2016: The Heart-breaking Year 

There are so many things about 2016 that broke my heart into pieces.

In Nigeria today, ordinary common sense, profound reasoning and life changing positive reflections have been thrown into the gutters.

When money is taken out of the ratio, the next most influential factor for getting political appointment in Nigeria today is religion.

2016: The HeartBreaking Year

 

 

By Adeola Aderounmu

”To even imagine what lies ahead in 2016 under the prevailing global crash in oil-prices and other  revolutionary advances in the world is totally heartbreaking”-Adeola Aderounmu, December 2015.

The immediate quote above was how l ended my last essay in 2015. It was titled, Not Another Great Year.

I was among the people who expressed utmost pessimism for what the future (2016 and beyond) had in stock for Nigerians.  Our people in their gullibility prefer to hear such obvious omen from their pastors and imams at worship centers.

2016 wraps up for majority of Nigerians on a very low note. For several millions expectations were dashed and hopes were turned to hopelessness. It’s a cycle too easy to predict.

Way back in one of my end of year messages, probably 2012, l have stated that God will not save Nigeria. That postulation remain intact. In 2017, there will not be a divine or conjured intervention for Nigeria.

It is Nigerians who will decide when they have had enough of irresponsible government and selfish rulership. The fate and future of Nigeria will not be decided by the Church like one of my friends argued with me when l visited Nigeria this summer. If the future of Nigeria will be great, it will not depend on the Mosque either.

For in Nigeria today, ordinary common sense, profound reasoning and life changing positive reflections have been thrown into the gutters. When money is taken out of the ratio, the next most influential factor for getting political appointment in Nigeria today is religion. For the almost monolithic “religious” states, tribe is the decider. Nigerians have lost it, they have descended too low.

The trend had been upcoming and today it is well established. In the monolithic states, there is a system of rotation that ensures that the embezzlement of public funds is rotated among tribes every 4 years. If the public office is at a very local level, then it is different clans that rotate the looting of the local treasury.

Are we stiil wondering why more than 100 m nigerians live in penury, almost exclusively from hand to mouth?

In my local government, the enactment of a church beside the mosque was a reassuring signal that Christians will not be kicked out of the premises soon.

The last time l checked though, the people l met at my local government were complete outsiders. They know nothing about Festac Town and you can tell they are political leeches. They do not know the layouts of Festac and they have no idea how the community came into existence and the dreams we had when we were children.

Lagos state now provides a recipe that is replica of the failed country called Nigeria.

When religion, friendship, tribalism, hypocrisy, ineptitude, arrogance, stupidity, inefficiency, man-know-man and other vices are promoted above service and integrity, there will never be progress. Peace may even become a scare ideology. Rivalry and sometimes war will prevail even with the slightest of provocation. This is where Nigeria is today!

On a more personal note, since the summer months, l have written and called attention to the environmental issues that affect the people of Festac Town. Sadly the governor of Lagos State love the lslands more than the Mainlands, and Festac Town can rot because he does not give a damn. Both the governor of Lagos state and the ignorant sole administrator of Festac Town have pretended that they are deaf.

They don’t care about anything that does not bring returns to their pockets. How do we define political leeches again?

I think the people of Festac should be allowed to run Festac so that the people can know who to turn to when things don’t go right. The council should never be in the hands of complete strangers especially when they have used their religion as a jackpot. This is so sad and the rulers of Lagos have failed too.

Likewise, we continue to clamour that one man cannot rule Nigeria. Nigeria is a failed project under the unitary system. When the government is brought close to the people, it will be relatively easier to know who to hold responsible when projects failed and when infrastructure collapse.

Today in Nigeria, it appears that everything wrong with the country is the fault of Buhari. It is indeed true but it’s just that he is not the origin of the problems. His role has been more as a catalyst in destroying what is left of Nigeria. This is the second time he’s doing so.

The system of government in Nigeria will never work. It is designed to fail. The complain we are making today are the same complains that writers and critics made more than 40 years ago. The system of government is the same. Things got worse.

It is now not known how to convince the people that prayers don’t bring about technological development. It is not known how we can convince the people that religion and vigils do not solve national problems.

I don’t know in how many ways we can try to reach the people and tell them that it is what we do or not that affect the progress of our country. The outcomes of our actions and inactions are independent of prayers. Prayers don’t help a nation to escape poverty, food production does.

Prayers don’t help a nation to become healthy. It is the function of the health policy of the government and the investment in medicine and health care that do.

Theology does not take any country to the moon or mars. Science and research do.

Another year 2017 is here and Nigerians will start it with a crossover at churches and mosques. No matter what the calender says, it is just another day and another rotation of the earth about the sun.  Science says it’s a revolution of the earth around the sun, therefore there’s actually nothing new about rotation and revolution.

It is very hard to know how Nigerians, more than 150 million people can be reached and convinced on the meaning and essence of life. It is pretty hard and frustrating.

Recently some hopeless people gathered in London to celebrate the release of a criminal called Ibori. The likes of Ibori are numerous in Nigeria. They are the ones running the country. They should be happy because they are the lucky bastards. In some countries where corruption is not tolerated, their graves will be unmarked after they must have been summarily executed.

It pains and infact it hurts to see the foolishness of Nigerians on a global scale. People like the supporters of lbori and the praise-singers of other politicians help Nigeria to wash her dirty linens in public. The global shame is indelible and embarassing.

There are so many things about 2016 that broke my heart into pieces.

Many of them are repetitions of the inexplicable circumstances surrounding the governing of Nigeria, the attitudes of Nigerians, the behaviours of Nigerians and the irreconciliable diversity of the notions of the Nigerian state or statelessness.

Let me be clear, Nigeria is being misgoverned. This is not news. The country has been on a roller coast to hell since 1960. Therefore when the APC-Buhari mandate promised changes, Nigerians bought it. But it has been business as usual, and the status-quo after 18 months shows that this government is ideologically clueless. The economy is lying prostrate.

After the crossover ceremonies at the churches and mosques, who will tell Nigerians that the crossover is meaningless without the necessary actions aimed at progress, prosperity and the common good.

We must change the system of government even if we cannot change every other thing. We need to bring back governance to the doorsteps of the people. It won’t matter who we usher to Abuja in 2019 because one man will not rule Nigeria successfully.

Lets fight a common fight now. Let’s write about it, let’s talk about it. Let us enforce it. If we can, let us occupy the streets and the citadel of corruption called Abuja and call for a rapid response to the change in the system of government. It’s the biggest gift we can bestow on the unborn generations.

At the regions, there will be closer monitoring of infrastucture and health provison.  Educational needs will be tailored to local situations. Even housing will be structured based on regional population and peculiarities. Power can be generated using local needs instead of senseless national jargons. These won’t happen overnight, but our grandchildren will be happy we started a journey with their needs and prosperity in minds.

If all we want to leave to our children are our imported religions and ill-acquired wealth, then let’s all brace up for a 2017 filled with pain, anguish, sorrow and disappointments. we are used to them any way.

For as long as we continue to lie and pretend that the unitary system of government will get us somewhere, these outcomes, to different degrees in different homes and communities will remain our common denominators.

aderounmu@gmail.com

 

 

President Buhari’s Festac In Governor Ambode’s Lagos

By Adeola Aderounmu

(Images By Abiodun Popoola)

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402 Road by 4th Avenue, Festac Town. 

In the month of June 2016, I visited Nigeria. One of the most disgusting views in Lagos where l was resident was in Festac Town, the estate that everyone acknowledged had lost his glory.

In general l was appalled by the state of infrastructure in Festac Town.

It is hard to believe that Festac Town is home to the headquarters of  Amuwo Odofin Local Government. It is hard to believe that there are politicians in Festac Town. It is hard to believe that there is a state governor in Lagos State.

A lot of things are rotting away and Festac Town that used to be the pride of Nigeria and Africa is now a desolate, rotten town.

In truth l dedicated a page on my blog to the lost glory of Festac Town. The original glory of Festac Town may never be regained. Still it does not mean that the things that could still be fixed should be left undone.

 

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402 Road, Festac Town

Recently l wrote an article about the problem of sewage in Festac Town and the significance of the problem as a form of biological weapon against the people of Festac Town.

The article titled Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, Please Clear This Biological Weapon!  was published on July 25, 2016 both on the Nigeria Village Square and on my blog.

To ensure that the problem gains the attention it needed, l wrote the same article in the National Mirror Newspaper. It appeared on the back page on August 16 2016 under the banner Addressing Festac Town’s sewage menace.

Despite all the awareness that has been brought to the matter, it appears that the government (local, state and federal) did not get the message. A friend of mine visited Festac Town this November and the images that he brought back shows that no effort has been made to solve the problem.

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4th Avenue, By 402 Road

Let me restate that we will continue to highlight this problem for as long as it exists. In as much as we all agree that Festac Town is a federal government estate, we must also never forget that it is situated in Lagos State and there is a governor and there is a local government chairman.

Invariably, the sewage system is bad in many areas in Festac Town. The worst hit area is 402 Road. The residents are flushing their toilets directly to the streets because there are permanent blockages to the original paths created for the flow to flow away.

The residents of 402 Road in Festac Town are breathing unsafe air, they are walking on sewage water/mud to get into their various apartments. The health impacts are huge and children are vulnerable.

The governor of Lagos State is responsible for the welfare of the residents anywhere in Lagos. That insinuation and argument that Festac Town is a federal estate does not hold water. The governor needs to initiate the contact with the appropriate authority and call them out to action.

 

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402 Road, Market Place and Residential Area

Governor Ambode and the people running Lagos must know that Lagos is not Victoria Island and Ikoyi only. They need to look at other places and stop paying lip-service and eye-service to issues concerning maintenance and development.

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402 Road, Festac Town

Photograph/Images By Abiodun Popoola.

 

Footnotes

Again, l repeat that it is possible for the governor of Lagos State to look at this problem and instruct the appropriate authority (federal, state or local) to act.

As it sems right now, the people of Festac are in a dilemma. FHA is not going to come down to make their environment germ free. The Governor does not care if they die of diseases.

As l have stated before, l will continue to write about this particular problem for as long as it exists. I pray for the grace to keep reminding the rulers and conquerors of Nigeria of their negligences and lack of committment to the people and country.

This problem is a struggle and we will keep reminding the conquerors of Lagos/Nigeria that they must serve the people.

 

There Are No Drivers In Lagos

…..one of the vehicles that was supposed to be behind my car did the diagonal turning and collided with an oncoming lorry. There was another accident- two commercial buses collided with each other and an okada passenger flew between the 2 vehicles just before they collided. This is Lagos..!

There Are No Drivers In Lagos

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By Adeola Aderounmu

On my recent trip to Nigeria, l could almost not believe what l saw on Lagos roads. I knew that driving in Lagos had always been a hassle and that some people have ignorantly or maybe stupidly concluded many years ago that if you can drive in Lagos, then you can drive anywhere in the world. That notion is not only misleading; it is also very dangerous.

If driving in Lagos on the other hand means that you can drive anywhere in Nigeria, then l can generalize that there are no drivers in Nigeria. I took time to observe driving in my area and on major roads in Lagos. Not one person driving on Lagos roads that l saw passed the simple driving tests that l conducted.

One of the most amazing, yet disturbing discoveries l made was this: not one driver in Lagos knew how to turn left at a junction. In normal driving, on a two-way road, you drive to the end of the road whilst keeping to your lane, then you make a curve (like going around the last quarter of a circle or ring) to turn left. I did not see one driver in Lagos do this turn correctly.

To make left turns, all the drivers in Lagos made diagonals. They don’t even make it from their half of the road. Long before the actual turning point, as they approach the junction, Lagos drivers make long diagonals that put them head to head with the oncoming vehicles.

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The first time l observed this anomaly, l actually thought it was just a silly driver who was impatient.

Later l found out that everybody drives that way. Commercial vehicle drivers and private car drivers, drove the same way. This is the standard for driving in Lagos.

One day, l had a passenger at the back seat in my car. He said he thought l was driving straight-on after he saw that l actually turned left at a junction. He was not used to drivers using the full length of the road to the turning point before making the turn. He said l would get tired of my sane driving, but l never did because l wasn’t trained to drive like an insane person.

Every time l am making my normal left turn, there are other vehicles, between 1 to 3 that make the turn before me while l am at my normal driving. They think they are good drivers or that they are smarter in getting ahead.

In this essay, l cannot include the menace of the motor-cycles as commercial transportation means in Lagos. Let us save the discussion about that pestilence that is unleashed on Lagos for another time.

As a result of foolishness, recklessness and not-knowing-how to drive of almost all Lagos drivers, I was a witness to at least 3 accidents whilst l drove in Lagos.

Another day whilst l was doing my normal omoluabi junction-turning, one of the vehicles that was supposed to be behind my car did the diagonal turning and collided with an oncoming lorry. How many accidents on Lagos road are due to wrong driving?

This dangerous diagonal turning was one of the most obvious indicators of wrong driving by Lagos drivers that l observed and it remains a major cause of head-to-head collision/accidents at road junctions.

There was another accident due mainly to bad driving that was so serious that two commercial buses collided with each other on 23 Road in Festac Town. It was like a movie when an okada passenger flew between the two vehicles before they collided and he somersaulted on the road. The motor cycle and the okada-driver slided long the road like the movie was not about to finish yet.

In fact, the other useless and reckless driving of Lagos drivers are too numerous to elaborate here. But generally, it is a crazy situation on Lagos roads with human and vehicular traffic forming a permanent compound mess.

More of my observations below.

Lagos drivers do not know how to drive on lanes (but they can claim that most roads are not marked with lines and they’ll be right at that). Still, what happens to straight line driving? What l saw was that most of the drivers in Lagos do not even know about driving on a lane.

Once the roads are not marked, they are driving from right to left to center, just anyhow they like. They fill available space on the road and collide too easily with one another.

Lagos drivers do not keep the distance. There should be at least 5 meters between 2 cars on the road. For some vehicles, the distance behind them should be 10 meters if they have risk of rolling backwards or if they vehicles used for deliveries, having haulage facility/equipment trailing behind them.

In one accident, I saw an okada driver fastened to the back of a jeep and he could not detangle his motor cycle. It was so confusing; l did not even understand it even as we drove past the conjoined vehicles.

Lagos drivers do not use or respect the indicator light that shows when you when you change lanes or make a turn. 99.9 % of Lagos drivers do not look out for indicator lights. When you indicate a turn with your light and hoping that someone is using their brain on Lagos road, you have just made yourself a target for an accident and probably an untimely death.

Rather than using your signs, you and your passengers have to bring your heads out of the car and try to have contacts with the reckless drivers on the road and beg them to let you change your lane or to turn right or left.

In general driving on Lagos road is still very much an insane experience. It may not be the biggest problem in Nigeria but it is surely a significant part of public health question and analyses. It is either the people bring madness to the roads or the roads make people mad. Whichever way you view it, it is bad and sad.

On Lagos roads, there are no rooms for respect and courtesy. Everybody looks angry! People are not driving or behaving normally behind the wheels. Everybody is in a hurry and everybody believes that they should not give room to another driver. It’s as if everybody is chasing the same thing or the same thing is chasing everybody.

In all these negative brouhahas, one begins to wonder about the roles of the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC. This agency must be really rotten and inefficient. They are not working. How can they explain the acquisition of drivers’ licenses by all the bad drivers in Lagos? Have all these crazy drivers passed through any driving school? Have they been tested theoretically and practically?

In Lagos the dangers and evil on the road are so numerous that coming back home to your house in the evening is considered an everyday miracle.

So what are the ways out of this hydra-headed problem that has grown so big that it is now the norm to be drive anyhow-you-like in Lagos. Where do we start from in this country where everything has fallen apart and into pieces?

One can also question the roles of the bribe-loving police force in all these extreme dramas, thrillers and horrors on Lagos/ Nigerian roads. They are constant on the roads, pointing their guns at ordinary citizens as if there is a war in Lagos. But their primary concern is their filthy pockets.

The police, the FRSC, the people and even the state government  and its other transport agencies are all contributing their own quotas to the madness and complexity on Lagos roads. Everybody is claiming right, everybody is neglecting their duties and obligations and everybody is doing the wrong thing.

When Nigerians return home from Europe and America with their drivers’ licenses that were earned like war trophies, they are insulted and humiliated to the extent that the authorities make many of them to acquire the Nigerian license that are obtainable without undergoing driving tests.

In their ignorance, the men of the FRSC and the police turn down hard-earned foreign driver’s license. I heard they don’t even recognize international driver’s license. Really? Of course, they will accept the bribe that follows the argument on this.

During my stay in Lagos, l spent a substantial time shouting at some motorists and educating them on a few things that l saw them do wrong. Yes, l did that sometimes when l was behind the wheels and sometimes when l took my usual long walks along the streets.

Constantly proving that l was right, l just refuse to leave my lane for the stupid oncoming okada motor-cyclists and other drivers who really do not have any business on the road. I was hardly in a hurry, so that turned out well.

The first lesson in a driving school says: plan for your journey. That particular lesson will cure about 50% of the insanity on Lagos road. Where are people rushing to? They will overtake you with the narrowest of margin beside you or in front of you! What are they chasing?

There are rush hours and heavy traffic in major cities across the world. But the cars keep rolling. In Nigeria, the traffic stands still not only because of bad roads, but also because of bad driving and total absence of knowledge about safe driving.

So if the people plan their journeys, if drunkards are removed from the roads, and if the roads become motorable say 100 years from now because Nigerian roads are still among the most dangerous road in the world today, maybe more than 90% all the accidents on Nigerian roads will become preventable. Lofty goal l guess.

The traditional custodian of Lagos and the governor of Lagos, where do you go from here? Lagos drivers don’t know how to drive. They just move the vehicles. They need help and deliverance. You need help too because right under your watch, Lagos has fallen apart.

 

aderounmu@gmail.com

 

all images taken by Adeola Aderounmu

Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, Please Clear This Biological Weapon!

The challenge before President Buhari and Governor Ambode is to order the immediate demolition of the illegally built houses and structures that have been used to block the underground sewage channels in Festac Town. That is the only and final solution.

We are citizens of Nigeria and they owe us this responsibility-to clean our environment. The government should stop killing us with biological weapons!

Governor  Akinwunmi Ambode, Please Clear This Biological Weapon!

By Adeola Aderounmu (Sweden)

One of the most disgusting views in Lagos State is embedded in my local government area. On 4th Avenue, 402 Road in Festac Town is a deep river of sewage flowing like the River Nile.

The sewage accumulating and flowing on the streets is a source of death and therefore represents a biological warfare against the people of 402 Road in Festac Town. Is the Lagos state government or the federal government of Nigeria at war with the people?

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There are a number of theories on why faeces that are flushed from the toilets in this area of Festac now flows directly to the streets on which the people live.

No one can doubt that the plans for Festac Town were destroyed by the Federal Housing Authority when lands reserved for recreations and natural conservation were sold to some useless Nigerian millionaires by some useless government workers on behalf of the federal government of Nigeria.

The consequences and results of the deviation from the original, functional plans of Festac are what we are facing today. There are rivers of sewage scattered around in the estate. In addition, the estate is now over-congested and bastardly disorganised.

Once the pride of Africa, Festac town is now an area filled with shame and filth.

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The sad reality is that it is not only in Festac Town that the citizens of Nigeria sleep and wake up surrounded by sewage. But l’m staying with the Festac problem as that is my constituency.

 

The end of festac

[To watch the video, visit my Youtube channel-Adeola Aderounmu, or my facebook https://www.facebook.com/adeola ]

 

The most obvious danger ahead of the people of 402 Road is that an epidemic is imminent. That is if one is not already in progress because the people have been surrounded by this flowing sewage for several years.

I wish a student from a Department Medical Parasitology of the University of Lagos can understake a medical research project on 402 Road/4th Avenue area of Festac Town. The results will be useful in understanding the statuses of the health of the people in the area.

The probability that the inhabitants of this area are suffering from ill-health and infections like typhoid as a result of this crime committed by government, is high.

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One cannot rule out deaths related to this polluted and heavily stinking environment. Children and the elderly would have been particularlty susceptible.

If the useless government workers who sold land to the useless Nigerian millionaires had not sold the land area adjacent to, and surrounding the 402 Road area, the flow of sewage would not have been disrupted.

The greatest fear is that this river of sewage could be an accumulation of all the faeces flowing from the entire Festac Town estate. My hypothesis is based on my knowledge of the area.

There is a playground nearby which also houses the facility for recyling sewage waste from the estate.

It is the only place in Festac where l have seen the facility. When we played football those days, our football used to fall inside the facility. So we had some catchers whose job was to save the ball from falling into the sewage recycle facility.

I have not fully investigated if the recycling center is functional now but l saw that the area was inaccessible. Why would anyone make a fence around the center? Has someone bought and refilled the sewage recycle facility?

Faecal wastes and sewage are not flowing away from residential areas because the federal government of Nigeria sold the areas/lands where the sewage systems have been chanelled underground.

The foolish people and the useless millionaires who bought the land sealed off the sewage channels.

The challenge before President Buhari and Governor Ambode is to order the immediate demolition of the houses that have been built and used to block the underground sewage channel in Festac Town. That is the only and final solution.

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4th Avenue by 402 Road, Festac Town                  

There are a lot of messes in Festac Town that are now irreversible. But this particular one is reversible no matter how long the houses have stood. They are illegal structures. If those who sold the land on behalf of the federal government can be found alive, they should be rounded up and prosecuted.

There is a report that one colonel in the Nigerian army actually contributed to this problem. Like many people living on the sewage system and blocking the channels, he is alleged to have applied ”cement” on his side of the channels. That was his own permanent solution to the problem. The implication is that for all he cares ”all the people on 402 road can die of diseases”.

On this matter it is very important that the Lagos state government and the federal government do not apply the Nigerian solution. That would be the sucking away of the river of sewage with the full knowledge that the river will overflow again. We don’t want that!

Nigerians are in love with temporary solutions. They love cosmetic solutions. This is because they want the problem to persist so that someone or a contractor can always make money from the contracts of temporary solutions.

Have you ever wondered why Nigerian roads for example are never going to be of international standard? Go figure now.

Anyway, as for this river of sewage in Festac Town, no one should expect that this is the last time they will be reading about this especially if the state and federal government continue to pretend as if this problem does not exist.

This is now one of my struggles.

My intention is to inform the governor of Lagos State and in fact Mr. Buhari the president of Nigeria, about this danger and for them to act without any delay. There is no need for more paper work or talking on this matter. They should get up from their comfort zones and clear this nonsense.

We are citizens of Nigeria and they owe us this responsibility-to clean our environment. The government should stop killing us with biological weapons!

The people living in this area of Festac Town and people visiting them are exposed to diseases that could end their lives prematurely. They can all die of diseases because of the river of sewage. Invariably the government has been at a biological warfare with the people.

Again, if nothing is done soon, l will be reminding governor Akinwunmi Ambode of this problem. If the tenures of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode as Lagos state governor and Mr. Buhari as the president of Nigeria do not succeed in demolishing the houses that are blocking the flow of sewage out of Festac, we will carry the struggle to their respective successors.

Our people must not be left to die of diseases because of the carelessness of goverment workers-those who sold lands that are meant to be reserved and preserved.

It is obvious that the residents have done their best and got tired of writing letters of appeals to the local and state government. I can imagine hundreds of letters to the local government. I can just imagine thousands of letters to the Federal Housing Authority. I can imagine some whispers into the ears of former Governor Fashola about this problem.

My columns and my blog pages will not rest until this matter is solved.  We will remind the state and the federal  government about their wickedness and heartlessness.

How can any government allow her people to live under this condition for even 1 day out of life?

It is unacceptable and as a matter of fact, those who knew about this problem before now and refused to act have committed crimes against humanity.

By international standard, allowing people to die unjustly in the absence/presence of war is a criminal offence and that angle will also be pursued in due time.

I am sure that with time, we will find out those who knew about this problem and did nothing.

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                       402 Road, A Close, Festac Town                            

We are talking about the living conditions of humans here.

I am actually surprise that the people of 402 Road have not made a decision to close down the local govenrment through massive protests. They are faced with a biological warfare and in ignorance have chosen to die because they got tired of writing letters of appeal.

I hope they will find the courage one day to lock down the Amuwo Odofin Local Government so that the sole administrator or the chairman can report to the governor who should tackle the problem head-on or call on the Federal Minsitry of Works and Housing to remove all obstructions in the way of sewage flow in Festac.

We must combine all our efforts and unite in order to rescue ourselves from maladministration.

The people everywhere must move away from the era of writing letters of appeal to actually carrying out demonstrations that will shut down their local councils or even the state government if necessary.

The problems and challenges facing Nigeria are many but we must tarry and remain united in the fight for the good of all.

Evil will continue to rise in the land when all the good people remain silent

Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, please go and clear Festac Town of the lingering biological warfare.

Mr. Mohammadu Buhari, please go and clear the messes left by the federal workers who planted biological warfare in Festac Town.

I stand with the people of 402 Road.

#Istandwith402road

 

aderounmu@gmail.com

 

 

[Story and All Images by Adeola Aderounmu]

Nigerians, You Lost A Paradise (A Photo Essay)

By Adeola Aderounmu

In several of my essays on Nigeria I have made references to what my parents told me about Nigeria. I remember one story about my mother walking about Lagos in the middle of the night. She told me there was nothing to be afraid of living in the old Western Nigeria. People lived like normal people and go about their businesses round the clock.

There was 24 hours a day form of existence, transportation was uninterrupted and life was full of hope and happiness. The future looked super bright. When she told me stories about Nigeria in general, she brought the good olden days in Western Nigeria to life in my imaginations.

Unfortunately for Nigerians the future is here now and it turned out super bleak-full of extreme hopelessness and frustrations.

Invariably Nigeria was once upon a time a paradise on earth until some people decided to reverse the gear of progress. Greed and outright madness took over the people-both civilians and military-entrusted to manage the affairs of Nigeria. Sometimes these people have not been chosen, selected or elected; they took over governance by force or through violence. Then they enforced their own rules and mode of governance.

Nigerians lost their paradise when they could not take back the control of their regional and geographical areas from the tropical gangsters who strangely are somehow still in control of the affairs of the land until today.

My mother told me that security especially took a turn for the worse after the civil war ended. In general, evil rose after the war as weapons remained in the hands of the people. Greed and selfishness set in at different points during pre and post-independent Nigeria.

In many ways too numerous to describe here, Nigerians lost a paradise

Cross River Conical Stone

Cross River Conical Stone

This conical stone is from Cross River State. It stands in front of the National Museum in Lagos. One of the things that went wrong in Nigeria was the drop in the standard and value of education. How many Nigerians visit the museums to learn about their history? Today the ignorant people who run Nigeria’s education have suggested that history should be removed from the curriculum. Nigerians will forget their history totally and the magnitude of historical distortions 100 years from now will be better imagined than experienced.

Brass smith in Bida

Brass smith in Bida

This is a man doing his work. That was Brass smith in Bida. We always say there is dignity in labour. Today that expression belongs to the dustbin in Nigeria. Several Nigerians just want to be part of politics so that they can steal and accumulate money and wealth for themselves, their families and unborn generation.

Those who are not stealing in politics are also looking for ways to cut the corners in whatever they do. In public and private enterprises the “make quick money syndrome” has taken over almost everybody. People now believe more in “if you cannot beat them, join them”. Such is the low mentality of an average Nigerian today.

Honesty is now a disease in Nigeria. People who are honest and trustworthy in Nigeria have joined the list of endangered species. One day somebody told me that I cannot be a politician in Nigeria. When I asked him why, he told me that people working with me will either kill me or poison me if I prevent them from stealing in politics.

He said they might even cut my head off. He was trying to emphasize that I cannot do politics in Nigeria if I am not ready to steal. From what we see and know about Nigeria today, that illustration is correct. It’s very sad, disheartening and a piece of the evidence that the paradise may be lost forever.

Decorated Pots, Sokoto

Decorated Pots, Sokoto

Here above is an image of a girl selling decorated pots in Sokoto, Northern Nigeria. This must have taken place at those times that my mother described to me and what I will call Nigeria’s golden years. At that time when there was still dignity in labour. Some of the pots are not decorated but they look so beautiful you want to have them for your next party or family cooking.

Old Western Nigeria

Old Western Nigeria

Western Nigeria was part of the regions that made up the Nigerian paradise of the olden days. It is hard to miss the blend of even development and environmental preservation. Look at the beautiful trees among the industrial revolution of old western Nigeria.

One cannot miss the hard work and the quality of the products that this craftsman is making. The image did not say where the man comes from but he was well dressed in native agbada. Interesting I have at least 4 of the items in his production line in my possession.He was not only selling cultural products, he promoted his culture as well by representation.

The woman carried healthy fruits. She was also well dressed in Iro and Buba. She looked healthy and happy. She was probably selling the pineapples or just on her way from the farm. Agriculture was the backbone of the Nigerian paradise. Crude oil later became a curse.

A Market Place in "old" Nigeria

A Market Place in “old” Nigeria

This is another beautiful image from the time when Nigeria was a paradise on earth. It was at that time that it would have been proper to describe Nigerians as the happiest people on earth. Some recent global reports describing Nigerians as the happiest people in recent years when the security is low, the roads, schools and hospitals resemble monuments of catastrophe, the economy is good enough on paper only and at a time when majority of the people are living dangerously from hand to mouth, are not only misleading but also irony of the highest order.

The Famous Kano Mosque

The Famous Kano Mosque

In my recent but last essay I described religion as one of the greatest problems in Nigeria. Religion is one of the reasons why Nigeria went from paradise to hell on earth. These are people worshipping peacefully at the famous mosque in Kano. People worshipped peacefully across Nigeria in the olden days. But the agents of prosperity in the face of dwindling economic fortunes changed the mode of worship in Nigeria forever.

Rather than guide the people to demand good governance and accountability, the foreign religious institutions in Nigeria headed by the new-age Nigerian overseers told people to pray. At the same time the people whose actions and activities contributed to converting Nigeria from paradise to hell were active members of various religious organisations.

The situation remains the same today as looters parade churches and mosques every Friday and Sunday. Nigerian looters are popular faces at religious crusades. Religion became a means to wealth for the religious rulers and many young people today are religious fanatics especially after years of joblessness. Politics in Nigeria got contaminated with religion and the outcomes including terrorism and mistrust in the society remain devastating to this day.

Nigerians love to chase shadows. Oh! How they enjoy denying the knowledge of basic truth! Apart from the resurrection of regional governance (the possibility of which is already being thrown away at the “organised” national conference) another hope for the restoration of the Nigerian paradise will be the total eradication of religion(s) from public service.

Issues like pilgrimages for example need to be taken away from government functions. Churches and mosque in/around government establishments need to be demolished. People need to just do the right thing rather than hide under the umbrella of religion while they ruin the state or country.

People don’t need to pray for good roads, good schools, and good hospitals and so on. What Nigeria need across all her geographical regions are the good and honest people who will use the budgetary allocations to do these things. Prayers don’t build roads or schools when the funds have been stolen or embezzled. That is common sense and application of the knowledge of the truth – that which always set people free.

Meeting of the "WAYs" Water, Rail. Road , Old Lagos.

Meeting of the “WAYs” Water, Rail. Road , Old Lagos.

In this picture we see some of the things that millions of Nigerians today have no experiences of. There was a functional train in service. The roads are clean and motor-able. The cars were in the correct lanes-2 lanes and no mad driver on an artificial third lane. There are no LASTMA people on the road; people had a sense of belonging and responsibilities.

On the right side the area is enough for pedestrians and cyclists and on the left side, there is a bicycle track along the major road and also there is a pedestrian path with adequate distance to the train tracks. Life was good, normal just like in a paradise. The street lights are standing upright and there is a stretch of beautiful garden in the middle adding glamour, peace and tranquillity to the streets of Lagos in the old western Nigeria.

Apart from air travel, all the other modes of transportation are depicted in this image. There are no ferries in the image but the idea was to state that they were all available in the old Lagos.

This is the type of image of Nigeria from the past that some people will never know about. Millions of Nigerians have lived and died within the period that the paradise was lost. This means that they actually, sadly enough, passed through life without the experience of a good life or the taste of the real meaning of life. If nobody talks about these things and if nobody makes reference to the things that existed under regional governments millions of Nigeria will live and probably die not knowing that there entire future and happiness were stolen from them even before they were born.

All of my life time in Nigeria, I do not recall the privilege of taking a ride on the train. One day however I took the “Baba Kekere” ferry service from Mile 2 to CMS. It must have been some time in the mid 80s. But as a young boy I remembered the many rides on the LSTC buses in the late 70s and early 80s. I know the number on the buses and their destinations from Festac Town. Those were the end of the good old days.

In today’s Nigeria the paradise is lost. This lose will be permanent for several millions of Nigerians living in Nigeria unless radical political changes and turnarounds occur today.

The paradise will remain lost if one man or a group of people can steal 20 billion dollars and walk free. In the 1970s we saw a man making brass in Bida, in the 80s we saw a man from Minna who stole more than 12 billion dollars of Nigeria’s oil money. He walked free! How did Nigeria go from promoting dignity to embracing criminals? The answers will shed light on how to lose a paradise in 20 years or less!

Nigeria lost their paradise because they allow military juntas and politicians to handle public services and politics like profitable businesses that is devoid of probity and accountability. The paradise will remain lost in the face of non-sensitive rulers and non-functional political structures.

The negative outcomes that follow a lost paradise are too numerous to elaborate but they are largely visible on a day out in various parts of Nigeria. Nigerians need orientation in almost all aspects of their lives. Social studies, moral instructions and history were part of the foundations and orientation in primary education. They still cannot be overemphasized in a society with solid foundation in education.

In a lost paradise, pensioners are crying, students are not getting the correct education, graduates are jobless and the society is on a free fall. In Nigeria, a country heavily polluted from all angles, good health is a luxury. There are almost no consequences for political and economic crimes. There is no sense of belonging and the first and the last law is the same: the law of self-preservation.

When I think about the issue of electricity in a lost paradise, I can’t recollect much from Obele Odan in Surulere but it has always been a pain to recount what we went through in Festac Town. We got a beautiful town with our own transformers and local power system.

Everything went down the drain right in front of our eyes. Growing up in Nigeria for my generation was a traumatic experience. Yet we were not given any social or psychological help by the state or the federal system. We fend for ourselves.

At that time (when I was growing up) the system was under the management of the wasted generation. These are the words of Wole Soyinka, as he aptly described his generation, my parents generation unfortunately. Until this day in Nigeria, the mis-management of Nigeria remains largely in the hands of mostly crooks, criminals and idiotic people who cannot manage their homes. How they got to the positions where they have to manage public services and government institutions summarises the story of Nigeria as a lost paradise.

A paradise can be reclaimed. Nigerians, you lost your paradise when you gave up your sense of belonging in the various regions and allowed a powerful center to destroy the entire system. You cave-in and followed a “rotten head” all the time. The paradise lost is actually the sum of all your negligence and attitude to work, environment and life.

It’s going to be a hard fought battle, but you need to bring back the paradise for the sake of your children and children’s children. Take another look at the images in this essay; you’ll see there’s a need to do away with the rotten head or any rotten head for that matter.

Do away with the center altogether. Claim back your regions, do the right thing all the time when it comes to public service and dedication to local and regional development. Be selfless and content. Start your charity (in this case your love of humanity) again, from home. It will spread. It will bring the paradise your children deserved.

aderounmu@gmail.com

PHOTO CREDITS

Akwashi Conical Stone (from Cross River Area)

(By Elisabeth Seriki)

Brass Simth Bida

By John Hinde F.R.P.S

Decorated Pots, Sokoto

John Hinde

Western Nigeria

John Hinde

Famous Kano Mosque

John Hinde

Market

Photo by E, Ludwig, John Hinde Studios

Lagos, Meeting of the Ways: Water, Rail, Road

By The Railway Printer, Ebute Metta

The Boys From Festac

By Adeola Aderounmu

When Bimbo Fatokun came to Sweden in 2002 for a football trial at Djurgården the first question he asked me when we met was “Omotayo, which club are you playing for”? I told him I came to Sweden to continue my academic studies. It was not all of my dreams that came true.

Over the years I’d pondered on what happened to some of us, the boys from Festac.

Bimbo left Nigeria back in the 90s to ply his trade abroad. He is very talented, athletic, quick and skilful. He is one of the best strikers/forward I’d ever known in my life. He played for Antwerp for several years and remained settled in Belgium with his wife and children. He didn’t reach the fullest of his potentials but he did his best. We had hoped that Bimbo would play for Nigeria one day but it did not happen. I had a short discussion with him about this in 2002 and I respect his views and will keep them off the web.

Bimbo Fatokun

Bimbo Fatokun

There are quite a number of boys from Festac who reached the national teams of Nigeria (at various levels). Sunday Oliseh, Samuel Ayorinde and Victor Agali are notable examples. I think the Ipayes also have links to Festac Town. Wasiu Ipaye on 401 Road was one of my closest pals before I left Festac Town. A very humble guy, he is. I heard that some younger generation of footballers from Festac Town have represented Nigeria too in recent years. I wouldn’t know them personally.

Agali

Agali

You won’t read about all the boys from Festac in a single essay and some people will probably get upset with me when they find out that their names are missing in this short story about the boys from Festac Town. Yes, it is a bias history. I write only about some of the boys who played with me and a bit after me.

Samuel Ayorinde

Samuel Ayorinde

George Ekeh is the eldest of 3 brothers from Festac Town who are football talents. I remembered the first time I saw George playing football as a boy. He was under the age of 10 at that time. I marvelled at how such a small boy could have so much skills and confidence on the ball.

George Ekeh

George Ekeh

As a young teenage striker, George can hold and guide the ball with extreme mastery. I admire his skills. George probably did not hit the apex of his talents on the big scene but he went on to play in many countries around the world. I like him very much. He’s settled in Sweden.

Emmanuel Ekeh followed in his brother’s steps and he’s the one that still has more time on his hand to proof what he can do with his boots and skills. I watched a few of his clips on YouTube. He has such a pace and he’s got good vision to make precise passes.

Emmanuel Ekeh

Emmanuel Ekeh

Kingsley Ekeh is a well known player in both Portugal and Cyprus. Famously called King he shone like a millions stars during his playing career. He quit in 2012 and became a scout for his former team.

Life can bring many twists. When I watched or played together with George sometimes, I never saw Kingsley on the football field. In fact, all my years in Festac Town, I didn’t see Kingsley kick a ball. He was always talking on the sidelines. To be honest, Kingsley can provoke anybody back in the days and you can’t win over him in an argument. I actually thought it was a joke when I heard that he was a professional footballer. I do hope to see Kingsley soon. When I do, my first question to him will be “come, which time you start to play ball sef”?

Kingsley Ekeh

Kingsley Ekeh

Azubuike Oliseh probably enjoyed the influence of his brother Sunday Oliseh in gaining international prominence. I have to be honest. This guy trained hard to ensure that he carved a name for himself. However, not everybody will agree with my last submission because despite playing for big teams in Europe, it was obvious he didn’t have the skills and fluidity of Sunny his brother.

Azubuike Oliseh

Azubuike Oliseh

The youngest Oliseh that I know, Egutu Oliseh still plies his trade as well. We never played together. I saw him grow up and I saw him at the Sunday services many times along with the rest of the family.

Egutu Oliseh

Egutu Oliseh

To complete this short story about the boys from Festac, I called up Femi Oladele in the middle of it. Femi is an encyclopaedia of Nigerian football. He grew up in Festac and studied Veterinary Medicine at ABU. But today he holds a Phd in sport administration from a German university.

As a result of his passion for football, he abandoned a PhD program along medical line in Sweden. I have convinced Femi to join me in writing the second part of this story. I have to forgive Femi though, he still doesn’t acknowledge my skills and I’m shocked he didn’t see any of my big games in Festac, Ebute Metta, Yaba Tech, Unilag, Mile 2 and in Ibadan.

Bassey of 23 Road did not turn professional. The story of Bassey will be told differently depending on the speaker and how well they know Bassey. In Festac in those days you cannot separate Bassey and George Ekeh. I always find them near mama Ibeji’s shop, chilling and talking for long hours. They are always together in the evening to discuss how they played/trained during the day and they talk a lot about the future. They had the same dream. There was definitely a link between Bassey, George and the Olisehs. I am not in the position to elaborate. I was at the University of Lagos when many water passed under the bridge.

In any case, historically, I was probably one of the first groups of people who played football with Bassey in Festac Town. His family moved into an apartment behind ours. Hardly had they put their belongings in place than Bassey came down to find me and 2 boys playing football. Bassey joined me and we played against the other 2 brothers Dada and Oyinye.

I could say we played for about 1 hour and I almost did not touch the ball again. At that time, we didn’t know his name was Bassey. He was simply called “Ba”. Ba was running round the field with the ball practically fastened to his feet. He was short and very quick. I said to myself, “another footballer has arrived”. Bassey went on to be a household name in Festac football. I learnt he played for some clubs in Nigeria. From afar, I could see that he did not reach his full potentials.

Ubaka is a very close pal of Nigerian International Victor Agali, as I learnt. Obviously, I don’t have my eyes on all our potentials. I missed Agali to the extent that when people talked about him, I’m like….how come I didn’t know him? Well, I don’t think he knows me either!

I remembered playing against Ubaka’s team in one tournament on 71 Road/24 Road. He was a disciplined defender and very well respected as a young player. But when I’d played against him, it had been easy to beat his team silly. With all due respect, I was a fine striker and for being such a quiet striker, I had extremely good qualities and a ball sense that is extraordinary. I did my share of damage to many lines of defence and teams.

Another boy who’s really very close to George and Bassey is Emeka Okpor Anthony. I think he’s career was punctuated by a series of injuries right there in Nigeria. I learnt in particular that he had a recurrent shoulder problem. A great talent and a clever defender, Okpor is a graduate and he also has a coaching qualification from NIS. He is nurturing young talents and looking ahead to becoming a great coach and motivator.

Emeka Okpor and his friend Taiye Taiwo

Emeka Okpor and his friend Taiye Taiwo

There’s abundant joy when you help other people to reach their dreams even if yours suffered a setback. Setbacks are not meant to be permanent hindrances to happiness and contentment in life.

In Festac Town when I was growing up, Ebere was the most composed player on any football field. Ebere continued to tell us that his father preferred his education to his football career. He had dribbling skills that reminds you of a combination of both Maradona and Okocha. He topped those qualities with his eyes for goals. Whilst Bimbo was quick- actually one of the best sprinters in 100m in Lagos State in those days, Ebere was calm but they were both strong and they find the back of the nets in different ways. We have talents in Festac Town.

We had Dapo of 5th Avenue D1 close. He was a player in a world of his own. He combined well with Ebere during their school days at Mile 2 Boys. At that time, Amuwo Odofin Boys Secondary School was a force to reckon with in the Junior Principal Cup. It was Ebere and Dapo who wrecked the defence line-ups across Lagos State.

I remembered playing one-on-one against Dapo one day on my way from school. They had a small park in front of their block of flats then. Today the park is no more. FHA stupidly sold the park and people built houses on them. Anyway, it was like “he tortured me when he had the ball, and I tortured him when I had the ball”. The rule was clear, “don’t lose the ball”. When I read Eden Hazard’s interview and how he became clever at dribbling by playing in the garden with his brother, I remembered what I went through playing alone with Dapo.

One of my best friends through the years Modestus Okechukwu Okafor played for many years in the German Amateur league. He finally settled there and we even spoke over the telephone less than one week ago. Oke as he’s fondly called was the one who tried to tell me more about Victor Agali. He’s still not able to understand how I missed the Agali’s story. Apparently, Oke lived on 22 Road when he was a little boy.

Okechukwu Okafor, Adeola Aderounmu and Samuel Ayorinde

Okechukwu Okafor, Adeola Aderounmu and Samuel Ayorinde

By the way I first met Oke by accident. I was on my way home from school one day. I stopped at a park near CCC, X Close on 5th avenue. I started to play football with the boys whom I met there. Then Okechukwu who went to a primary school on another side of town was also on his way home. He stopped too and joined us. Those days after school, our other occupation was football.

Later on by some stroke of fate Oke and I attended the same secondary school. Then I remembered him immediately. He has a built that is hard to miss. Still, Oke moved from 22 Road to 5th Avenue end that is near to 23 Raod. Since then, we remained very close friends and played on our “stone filed” everyday!

Chinneye Okolo, I almost forgot. What a left footer! He played with sense. Many of us back then didn’t just kick the ball. We were intelligent boys. We did well at school and we transferred that cleverness to the football field. I remembered my school mates like Wasiu Ikharia (a biochemist), Sanya Okanrende (a cardiologist). I mean these are finest amongst footballers!

Afam and Nenye Okolo

Afam and Nenye Okolo

We had Kingsley Nzete who suffered a broken leg and we knew at that time that he’s not going further as a footballer. He got back on his feet again and started playing in between the goal posts. I salute his courage. We have another Bassey on 5th Avenue. I know his eldest brother lived and played in a foreign country but I never followed up on Bassey himself. Another fine player we still have in Asia is Gabriel Obadin.

We had Michael Fatokun, Solomon and Felix Uboh. Afam Okolo, and the Osuji’s of 401 road. If you want to write about the talents in the Osuji Family, you’ll need a whole edition of a sport magazine. The elder Uboh is Kennedy Uboh. He also went to the higher institutions. If he had been discovered, his football career could have earned him a place in Real Madrid’s line up. He was that good.

What about my friend Abideen, my cousin Tilewa Majekodunmi. There is Abega, a boy who loves football with all of his heart. I know Bauna on 721 Road and I remember many boys from the 402 end. We were players on the field!

This story will be incomplete without an analysis of how some of the boys from Festac failed to reach their fullest potentials and how many dreams were punctuated. We lost many boys along the way under different circumstances, many of them relating to health issues. Emotions have been high many times of how we grew up and the dreams we had.

me and some boys on our stone field in 2006

me and some boys on our stone field in 2006

In the meantime as we continue to ponder on what could have happened to the boys who did not reach their full potentials or whose dreams were punctuated, we should be glad for the representations at the national and international levels.

We should be glad for the Olisehs, the Ipayes, the Ayorindes, the Agalis, and the Kingsley Ekehs, they did their best to put Festac Town on the map in the most positive ways. The Amunekes have very strong links to Festac Town and also to many of the boys mentioned in this essay. At some point Emmanuel Amuneke was living on 5th Avenue.

I am glad for Kinglsley Ekeh who reached his full potentials playing in Portugal and Cyprus. I am happy for Bimbo Fatokun, that he found the reasons to continue with his life in Belgium after a playing career punctuated by a few disappointments and unfulfilled promises.

I remembered how my team mates in the Oyo State NYSC in 1995/96 urged me to pursue that line. Niyi-our oyinbo from UI, Jato, Uche and the rest of the pack trusted me on the right flank and in the 6 yard box of our opponents. I hope they are glad for me that I decided to keep my pen and papers.

Today in Festac Town, there is scarcity of football talents. This is relative depending on who the observer is. When we moved to Festac in those days, there were football fields, playgrounds and parks in every corner. I wrote extensively about this here in the Village square (The Rise and Fall Of Festac Town, parts 1 and 2).

All the playgrounds are gone. There are no more football fields. I think only one major field was spared. FHA sold all our playgrounds. They sold all our parks. These are unforgivable acts.

In place of sports, football in particular, our youths have turned to crime and drugs. Festac became notorious globally as the town of 419ers. I also wrote about that in my story titled Festac Town and Its 419 reputation. There were many reasons why things took a turn for the worse in Festac and in Nigeria as a whole.

There is a need for Nigeria to return football to its glorious days. Today we all hail the EPL and in fact we worship the EPL and other European leagues in what appears like a permanent colonial mentality. Nigerian league can be made attractive again through good planning and administration.

The aim should be, “if our talents don’t go abroad, they should be able to live successfully playing football in Nigeria”. One way or the other the Nigerian intelligence needs to surface on the football scene. The market is huge. What are the problems?

Nigeria is very rich as a country and sport facilities should be at every corner of town. Our football stadia should be many, different sizes and world class standard. The training pitches should litter every community.

There are so many things wrong with Nigeria. It is sad that despite their love for the game of football, Nigerians allowed the sport to suffer as well.

I know that for many young talents, the dreams died. I think about many of my friends on the stone field: Suraju, Abbey and many more. How did I forget about Medo Obanya until now? Medo is one of the greatest talents to have emerged from Festac Town. His dribbling and goal scoring skills are extraordinary. His football career simply melted away right in front of our eyes. Who do we blame?

Even Nwike, Medo’s younger brother was a wonder boy on the ball. I didn’t forget Osaze and Richard Omoregie. It’s going to be an unending essay if I write about everybody that I know. Kelechi, all the best in the south of Sweden!

stone field in 2010

stone field in 2010

I’ve spoken to Femi Oladele and he should be the main contributor to write about the implications of what happened to the boys from Festac. I hope he will use his expertise in sport administration and his life experiences to write about how Nigeria can discover, develop and invest in her talents in football. There are many “boys from Festac” scattered around Nigeria. In this country, many talents have been wasted and dreams have been dumped. Some lives were actually shattered due to unfulfilled dreams.

What happened to the boys from Festac Town can be likened to a sliding door. There are many implications to this expression. When the door slides, it separated us. The sliding door also meant that while some hinged their hopes only on football, some of us looked at our options.

I can say a word for the young people coming up. Keep your heads up, live healthy and keep all of your dreams alive. Don’€™t put your eggs in the same basket and don’t count them before they are hatched..!

aderounmu@gmail.com

Governor Fashola Finally Makes His Presence Known at Festac Grammar School

by ADEOLA ADEROUNMU

The Lagos State Government has finally sent one of its building contractors Access-1 Energy and Trading Company to start re-construction work at Festac Grammar School.

LASG awards contract for Reconstruction work at Festac Grammar School

LASG awards contract for Reconstruction work at Festac Grammar School

For those who have not been following the story. Here are links to the story so far:

Governor Fashola, Festac Grammar School Ti Baje o..!

Festac Grammar School Vs Lagos State Government

Photo Essay: Festac Grammar School Alumni Projects’ Management Group Is Working

In April when this struggle started I had written that one of the greatest mysteries of Lagos State Ministry of Education is how a school that got the first prototype one storey-structure in the old Ojo Local Government was left to rot away totally as a predominantly poultry school. It seems that the government of Governor Fashola, in a reaction to the series of stories about the embarrassing situations at FGS, is set to repair, renovate and re-construct FGS.

I also made a promise that was hard to keep. But I did my best. The ultimate goal was to write about Festac Grammar School once a month because as I stated then: the problems with Festac Grammar School became for me a personal struggle. It is still a cause.

Now that hope has come, I feel obliged to write this story about the presence of Governor Fashola in Festac Grammar School through Acces-1 Energy Trading Company.

I have not received the details of the contract; therefore I am not in a position to describe the extent of the work that will be done.

However I do know the old storey building that was built in 1985 has now been given some re-touching in terms of structural maintenance.

One of the dilapidated poultry block of classrooms has been pulled down completely to pave way for a new storey building of 12 classrooms.

Foundation of Storey Building of 12 Classrooms

Foundation of Storey Building of 12 Classrooms

These developments are in the positive directions. They are in line with one of the long-term objectives of the Alumni Association to ensure that the school poultry structures built by Lateef Jakande are overhauled and replaced by modern storey buildings.

This objective should never be different from the functions of the Lagos State Ministry of Education. How schools are allowed to rotten remain inexplicable and if we tie it to the systemic corruption in the Nigeria system then it is an indication of what I feared most: that the future of the unborn generations remain stolen.

Whichever way, it gladdens the heart and it brings a sense of fulfillment to witness the re-construction work at FGS. Without any doubt I am convinced that it was a rapid response to our calls that have been made on the NVS and some of our blogs.

The Lagos State Government has shown that we do not need to know anyone in the corridors at Alausa in Ikeja before our agitations can be attended to. What the LASG must also ensure is that it carries out its functions without allowing us to carry the burdens to the web space all the time.

Our agitations and concerns are genuine and noble. It is clear that we want education to be promoted. A sane environment is necessary to produce sane minds. A sane environment is necessary to nurture the future generations.

On our part as members of the Alumni Group we have made progresses. We have donated some equipment to the school and we have helped them to settle electricity bills. We have more plans.

In terms of our organization we are now duly registered and our activities are governed by a written constitution. We are in the process of electing our executive members to take over from the caretaker committee and more than ever before the future of the Alumni Group look secured.

This year, less than 5 months after we re-converged as Alumni Group from our different niches we have organized career day/ workshop at Festac Grammar School and we have awarded prizes to outstanding students.

We have made ourselves more visible in Festac Town and we have provided ourselves with the platform that will motivate the students attending Festac Grammar School. They are now in contact with us. We have a wonderful opportunity to be their role models and mentors.

For us this year is a success story in the history of our Alumni Group.

It is not yet Eureka! It must be pointed out that governments in Nigeria are fond of abandoning projects and looting the funds earmarked for such projects, even after the shameful 10% kickbacks. We hope that the re-construction work at Festac Grammar School will be neither a half-baked project nor an abandoned one.

Our hope is that this rejuvenation that will inspire and motivate the students and staffs of FGS.

The Alumni Group, as promised in a previous essay, will work closely with the leadership of the school to emphasize the importance of maintenance culture. On the long run too, we will have to find the appropriate communication channel to ease information flow between the Lagos State Ministry of Education and our Alumni Group. That will help us to know first-hand about the plans that are made for schools in Lagos and how often the structures will be checked for comfort and safety.

The academic aspect can also not be over emphasized. Quality control measures should be re-introduced while all hands must be on deck to rescue the “dying culture” of attending public schools.

No matter what happens, FGS will remain in our hearts and we will never relent until the image of the school both in terms of structure and academic excellence are revitalized fully. We are committed.

Acknowledgement : All photos were courtesy of
Oluwafisayo Oyeromade Ogunjimi Orilambo

Email: pheesayor@hotmail.com

aderounmu@gmail.com