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When slum-based youths mobilise to change their destiny

By Jude Njoku

Amukoko, Orile Iganmu, Badia and Ajegunle are unarguably some of the worst slum settlements in Lagos. Residents of these ghettos live under terrible sanitary conditions. The drainage channels are usually blocked with heaps of refuse which cause flooding at the slightest downpour.

These ghettos provide a good hide-out for criminals while the death toll caused by water-borne diseases, is usually very high. Life in a typical Lagos slum means different things to different residents depending on the social divide they belong to.

But some youths who were born and raised up in these slums have vowed not to allow their environmental upbringing affect their destiny. These youths numbering over 600 met at Memak School hall in Amukoko to chart a new course for their future.

Gathering under the umbrella of Africa Minds International, a non-governmental organisation (NGO),  the youths said they would not allow their disadvantaged environment and upbringing to stop them from attaining the lofty heights they have set for themselves. To them, change is possible, which explains why they chose “change is possible” as the theme of the one-day event.

•The Mosafejo - Alafia-Bus stop Road...One of the roads the youths want fixed
•The Mosafejo - Alafia-Bus stop Road...One of the roads the youths want fixed

Their leader, Mr Victor Okoro  decried the level of environmental decay in the slummy neighbourhoods and restated the commitment of the group to discourage and minimise the rate of crime and drug abuse in the ghettos.

Speaking specifically on the theme of the sensitisation crusade tagged, “Naija 2009″, Mr Okoro told the youths that charity begins at home, hence they should start by changing the negative things about their lives which constitute a nuisance to the larger society. According to him, change can only occur when individuals embark upon personal development.

“The much talked about change starts from personal development,  the earlier youths from this community detach themselves from being used by politicians to achieve their selfish interests, the better for all of us,” he said and advised  politicians to champion the cause of the people who elected them into office instead of enriching themselves at the expense of providing social amenities to the area.

Mr Okoro who stated that building a viable and conducive community is the collective responsibility of all residents of the area, enjoined politicians and religious leaders  to educate and embark upon programmes that would empower their members.

Another youth, Mr. Akinyemi Akinwuntan who presides over a group called “Achievers Class” charged the youths not to be deterred by their present status but to set high standards for themselves.

With determination and purpose, he said, the sky would be their limit. The fact that they were born of poor parentage, he explained, does not imply that they are poor intellectually, explaining that some youths in the area  have excelled in various fields of human endeavour.

*Some of the youth leaders
*Some of the youth leaders

The youths called on the State government and Ajeromi/Ifelodun local government area to fix the roads in the communities. Of great interest to them are the  Alafia Amukoko – Mosafejo Market  Road and the Oja Amukoko -Alafia Bus-stop Road.

Mr Okoro told Vanguard Metro that Africa Minds International is an NGO that is propelled by youths with a desire to “effect change in every community where we reside. We want to assist youths in our community to attain high levels of academic and moral standards; we want to empower them to acquire skills, handiwork or trade that will help them later in life”.

It would be recalled that in 1983, the Lagos State Government with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), identified 42 slums or blighted areas covering about 1,622 hectares of land in the metropolis. By 1995, the figure had risen to about 60 and today, Lagos is said to have over 100 blighted areas.

In a bid to give the residents of these slummy neighbourhoods a new lease of life, the World Bank introduced the Community Infrastructure Upgrading Programme under which nine blighted areas with an estimated population of 569,597 persons were recommended for a priority upgrading programme.

The communities included Ajegunle and Amukoko in the Ajeromi/Ifelodun Local government area, Iwaya and Makoko in the Yaba area of mainland Lagos, Ilaje and Bariga in the Shomolu area, Agege, and Ijeshatedo/Itire in the Mushin Local Government Area. Olojowon in Badia was used as the pilot scheme.

CITY BRIEFS

Eko Club donates N1m for scholarship

Eko Club of Lagos has awarded education scholarship worth N1 million to seven beneficiaries to kick start its children bursary and education scholarship awards to members of its club. The award will give each of the beneficiaries N50,000 per annum.

Disclosing this during the initiation of the new members, the President of the Club, Prince Adio-Oluwa, said that the reason behind the award is the determination of the club to support the educational sector and to award scholarships to deserving children of its members.

Oluwa said that for the Club to kick-start the award, the club conducted a screening and came up with seven students who are children of Eko Club members.   He appealed to the beneficiaries to make effective use of the awards as the club’s gesture of goodwill to the members.

He also called on some other people who could not make the list this time around that there was always another opportunity for them next year.

PTL tasks Christians on publications
Julius Adegunna, the Publisher/ Editor- in-Chief, Praise The Lord (PTL) News, a Christain Newspaper has called on Christians to be interested in publications that glorify God, rather than the ones that glorify Satan and his agents. This call was made during the 15th anniversary of the Newspaper held at Eko FM/ LTV multi-purpose hall, Ikeja.

According to him, PTL News was extablished in September 1994 and was born as a Christain newspaper to act as the mouthpiece for Christians not only in Nigeria, but in other parts of the world. “We want to see PTL News reporting and celebrating the good works God is doing in the hands of his anointed ones.

The Christian publishing world has been awash with junks, publications that are said to be meant for Christians while the contents do not have anything to do with Christians. Unfortunately many of those printing these publications take advantage of many churches and pastors,’’ he noted.


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.