries what the Iyaloja has to offer in a technologically driven market.
“what do the Iyaloja and Babaloja have to offer? what value are they going to add to the hub? What technological innovations are they bringing?”he querried, saying the hub is an international hub and should be treated as such.
The 25 year old market is estimated to generate over N2 billion turnover daily, and has been a tax haven for the Lagos state government. Attempts to relocate the Market to Lagos Ibadan expressway has been resisted over the years. “There has been various ridiculous taxes and levies imposed on the hub by greedy leaders amounting to several millions everyday. Now they want to install Iyaloja whose only duty will be to impose more levies on the hub. We must resist this”, says a trader on condition of anonymity.