Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Planned Development.

For some months now, I have been living again in Festac Town, Lagos. I grew up there. I lived in Festac from 1980 to 1992 continuously.

For those of us who were lucky to have live there from that period, it was like moving 'abroad' within Nigeria. The roads were excellent, we had excellent power supply, things worked.

For us then, Festac was better than Ikoyi, and Victoria Island,the two high brow areas available then. 
But it was not perfect then, running water did not get to all the homes, and people had to rely on hand-dug wells, and boreholes.We were told things would get better, and we believed.

This is the year 2010, and I am now back again in Festac, now it seems, the water supply is now one hundred percent borehole/wells/water vendors. The Festac water works is like an abandoned graveyard. 
There are weeds everywhere, and the pipes from the waterworks have dried up.
Sadly,the wells are not a better alternative; because Festac sits on land reclaimed from  swampland, it takes very little to foul any well or borehole.The resultant effect is water that looks like weak tea coming out of boreholes. I have also noticed that the water from the wells are very close to the surface ,and coloured, I believe by dead vegitation in the ground, (I think it is called tanning)

What is my grouse? It is that thirty one years after the town was commissioned, things have not improved,rather they have deteriorated. The roads are criminally bad, but we have to thank God for the Governor of Lagos, Babtunde Raji Fashola, for prodding local council politicians to fix roads.That is where some relief has come the way of Festac.

I have another home in Abuja, and I know that Abuja enjoys enviable amounts of public water supply. We are rejoicing over that now, because it is wonderful; but for someone like me, who has seen Festac 'in all of it's glory' before, I fear for Abuja because it may just go the way of Festac thirty years from now.

Why is it difficult for us to have well thought out, structured, dynamic and dependable development. Is there some kind of curse on the black man? The money we spend on projects in this country, and the mileage we get from them are inversely proportional. What seems to be certain is that tomorrow, things are bound to go bad. 

When I drive across the length of this country ( I have been to every state except Ebonyi ) one constant emotion on my trip is sadness at the missed opportunities I see everywhere. I have always said I would never live outside Nigeria, because I love our great climate, people, and way of life, but my fear is that my worry for this country is inimical to my health. I am now seriously reconsidering my decision.I really need encouragement right now.

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