Exclusive: Iyaloja of Computer Village unfolds plans to rebrand Nigeria’s largest tech market

Exclusive: Iyaloja of Computer Village unfolds plans to rebrand Nigeria’s largest tech market

Exclusive: Iyaloja of Computer Village unfolds plans to rebrand Nigeria’s largest tech market

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Mrs Abisola Azeez, the new Iyaloja of Computer Village has told Technology Times that plans are underway to rebrand Nigeria’s largest technology market following the emergence of new leadership for the thriving commercial hub in Lagos.

The Iyaloja {female market leader} of Computer Village, who is also the Founder of Laptop Galleria, and popularly known within the tech market as Ikira emerged alongside Mr Adeniyi Olasoji, the Babaloja {male market leader} when they were installed by Mrs Folashade Tinubu-Ojo, President-General, Association of Commodity Market Women and Men of Nigeria.

The Iyaloja of Computer Village told Technology Times in an exclusive interview at the technology market that she is no stranger to the politics and issues that triggered the initial protests that followed to make the duo market leaders.

The Iyaloja says their vision is to rebrand Computer Village and make making the market attractive to consumers, and also replicate the success stories of similar global tech hubs in the commercial heart of Lagos. Mrs Abisola Azeez, the new Iyaloja of Computer Village

Exclusive: Iyaloja of Computer Village unfolds plans to rebrand Nigeria’s largest tech market
Mrs Abisola Azeez, new Iyaloja of Computer Village seen during the interview with Technology Times held at Nigeria’s largest technology market in Ikeja, Lagos.

The Iyaloja says their vision is to rebrand Computer Village and make making the market attractive to consumers, and also replicate the success stories of similar global tech hubs in the commercial heart of Lagos.

”There is an ongoing project where the street will be sanitised. If you are not selling computer or its allied products, then you cannot be on our street anymore”, Mrs Azeez says while unfolding the ambitious plan to rebrand Nigeria’s largest technology market.

What this means for consumers is that, “if enter Computer Village, you know you want to buy computer products and its accessories. With that, the streets would be neat because majority on the road are not selling computer products and they have flooded our market.”

According to the Iyaloja of Computer Village, “On the other hand, we are going to have a parking arrangement because the cars parked on the road are the hideout of those hoodlum and those that are not selling computer-related items, so that people can move in freely in and out of the market. Once we get that done, we will see that a lot of high networth customers will want to buy goods in Computer Village.”

She explains further that, ”we want to implement ‘no waiting, no stopping and no soliciting policy.’ That is, if you are not doing any business, then keep moving or you will be picked into a Black Maria. So, with that, those that are stealing or selling stolen goods will not have a hiding place. If you look at those on the roads, they are not doing anything or selling anything. So, once we implement that policy, it will reduce activities of hoodlums.”

What this means for consumers is that, “if enter Computer Village, you know you want to buy computer products and its accessories. With that, the streets would be neat because majority on the road are not selling computer products and they have flooded our market.” Mrs Abisola Azeez, the new Iyaloja of Computer Village

Exclusive: Iyaloja of Computer Village unfolds plans to rebrand Nigeria’s largest tech market
Mrs Abisola Azeez, Iyaloja of Computer Village tells Technology Times in an exclusive interview held at the technology market that she is no stranger to the politics and issues that triggered the initial protests that followed to make the duo of Iyaloja and Babaloja the new market leaders.

The Iyaloja of Computer Village, who also shared her entrepreneurship journey into the market says she started doing business there since 1995, and understand the business landscape that has evolved to become the leading technology business hub in Nigeria.

”I got into Computer Village as far back as 1995. I used to have my office on the Island where I was doing my computer business. But I came into Computer Village in 1995, and since then I have been doing business with some people. As at that time there were only a few companies doing business here.”

According to her, ”when Computer Village started growing and a lot of people started coming, some of us came together and thought that it is good for us to have an association. That was where the idea of CAPDAN (Computer and Allied Products Dealers Association of Nigeria) came into being. I was part of the group that formed CAPDAN. In fact, I am the pioneer Registered Secretary of that association. If you check our constitution, you would find my signature there. We started it and was running it then ethnicity came in. The Igbos said they were the majority in number, that they should take the lead. We the Yoruba said we registered the association, it is our own and they can’t dictate to us. In fact, there was a time all the Igbo executives pulled out.”

Exclusive: Iyaloja of Computer Village unfolds plans to rebrand Nigeria’s largest tech market
Mrs Abisola Azeez, Iyaloja of Computer Village seen amid activities at Nigeria’s largest technology market in Ikeja, Lagos.

The Iyaloja says that “because of this lack of unity, we were losing a lot of government opportunities because there is no single leader they can talk to. So some of us deemed it fit that government has to come and probably if government puts in a leader from the Lagos State Market Board headed by Iyaloja-General, they will have no choice than to obey and co-operate with the leadership that is in control. That is the reason why the Iyaloja General installed me as Iyaloja and Mr Olasoji as Babaloja and we have a 15-man Committee. Mrs Abisola Azeez, the new Iyaloja of Computer Village

The Iyaloja of Computer Village explains further that, “apart from serving as the secretary of the association, I served as the auditor of the association since inception in 2004 till 2016, when Ahmed Ojikutu took over the mantle of leadership. For a lot of years, the association was comatose. The Igbo traders among us pulled out and started forming other association like Phone and Allied Products Dealers Association of Nigeria (PAPDAN), Tech Park, Laptop Dealers Association, which I was a Trustee in that association.  

“We agreed that we would be using CAPDAN as the umbrella body, but other association said, no. They have their own various associations, that nobody can impose any association on them. So there has always been a leadership vacuum and as big as the market is, it lacks control.”

The Iyaloja says that “because of this lack of unity, we were losing a lot of government opportunities because there is no single leader they can talk to. So some of us deemed it fit that government has to come and probably if government puts in a leader from the Lagos State Market Board headed by Iyaloja-General, they will have no choice than to obey and co-operate with the leadership that is in control. That is the reason why the Iyaloja General installed me as Iyaloja and Mr Olasoji as Babaloja and we have a 15-man Committee.

“And could you believe that immediately we were installed, one of the banks, First Bank, came and said they have a product for all markets that have Iyalojas and Babalojas, because Iyaloja as a market leader will guarantee the person and they know that getting back their money will not be a problem. A very cheap loan for as low as 2.5% per month. Many people go for 10% per month. And this is a package that the bank has been running for a long time but refused to come here because there is no Iyaloja, because the golden rule is that they go to market that have market leaders in the name of Iyaloja.”

Commenting on the protests held to kick against their installation as market leaders, the Iyaloja tells Technology Times that ”I think the reason that protests took place was because of fear that they have as to whether or not have to subject to the leadership of Iyaloja because people that are protesting that they don’t want a leader in the market don’t have any leader whatsoever and there shouldn’t be a vacuum in leadership. Take for instance CAPDAN, aside the fact that other association is not respecting it as the umbrella body of the market, it is in court under litigation of who takes over the leadership.”

Exclusive: Iyaloja of Computer Village unfolds plans to rebrand Nigeria’s largest tech market
Mrs Abisola Azeez, the new Iyaloja of Computer Village tells Technology Times that plans are underway to rebrand Nigeria’s largest technology market following the emergence of new leadership for the thriving commercial hub in Lagos.

”I think the reason that protests took place was because of fear that they have as to whether or not have to subject to the leadership of Iyaloja because people that are protesting that they don’t want a leader in the market don’t have any leader whatsoever and there shouldn’t be a vacuum in leadership. Take for instance CAPDAN, aside the fact that other association is not respecting it as the umbrella body of the market, it is in court under litigation of who takes over the leadership.” Mrs Abisola Azeez, the new Iyaloja of Computer Village

The Iyaloja of Computer Village explains that “prior to the installation saga, PAPDAN and CAPDAN never see eye-to-eye. But during the protest, it was a case of let all of us come together and probably later, we sort ourselves out. But they never knew that when government takes its stand on an issue, they maintain it because you find out that the CAPDAN leader, PAPDAN leader and some Igbo people who thought that they were the majority championed the protests.”

The Iyaloja also provides some insights into the legal tussle over the leadership of CAPDAN in which the Board of Trustees are asking Ojikutu, incumbent President of the market association for Computer Village to vacate his position.

”It was a leadership tussle and before Ojikutu came to power the association was comatose and when he came and said he could turn things around I supported him. By the grace of God, I was one of the people God used to get him to that seat. Anybody can challenge that, just tell him to bring his campaign videos. I was the chairperson of his Campaign Committee. I know all the pains we went through before he became the president of CAPDAN.  

Exclusive: Iyaloja of Computer Village unfolds plans to rebrand Nigeria’s largest tech market
Mrs Abisola Azeez, Iyaloja of Computer Village seen amid activities at Nigeria’s largest technology market in Ikeja, Lagos.

“Before getting to power, Ojikutu has signed an MoU with the Igbos promising them that he was going to hand over power to them and after the two years expiration of his tenure, the BoT sent a letter to him and his executives that his tenure has come to an end. But Ojikutu said there was an MoU forgetting that there is a constitution. So, the BoT said they are not part of any MoU and no MoU can override the constitution.” Mrs Abisola Azeez, Iyaloja of Computer Village

“Before getting to power, Ojikutu has signed an MoU with the Igbos promising them that he was going to hand over power to them and after the two years expiration of his tenure, the BoT sent a letter to him and his executives that his tenure has come to an end. But Ojikutu said there was an MoU forgetting that there is a constitution. So, the BoT said they are not part of any MoU and no MoU can override the constitution.

“The BoT now inaugurated a Caretaker Committee to conduct fresh elections after the two years expiration of Ojikutu tenure and also take possession of the office, but Ojikutu resisted and he took us to the police. The Commissioner of Police was not interested in the reasons for the chaotic situation, he just said he doesn’t want to hear any problem in Computer Village and if any person causes any problem, he will useless them. I must confess the BoT were humiliated and felt very bad. Then they resolved that they won’t cause any problem with this boy (Ojikutu). The normal and subtle way to get the association back was to go to court to resolve the issue and that was the reason why the situation had to go to court”, she explains.

The Iyaloja of Computer Village says she wants to promote an all-inclusive system because ”as the installation was done successfully, some groups have gone to see the Iyaloja-General that they want to be included in this administration because they know that it is either they are in or out. Apart from that, we have a Reconciliation Committee. We have been talking to people to make them see why they must have a leader and that has been ongoing and I can tell you that 90% of people in the market don’t care about who leads them. What is important to them is that they do their business in peace without any form of disturbance whatsoever.”

According to her, “you find out that those few people who are eager for power are the ones blowing up issues that never existed in Computer Village. They are only trying to make the outside world think there is a problem in Computer Village. It is as peaceful as you can imagine.”

When asked if she has so far encountered any resistance from them, she has this to say: “Not at all. These are my people. They know me and I know them. We have been together for so long they can attest to my ability when it comes to managerial positions. So I am not new to them. In fact a lot of them have been congratulating me ever since that time.”

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Kolade Akinola Technology Journalist at Technology Times Mobile: + 234 (0) 807 401 6027