Life in Mowe Town

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Ehime Alex reports that the once sleepy Mowe Town along the busy Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is becoming attractive to all and sundry

Whatever aspersion cast, Mowe is gradually becoming a bustling new-found town attracting all and sundry. Situated along the busy Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and among one of the adjoining towns from the Ketu-Berger axis of Lagos, Mowe is that outsized area, on both sides of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, covering the popular kilometre 45, Redemption Camp Ground of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).

As one of the adjoining towns with Arepo, Magboro, Ibafo, Agogbala, Oriofe, Aseese, Olowopedo, and Pakuro, its location most times, if not all the time, is seemingly difficult to notice. These towns jointly occupy an expanse of land known as Egbeyin Land, and sharing same local government area, the Obafemi-Owode LGA, Ogun State, South-west zone of Nigeria.

Back in history, it is not clear who the aborigines of Mowe were before the Egbas of the Yoruba migrated to the location probably after the collapse of the Old Oyo Empire and the subsequent internecine wars that lasted for close to 100 years in Yoruba land.

According to Pa Josiah Oduntan, the father of the present Baale of Mowe, who has spent well-over 76 years in Mowe, the first batch of settlers had located their huts in a place traditionally referred to as Abule-Egun, taken from the name of their leader. While other Abules were built as more settlers came, five major villages called Imedu were established. These monumental sites, now in the heart of the Mowe towns include: Imedu Nla, Imedu Olori, Imedu Okepa, Imedu Baaga and Imedu Alasha. As you may have it, some of these communities had taken new names. Imedu Nla is today known as Imedu Odofin, the present location and Palace of the Baale of Mowe. The settlers, who came to Mowe initially, were mostly farmers who farmed kola-nut, palm-oil, cocoa, plantain, cassava, and rice in a fairly communal setting. But as more settlers came, tokens were paid for the use of land.

The name Mowe was coined as a meeting spot, that is, a market place or location where all the villagers converged to trade on an interval of nine days. That location is still there and the market has continued to hold to date, though with slight modification. However, Mowe has had four successful chains of Baales. The first was Solomon Ogundeye, followed by Olori Okunnijia and Imedu Alasha from the village of Imedu Olori. After brief communal clashes and struggle for power, as maybe expected, the reign of the Imedu Oloris was halted and the paraphernalia of leadership shifted to the people of Imedu Odofin where the Baale holds sway till now. However, Pa Oduntan opines that, “The villagers have lived peacefully even till now.”
At present, Mowe has over 14 communities including Abule-Egun, Loburo, Ogunrin, Adesan, Daluwan and Orunkola. As a fast growing location opening up for modern kind of development, diverse people mostly from Lagos are on a daily basis infiltrating the town, building houses, renting cheap apartment and eking out a living. The reason can easily be understood as Lagos, the next neigbouring megacity to Ogun, seems congested and its economic lifestyle tiring and wearisome. Without denying the fact, many of these people, though resident in Mowe, work in Lagos. Mowe is no longer that usual place where expanse of lands are used for subsistence farming, like the Ofada rice production known to have been farmed there before the hustling and grabbing of lands for sales began outrageously among the opportunistic so-called land owners. Well, it has become a commercial nerve town offering various kinds of opportunities like schools, hotels, restaurants, real estate, various types of trading and other forms of businesses.

Economically speaking, business in Mowe has been on the uptick. Many who initially traded and owned stores in marketplaces like Idumota, Balogun, Ladipo, Computer Village among others are gradually relocating their wares to Mowe. In fact, some had completely moved in. Majorly, the economy is largely being driven by school business taken over by private investors who see the need to cash in on failures of government to provide basic social amenities. It is doubtable as some person say that private schools in Mowe are approaching a thousand inclusive of crèche, nursery, primary, and secondary schools. However, to the credit of the Ogun State Government, two primary schools: the NUC Primary School and the Community Primary and one secondary school, the Adesan Secondary School, at present exist.

The bungalow style patterns of houses are apparently being built there, although others are in storey-building form. Many of them have farm gardens where crops like maize, garden egg, pawpaw and others are grown.

Initially, Mowe has more of Moslem faithful until the presence of the RCCG at the Redemption Camp. Today, the spread of that church can be seen in all the nooks and crannies of the town. Also, with the coming of other churches: Pentecostal, Anglican, Methodist and other bodies, the number of Muslims and Christians seems to be at par.

No doubt, one of the reasons people are leaving their former abodes to settle at Mowe majorly is to acquire a landed property and build their own houses to reduce the stress and probably get rid of inconsiderate landlords. This appears to be the case why the huge influx of people to Mowe daily to enjoy some of the economic benefits the town offers.

Be that as it may, before now, perhaps 10 or 15 years back, plots of land were acquired with a paltry sum of money, though still cheap today anyway. According to an Estate Agent, Mr. Ekundayo Oni, who has lived in Mowe for more than 13 years, a plot of land back then could go for as low as N50,000. But things have change now, even with the opportunities it offers. He said, “To get a plot of land in this area, you have to cough out a chunk of N4 million and more depending on the location. For instance, to get a plot of land along the commercial Mowe-Ofada Road, you will be required to pay in the range of N8 million to N15 million.”

Well, it is indeed surprising to hear that there is no more virgin land in Mowe going by its demands, except on the outskirt, that is, in places like Ijere, Elelede, Toronto, Ofada, Owode and the others. However, Pa Oduntan and Oni both submit that land acquisition in Mowe is peaceful, only that the demands of the land-owner known as Omo Oni-Ile have to be settled.

For some, Mowe is a choice place to live as a result of the light traffic on the busy Lagos-Ibadan Expressway compared to the frustrating logjam on other choice areas like Sango, which is at the outskirt of Lagos on the Oshodi-Egbeda axis, and Ikorodu. But that notion is beginning to require a deeper breath as the busy nature of the carriageway of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway has been in a deplorable state for years. Being the only land route Nigeria has to connect other neighouring countries, the fear now even appears serious. More fearsome as all other states of the federation connect Lagos through it as well as to access the country’s main Sea Port in Apapa where the largest importation comes to the country. In passing, if things were done rightly by the various governments who had held sway to power, this route would have been a national testimony; the reverse seems to be the case anyway.

While Mowe continues to attract more people and opens up for commercial purposes, it is hoped that the calls from various quarters for the state government to provide and improve on basic social amenities like road, schools, hospitals and the likes are quickly considered and addressed.