The need to deepen information Communications technology (ICT) has become imperative. Just like innovation , the ICT has always bee seen as  disruptive! The computer village is one facility that was created by group of Innovative in the 1990s that evolved today to an ecosystem that worth billions today. Lately the market was in protest for the installation of traditional stooges in the name of babaloja and iyaloja.

The term babaloja or iyaloja is a Yoruba terms that stems centuries ago, a new that is traditional as it comes and these set of people are people that are involved in market management. As the names implies it means father of market or mother of market. In a 21st century settings , technology has disrupted these and with the advancement of democracy, these traditional roles have been replaced by more robust methods such as representative government or even technology deployment.  Bringing the iyaloja and babaloja setting in the big ICT ecosystem is akin to taking the market back to dark ages and this is what the market has resisted ! Would the market cave in? Is this tradition in tandem with modern society? But one thing that is of note is that it is an action in fruition .

“What do the Iyaoloja and Babaloja have to offer? What value are they going to add to the hub? And what technological innovations are they bringing?”

Speaking on the development, Wale Banire said “Another way to milk the traders and impose unnecessary tax that goes to the pocket of the political godfathers in lagos, i believe the computer traders would have already be levied all kind of taxes, what they need is a union that will benefit and protect them and their goods.”

In like with the backward trend of iyalola , Foluke Omotolani opined “Instead of strategizing on moving the choked and un conducive computer village to somewhere spacious and more befitting so as to enable govt collect revenue easily for development,you are bringing a backward idea of iyaloja and  babaloja to the main technology hub in Nigeria in 21st century. Such backwardness!!  Why not use the existing administrative system? Ogun state govt had better seized this opportunity by creating a similar market at the border area.”

Emmanuel Eze added that “What exactly is wrong with us,must we cherish darkness more than light…. Free computer village business men abeg,is there any iyaloja at Silicon valley and other startup hubs around the world?”

Deyi Adewumi took it to another level and he said “Let the babaloja and Iyaloja of computer village be appointed from retired YORUBA/ lagosian science/ computer teacher in Lagos state..There should be a post like that to sanitize the Igbos thinking of no man land.”

“Lagos state has a market board that is officially assigned the responsibility of coordinating market affairs in the state and I believe the agency recognises the impact of babaloja and iyaloja So why the protests ,if there’s any need to register a known or alien conduct in the market the market executives should write the market board and register their grievances in a formal manner”,Muri Okunnu added.

Muhammed Adio said “Just like many people have reacted, definitely, Computer Village is a special market that Babaloja and Iyaloja have no business. In my own understanding of these people they are political tools in the hands of politicians. And we all know how politicians have bastardized everything in this country. Are we going to allow them to destroy the flourishing ICT market? If they can’t help them to develop and grow their  business they should not destroy it archaic and backwards traditional practices.
To the traders in the market, I believe in peace, therefore, they should conduct themselves peacefully, they should not result in violence.”

Some took it to traditional route, and called for respect of the traditional norms and not is the technology trends , Philip Oni said “I don’t know why people don’t respect tradition…. every state in Nigeria has tradition that guides them and I don’t see anything wrong in making Iyaloje and babaloja .. those shouting they won’t agree in their state  . We lack respect anywhere we go and we don’t respect people of the land .”

As it stands now ,the issue is a contentious one and hope that this is resolved. But as it stands now , the market has lost millions due to this protest.This trend is sending a wrong signals to investors especially from the Eastern part of the country who are ploughing their investment home citing hostile environment and insecurities. Would this move cause Lagos to loose billion in capital flight ? Time would tell.

According to Wikipedia, Across various Yoruba markets and the states they belong to, an Iyaloja is usually democratically chosen by her constituents (and is thereafter confirmed by the oba) or single-handedly chosen by the oba himself. In rare situations, like the case of the Iyaloja of Lagos in 2013, the deceased Iyaloja can choose her successor before her death. Historically, the Iyaloja of Lagos is referred to as “Iyaloja of Nigeria”, despite the existence of other Iyalojas across various Yoruba-dominated states.

Research into the ancient culture and tradition of the Yoruba people has shown that despite the chieftaincy structure being largely patriarchal, the female titleholders Iyalode, Iyaloja and Iyalaje are three of the most important leaders in the system, figures whose opinions carried as much weight as those of the male chiefs.

 An equivalent male title known as Babaloja, meaning Father of the Market, is also functionally a subordinate of the Iyaloja.

Anthony Emeka NWOSU

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