Opinion  |  Letters  

Between Lagos and BBC2

By Olufemi Oyedele, London, United Kingdom   |   04 May 2010   |   10:00 pm  
SIR: Watching “Welcome to Lagos” on BBC2 at 9.00 pm on Thursaday, April 15 and April 22, 2010, I was perturbed by the way Lagos city was portrayed to the international community and was forced to query the report sheet of the Lagos State governor who is being extolled by a part of the community as the best governor in Nigeria. In the episodes, Lagos city was depicted as a jungle, a city of abject poverty, filth and where there is no dignity in human labour.
The first episode was about the waste-dump at Olusosun, near Igando, Alimosho Local Government in Lagos State. It showed ‘scavengers’ combing the heap of dirts for ‘wealth’ under the most inhumane condition possible. In actual fact, Olusosun waste-dump is one of the numerous waste-dumps where this type of activities is daily occuring. Others include Ojota, Maryland (Odo Alaro under the bridge), Isolo (Pako Bus Stop), Ajegunle (Malu Road), Lawanson and Abule-Egba. The second episode was about Makoko settlement and showed the inhumane living condition of Lagos residents. Child-labour, slum-living and unacceptable building materials were depicted in Ebute-Metta. Deforestation through manual felling and exploitation of workers and indecent transportation were show-cased.

But of great concern is the high population of scavengers at the Olusosun waste-dump. In 2005, I visited the site while doing a research on the “Effects of Waste-Dumps on the Values of Adjoining properties in Lagos State”. The number of scavengers was negligible and it was in Abule-Egba that the number was greatest. The high population of scavengers and the way they responded to interviewers is a cause for concern. At this time when Lagos State, and indeed Nigeria as a whole, is looking for foreign investors to harness the investment opportunities that abound, this is not the kind of publicity and campaign necessary to rebrand the state. Not all publicity is good publicity.

But Lagos State was vicariously liable for the negative exposure it suffered in the hands of BBC2 on Thursday 15 and 22, 2010 and BBC4 on the following Friday. The Financial Times newspaper of July 21, 2009, did a report on Lagos State which was not better. The photograph of Lagos State was that of a slum taken by Jacob Silberberg.

Communication is now being used as a veritable tool for public governance and is an effective means of conveying achievements to the stakeholders. S. Calculator and C. Jorgensen in Augmentative and Alternative Communication Volume 7, Issue 3, at page 204-214, published in 1991, said “communication is the essence of human life.”

Governor Raji Fashola is supposed to explore all the communication means necessary to prove to the world that there is more to Lagos than the bad sides being portrayed by some quarters. He needs to run a documentary on the roads, schools, hospitals, housing estates, markets, bridges, parks etc, that he has constructed. People believe what they see more than what they hear.

Secondly, conspicuous waste-dumps along major roads are out-of-vogue and inimical to human health. Waste-dumps affect the values of adjoining properties and are repulsives to investments. They have psychological, sociological, physical,chemical, biological, economical and political effects on the neighbourhoods where they are located.

Waste-dumps and refuse grounds affect the environment especially, human health, infringe on status of the inhabitants, housing quality, air quality, rental and capital values, and generate stress among the inhabitants of areas harbouring them.

The modern world thereby, supports its screening with buffers or physical walls where they are apparent in living areas or alternatively site waste-dumps in the suburbs exclusive of residences. By doing this, wealth and decent employment will be created through proper waste management and no televison house can do any adverse report on this issue.



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