Gilbert Ekezie

The All Africa Service Project organised by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), and coordinated by Lagos-Nigeria Festac Stake of the church, recently brought joy to residents of Ajegunle in took place in Lagos.

Members of the church stormed the Ajegunle roundabout in Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Area in their numbers as early as 7am on Saturday, August 17.

The project started some years ago where members are required to render services to their immediate community for the improvement of living standard of the people. Consequently, members all over Africa render a three-hour service that would touch lives in the immediate community of residence.

For the 2019 edition of the programme, the selection committee carefully examined relevant areas, and the roundabout at Ajegunle Boundary market was earmarked for cleaning.

Partners of the church for the exercise were the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), local government, community leaders in the area and about 1,000 members of the church from Lagos-Nigeria Festac and Lagos-Nigeria Yaba Stakes. The exercise lasted between7am and 10am.

President, Lagos Nigeria FESTAC Stake of the church, Mr Vincent Igbinedion, explained that the exercise is carried out annually on the third Saturday in August, adding that members of the church do come together to sacrifice three hours of their time for the community service.

“It is totally voluntary,” he explained. “We do it out of our own volition. The idea is that we impact on our community because one way or the other, the little thing you do can have a positive impact, and sometimes we look at the environment and institutions. Some years ago, we looked at a street in Agege and noticed that the street was very dirty. So members of the church went en-masse to turn the street into a more liveable environment. I don’t know why people dispose refuse indiscriminately. It is unfortunate that we just want to be dirty, as we fling refuse out of moving vehicles. Also in our homes, we are very clean, but when we go outside, we become so dirty. So, that is the reason we decided to contribute to make the environment clean by putting in three hours once a year.”

He said the programme had always been successful, noting that it was quite important for groups and individuals to impact on the society where necessary.

“We observed that there is a refuse dump at Ajegunle Boundary Roundabout and that moved us. The impression we have been given is that human effort alone cannot make an impact, but then, we have to try, no matter how small.  If everybody decides to make a little impact, I am sure, the overall result would be enormous. If I contribute three hours and everyone contributes three hours, the impact would be enormous.

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Igbinedion informed that the initiative had been on for about 14 years, starting from Okokomaiko in Ojo Local Government Area of the state.

“Sometimes it is unit based, as members go to their branches and communities. Sometimes, we come together, identify a spot, and do something there. A stake is a group of units and one administrative head. So today, two stakes are involved here, FESTAC stake and Yaba stake.”

According to him, FESTAC Stake has 10 units of the church; while Yaba has 10 or 12 also. So, bringing 20 units together, is quite a massive number. We have six stakes in Lagos State. Some have more. Assuming 60 units of the church come together in one location, that is a massive number. So, they use their wisdom and say okay, let two stakes join together and go to a place.”

On the choice of Ajegunle, he said: “We looked for where the impact would be more felt, and it is more central because people are coming from Badagry. People are also coming from Lekki. So Ajegunle is central. Nothing informed it apart from the centrality and where the impact would be felt.”

A member of Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers, Musiliu Shino, who works at the CMS Park in Ajegunle, commended LDS for the exercise. He called on government to assist the residents to rehabilitate the park, which he said is the only one in the entire locality.

“We want the government to assist us in fixing the park, so that the park would be okay, For the work the church has done, we thank them very much. We did not know they were coming to clean up this place, which is the only park that we have in Ajeromi.”

Also, the Secretary of Marina/CMS Park in Ajegunle, Mr Wasiu Fatai expressed satisfaction on the contributions of LDS in community development. He called on others to emulate them.

“When an organisation comes to a place like this, many people want to know the church. They want to know the name of the church. When people come to our park today and see how clean it is, they will ask questions. Even if the task force comes to this park today, they will credit us. So it is a good idea. I am a Muslim, but I will try to emulate something like this because it is encouraging. Others should copy this kind gesture.”

Assistant Director, Advocacy, Monitoring and Information Department of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority, Mr Victor Adedeji informed that there are three Districts in Lagos State – Central, Western and Eastern Districts.

“I cover the central district. Incidentally, Ajegunle belongs to the central district. That is why I am here. LAWMA is a strong organisation where we have different units. We have operational organisations that are responsible for deploying trucks for evacuation. Our operational unit from the central is at Mushin and they will be here to evacuate the waste. We believe members of the church are assisting government and I am so impressed that the church has taken up the initiative, it has been going on for years and it is a very good gesture in partnering with government to ensure we have a clean environment,” he said.

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