He would have preferred it if it paid more attention to the wealthy instalments on the city’s Islands, you know, the places where the Lagosian story changes from the one of extreme poverty to a story that’s more paralleled to an episode of the U.S. Reality TV show, Rich Kids of Beverly Hills. He would have preferred it if the documentary didn’t focus on the shanties where the enterprising manage to make refuse profitable.Of the gilded pockets that Lagos is famous for, there’s none more golden than in the area of Ikoyi- the place where the average apartment sells for about $1 million dollars, and an acre of land often goes for thrice that amount. With figures like these, it is no wonder why it is thought to have the most expensive real estate in Africa. But however high it might be, Ikoyi cannot escape from the third world cloud that still hangs over Africa even though very few who are residents live like they are in the “third world”. Ikoyi was established by the British colonials who sought to protect themselves from the unfavourable conditions they found when they moved to Nigeria. The heat was countered by big airy bungalows, and the constant reminder that they weren’t home was countered by the creations of spectacular gardens hedged by Bougainvillea, it was their home away from home. There was a social club for the people of their station and there was a lovely park, with more of the afore mentioned vegetation but the post independence handover changed things immensely.
Buildings created to be maintained were left to the forces of nature, roads developed pot holes, and drainage systems crumbled. The construction of the Third mainland bridge turned what was once the truest suburb in Lagos into a thoroughfare to the more commercial parts of the city. When the demand for roads grew beyond the abilities of the government to cater for, the once residential roads became routes to aid in the great Lagosian commute. In the end what was left were fenced monstrosities connected by dirt roads with more holes than a sieve. The Lagos heavy rains turned the roads into gutters, and the business minded saw the lack of amenities to service the affluent population as an opportunity to turn every shaded spot into the African equivalent of a corner shop. The state of affairs wouldn’t be worth writing about if Ikoyi wasn’t the home of both the political elite and the corporate leaders who probably pay enough in taxes to fund Gabon’s government. It’s logical if infrastructure is left to deteriorate because the people that could fund a politician’s campaign don’t live there, but this isn’t the case in Ikoyi. Bola Tinunbu – a former Governor of Lagos, lives 500 metres away from Oba (King) Balogun, the billionaire founder of First City Monument Bank. Those that can cushion the blows with their bank accounts, do so with their Rolls Royce Phantoms but they also weep as it navigate gullies in the middle of streets that looks more like a battlefield.
The plight of Ikoyi may not look like much when you consider the problems that plagues Nigeria as a whole but you realise that indeed charity begins at home. How can we expect our leaders to perform for the whole country if they do nothing for their immediate surroundings? It seems that rather than do a little good we’re more caught up in being celebrants of squalor as long as we can wall reality out with an 8 foot fence.
When you look at it like this, the future of the country really does lie in the deep pockets of affluent suburbia that dwells in it. It is now clear that while the immediate spheres of influence where the big cats live remain poorly cared for, we cannot trust that those with power will do anything on a bigger scale worthy of positive commentary whether from the BBC or any media for that matter.