History was made on Thursday 23rd September 2021 as the FHA led by its Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Senator Gbenga Bareehu Ashafa handed over the six (6) acre FESTAC mechanic village land to members of the National Automobile Technicians Association (NATA) Festac chapter.
Senator Ashafa who was represented by the South West Zonal Manager Mr. Akintola Olagbemiro stated that the place of mechanics, technicians, and artisans could never be underestimated in any society. He added that their overall importance in any economy is not of low profile because of the essential nature of their trade.
Senator Ashafa who said the epoch historic event was in line with his promise to restore the lost glory of FESTAC town, expressed joy at the achievement of FHA’s age -long plan to resettle the mechanics at a more appropriate location.
He also opined that their importance to the locality where they ply their trade cannot be over emphasized as they pose to create source of job opportunity for the people and also tend to grow the economy through various means.
The FHA boss urged the leadership of NATA, FESTAC branch, to ensure they conduct themselves and their business in an orderly manner and partner with the relevant stakeholders to ensure more success is further achieved.
Senator Ashafa concluded that FHA surveyors had taken the measurements of the site for laying of the beacons on the new site.
The Life Patron of the National Automobile Technicians Association (NATA) Comrade Ayodele Adewale who had been involved in series of meeting with the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) in Festac even while he was in office as the Executive Chairman of Amuwo Odofin LGA (2008 – 2014) concerning the land had on Thursday 23rd September 2021 led the entire members of NATA in Festac Town to their new site located at the Mechanic Village, 6th Avenue Festac Town, Amuwo Odofin LGA 29 years after their letter of request for the land was written by some members of NATA and thereafter approved by the federal housing authority FHA.
The visit to the mechanic village was preceded by a meeting held on Wednesday 22nd September 2021 between Comrade Ayodele Adewale, the Public Relations Officer (P.R.O) of FHA from Abuja, the South West Zonal Manager of the Federal Housing Authority(FHA), the legal officer of FHA South West, the Head of Town Planning South West, the Head Survey Department South West, alongside other Departmental Heads and the Leadership of Festac Town Residents Association (FTRA) led by Mr Shola Fakorede at the 211 Road FHA South West office Headquarters in Festac Town. The executive of NATA in Festac Town led by its chairman Comrade Enikanlomo had accompanied Comrade Ayodele Adewale to the meeting venue.
The reason for the meeting was to discuss the method of the movement which must be violence free and to ensure that all members of NATA comply with the movement date and also discuss on the fate of the mechanics plying their trade in Festac Town where Comrade Ayodele posited that he would however help FHA to lead all members of NATA to their new location in 6th Avenue Festac Town after due approval had been given by the FHA.
While discussions were ongoing, Comrade Ayodele Adewale affirmed that in 2009 as Executive Chairman of Amuwo Odofin LGA, he alongside the then FTRA President Pa Jola Ogunnusi and executive members of NATA visited the land after it was partly Sand filled and made passable by Comrade Ayodele-led Administration in order to ascertain firsthand the situation of the land and its location as given to the NATA Association. Comrade Ayodele and Mr. Shola Fakorede further advised that a committee be set up comprising of various critical stakeholders as board of trustee to include a representatives of the FHA from Abuja, a representative from the FHA South West Legal Department, Survey department, administrative department and Town Planning unit of the FHA to help design a befitting architectural plan and look for partners to develop an ultramodern automobile city that will have a training school, spare part market, clinic, worship centers, public toilets, food vendor spots, police post, NATA administrative office, banks, portable water and the relocation of the plank market along the Festac boundaries plus the metal recycling crap business popularly known as Bolar to the place.
As part of the decisions made at the meeting, it was concluded by the FHA leadership to allow the NATA an incubation period of possession until the association demonstrates full responsibility of running the place before the letter of allocated is finally handed over to them.
On Friday 24th September 2021 before moving to the new site, Comrade Ayodele Adewale again held a meeting with the entire members of NATA on 2nd Avenue in front of the famous 206 park where the arrangement to build an ultra-modern mechanic village on site was discussed. The erstwhile Council Chief immediately moved them to their new location after the conclusion of the meeting at 2nd Avenue. They all decided to do a 14 kilometer walk to the NATA permanent site.
On getting to 6th avenue, members of the press met the crowd and interviewed NATA members led by comrade Adewale and the executive of NATA led by its chairman comrade Enikanlomo in front of the MRS Petrol station.
While approaching the new site, it was observed that the local government chairman of Amuwo Odofin LGA Valentine Buraimoh had mobilized hoodlums whom were armed with various types of weapons and throwing bottles at the NATA members who were approaching their new site for reasons best known to them. This did not deter the Mechanics and gentlemen of the press who were on ground to witness the event. All this happened in the presence of the Festac Town divisional police officer (DPO) who did his best professionally to restrain them. The head of the state security service (SSS) Amuwo Odofin LG was also on ground to take note of all the happenings on that day.
While the life patron of NATA Comrade Ayodele Adewale granted interviews from newsmen and other media outfits present, prominent of which was the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), he appreciated the leadership of Federal Housing Authority (FHA) led by Senator Gbenga Ashafa for approving the relocation of NATA Festac Town to their new site at 6th Avenue. He also prayed that the businesses of the mechanics would thrive and soar higher than previous times. Comrade Ayodele expressed joy and satisfaction that the pursuit of his administration as council boss to ensure the artisans get their permanent site did not go in vain.
Comrade Ayodele however debunked the news flying around that the land was handed over to the local government and allayed fears by the association members of NATA that the new location belongs to the local government as being paraded by the Council Chairman. He affirmed that the local government has no jurisdiction surrounding the land and the government never wrote any letter of request for land allocation on behalf of NATA but rather, such request came from NATA which is a duly registered organization with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and a recognized Trade Union not just in Festac Town but Nigeria at large.
While addressing members of the press, the chairman of NATA in Festac Town Mr Enikanlomo opined that they are ready to move equipment, machineries and vehicles to base in coming weeks. He appreciated the life patron of NATA Comrade Ayodele Adewale whom he regarded as being a pillar for the association in Amuwo Odofin LG considering his support and struggle for the advancement of the association over the years even while he was in office as executive chairman of Amuwo Odofin LGA between 2008-2014 in ensuring that this day becomes a reality.
NATA members, newsmen, residents and onlookers all went back to their businesses after the historic NATA relocation was achieved.