Contrary to the tale making the rounds, Mercy Aigbe’s husband, Larry Gentry, never married top Yoruba actress, Bimbo Akinsanya, better addressed as Omo Oloja nor did he have a baby by the sultry entertainer.
The story was denied by Gentry as soon as it broke a couple of years ago.
Meanwhile, the CEO of La Veronique Hotel, Oregun, Lagos, Gentry, was once married but not to Omo Oloja. And his marriage was blessed with two children before meeting Mercy Aigbe about 10 years ago. Omo Oloja just got married about two years ago and the marriage has been blessed with a baby girl so far. This, however, laid to the rest the speculation of any amorous adventure between Gentry and Akinsanya let alone being married to each other.
CORRUPTION AT THE ROOT
Like the Area Boys, at every level of society in Lagos someone is looking to make their levy.
Nigeria is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, according to international NGO Transparency International. Since independence in 1960, billions of dollars of Nigeria’s oil revenue have been siphoned from state and government coffers into Swiss bank accounts of the country’s rulers.
Nigeria’s rampant corruption and lack of enforced regulations have enabled buildings to go up unchecked – only 30 percent of houses in the city have an approved building plan.
The Ebute-Metta area of Lagos is a short drive inland from Makoko. New buildings are falling down almost as fast as they are going up. Poor workmanship and corrupt inspectors means that buildings less than five years old are collapsing, sometimes crushing to death whole families inside.
“We had noticed the cracks in the walls, but we never thought it would collapse,” said Debola Igbosanmi, who had a shop on the ground floor of 71 Bola Street before it caved in without warning in mid-July, killing about 20 people.
According to Abosede at the Lagos Town Planning office, 199 buildings in Ebute-Metta alone have been identified for testing for poor workmanship. Many still have people living inside.
Abosede says his office is cracking down on corruption. It’s a crusade that President Obasanjo says he is spearheading since taking up office nearly eight years ago. Although Obasanjo has won praise overseas for his anti-corruption drive, his critics say that the president has used his Anti-Corruption Bill only against his opponents.
In August, the woman at the forefront of his government’s anti-graft campaign, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, quit as foreign minister after being relieved as finance minister in June. This was evidence, critics said, that she had been a little too good at her job.
Okonjo-Iweala led negotiations that resulted in Africa’s biggest debt write-off of US $18 billion. She also initiated reforms which saved Nigeria US $500 million by forcing the renegotiation of contracts that had already been awarded.
But Okonjo-Iweala’s successes merely scratch the surface in a country where corruption is not just a government pursuit but has seeped into the very fabric of society.
Abutting Makoko is Iwaya, one of the oldest slum areas of Lagos. There, Chief Murtiala Aremu Oloko sits in this three-storey home rising out of the haphazard sprawl.
When asked to list the needs faced by his “subjects”, Oloko laughs, “It would take all day.” The problems are too numerous, ranging from healthcare shortages to schools shortages and more, he says.
When asked what he was doing as the traditional leader in Iwaya to help his people, Oloko didn’t pause: “That depends what they give me.”