It was a few days ago that our photo editor, Udo Ogbonna, returned to the newsroom with some interesting picture stories. They were really interesting pictures that raised many questions in the minds of everyone who saw them. Perhaps it will not be wrong to say it is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) gone sour. How does one explain it? An organisation steps into a community with the aim to improve the lives of the people in it only for the project it puts up to sink into a state of degradation. In my opinion, it would have been better if the community had been left the way it was before the organisation decided to ‘assist’ it.I am sure everyone who lives in Lagos is very familiar with the state of a community like Ajegunle where certain social amenities are non-existent: they suffer greatly from poor sewage system and most of the buildings there are dilapidated, some are even built with iron sheets. In some cases, more than 10 people share a room and more than 20 people share a bathroom and toilet. Some buildings don’t even have toilet and bathroom. This scenario is not peculiar to Ajegunle; there is the famous Makoko where the lagoon serves as toilet and bathroom for that community.
This brings to mind a documentary on Makoko I saw on BBC. The documentary takes a look at the day-to-day subsistence living of the Makoko people where people defecate, bathe and fish on the lagoon. On this same lagoon is a woman who sells fried puff-
puff in a paddled canoe. She uses one hand to fry the puff-puff and uses the other to paddle the canoe. It was an interesting sight to behold. I could not help but marvel at how people can live in that kind of environment.
So if an organisation decides to help a community like this, it is very important that it does so with all its heart. The pictures displayed on this page shows how bad Guinness Nigeria’s effort to help Ajegunle, through is Water for Life project, has turned awry due to negligence on the part of the organisation. It was good that Guinness built a tap for a part of the Ajegunle community perhaps with the pomp that goes with achieving such a feat. But it is sad if after a few years the tap was commissioned nobody from the organisation went back to check if they are still functional. The taps might have been vandalised by some unscrupulous individuals in the community, who in a bid to survive think the best thing to do is to steal the taps and sell without thinking about the impact that will have on the entire community.
Guinness is not the only guilty party, the Federal Government’s abandoned water project at the Festac extension in Amuwo Odofin is also there as we speak. If the Federal Government has so many things on its plate, does Guinness too? It is very important that a company like Guinness takes its corporate social responsibility seriously; after all, its biggest market is in Nigeria.
Federal Government of Nigeria Water Project being abandoned at Festac Extention Amuwo Odofin Lagos. Pic by Udo Ogbonna.
Water project one of the Guinness Nigeria Plc Corporate Social Responsibility being abandoned at Orodu Street, Ajegunle, Lagos.Pic by Udo Ogbonna.