Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji: Amazon of the Market Place at 96 by Ibrahym Mojeed-Sanni
Every generation amongst itself picks, anoints and decorates its own leadership. Any such decoration doesn’t come on the platter of nothing, it is usually derived from selfless service to the yearning of the people, the ability to bear the gamut of insults that bedevilled such sacrifice, the tenacity to relate with many people with diverse background and interest subject to the base of their human endowments and the tick skin to relate, balance and accommodate the insatiable demands of his/her followers within the context of a relatively scarce resources.
Such desire to put oneself at the crossroad of human wants becomes more burdensome when it relates to a section of the populace that is of diverse leaning, yearning, enterprise, demography and the strive to attain comfortable livelihood for self, family and the nation. Here, we are talking about the section saddled with the responsibility of bringing food from the farms and feed the families – the market place.
It is this extremely important fraction of folks, who are conscious of their material and mental being that nature has destined to be the tonnage around the neck of a single individual in the last two and half decades. Like the cross of a Promised Land around the neck of Moses to lead the Israelites, the quest for an eco-friendly, economically viable, humanly habitable and hygienically welcoming market place has been the life battles of no other person but Alhaja Ashabi Abibatu Mogaji – the generalissimo/ amazon of the market place. And has she clocks another year within the nonagenarian circle this week, it behoves on the nation to celebrate a woman of substance, who has dedicated a larger part of her adult life to protecting the rights of market men and women, mobilising them for greatness and innovation, and giving every market person out there a brand to associate with.
After taking tutelage and learning the ropes before taking the mantle of leadership from her mentor, late Madam Pelewura of blessed memories, Alhaji Abibatu Mogaji, the President General of market men and women in Nigeria, had threw her great weight to the battle of having a saner market place, where the rights of the market people are not trampled upon and at the same time not in conflict with the rules of the State. In all honesty, markets in this part of the world as never been a complete sane place, most especially in Lagos because of its cosmopolitan nature. Lagos State and its markets, are usually a convergence of diverse folks in a fast paced cosmopolitan city with one of the highest concentration of corporate headquarters whose occupiers still make painstaking visits to Jankara market, Oyinbo market, Iddo rice and beans market, Sunday-Sunday market in Ogba, perishable food market in Ketu and Mile 12, electronic stores in Alaba, the river bank fish stalls in Epe, cross border markets in Badagry, Iworo market in Ikorodu etc.
The market segment of the informal sector contributes to over 40 per cent of employed citizens in Lagos, directly or otherwise and form a sizeable and comparatively not negligible portion of the state internally generated revenue.
Lagos markets, in street language, can be referred to as kerosene – it hardly sleep. Stalls open as early as 5am in most major markets and stay opened till wee hours of 11pm. The Lagos market folks hardly sleep, hardly leave their stalls and hardly feel the urge to obey simple environmental laws. But under the resilient leadership of Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji, Thursdays of every week has been made compulsory sanitation day for market men and women. This is aside daily advocacy campaign of her administration to enlighten the market folks on governmental policies like Censors, Voting, Immunization and other economically beneficial programmes of the government.
Managing the Lagos market is more sophisticated than what you can get on Done Jones, Wall Street and Broad Street combined. It is a mixture of an elitist class who prefer the malls and the petty traders who prefer to haggle over price. So, when in 2009, Lagos State government desired an effective and efficiently administered market system to sustain its commercial growth, bridge the elite-market women divide and bring about an appreciable sustainable development to the state, a capable, trust able and tested hand was found in Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji, to chair the Lagos State Market board.
Alhaja Mogaji has been honoured with no fewer tha ten titles by various traditional rulers and interest groups across the nation. Some of such titles include President General, Association of Nigerian market women and men, Iya Adinni of Yaya Abatan Central Mosque,Ogba-Agege, Yeye Oba of Ikirun Land, Yeye Oba of Kweme Kingdom, Badagry, Yeye Oba of Osolu Kingdom, Yeye Oba of Lagos to mention but a few. She has also won several honours and awards from organisations such as Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency, National Council of Women Society, Eko Award 1991, National Youth Organisation, Law Ladies Forum , University of Lagos amongst others. Because of Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji’s humanitarian services, she has been bestowed with matronship of many organisations like Nigeria Red Cross, Nigeria Youth Organisation, National Union of Lagos Students, Nigerian Society for the Handicapped and Egbe Omo Eko.
In the words of Washington Irving, “A mother is the truest friend we have, when heavy trials suddenly fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavour by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” Alhaja Mogaji, fondly called, Mama, has been a mother of many. A devout Muslim and philanthropist.
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