Lagos State community where residents lack access to basic amenities
By Funmilayo Adeyemi, Nigeria News Agency
Ilaje Otumara, in Ebute Metta West, typifies an example of a community overwhelmed by poverty. The riverine community on Lagos Mainland with an estimated population of over 500,000 people lacked basic amenities.
It was expected that residents of Ilaje Otumara, located at the heart of Lagos, a five minutes’ drive to National Theatre, should enjoy basic amenities, befitting of people living in the Centre of Excellence, but unfortunately, that was not so.
Members of Journalists Against Poverty (JAP), with support from ActionAid Nigeria and UKAID, through its Strengthening Citizens’ Resistance Against Prevalence of Corruption (SCRAP-C), recently visited the community.
The journalists were amazed at the level of neglect and infrastructural decay, in community located in the heart of Centre of Excellence.
Residents of Ilaje Otumara, that spoke to journalists, begged for government’s intervention and upgrade of the area.
They listed areas of need to include: provision of access roads, healthcare, school, water, among others.
The baale of the community, Chief Festus Arowojolu, lamented the situation and called on the government to intervene.
Arowojolu said he directed some leaders in the community to write to the appropriate authorities, adding that
nothing was done to remedy the situation.
” The inhabitants of this community are not only Ilaje people, we have other tribes and ethnic groups living together here for many years, and we
have been writing for years, but nothing was done.
” We want to beg the government to come to our aid because the suffering is getting too unbearable.”
Mr Jude Ojo, a resident of the community sought government’s intervention in addressing the deplorable state of infrastructure in the area.
Ojo said that the settlement had been neglected for decades, stating that lack of good roads, water, healthcare, proper sanitation and educational facilities were lacking in the area.
According to him, it has been like this for over 40 years, even before I started primary school in 1972, I can tell you that there have been no water and as we speak, we still have no access to potable water.
“Even the electricity you see here are self-help. There is no proper electricity in the community. That is why we have our own electricity committee, security committee. We have to set up committees for everything.
“If this place is suitable for digging wells, many would have done that.
“If you dig two to three meters, you will have salty water, so you cannot dig wells here.”
He further lamented the non-availability of drugs and personnel at the newly constructed healthcare facility that was donated to the community by the state government, but with no personnel posted.
Ojo pleaded with the state government to provide affordable drugs in the health facility for low income earners.
“Thank God that we have a proper health clinic built by the government, but are drugs available, that is another question, are the drugs affordable?
“Do we always have staff on ground for 24 hours? These are the challenges.
“But now we have the clinic, we have been advising and encouraging our members to use the clinic instead of patronising the chemists in the area as we are not sure of the genuineness of their drugs.
“But, we want the government to assist and ensure that drugs are available and that they are original and staff are on duty 24 hours.’’
Mr Oluwole Ayantuga, another resident, said that the community, that is just five minutes’ drive from Apapa Road, could only boast of one primary school, one Junior Secondary School and one health centre.
He said that the level of school enrolment was low, which he said was caused by parents that refused to send their children to school.
He also stressed the need to establish a Senior Secondary School in the community.
“It will be impossible for a society to grow in an environment where people do not go to school.
“Also, to avoid children dropping out of school after primary and junior secondary education, there is need for government to build a senior secondary school in the community.”
Another resident, Mr Friday Arowodolu, said the major challenge of the community was road, and called on political leaders that made promises during the electioneering campaigns to fulfil their promises
Lamenting the magnitude of refuse dumps in the community, Arowodolu said: “We have gone to the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) to help evacuate the waste you see around the community, but they could not come because of bad road.
According to him, another challenge is school; formerly, we have six primary schools in this community, but as at today, we have only two primary schools and one junior secondary school.
`We don’t really know why the schools were closed, but the schools we have do not have adequate facilities.
“Also, during the past elections, we were promised by politicians who come for campaigns, that they will provide the needed infrastructure if elected, but they have not fulfilled their promises.
“This is also opening our eyes, that in subsequent elections, we will only vote for politicians that has fulfilled their campaign promises to our community.’’
Mrs Kehinde Arowojolu lamented the rate at which junior secondary school students were being impregnated.
She said that sadly, the students could not even identify the people that impregnated them.
Arowojolu said that many of the children as a result of this, drop out of school eventually, thereby abruptly ending their academic career.
She called on the local government chairman, state and federal lawmakers, representing the area, to join hands and provide the needed infrastructure in the community.
Mr Wale Elekolusi, Coordinator of the JAP Initiative, said the absence of basic amenities in the community was manifestation of the effect of corruption.
He said that many communities across the country lacked basic amenities like Ilaje Otumara community.
Elekolusi said that the JAP Initiative, was designed to bring to the fore deprivations being suffered by communities, with a view for the government and relevant stakeholders to provide the needed infrastructure.(Features)
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