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Lagos in quest of sanity at Christmas and beyond

By Matthew Ozah
25 December 2019   |   3:35 am
There are many things that make Lagos fantastically different from any big city around the world. Lagosians as they are fondly called are known for merry making despite the austerity whirlwind and poor economic situation in the country.

Christmas lights beautifying Ajose Adeogun Street in Victoria Island, Lagos. The decoration was powered by Zenith Bank Plc. PHOTO: JIDE SIMPSON

There are many things that make Lagos fantastically different from any big city around the world. Lagosians as they are fondly called are known for merry making despite the austerity whirlwind and poor economic situation in the country. Notwithstanding being a former seat of power, Lagos remains on the hilltop as the commercial capital of the country and by extension a business hive for West African countries and beyond.

Without hindrance people are emigrating in droves into unlikely places in Lagos in search of opportunities, easy money or leisure among others. In that circumstance, the envy for those whose Chi, a benevolent god has helped to crack their palm kernel… as Chinua Achebe wrote in his ever green book “Things fall apart” and made wealth within a short space of time will continue to not only spur people into Lagos, to harvest their own gold and may lead many into dubious activities just acquire wealth by any means possible. Therefore, it is not an overstatement to say Lagos is being clustered with some 20 million or more souls who are guided by the principles of survival and success. From every indication, Lagos is not meant for sluggish people just as new comers to the city are quickly reminded that this is Lagos where free launch and dullness are not entertained because everybody seems to be on the fast lane.

It is therefore a crucial challenge for security operatives to check and balance such a huge population as well as keep a pace ahead of mischievous persons who may indulge in crimes just to make ends meet.

However, before the Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s government took office, there is this anxiety among the people especially from media reports about what the in-coming governor intended to achieve within the shortest possible time. In a way, it is, most significantly, an avenue that the governed have to keep the government on its toes and for it to hit the ground running knowing that the people held on to its promises as a bond. But, after what seems like a slow start and perhaps denial of certain promises, Lagosians can heave a sigh of relief as the Lagos state government seems to have woken up from its protracted slumber. As usual, `nothing surprises or distracts Lagosians because it is no longer news that most politicians have difficulty in doing their job simply because they are catapulted into public service by godfathers. Therefore, those in this category hardly get their feet on ground to make important decisions after being sworn into office. Of course the way godson politicians approach those early decisions often set the path they will lead as well as define their relationship with the godfather and to a large extent, expose their failure or success in office well ahead of time. An instance is the immediate past governor of Lagos and what is currently playing out in Edo state.

The other day, Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu assembled some wise folks whom he bestowed a task to solve Lagos state nemesis of lawlessness and vices in all ramifications once and for all through what it refers to as war. It would not be too much to ask how did Lagos state get itself so entangled that lawlessness and vices in the state have became so awful that it became necessary to declare a war to achieve sanity.

Often times, when the rules are bent backwards due to politics, things that are solid will easily melt into air. Over the years Lagos has won a reputation for looking away from problems that are ‘hiding’ in plain sight due to poor politics. Take for instance, the homeless people (popularly refered as area boys) that sleep under the bridges, for them neither noise and cold or wet nights bother them than not sleeping at all. Although, it is a pattern found in much of the big cities across the world. But it does not have to be this way as criminals could pretend to be homeless and stay at designated point to commit crime. The Lagos government should do something to curb the situation because the wave of poverty, lawlessness and threadbare public nuisance continue to define Lagos for the wrong reasons. It is not hard to work out why crime and lawlessness abound in a society, what Lagos state government is trying to do is anyone’s guess. The important thing is to be committed to achieve result and not be compromised in whatever form politics, religion or tribe. For example, traffic offences are mostly abetted by law enforcement agents but ordinary members of the public especially commercial transport drivers are made to pay heavy fine for what the task force officials could easily correct and warn the individual not to indulge in such again.

According to the Lagos state commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, the task force team is ready to remove all forms of crimes across the state. His words, “We just came out of a meeting with the governor of the state and the main trust of our meeting is enforcing all the laws of Lagos state….so we have come together to let any lawless member of the community know that Lagos of today won’t condone their lawlessness. ..” One hopes that it is not a window dressing to declare a radical approach in dealing with a phenomenon so as to get the peoples’ assurance that government is working. It would surprise one to learn of the prejudice that exists among the people that lawlessness exists both in government circles, society and it is not only generational but seen as normal. Therefore, the real issue behind most of these problems in the society is government’s lack of sincerity and adequate attention to address issues concerning the people.

It is surprising that majority of the roads in Lagos are calling for government’s attention due to long period of neglect and poor maintenance. Of course, this has made driving an unpleasant experience on Lagos roads as many potholes have grown from bad to worse. Not quite long, former governor of Lagos and an elder statesman Lateef Jakande lamented about the worsening nature of Lagos roads and called on the government to do something urgent about it.

The Lagos state government should concern itself more with projects that add up to big improvements and welfare of Lagosians. Given the current financial buoyancy of the state, it might feel a little beside the point to be moaning about insecurity when it has the financial power to invest in security and curb this minor wrinkle called criminality.