There Are No Drivers In Lagos

…..one of the vehicles that was supposed to be behind my car did the diagonal turning and collided with an oncoming lorry. There was another accident- two commercial buses collided with each other and an okada passenger flew between the 2 vehicles just before they collided. This is Lagos..!

There Are No Drivers In Lagos

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By Adeola Aderounmu

On my recent trip to Nigeria, l could almost not believe what l saw on Lagos roads. I knew that driving in Lagos had always been a hassle and that some people have ignorantly or maybe stupidly concluded many years ago that if you can drive in Lagos, then you can drive anywhere in the world. That notion is not only misleading; it is also very dangerous.

If driving in Lagos on the other hand means that you can drive anywhere in Nigeria, then l can generalize that there are no drivers in Nigeria. I took time to observe driving in my area and on major roads in Lagos. Not one person driving on Lagos roads that l saw passed the simple driving tests that l conducted.

One of the most amazing, yet disturbing discoveries l made was this: not one driver in Lagos knew how to turn left at a junction. In normal driving, on a two-way road, you drive to the end of the road whilst keeping to your lane, then you make a curve (like going around the last quarter of a circle or ring) to turn left. I did not see one driver in Lagos do this turn correctly.

To make left turns, all the drivers in Lagos made diagonals. They don’t even make it from their half of the road. Long before the actual turning point, as they approach the junction, Lagos drivers make long diagonals that put them head to head with the oncoming vehicles.

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The first time l observed this anomaly, l actually thought it was just a silly driver who was impatient.

Later l found out that everybody drives that way. Commercial vehicle drivers and private car drivers, drove the same way. This is the standard for driving in Lagos.

One day, l had a passenger at the back seat in my car. He said he thought l was driving straight-on after he saw that l actually turned left at a junction. He was not used to drivers using the full length of the road to the turning point before making the turn. He said l would get tired of my sane driving, but l never did because l wasn’t trained to drive like an insane person.

Every time l am making my normal left turn, there are other vehicles, between 1 to 3 that make the turn before me while l am at my normal driving. They think they are good drivers or that they are smarter in getting ahead.

In this essay, l cannot include the menace of the motor-cycles as commercial transportation means in Lagos. Let us save the discussion about that pestilence that is unleashed on Lagos for another time.

As a result of foolishness, recklessness and not-knowing-how to drive of almost all Lagos drivers, I was a witness to at least 3 accidents whilst l drove in Lagos.

Another day whilst l was doing my normal omoluabi junction-turning, one of the vehicles that was supposed to be behind my car did the diagonal turning and collided with an oncoming lorry. How many accidents on Lagos road are due to wrong driving?

This dangerous diagonal turning was one of the most obvious indicators of wrong driving by Lagos drivers that l observed and it remains a major cause of head-to-head collision/accidents at road junctions.

There was another accident due mainly to bad driving that was so serious that two commercial buses collided with each other on 23 Road in Festac Town. It was like a movie when an okada passenger flew between the two vehicles before they collided and he somersaulted on the road. The motor cycle and the okada-driver slided long the road like the movie was not about to finish yet.

In fact, the other useless and reckless driving of Lagos drivers are too numerous to elaborate here. But generally, it is a crazy situation on Lagos roads with human and vehicular traffic forming a permanent compound mess.

More of my observations below.

Lagos drivers do not know how to drive on lanes (but they can claim that most roads are not marked with lines and they’ll be right at that). Still, what happens to straight line driving? What l saw was that most of the drivers in Lagos do not even know about driving on a lane.

Once the roads are not marked, they are driving from right to left to center, just anyhow they like. They fill available space on the road and collide too easily with one another.

Lagos drivers do not keep the distance. There should be at least 5 meters between 2 cars on the road. For some vehicles, the distance behind them should be 10 meters if they have risk of rolling backwards or if they vehicles used for deliveries, having haulage facility/equipment trailing behind them.

In one accident, I saw an okada driver fastened to the back of a jeep and he could not detangle his motor cycle. It was so confusing; l did not even understand it even as we drove past the conjoined vehicles.

Lagos drivers do not use or respect the indicator light that shows when you when you change lanes or make a turn. 99.9 % of Lagos drivers do not look out for indicator lights. When you indicate a turn with your light and hoping that someone is using their brain on Lagos road, you have just made yourself a target for an accident and probably an untimely death.

Rather than using your signs, you and your passengers have to bring your heads out of the car and try to have contacts with the reckless drivers on the road and beg them to let you change your lane or to turn right or left.

In general driving on Lagos road is still very much an insane experience. It may not be the biggest problem in Nigeria but it is surely a significant part of public health question and analyses. It is either the people bring madness to the roads or the roads make people mad. Whichever way you view it, it is bad and sad.

On Lagos roads, there are no rooms for respect and courtesy. Everybody looks angry! People are not driving or behaving normally behind the wheels. Everybody is in a hurry and everybody believes that they should not give room to another driver. It’s as if everybody is chasing the same thing or the same thing is chasing everybody.

In all these negative brouhahas, one begins to wonder about the roles of the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC. This agency must be really rotten and inefficient. They are not working. How can they explain the acquisition of drivers’ licenses by all the bad drivers in Lagos? Have all these crazy drivers passed through any driving school? Have they been tested theoretically and practically?

In Lagos the dangers and evil on the road are so numerous that coming back home to your house in the evening is considered an everyday miracle.

So what are the ways out of this hydra-headed problem that has grown so big that it is now the norm to be drive anyhow-you-like in Lagos. Where do we start from in this country where everything has fallen apart and into pieces?

One can also question the roles of the bribe-loving police force in all these extreme dramas, thrillers and horrors on Lagos/ Nigerian roads. They are constant on the roads, pointing their guns at ordinary citizens as if there is a war in Lagos. But their primary concern is their filthy pockets.

The police, the FRSC, the people and even the state government  and its other transport agencies are all contributing their own quotas to the madness and complexity on Lagos roads. Everybody is claiming right, everybody is neglecting their duties and obligations and everybody is doing the wrong thing.

When Nigerians return home from Europe and America with their drivers’ licenses that were earned like war trophies, they are insulted and humiliated to the extent that the authorities make many of them to acquire the Nigerian license that are obtainable without undergoing driving tests.

In their ignorance, the men of the FRSC and the police turn down hard-earned foreign driver’s license. I heard they don’t even recognize international driver’s license. Really? Of course, they will accept the bribe that follows the argument on this.

During my stay in Lagos, l spent a substantial time shouting at some motorists and educating them on a few things that l saw them do wrong. Yes, l did that sometimes when l was behind the wheels and sometimes when l took my usual long walks along the streets.

Constantly proving that l was right, l just refuse to leave my lane for the stupid oncoming okada motor-cyclists and other drivers who really do not have any business on the road. I was hardly in a hurry, so that turned out well.

The first lesson in a driving school says: plan for your journey. That particular lesson will cure about 50% of the insanity on Lagos road. Where are people rushing to? They will overtake you with the narrowest of margin beside you or in front of you! What are they chasing?

There are rush hours and heavy traffic in major cities across the world. But the cars keep rolling. In Nigeria, the traffic stands still not only because of bad roads, but also because of bad driving and total absence of knowledge about safe driving.

So if the people plan their journeys, if drunkards are removed from the roads, and if the roads become motorable say 100 years from now because Nigerian roads are still among the most dangerous road in the world today, maybe more than 90% all the accidents on Nigerian roads will become preventable. Lofty goal l guess.

The traditional custodian of Lagos and the governor of Lagos, where do you go from here? Lagos drivers don’t know how to drive. They just move the vehicles. They need help and deliverance. You need help too because right under your watch, Lagos has fallen apart.

 

aderounmu@gmail.com

 

all images taken by Adeola Aderounmu

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Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, Please Clear This Biological Weapon!

The challenge before President Buhari and Governor Ambode is to order the immediate demolition of the illegally built houses and structures that have been used to block the underground sewage channels in Festac Town. That is the only and final solution.

We are citizens of Nigeria and they owe us this responsibility-to clean our environment. The government should stop killing us with biological weapons!

Governor  Akinwunmi Ambode, Please Clear This Biological Weapon!

By Adeola Aderounmu (Sweden)

One of the most disgusting views in Lagos State is embedded in my local government area. On 4th Avenue, 402 Road in Festac Town is a deep river of sewage flowing like the River Nile.

The sewage accumulating and flowing on the streets is a source of death and therefore represents a biological warfare against the people of 402 Road in Festac Town. Is the Lagos state government or the federal government of Nigeria at war with the people?

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There are a number of theories on why faeces that are flushed from the toilets in this area of Festac now flows directly to the streets on which the people live.

No one can doubt that the plans for Festac Town were destroyed by the Federal Housing Authority when lands reserved for recreations and natural conservation were sold to some useless Nigerian millionaires by some useless government workers on behalf of the federal government of Nigeria.

The consequences and results of the deviation from the original, functional plans of Festac are what we are facing today. There are rivers of sewage scattered around in the estate. In addition, the estate is now over-congested and bastardly disorganised.

Once the pride of Africa, Festac town is now an area filled with shame and filth.

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The sad reality is that it is not only in Festac Town that the citizens of Nigeria sleep and wake up surrounded by sewage. But l’m staying with the Festac problem as that is my constituency.

 

The end of festac

[To watch the video, visit my Youtube channel-Adeola Aderounmu, or my facebook https://www.facebook.com/adeola ]

 

The most obvious danger ahead of the people of 402 Road is that an epidemic is imminent. That is if one is not already in progress because the people have been surrounded by this flowing sewage for several years.

I wish a student from a Department Medical Parasitology of the University of Lagos can understake a medical research project on 402 Road/4th Avenue area of Festac Town. The results will be useful in understanding the statuses of the health of the people in the area.

The probability that the inhabitants of this area are suffering from ill-health and infections like typhoid as a result of this crime committed by government, is high.

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One cannot rule out deaths related to this polluted and heavily stinking environment. Children and the elderly would have been particularlty susceptible.

If the useless government workers who sold land to the useless Nigerian millionaires had not sold the land area adjacent to, and surrounding the 402 Road area, the flow of sewage would not have been disrupted.

The greatest fear is that this river of sewage could be an accumulation of all the faeces flowing from the entire Festac Town estate. My hypothesis is based on my knowledge of the area.

There is a playground nearby which also houses the facility for recyling sewage waste from the estate.

It is the only place in Festac where l have seen the facility. When we played football those days, our football used to fall inside the facility. So we had some catchers whose job was to save the ball from falling into the sewage recycle facility.

I have not fully investigated if the recycling center is functional now but l saw that the area was inaccessible. Why would anyone make a fence around the center? Has someone bought and refilled the sewage recycle facility?

Faecal wastes and sewage are not flowing away from residential areas because the federal government of Nigeria sold the areas/lands where the sewage systems have been chanelled underground.

The foolish people and the useless millionaires who bought the land sealed off the sewage channels.

The challenge before President Buhari and Governor Ambode is to order the immediate demolition of the houses that have been built and used to block the underground sewage channel in Festac Town. That is the only and final solution.

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4th Avenue by 402 Road, Festac Town                  

There are a lot of messes in Festac Town that are now irreversible. But this particular one is reversible no matter how long the houses have stood. They are illegal structures. If those who sold the land on behalf of the federal government can be found alive, they should be rounded up and prosecuted.

There is a report that one colonel in the Nigerian army actually contributed to this problem. Like many people living on the sewage system and blocking the channels, he is alleged to have applied ”cement” on his side of the channels. That was his own permanent solution to the problem. The implication is that for all he cares ”all the people on 402 road can die of diseases”.

On this matter it is very important that the Lagos state government and the federal government do not apply the Nigerian solution. That would be the sucking away of the river of sewage with the full knowledge that the river will overflow again. We don’t want that!

Nigerians are in love with temporary solutions. They love cosmetic solutions. This is because they want the problem to persist so that someone or a contractor can always make money from the contracts of temporary solutions.

Have you ever wondered why Nigerian roads for example are never going to be of international standard? Go figure now.

Anyway, as for this river of sewage in Festac Town, no one should expect that this is the last time they will be reading about this especially if the state and federal government continue to pretend as if this problem does not exist.

This is now one of my struggles.

My intention is to inform the governor of Lagos State and in fact Mr. Buhari the president of Nigeria, about this danger and for them to act without any delay. There is no need for more paper work or talking on this matter. They should get up from their comfort zones and clear this nonsense.

We are citizens of Nigeria and they owe us this responsibility-to clean our environment. The government should stop killing us with biological weapons!

The people living in this area of Festac Town and people visiting them are exposed to diseases that could end their lives prematurely. They can all die of diseases because of the river of sewage. Invariably the government has been at a biological warfare with the people.

Again, if nothing is done soon, l will be reminding governor Akinwunmi Ambode of this problem. If the tenures of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode as Lagos state governor and Mr. Buhari as the president of Nigeria do not succeed in demolishing the houses that are blocking the flow of sewage out of Festac, we will carry the struggle to their respective successors.

Our people must not be left to die of diseases because of the carelessness of goverment workers-those who sold lands that are meant to be reserved and preserved.

It is obvious that the residents have done their best and got tired of writing letters of appeals to the local and state government. I can imagine hundreds of letters to the local government. I can just imagine thousands of letters to the Federal Housing Authority. I can imagine some whispers into the ears of former Governor Fashola about this problem.

My columns and my blog pages will not rest until this matter is solved.  We will remind the state and the federal  government about their wickedness and heartlessness.

How can any government allow her people to live under this condition for even 1 day out of life?

It is unacceptable and as a matter of fact, those who knew about this problem before now and refused to act have committed crimes against humanity.

By international standard, allowing people to die unjustly in the absence/presence of war is a criminal offence and that angle will also be pursued in due time.

I am sure that with time, we will find out those who knew about this problem and did nothing.

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                       402 Road, A Close, Festac Town                            

We are talking about the living conditions of humans here.

I am actually surprise that the people of 402 Road have not made a decision to close down the local govenrment through massive protests. They are faced with a biological warfare and in ignorance have chosen to die because they got tired of writing letters of appeal.

I hope they will find the courage one day to lock down the Amuwo Odofin Local Government so that the sole administrator or the chairman can report to the governor who should tackle the problem head-on or call on the Federal Minsitry of Works and Housing to remove all obstructions in the way of sewage flow in Festac.

We must combine all our efforts and unite in order to rescue ourselves from maladministration.

The people everywhere must move away from the era of writing letters of appeal to actually carrying out demonstrations that will shut down their local councils or even the state government if necessary.

The problems and challenges facing Nigeria are many but we must tarry and remain united in the fight for the good of all.

Evil will continue to rise in the land when all the good people remain silent

Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, please go and clear Festac Town of the lingering biological warfare.

Mr. Mohammadu Buhari, please go and clear the messes left by the federal workers who planted biological warfare in Festac Town.

I stand with the people of 402 Road.

#Istandwith402road

 

aderounmu@gmail.com

 

 

[Story and All Images by Adeola Aderounmu]

The Boys From Festac

By Adeola Aderounmu

When Bimbo Fatokun came to Sweden in 2002 for a football trial at Djurgården the first question he asked me when we met was “Omotayo, which club are you playing for”? I told him I came to Sweden to continue my academic studies. It was not all of my dreams that came true.

Over the years I’d pondered on what happened to some of us, the boys from Festac.

Bimbo left Nigeria back in the 90s to ply his trade abroad. He is very talented, athletic, quick and skilful. He is one of the best strikers/forward I’d ever known in my life. He played for Antwerp for several years and remained settled in Belgium with his wife and children. He didn’t reach the fullest of his potentials but he did his best. We had hoped that Bimbo would play for Nigeria one day but it did not happen. I had a short discussion with him about this in 2002 and I respect his views and will keep them off the web.

Bimbo Fatokun

Bimbo Fatokun

There are quite a number of boys from Festac who reached the national teams of Nigeria (at various levels). Sunday Oliseh, Samuel Ayorinde and Victor Agali are notable examples. I think the Ipayes also have links to Festac Town. Wasiu Ipaye on 401 Road was one of my closest pals before I left Festac Town. A very humble guy, he is. I heard that some younger generation of footballers from Festac Town have represented Nigeria too in recent years. I wouldn’t know them personally.

Agali

Agali

You won’t read about all the boys from Festac in a single essay and some people will probably get upset with me when they find out that their names are missing in this short story about the boys from Festac Town. Yes, it is a bias history. I write only about some of the boys who played with me and a bit after me.

Samuel Ayorinde

Samuel Ayorinde

George Ekeh is the eldest of 3 brothers from Festac Town who are football talents. I remembered the first time I saw George playing football as a boy. He was under the age of 10 at that time. I marvelled at how such a small boy could have so much skills and confidence on the ball.

George Ekeh

George Ekeh

As a young teenage striker, George can hold and guide the ball with extreme mastery. I admire his skills. George probably did not hit the apex of his talents on the big scene but he went on to play in many countries around the world. I like him very much. He’s settled in Sweden.

Emmanuel Ekeh followed in his brother’s steps and he’s the one that still has more time on his hand to proof what he can do with his boots and skills. I watched a few of his clips on YouTube. He has such a pace and he’s got good vision to make precise passes.

Emmanuel Ekeh

Emmanuel Ekeh

Kingsley Ekeh is a well known player in both Portugal and Cyprus. Famously called King he shone like a millions stars during his playing career. He quit in 2012 and became a scout for his former team.

Life can bring many twists. When I watched or played together with George sometimes, I never saw Kingsley on the football field. In fact, all my years in Festac Town, I didn’t see Kingsley kick a ball. He was always talking on the sidelines. To be honest, Kingsley can provoke anybody back in the days and you can’t win over him in an argument. I actually thought it was a joke when I heard that he was a professional footballer. I do hope to see Kingsley soon. When I do, my first question to him will be “come, which time you start to play ball sef”?

Kingsley Ekeh

Kingsley Ekeh

Azubuike Oliseh probably enjoyed the influence of his brother Sunday Oliseh in gaining international prominence. I have to be honest. This guy trained hard to ensure that he carved a name for himself. However, not everybody will agree with my last submission because despite playing for big teams in Europe, it was obvious he didn’t have the skills and fluidity of Sunny his brother.

Azubuike Oliseh

Azubuike Oliseh

The youngest Oliseh that I know, Egutu Oliseh still plies his trade as well. We never played together. I saw him grow up and I saw him at the Sunday services many times along with the rest of the family.

Egutu Oliseh

Egutu Oliseh

To complete this short story about the boys from Festac, I called up Femi Oladele in the middle of it. Femi is an encyclopaedia of Nigerian football. He grew up in Festac and studied Veterinary Medicine at ABU. But today he holds a Phd in sport administration from a German university.

As a result of his passion for football, he abandoned a PhD program along medical line in Sweden. I have convinced Femi to join me in writing the second part of this story. I have to forgive Femi though, he still doesn’t acknowledge my skills and I’m shocked he didn’t see any of my big games in Festac, Ebute Metta, Yaba Tech, Unilag, Mile 2 and in Ibadan.

Bassey of 23 Road did not turn professional. The story of Bassey will be told differently depending on the speaker and how well they know Bassey. In Festac in those days you cannot separate Bassey and George Ekeh. I always find them near mama Ibeji’s shop, chilling and talking for long hours. They are always together in the evening to discuss how they played/trained during the day and they talk a lot about the future. They had the same dream. There was definitely a link between Bassey, George and the Olisehs. I am not in the position to elaborate. I was at the University of Lagos when many water passed under the bridge.

In any case, historically, I was probably one of the first groups of people who played football with Bassey in Festac Town. His family moved into an apartment behind ours. Hardly had they put their belongings in place than Bassey came down to find me and 2 boys playing football. Bassey joined me and we played against the other 2 brothers Dada and Oyinye.

I could say we played for about 1 hour and I almost did not touch the ball again. At that time, we didn’t know his name was Bassey. He was simply called “Ba”. Ba was running round the field with the ball practically fastened to his feet. He was short and very quick. I said to myself, “another footballer has arrived”. Bassey went on to be a household name in Festac football. I learnt he played for some clubs in Nigeria. From afar, I could see that he did not reach his full potentials.

Ubaka is a very close pal of Nigerian International Victor Agali, as I learnt. Obviously, I don’t have my eyes on all our potentials. I missed Agali to the extent that when people talked about him, I’m like….how come I didn’t know him? Well, I don’t think he knows me either!

I remembered playing against Ubaka’s team in one tournament on 71 Road/24 Road. He was a disciplined defender and very well respected as a young player. But when I’d played against him, it had been easy to beat his team silly. With all due respect, I was a fine striker and for being such a quiet striker, I had extremely good qualities and a ball sense that is extraordinary. I did my share of damage to many lines of defence and teams.

Another boy who’s really very close to George and Bassey is Emeka Okpor Anthony. I think he’s career was punctuated by a series of injuries right there in Nigeria. I learnt in particular that he had a recurrent shoulder problem. A great talent and a clever defender, Okpor is a graduate and he also has a coaching qualification from NIS. He is nurturing young talents and looking ahead to becoming a great coach and motivator.

Emeka Okpor and his friend Taiye Taiwo

Emeka Okpor and his friend Taiye Taiwo

There’s abundant joy when you help other people to reach their dreams even if yours suffered a setback. Setbacks are not meant to be permanent hindrances to happiness and contentment in life.

In Festac Town when I was growing up, Ebere was the most composed player on any football field. Ebere continued to tell us that his father preferred his education to his football career. He had dribbling skills that reminds you of a combination of both Maradona and Okocha. He topped those qualities with his eyes for goals. Whilst Bimbo was quick- actually one of the best sprinters in 100m in Lagos State in those days, Ebere was calm but they were both strong and they find the back of the nets in different ways. We have talents in Festac Town.

We had Dapo of 5th Avenue D1 close. He was a player in a world of his own. He combined well with Ebere during their school days at Mile 2 Boys. At that time, Amuwo Odofin Boys Secondary School was a force to reckon with in the Junior Principal Cup. It was Ebere and Dapo who wrecked the defence line-ups across Lagos State.

I remembered playing one-on-one against Dapo one day on my way from school. They had a small park in front of their block of flats then. Today the park is no more. FHA stupidly sold the park and people built houses on them. Anyway, it was like “he tortured me when he had the ball, and I tortured him when I had the ball”. The rule was clear, “don’t lose the ball”. When I read Eden Hazard’s interview and how he became clever at dribbling by playing in the garden with his brother, I remembered what I went through playing alone with Dapo.

One of my best friends through the years Modestus Okechukwu Okafor played for many years in the German Amateur league. He finally settled there and we even spoke over the telephone less than one week ago. Oke as he’s fondly called was the one who tried to tell me more about Victor Agali. He’s still not able to understand how I missed the Agali’s story. Apparently, Oke lived on 22 Road when he was a little boy.

Okechukwu Okafor, Adeola Aderounmu and Samuel Ayorinde

Okechukwu Okafor, Adeola Aderounmu and Samuel Ayorinde

By the way I first met Oke by accident. I was on my way home from school one day. I stopped at a park near CCC, X Close on 5th avenue. I started to play football with the boys whom I met there. Then Okechukwu who went to a primary school on another side of town was also on his way home. He stopped too and joined us. Those days after school, our other occupation was football.

Later on by some stroke of fate Oke and I attended the same secondary school. Then I remembered him immediately. He has a built that is hard to miss. Still, Oke moved from 22 Road to 5th Avenue end that is near to 23 Raod. Since then, we remained very close friends and played on our “stone filed” everyday!

Chinneye Okolo, I almost forgot. What a left footer! He played with sense. Many of us back then didn’t just kick the ball. We were intelligent boys. We did well at school and we transferred that cleverness to the football field. I remembered my school mates like Wasiu Ikharia (a biochemist), Sanya Okanrende (a cardiologist). I mean these are finest amongst footballers!

Afam and Nenye Okolo

Afam and Nenye Okolo

We had Kingsley Nzete who suffered a broken leg and we knew at that time that he’s not going further as a footballer. He got back on his feet again and started playing in between the goal posts. I salute his courage. We have another Bassey on 5th Avenue. I know his eldest brother lived and played in a foreign country but I never followed up on Bassey himself. Another fine player we still have in Asia is Gabriel Obadin.

We had Michael Fatokun, Solomon and Felix Uboh. Afam Okolo, and the Osuji’s of 401 road. If you want to write about the talents in the Osuji Family, you’ll need a whole edition of a sport magazine. The elder Uboh is Kennedy Uboh. He also went to the higher institutions. If he had been discovered, his football career could have earned him a place in Real Madrid’s line up. He was that good.

What about my friend Abideen, my cousin Tilewa Majekodunmi. There is Abega, a boy who loves football with all of his heart. I know Bauna on 721 Road and I remember many boys from the 402 end. We were players on the field!

This story will be incomplete without an analysis of how some of the boys from Festac failed to reach their fullest potentials and how many dreams were punctuated. We lost many boys along the way under different circumstances, many of them relating to health issues. Emotions have been high many times of how we grew up and the dreams we had.

me and some boys on our stone field in 2006

me and some boys on our stone field in 2006

In the meantime as we continue to ponder on what could have happened to the boys who did not reach their full potentials or whose dreams were punctuated, we should be glad for the representations at the national and international levels.

We should be glad for the Olisehs, the Ipayes, the Ayorindes, the Agalis, and the Kingsley Ekehs, they did their best to put Festac Town on the map in the most positive ways. The Amunekes have very strong links to Festac Town and also to many of the boys mentioned in this essay. At some point Emmanuel Amuneke was living on 5th Avenue.

I am glad for Kinglsley Ekeh who reached his full potentials playing in Portugal and Cyprus. I am happy for Bimbo Fatokun, that he found the reasons to continue with his life in Belgium after a playing career punctuated by a few disappointments and unfulfilled promises.

I remembered how my team mates in the Oyo State NYSC in 1995/96 urged me to pursue that line. Niyi-our oyinbo from UI, Jato, Uche and the rest of the pack trusted me on the right flank and in the 6 yard box of our opponents. I hope they are glad for me that I decided to keep my pen and papers.

Today in Festac Town, there is scarcity of football talents. This is relative depending on who the observer is. When we moved to Festac in those days, there were football fields, playgrounds and parks in every corner. I wrote extensively about this here in the Village square (The Rise and Fall Of Festac Town, parts 1 and 2).

All the playgrounds are gone. There are no more football fields. I think only one major field was spared. FHA sold all our playgrounds. They sold all our parks. These are unforgivable acts.

In place of sports, football in particular, our youths have turned to crime and drugs. Festac became notorious globally as the town of 419ers. I also wrote about that in my story titled Festac Town and Its 419 reputation. There were many reasons why things took a turn for the worse in Festac and in Nigeria as a whole.

There is a need for Nigeria to return football to its glorious days. Today we all hail the EPL and in fact we worship the EPL and other European leagues in what appears like a permanent colonial mentality. Nigerian league can be made attractive again through good planning and administration.

The aim should be, “if our talents don’t go abroad, they should be able to live successfully playing football in Nigeria”. One way or the other the Nigerian intelligence needs to surface on the football scene. The market is huge. What are the problems?

Nigeria is very rich as a country and sport facilities should be at every corner of town. Our football stadia should be many, different sizes and world class standard. The training pitches should litter every community.

There are so many things wrong with Nigeria. It is sad that despite their love for the game of football, Nigerians allowed the sport to suffer as well.

I know that for many young talents, the dreams died. I think about many of my friends on the stone field: Suraju, Abbey and many more. How did I forget about Medo Obanya until now? Medo is one of the greatest talents to have emerged from Festac Town. His dribbling and goal scoring skills are extraordinary. His football career simply melted away right in front of our eyes. Who do we blame?

Even Nwike, Medo’s younger brother was a wonder boy on the ball. I didn’t forget Osaze and Richard Omoregie. It’s going to be an unending essay if I write about everybody that I know. Kelechi, all the best in the south of Sweden!

stone field in 2010

stone field in 2010

I’ve spoken to Femi Oladele and he should be the main contributor to write about the implications of what happened to the boys from Festac. I hope he will use his expertise in sport administration and his life experiences to write about how Nigeria can discover, develop and invest in her talents in football. There are many “boys from Festac” scattered around Nigeria. In this country, many talents have been wasted and dreams have been dumped. Some lives were actually shattered due to unfulfilled dreams.

What happened to the boys from Festac Town can be likened to a sliding door. There are many implications to this expression. When the door slides, it separated us. The sliding door also meant that while some hinged their hopes only on football, some of us looked at our options.

I can say a word for the young people coming up. Keep your heads up, live healthy and keep all of your dreams alive. Don’€™t put your eggs in the same basket and don’t count them before they are hatched..!

aderounmu@gmail.com

Lagos Facebook Murder

By Adeola Aderounmu

It’s very sad to know and read about the story of Cynthia Udoka Osokogu.
She was lured by murderers who posed as friends on her facebook list of friends.

Ezekiel Nnechuwu Olisa Eloka,23 and Echezona Nwabufor, 33 robbed and killed Cynthia in a Lagos Hotel. Pretending to be good friends and potential business associates, these wicked men raped, robbed and took the life of a woman who taught she was making good contacts for her business opportunities.

Apparently these guys are career murderers and one begins to wonder how many career murderers are posing on facebook as friends.

A lesson has been taught in the hardest and saddest way possible- don’t be friends to absolute strangers on facebook. If you do, never meet them! If you do, let it be a public or open meeting and never in hotels or private homes. Don’t go to places with strangers. They could be murderer like Ezekiel and Echezona.

There is a slight consolation in the rapid response of the police and law enforcement agencies. It is remarkable that the Nigerian Police could track phone numbers and make use of CCTV cameras leading to the arrest of the perpetrators.

The next line of hope is the prosecution and eventual sentencing of the offenders.

One can only imagine the sadness and sorrow of the families and friends of the beautiful woman that was murdered. Cynthia was a businesswoman and a graduate student resident in Abuja. She was murdered in Lagos. She did not deserve that sort of treatment. May her soul find peace.

Governor Fashola Finally Makes His Presence Known at Festac Grammar School

by ADEOLA ADEROUNMU

The Lagos State Government has finally sent one of its building contractors Access-1 Energy and Trading Company to start re-construction work at Festac Grammar School.

LASG awards contract for Reconstruction work at Festac Grammar School

LASG awards contract for Reconstruction work at Festac Grammar School

For those who have not been following the story. Here are links to the story so far:

Governor Fashola, Festac Grammar School Ti Baje o..!

Festac Grammar School Vs Lagos State Government

Photo Essay: Festac Grammar School Alumni Projects’ Management Group Is Working

In April when this struggle started I had written that one of the greatest mysteries of Lagos State Ministry of Education is how a school that got the first prototype one storey-structure in the old Ojo Local Government was left to rot away totally as a predominantly poultry school. It seems that the government of Governor Fashola, in a reaction to the series of stories about the embarrassing situations at FGS, is set to repair, renovate and re-construct FGS.

I also made a promise that was hard to keep. But I did my best. The ultimate goal was to write about Festac Grammar School once a month because as I stated then: the problems with Festac Grammar School became for me a personal struggle. It is still a cause.

Now that hope has come, I feel obliged to write this story about the presence of Governor Fashola in Festac Grammar School through Acces-1 Energy Trading Company.

I have not received the details of the contract; therefore I am not in a position to describe the extent of the work that will be done.

However I do know the old storey building that was built in 1985 has now been given some re-touching in terms of structural maintenance.

One of the dilapidated poultry block of classrooms has been pulled down completely to pave way for a new storey building of 12 classrooms.

Foundation of Storey Building of 12 Classrooms

Foundation of Storey Building of 12 Classrooms

These developments are in the positive directions. They are in line with one of the long-term objectives of the Alumni Association to ensure that the school poultry structures built by Lateef Jakande are overhauled and replaced by modern storey buildings.

This objective should never be different from the functions of the Lagos State Ministry of Education. How schools are allowed to rotten remain inexplicable and if we tie it to the systemic corruption in the Nigeria system then it is an indication of what I feared most: that the future of the unborn generations remain stolen.

Whichever way, it gladdens the heart and it brings a sense of fulfillment to witness the re-construction work at FGS. Without any doubt I am convinced that it was a rapid response to our calls that have been made on the NVS and some of our blogs.

The Lagos State Government has shown that we do not need to know anyone in the corridors at Alausa in Ikeja before our agitations can be attended to. What the LASG must also ensure is that it carries out its functions without allowing us to carry the burdens to the web space all the time.

Our agitations and concerns are genuine and noble. It is clear that we want education to be promoted. A sane environment is necessary to produce sane minds. A sane environment is necessary to nurture the future generations.

On our part as members of the Alumni Group we have made progresses. We have donated some equipment to the school and we have helped them to settle electricity bills. We have more plans.

In terms of our organization we are now duly registered and our activities are governed by a written constitution. We are in the process of electing our executive members to take over from the caretaker committee and more than ever before the future of the Alumni Group look secured.

This year, less than 5 months after we re-converged as Alumni Group from our different niches we have organized career day/ workshop at Festac Grammar School and we have awarded prizes to outstanding students.

We have made ourselves more visible in Festac Town and we have provided ourselves with the platform that will motivate the students attending Festac Grammar School. They are now in contact with us. We have a wonderful opportunity to be their role models and mentors.

For us this year is a success story in the history of our Alumni Group.

It is not yet Eureka! It must be pointed out that governments in Nigeria are fond of abandoning projects and looting the funds earmarked for such projects, even after the shameful 10% kickbacks. We hope that the re-construction work at Festac Grammar School will be neither a half-baked project nor an abandoned one.

Our hope is that this rejuvenation that will inspire and motivate the students and staffs of FGS.

The Alumni Group, as promised in a previous essay, will work closely with the leadership of the school to emphasize the importance of maintenance culture. On the long run too, we will have to find the appropriate communication channel to ease information flow between the Lagos State Ministry of Education and our Alumni Group. That will help us to know first-hand about the plans that are made for schools in Lagos and how often the structures will be checked for comfort and safety.

The academic aspect can also not be over emphasized. Quality control measures should be re-introduced while all hands must be on deck to rescue the “dying culture” of attending public schools.

No matter what happens, FGS will remain in our hearts and we will never relent until the image of the school both in terms of structure and academic excellence are revitalized fully. We are committed.

Acknowledgement : All photos were courtesy of
Oluwafisayo Oyeromade Ogunjimi Orilambo

Email: pheesayor@hotmail.com

aderounmu@gmail.com

Festac Grammar School Versus Lagos State Government

Adeola Aderounmu

I believe that the problems facing education, in terms of both infrastructure and the quality of it, should never be relegated in the ongoing rejuvenation of Lagos State. The resuscitation of Lagos state public schools should now be on top of the scale of preference of both Governor Fashola and the Commissioner for Education

Dangerously Looking school structure at Festac Grammar School

Dangerously Looking school structure at Festac Grammar School

In the first report I made about Festac Grammar School I had stated that I will continue to write about Festac Grammar School (FGS) until something is done to salvage the school. It is my alma mater and I take this cause very seriously. In a way it will serve as a point of reference for the general decay and expose the degree of negligence that schools have suffered under successive irresponsible governments in Lagos State.

The legacy of free and quality education in Western Nigeria under Late Awolowo and former governor Jakande suffered violent extinction with the advent of military rule. It is unimaginable that public education in Lagos State especially at the primary and secondary levels will remain redundant more than 10 years into civilian rule. This is more than a shame. It is a scandal.

The Festac Grammar School Alumni Projects’ Management Group-FGSAPMG was formed in 2011 and the team is now fully integrated into the main stream Alumni group. Our goals are clear. We have set out not only complain about the near-death state of our alma mater but also to seek ways to solve the problems.

Writing from a personal note I think that corruption is the root cause of the negligence. I won’t be totally wrong to state that the person or group that were supposed to implement the reconstruction of Festac Grammar School from the Jakande temporary structures to permanent school structures in the mid-80s stole the money earmarked for the project. Governor Fashola can start by looking at the records, fishing out the culprits and marching them to the prosecutors.

In addition if funds have been provided directly to the leadership of the school then we will like to know when and how much was provided. As we seek accountability from the state government, we also need her help in providing details of financial assistance to the school. If any individual among the school leadership is guilty of embezzlement, let him or her be brought to justice.

Some members of FGSAPMG recently visited the school. Babatunde Adebisi, Dare Olaosebikan, Raphael Omorogbe, Omozele Unuakhalu and Obichie Joseph Ndubuisi met with the school principal Mrs. Olowu and the VP Academics Mrs. Efetie.

Some of their findings are:

• No Library in the School

• No Electricity in the Junior School

• Electricity in the senior School has been disconnected by PHCN

• No functional Toilet for Teachers and students

• Scrappy furniture in the staff room

• Crowded classes in the Junior School (between 70-75 pupil in a class)

• Dilapidated Buildings and damaged class room floors

The alumni representatives noted with dismay the near complete absence of government assistance to the school or misappropriation of funds earmarked for it. One of the projects that the government has executed was the so-called ECO project for a Computer room with about 30 computers. The government also provided a generator set. A prototype toilet was never completed.

It is sad how Lagos State officials have become chronic liars. Representatives of the Ministry of Education in Lagos State have visited FGS on several occasions. They have been doing so even before I graduated in 1989. They could not even keep to their promises of renovating the only storey building in the school.

The task is not just to renovate the storey building. The present conditions of a school like Festac Grammar School is a disgrace to Festac Town, a disgrace to Amuwo Odofin Local Government, a disgrace to Lagos State Ministry of Education and despite all he has done a disgrace to Governor Fashola.

Nigerians should start making authentic demands from their rulers or leaders. I have stated that this is my contribution to the ongoing process whereby the alumni association is trying all possible means to sensitize the Lagos State government on the need to rebuild Festac Grammar School. Some of the most brilliant minds in Lagos and Nigeria have emerged from this school. For the sake of the children in Festac Town and its environs, an outstanding citadel like FGS must be kept running, functional and up to acceptable standards.

Government should be responsive to its obligation without being pushed or tipped. We (as representatives of FGS) don’t need to know someone in the inner chamber of the Lagos State government before we can get this job done. The notion of using people in government to fast track the execution of government work/project is an anomaly. It does work but it shouldn’t be our prime focus.

It has been stated that the Lagos State Government will not approve the renovation of its property in the school by the Alumni Group. Therefore the focus of the Alumni Group is tilted towards the execution of projects or rendering of assistances within our capabilities and the frame of the law.

In the coming days all these issues will be fine-tuned. We will continue with our deliberations and come up with a dynamic blue-print on the way forward.

Obviously it is asking too much of us if we think that we can rebuild two Lagos State public schools simultaneously. I support the opinion that the government must live up to its responsibilities and obligations.

Education is the right of every child and it must once again become a priority. The infrastructure and the equipment needed to facilitate this right must also be provided by the state.

In spite of the harsh learning conditions and the negligence of the education authority the Academic standard in FGS remains remarkable. It is still a tradition that the teaching and administrative staffs remain committed to programs that have sustained the academic excellence of the school.

In a recent baseline assessment conducted by the Ministry of education, FGS (the only poultry school in Amuwo Odofin Local Government) came 1st in Amuwo Odofin Local Government, 4th in the district and 19th in Lagos state. We used to be among the first in Lagos State.

In the meantime, for the sake of the school, The Project Management Group will definitely look into some of immediate needs of the schools which include:

Provision of furniture for teachers’ staff room
Re-establishment of the school library
Career counseling and general reward system for students
Outstanding PHCN bill of =N=40,000.00
Provision of office equipment like Photocopier, Computers and Printers
Dr. Steve Onyewuchi Eke, an alumnus of FGS called in to the last meeting from his base in Atlanta and promised to pay the PHCN bill.

We continue to look forward to the visible presence and concrete action of the state government in our alma mater. We will not relent in all the possible ways we have set upon ourselves to achieve these noble objectives.

When the deed is done, the FGS-APMG will be quick to help out the school on the lessons of maintenance culture. We will stand by our school from now on.

Acknowledgement: This version of my monthly essay on FGS contains some of the information submitted by Ralph Omorogbe on behalf of the members of the School Visitation Committee. Their names are already in the essay.

Governor Fashola, Festac Grammar School Ti Baje O..!

By Adeola Aderounmu

A collapsed school structure at Festac Grammar School

A collapsed school structure at Festac Grammar School

The images in this essay show what is left of Festac Grammar School on 41 Road Festac Town, Lagos.

The first set of high school graduates from Festac Grammar School emerged in 1984.

Walls Apart at Festac Grammar School

Walls Apart at Festac Grammar School

I have no concrete information about the general academic performances of the students that recently graduated from FGS. But in those days Festac Grammar School turned out some of the most brilliant minds in Lagos State.

Aerial View of Festac Grammar School

Aerial View of Festac Grammar School

In 1987 and 1988 this school produced the best WAEC results in Lagos State. When I graduated in 1989 our results were also very outstanding, ranked among the best.

As part of the recognition of the high academic standard of FGS, the school was selected among the first set of schools in the (then) Ojo Local Government to have a prototype of the modern (one-storey) building. That was in 1984/85.
Unfortunately for reasons that we don’t know about, that prototype was the only new structure to have been erected in the school since it was established in 1980.

FGS is now under Amuwo-Odofin Local Government. Whilst all the other schools in Ojo and Amuwo got new brand school structures FGS was left with the poultry-like structures.

Walls Down at Festac Grammar School

Walls Down at Festac Grammar School


It remains one of the greatest mysteries of Lagos State Ministry of Education how a school that got the first prototype structure in the old Ojo Local Government was left to rot away totally.

Everything Falling Apart at Festac Grammar School

Everything Falling Apart at Festac Grammar School


Fast forward to 2011, we now have an Alumni Group thanks to Facebook. The group is new but very vibrant and will be making official complaint about the present state of the school to both the Local Council and the State Government.

Part of the school called Abuja

Part of the school called Abuja

This essay is my personal contribution and an addition to the other avenues and efforts that the Alumni group will be working on. I have told the group about my intention to put up a personal essay to tell the story. It is not a unique story because public education is almost a thing of the past in Nigeria. But it must be told anyway.

Dangerously Looking school structure at Festac Grammar School

Dangerously Looking school structure at Festac Grammar School

Just to be sure, I will also continue to post or repost the same message on my blog until the Lagos State Government, the Lagos State Governor and the Local Council step in to save the future of the children attending this school. In essence this for me is now a struggle. I will work actively in the alumni group and sustain this awareness until we accomplish our goals which are to restore FGS and to motivate the students the best way we can.

Beautiful compound and shameful structures

Beautiful compound and shameful structures


The Alumni Group will not relent on the momentum it has gathered from its recent general meeting. I am aware there are plans to start with projects and activities that will rescue Festac Grammar School. The task is enormous but we believe that we can achieve some positive changes.
Festac Grammar School Toilet

Festac Grammar School Toilet


The school has since been divided into two; The Senior Secondary and the Junior Secondary which are under the State Government and Local Council respectively. The Alumni Group will engage both tiers of governments in tackling the hurdles facing both schools. In our days it was one school and we still see it that way.
The School Canteen

The School Canteen

To make Nigeria great again, we must re-invest in education and bring back the glory days. Education is the right of all and it must be made available and affordable. The environment where learning takes place has a crucial role to play in forming the minds of the students.

Governor Fashola, congratulations on your re-election. There is no time to rest. Please save my alma mater and all other schools in Lagos.

Eko O Ni Baje O..!

FOOTNOTE:
I have written this article to bring awareness to the rot of Lagos schools and to sensitize the Lagos State governor on the need to fix my alma mater and all the schools in Lagos.

Festac Grammar School Toilet

Festac Grammar School Toilet

Let no one be deceived, this story will continue to appear on my blog regularly.

A typical classroom

A typical classroom

This is now a cause. This is a struggle for all the old students of Festac Grammar School. I will continue to post this story at least once a month until something is done by the state government.

Nothing will separate me from this struggle as long as I have life in me.

Acknowledgements.For all the photos and some of the comments used in this essay:
Many thanks to,

Festac Grammar School Alumni Projects’ Management Group

Festac Grammar School Alumni Projects Mgt Group Steering Committee

Oluremi Abdul-Razak Mosuro (a special one, I like the Aerial View)

Babatunde Adebisi

Mary Atinuke Abumere

Oluwafisayo Oyeromade Ogunjimi Orilambo for your enthusiasm and support.

All Alumni of Festac Grammar School

aderounmu@gmail.com