“This unknown part of Nigeria has huge untapped potential”July 10th, 2011
Ejinrin, in Nigeria, is a place endowed with history and huge economic and tourist potential. And yet, according to a local chief, it remains largely unknown, untapped and under-developed, reports Tayo Elegbede, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Lagos.
Lagos state is one of the thirty-six states in Nigeria with over 17 million people. With its status as the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, Lagos is however yet to explore its full potential in terms of natural resources.
The Ejinrin community in the Epe area of the state is one such place of unexplored potential. The existence of the ancient community of Ejinrin is dated back to the colonial era of Nigeria. During that time, Ejinrin was the only point of contact between Lagos and other parts of the world due to its rich cultural and natural endowments.
Over the decades the coastal community of Ejinrin has maintained its rich history as the community which houses the first ever post-office in Nigeria, the second oldest sea port in Nigeria, the second police station in the country, the first comprehensive college in Lagos state and a host of other historic landmarks.
Today, Ejinrin is unfortunately a neglected haven. But according to the traditional ruler of the community, Alaiyeluwa-Oba Rafiu Ishola Babatunde Balogun, “Ejinrin was one of the major commercial centres for slave trade in the coastal part of Nigeria. Slaves were transported from the market in Ejinrin to other parts of Lagos and Badagry seaport for shipment to Western Europe and America.
The Europeans who invaded Ejinrin in the 19th Century, constructed the sea port, which is today the second oldest sea port in Nigeria. As Oba Rafiu stated, “the colonial masters built the largest market containing over one thousand eight hundred (1,800) stalls, and the market which is presently abandoned was formally known as the trading hub of coca, fabrics, herbs, fish and other consumables and exports alike.
Oba further stated that “several multinational companies like the United African Company (UAC), John Holt, Patterson Zochonis (PZ), CFAO, Lever Brothers (Now Unilever Plc) and many others had their first company in Ejinrin”.
He however attributed the departure of such giant companies from Ejinrin to the establishment of the Apapa Wharf and railways in the mid-90s, as such leaving Ejinrin under-developed when compared to neighbouring towns. Hence, Ejinrin, as a community endowed with various historic landmarks and huge economic and tourist potential, remains unknown, untapped and under-developed.
To this end, the Elejinrin of Ejinrin, Oba Rafiu Ishola, highlighted some of the numerous untapped potentials of the community which, if leveraged, could foster greater development for both investors and the abandoned community.
Some of the potentials highlighted include:-
(i) Large Expanse of Land:- With over 10,000 acres of untouched fertile land suitable for cultivation and building, the traditional ruler offered to give it to local, foreign, private and government investors who are willing and capable to invest and develop the community.
(ii) Serene Environment:- As it were, Ejinrin is void of any form of environmental or industrial pollution like other densely populated areas of Lagos state. Its serenity is a major plus to the establishment of companies and the advancement of the community.
(iii) Historic Post Office and Sea port:- As the community which housed the first ever general post office as well as the second oldest sea port in Nigeria, the tourism potential of the community is high if certain measures are taken.
(iv) Easy Transportation:- The oba noted that with the advantage of the seaport and waterfront, transportation of raw materials and finished goods as well as movement of individuals becomes easier. He also acknowledged that the community is blessed with roads, making movement easy and convenient.
(v) Community Hospitality:- The soothing culture, friendliness and pleasantries of the people of Ejinrin guarantees the smooth running of business. The security of lives and property is not a threat in Ejinrin community, given the hospitable and the hostility-free nature of the people.
Recounting some of the reasons for the retarded growth and development of the community, Oba Rafiu stated that the neglect suffered from the state and federal government on issues of development has not been helpful. He pointed out that in neighbouring towns Ketu and Epe communities have their own independent local government administration, Ejinrin is yet to be provided with an independent local government administration.
Oba Rafiu Ishola Babatunde Balogun, therefore call on both local and foreign, private and government agencies to plunge into the untapped resources of a historic, serene, endowed, fertile and accommodating society to establish businesses, industries, schools, housing estates and other amenities that will create more employment opportunities, fast-track the development process of the coastal community and finally restore the lost glory of Ejinrin as the commercial nerve centre of the western region and Nigeria as a whole.