By Samuel Bankole
The Director-General of National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Segun Runsewe, on Wednesday led a delegation to mediate in the feud between residents of Journalists Estate and the Olu of Arepo, Oba Atanda Oyebi.
The delegation consists of the President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Chris Isiguzo, Lagos State Council chairman of the NUJ, Adeleye Ajayi and some residents of the NUJ estate.
Also on the entourage are a former chairman of Journalists Estate, Oludare Mayowa, Akin Jimoh, Vice President of the Arepo Central CDA, Jide Oke and a former Lagos NUJ Secretary, Sylva Okereke.
Runsewe told the monarch that his coming was to ensure that there is peace within the community and residents of Journalists Estate Arepo and appealed to the Olu of Arepo to see all residents of the community as his subjects without taking side.
According to the NCAC chief, security is paramount to the peaceful existence of residents of Arepo and praise the monarch for his support for the development initiatives of government within the community since Journalists estate berth at Arepo.
Runsewe, who was former Chairman of Journalists’ Estate Development Committee, set up by the NUJ at the inception of the estate to drive the development of the estate, appealed to the traditional ruler of Arepo Community and residents of Journalists’ Estate to bury the hatchet and embrace peace for the posterity of the community.
“I want this issue to be resolved once and for all. I have also reached out to Ogun State Government through the Commissioner for Information, Waheed Odusile and the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Afolabi Afuape to broker peace in the estate,” he stated.
He appealed to the monarch to see the recognition of his domain with the identity of Journalists as a very positive drive for progress in the fast growing border community with proximity to Alausa, Lagos State.
According to Runsewe, “Establishing two Journalists Estates here in Arepo and identifying such residential areas with an arch, should be seen as a positive brand identity that can help boost growth and development in Arepo community.
“We would want to report back to both Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun and Abuja, who gave us the authority of mediation that kabiyesi has accepted to the re installation of the demolished Journalists Estate Phase One arch at the soonest opportunity; hence we need you to accede with your authority even though the government has given official approval”, Runsewe told the monarch.
He reminded the monarch how Ogun State government in 2008 reconstructed and named the major community Road as Journalists Estate Road because of the presence of two Journalists Estates and equally upgraded the status of the monarch, all which have contributed to the expansion and growth seen in the town.
Runsewe pleaded that the monarch meet with all warring parties and ensure that all court cases instituted as a result of the lingering crisis particularly in respect of right of passage on the portion of the road within Journalists Estate Phase 1 are withdrawn and reconciliation meetings held to put an end to the crisis that is putting Ogun State in bad light.
“Kabiyesi, with the ongoing road construction, you are about to experience more government development in your domain and you need the Journalists to identify and project you rightly; you really do not need the bad publicity which could likely embarrass the Ogun State government and the country as a whole,” Runsewe admonished.
The DG NCAC announced that once peace is fully restored and all cases in court withdrawn, the Arts Council will establish a mini – museum in the palace of Olu of Arepo.
In his remark, Isiguzo asked the Olu of Arepo to embrace the olive branch offered by the delegation and call everyone together for a conversation on how to ensure peace in his domain, Arepo especially with Journalists.
Isiguzo noted that Journalists are very essential professionals who are loved all over the world and it is very difficult to hate Journalists because of their kind of trade.
“All over the world, brand identities exist so also the security of lives of Journalists has become non-negotiable due to the nature of their job, so we would appeal that you support the moves to reconcile all parties and secure all lives especially those of Journalists in your domain,” Isiguzo stated.
He disclosed that state Governors of Nasarawa, Bauchi, Oyo and others have already taken the positive cue from Ogun State and are giving lands to NUJ to establish more Journalists Estates “because of the success and antecedent of Lagos NUJ Council and it would really be a shame if the pilot Journalists Estates in Ogun State are now experiencing such crisis from host community, Arepo,” Isiguzo lamented.
Also speaking at the peace meeting, chairman, Arepo Community Development Committee, (CDC), Ganiyu Kazeem expressed delight at the peace moves initiated by Runsewe and the leadership of Journalists, NUJ, urging Oba Oyebi to reconsider the situation in Arepo town which is fast degenerating and seize the opportunity to promote peace among all members of the community.
The Olu of Arepo in his response said he is not averse to the reconciliation moves by the delegation but would need to hold a meeting with his council members and then fix a meeting for another time to give a feedback.
He expressed his distaste at the unprecedented media reports in the last two weeks which he noted “defamed” his office and personality in the eye of the public.
Oyebi, however agreed that government reserves the right to name the road in his community which it has done, and, likewise the reconstruction of the same road in the community.
He assures that lives of all residents of Arepo including those residing in Journalists Estates 1 & 2 and their families are safe.