• Friday, July 19, 2024
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Cry havoc and “Buga” dancing at the UN (Grime, ruin & remnants) (1)

Cry havoc and “Buga” dancing at the UN (Grime, ruin & remnants) (1)

I was in total shock when Lagos was slagged off on several international media as the worst city in the world in which to live and by extension the dirtiest capital city. When I had sufficiently recovered, I reverted to the actual text that reads as follows:

Lagos remains second-worst city to live worldwide – Report

Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, is the second-worst city to live in among 172 cities worldwide, a new report shows.

The revelation is according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in its 2022 ranking of the world’s most liveable cities. The city was ranked 171st of the 172 countries ranked by the EIU.

With a relatively low score of 32.2 percent, Lagos was just a little above Syria’s war-torn capital, Damascus, and a place behind Libya’s Tripoli. Both cities are hotbeds of wars, conflicts and terrorism.

The other cities in the bottom 10 are Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan, and Algiers in Algeria. Others are Port Moresby, Dhaka, Harare, Doula and Tehran, the capital of Iran.

“As in previous surveys, living conditions remain the worst in the bottom ten cities,” the report said, adding “Wars, conflicts and terrorism are the biggest factors weighing down the ten lowest-ranked cities, of which seven are from the Middle East and Africa.”

The report also noted that Vienna, Austria’s capital, is the most liveable city in the world, with Copenhagen, Calgary, Zurich and Vancouver rounding out the top five. The Austrian city rebounded to the top position with a score of 99.9 per cent, as in the pre-pandemic years of 2018 and 2019, scoring highly on all five metrics: education, healthcare, culture and environment, stability and infrastructure.

Rather than press the mute button, it is time to carry the battle to the enemy. It is our last great hope. We are dealing with monumental human devastation and egregious desertion

“The top ten cities are also among those with few covid restrictions. Shops, restaurants and museums have reopened, as have schools, and pandemic-led hospitalisation has declined, leading to less stress on healthcare resources and services, and even the requirement to wear masks is no longer in force in most situations,” the report said.

Lagos scores low in all categories

Lagos scored very low in all the five metrics used to assess an individual’s lifestyle,

On the stability metric, Lagos scored 20 percent, the same point as Damascus.

Under the healthcare category, the city scored 20.8 percent, the same point it got last year.

For culture and environment, Lagos finished with 44.9 percent while on education metric, the city scored 25 percent. Nigeria’s former capital maintained 46.4 percent for the infrastructure category.

Same old record

Over the last five years, Lagos’ position remained largely at the bottom of the EIU liveability ranking. In 2021, Nigeria’s largest city was ranked the second worst city to live in after Damascus.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the EIU did not release a liveability ranking in 2020.

However, in 2019, Lagos was again the least liveable city in the world after Damascus. In 2018, Nigeria’s commercial nerve center became the third worst city to live in among 140 cities worldwide. In 2017, Lagos fell again to the second worst liveable city.

Lagos is the only Nigerian city measured in the ranking and so it is difficult to determine how other Nigerian cities would have ranked.

The EIU 2022 report

The EIU’s Liveability Ranking and Overview quantify the challenges that might be presented to an individual’s lifestyle in 173 cities worldwide. Each city is assigned a score for over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

“Each factor in a city is rated as acceptable, tolerable, uncomfortable, undesirable or intolerable. For qualitative indicators, a rating is awarded based on the judgment of our team of expert analysts and in-city contributors. For quantitative indicators, a rating is calculated based on the relative performance of a number of external data points.

“The scores are then compiled and weighted to provide a score in the range 1-100, where 1 is considered intolerable and 100 is considered ideal. The liveability rating is provided both as an overall score and as a score for each category,” the report said.

On a larger scale, the index showed that the global average liveability score has rebounded. The average now stands at 73.6 percent (out of 100), up from 69.1 per cent a year ago. However, this is still lower than the average of 75.9 reported before the pandemic.

“Of our five categories, the main improvements over the past year have been in culture and environment, education, and healthcare, all of which were badly affected by lockdowns,” the report said.

The scores for infrastructure remain broadly stable, while stability has deteriorated, owing largely to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it added. In the new ranking, Russia’s capital, Moscow, saw its liveability ranking fall by 15 places, while St Petersburg slipped by 13 places.

“Both cities record a fall in scores owing to increased instability, censorship, imposition of Western sanctions and corporates withdrawing their operations from the country,” the report said.

Other cities in Eastern Europe, such as Warsaw (Poland) and Budapest (Hungary), also saw their stability scores slip amid raised diplomatic tensions, EIU said.

“The war in Ukraine will continue to be a threat to security throughout the next year at least. EIU expects the active phase of the war to continue during 2022 before giving way to more entrenched hostility. Even without escalation, the conflict will continue to fuel global inflation and dampen economic growth.

“Higher global commodity prices, particularly for energy and food, will weigh on liveability in many cities over the coming months and could spark conflict in some. Even where stability is not threatened, the cost-of-living crisis will dampen investment in infrastructure, healthcare and education, as well as the consumer spending that supports cultural life,” the report concluded.”

The response by the government has been somewhat feeble. Could it be that they do not care or they are not bothered by the seriousness of such a grave indictment?

Regardless, we must confront our moment of truth. To make matters worse an American visitor to our beloved city slammed it (and its prime locations – Ikoyi; Victoria Island; Banana Island; Park View Estate; Snake Island; Monkey Island; Crocodile Island; etc) as the most expensive slums in the world.

In addition, the traffic is chaotic and the roads are an advertisement for urban guerrilla warfare with potholes as the arena for combat between motorists and motor-cycles of various categories ranging from the “Danfos” (rickety buses) “Okadas” (two-wheel motorcycles); “Keke Marwa” (tricycles) and vehicles meant for goods but carrying human species (mostly labourers) instead.

The real Kings of the road are the tankers who are overladen with cement, fuel, water or whatever. They feel entitled to park anywhere without let or hindrance. Every now and again, they empty their bowels and crush other vehicles or passers-by. Sometimes, they fall off bridges. Thrown into the mix are the siren-blaring government officials, military and businessmen (masters of the universe).

We must not forget the cash-laden bullion vans. Every day and night, it is a feisty no holds barred struggle for survival in jungle warfare. The ultimate supreme claim to preferential and deferential treatment is the “articulated” lorry belching smoke and poison.

Rather than press the mute button, it is time to carry the battle to the enemy. It is our last great hope. We are dealing with monumental human devastation and egregious desertion.

To start with, we must necessarily evaluate the prospects for a truce or a peace accord – between the oppressors and the oppressed (victims). The alternative is to disarm the oppressor for whom suppression is the weapon of first choice with intimidation as the ammunition.

We are right on the cliff edge of civilization. In the ravine below is the field of anarchy, chaos and vanquished hope. The elderly and the vulnerable count for nothing when the battle cry insists that might is right.

It is war crimes galore without declaration of war. We have willy-nilly walked through an unlocked door into a fire fight of rage and fury. Unprovoked threats have overwhelmed unwarranted invasion. Only more mendacity and sheer vindictiveness are on offer as derisory options.

Saint Augustine (13 November 354 AD, Tagaste, Numidia to 28 August 430 AD) may have had our dearest and priceless city in mind when he delivered judgement.

“Indeed, man wishes to be happy even when he so lives as to make happiness impossible.”

We must throw the “Omolanke” [four-wheel cart] and wheelbarrows which for all we know may be ferrying arms and ammunition beneath the bricks and mortar piled sky high, into the mix as they regally and majestically compete for space on the highways and side streets. While gazing in awe there will be plenty of time and energy for reflection. We have chosen to confuse sacrifice with cowardice and empathy with denial.

Regardless of the feeble exertions of the overladen refuse disposal vans and intimidating compactors which ironically lament their own misuse and starvation, we are confronted with the spectre of grievous social wrong plus pompous lies and empty vanities. The flashing billboards advertise the squalid cruelty of fryants who have mastered the black arts of tantalization – promise everything but deliver nothing.

We are compelled to endure the worst possible time where anger, grief and rage dictate the tune. We are utterly mortified by the prospect of a city that is not much different from an active war zone.

Our steadfast prayer is that the enemy is not provoked to the point of exercising the nuclear option; and thereby blow everything up. It is as frightening as it is terrifying. The magnitude of our calamity is beyond exaggeration. In order to survive, we must become invincible and invisible. Our detractors have become even more irritating, insulting, aggressive, greedy, calculating and vindictive. Mendacity and subterfuge reign supreme.

As we seek to negotiate with friends and foes alike to switch gears from recurring conflict to peace, harmony and equilibrium, we must recognise that changes in circumstances require changes in strategy.

The critical issue is not just about facts but far more importantly crucial data.

It was W. Edwards Deming [1900 to 1993] who emphatically declared:

“Without data, you are just another person with an opinion.”

There is an acute and embarrassing shortage of data regarding how many homes are without drinking water. It is the same with electricity which has been supplanted by 24/7 (twenty-four seven) non-stop generators pumping and belching lethal fumes into the hitherto fresh air and unpolluted eco-system. Even more nightmarish are the data on crimes – ranging from rape to fraud, robbery, kidnapping, money rituals and murder to Ponzi schemes as well as impersonation (the living pretending to be dead and vice-versa !!).

Our worst nightmare has metamorphosed into our new reality. As evidence of the state of affairs in our emerald city, here are two auditors’ reports.

(i) Front page headline of “ThisDay” newspaper of August 7, 2022: Lekki turning into dirty, sprawling slum – Joseph Edgar

“And they will be saying they live on the island. This week, something took me to Ikate and the sprawling dirt and decay was quite apparent. The poor laying, the decaying infrastructure for such a relatively new town development is so disappointing, I almost puked.

Lekki was a promise. It was expected to be a new vision for urban living in Africa. Fuelled by the new affluence of the Obasanjo era, it grew and grew. It became the ‘go to area’ for the new rich. It expanded from the new toll gate area and breached almost the Chevron area. Buildings rose and developers made billions. Landowners started rubbing shoulders with oil sheiks and land-owning families became royalty, carving for themselves little kingdoms and gallivanting around the place with newfound wealth.

Today, as a result of an incestuous relationship between government, greedy landowners and primordial developers, what we have in Lekki today is a huge slum complete with drugs, crime and prostitution.

As I drive down Ikate, all I see are buildings mostly built within the last 10 years in varying states of disrepair and desolation. It is sad and annoying. Built in clusters of demonic encircling, some already sinking with walls painted in green algae coming out from poor plumbing, you begin to wonder what really drives this tripartite alliance of wickedness.

Lekki is gone. The flooding is crazy as a result of terrible planning. No drainage and where you find some, they are blocked. Boreholes opened near sewage pits; we are just joking with bubonic plague. If God is not with us, the epidemic Lekki will foster in Africa will not be a child’s play.”

Now we have begun to see a movement back to Victoria Island and Ikoyi. The new rich who still have their wealth are migrating back as they see the encroachment of slum lifestyle on them.

So now those who live in proper Ikoyi are saying, “I don’t go to Lekki for anything,” and Lekki mumu people are still saying, “I don’t go to the mainland for anything.” Mbok, stay in your slum and smell your opened cesspits and waddle through your floods and watch your daughters being pimped out and your sons fall into the hands of drug lords. Give me my Shomolu any day.

This one is nobody’s fault but the fault of the axis of evil – government, landowners and developers. This falls on them. Simple.”

(ii) Front page headline of “Nigerian Tribune” newspaper of 29th August, 2022.

Lagos lost 22,500 children to air pollution in 2021 – LASEPA

“The Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) says that 22,500 children died from air pollution in the state in 2021. It stated that the figure was 75 percent of 30,000 people who died in 2021 in the state due to the bad environment.

The general manager, LASEPA, Dolapo Fasawe, disclosed this to newsmen on the sidelines of the official kick-off ceremony for the “EKO Clean Air” project on Saturday in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the project is “Breathe Clean Air Now”. Fasawe said that the figures were derived from a report which recorded the impact of air pollution on the health of residents.

The GM said that the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had been very deliberate and proactive in its resolve to deliver clean air and sustainable environment to Lagos residents.

She noted that upon resumption, the governor prioritised health and the environment in the administration’s THEMES agenda “because there is no good health without a good environment. “Eko for Clean Air is preaching prosperity, good health, increased GDP and increased productivity for the people of Lagos State.

We are currently in Itedo community and the response has been mind blowing.

We did Air Quality Study before this intervention and we also did something called the K-A-P: Knowledge, Attitude and Practices and we realised that a lot of persons did not know the effects of air pollution on health.

So, as regards our coming here to preach clean energy and recycling, the people are excited and they are committed to partnering with the government on the project.

As you can see, the government is teaching the people the practice of waste to wealth by buying the plastic waste, E-waste and used oils from them, thus putting money in their pocket”.

She said that LASEPA would return to the community in four weeks to measure the air quality and ascertain their compliance with the practice already established.

“If they had listened to us, and they are practising what we have taught them, the air will be cleaner. We will not stop to see plastic bottles on the road because Lagos State is leaving behind a permanent plastic recycler in this community. Everyday, bring your plastic and you will be paid right there for used plastic,” Fasawe said.

The general manager said that the state government intends to replicate the project in the 57 local government areas and LCDAs before the end of the administration of the present government.

She urged the people of the community to use rechargeable lamps instead of kerosene lanterns, use gas instead of firewood and reusable bottles for drinking water instead of sachet or bottle water.

NAN reports that 500 cooking gas cylinders, 400 rechargeable lamps and 1000 reusable bottles and bags were distributed to residents of the community by the government.

The climax of the occasion was the commissioning of a borehole facility with 80 in-built water treatment gadgets built for the community by the government.”

In this seedy and claustrophobic cauldron of grime, filth, ruin and remnants we nevertheless have to deploy our fierce and feisty navigational skills. There was no such requirement when in 1952, the same Lagos won the first prize in the British Commonwealth as the city with the cleanest water.

It was Ladipo Oluwole (an old boy of King’s College, Lagos) who travelled all the way to Australia to collect the glittering trophy and the generous accolades plus the inspirational encomiums. But back then, the population of Lagos was just a little more than two hundred and fifty thousand.

Now, we are twenty-million during the day and twenty-five million at night (without including the living dead!!) Besides, in the 1950’s Lagos was blissful, serene and had no debts.

In addition, fresh air was freely available to both the rich and poor who had no qualms about walking up and down the Marina just to enjoy the breeze. Now, the air is foul and the debts keep mounting. Officially, Lagos owes N780.5 billion according to the data published by the Debt Management Office. The mandate of the Debt Management Office does not extend to hidden debts or hidden doubts not to talk of hidden depths.

In the meantime the government has unleashed terror and terrorism on the J.K. Randle family. It commenced with stealth in 1969 and gathered momentum in 1975 with the compulsory acquisition of vast tracts of our land (286.4 Hectares). Here we are, almost fifty years afterwards we have not received a dime in compensation. It is prime location which stretches over Alausa / Agidingbi / Ikeja.

Read also: Lagos to issue N20bn green bond before end of 2022 – Commissioner

In Surulere, the “Shell Club” (Adeniran Ogunsanya Street) and the adjoining Nigerian Ports Authority Sports Grounds have been the target of government intrigue and malfeasance. Time and space will not permit us to dwell on the shenanigans over Shell Club.

However, as regards Nigerian Ports Authority Sports Grounds it was a lease granted by my late father, Chief J.K. Randle and my uncle, Chief Romanes Adewale Randle to Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) which the tenant/lessee has hijacked and converted into its own property. The matter has dragged on in court for several decades.

Read also: In Washington, Emefiele solicits investments, says Nigeria full of opportunities

Where government has surpassed itself is with regard to our family land at Onikan, Lagos. It was my grandfather, Dr. J.K. Randle who bequeathed the garden (“Love Garden”) when he died in 1928 “… to the people of Lagos for their peaceful enjoyment and recreation”. He left it in the custody of Lagos Town Council which was subsequently replaced by Lagos City Council (now Lagos Island Local Government). He provided generous funds in his estate for the maintenance of the garden.

During the colonial government, the garden was in pristine condition. The flowers bloomed; and both the rich and the poor were welcome to savour the soothing balm provided by nature in a bold endeavour to connect us with humanity and civilization while lovers, both young and old wandered freely literally “In The Garden of Love” – exchanging furtive kisses, swapping love letters and the occasional outburst of everlasting love, unflinching devotion and eternal fidelity.

The Colonial Government (British) kept faith but no sooner after their departure in 1960, the funds were purloined or diverted by government officials into private pockets. Neglect and decline followed in rapid succession. By the time the military struck on 15th January 1966, the garden was a shadow of its old self.

Subsequently, the military acquired it ostensibly for “public purpose” with the Land Use Act of 1978 as cover but promptly handed it over to a private organisation – Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON). It is now known as the Muson Centre.

Of course, both the law and morality have combined to point the way to justice and fairness – if the garden would no longer be used for the purpose for which it was donated, equity demands that it should be returned to the Randle family.

As for the adjacent property – the Dr. J.K. Randle Swimming Pool that was where several generations of Lagosians learnt how to swim. It bears repetition that my grandfather graduated from Edinburgh University, United Kingdom, in Medicine with a Gold Medal in surgery in 1888.

Thereafter, he joined the Colonial Service but resigned on account of racial discrimination. White doctors who were his juniors were being paid higher salaries !!