OF the four network television stations operating in Nigeria, Channels is my station of choice for fair news reporting. NTA I watch for investigative journalism.
Additionally, as a member of the House of Representatives Committee on Information and National Orientation, part of our oversight functions include looking at areas where NTA can render better service to Nigeria. Sometimes one cannot but marvel at the quality of NTA news content.
What, for instance, is the prime news importance that the First Lady watched Nigeria Eaglets versus Mexico finals match live. Millions of other Nigerians, and I am sure, including the President, did just that.
NTA in trying to ‘over please’ the First Lady sometimes exposes her to a lot more derision and unnecessary adverse publicity. Madam First Lady, please reappraise your PR department.
NTA Newsline is one of my favourite programmes for it sometimes addresses critical areas of society that require attention. The November 3 edition that focused on parts of LagosState was both shocking and revolting with the spotlight on the recent outbreak of cholera in parts of Lagos.
In the year 2013, it is inexcusable and indefensible that people live in such squalor in our nation’s economic capital. Can anybody be serious about containing the spread of cholera in those parts of Lagos when cholera is a major stakeholder (using Nigerian terms) of those environments?
In a place where human faecal waste is freely mixed with water for drinking and daily ablution (as depicted in the sordid Newsline report), it is only the special grace of God that has kept people alive there. Cholera will continue to re-occur until those environments are completely cleaned out and transformed. No magic vaccine will stop yearly outbreaks.
Babatunde Fashola(SAN) is one of my favourite governors and I believe many other Nigerians. His non- intoxication with the perks of office is worthy of emulation by his peers. He has transformed parts of Lagos beyond recognition. For that in my opinion he has scored A* (A star). However, Ajegunle and her sister communities continue to leave an enduring dent on his achievements and unfortunately bring down his grade points average to B plus. Mr. Governor knows what to do to get back to his A star status.
It is unconscionable and inexcusable that a city which boasts of Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Lekki, Victoria Garden City will turn a blind eye to disease fermentation vats otherwise called Ajegunle, Mushin, Oregun, etc. Out of sheer frustration, a good number of the inhabitants of these fertile terror breeding grounds have resorted to violence in one form or the other. It was Karl Max who said that these people have nothing to lose but their chains. To them, violence is the highway out of poverty and disease.
A legislator friend of mine once asked why I waste sleep and materials contributing to current national issues, for, in his words ‘Nobody Cares’. My reply was and still is that each of us in our individual ways must strive to create a better society not just for ourselves but for posterity. We have a duty to leave this place better than we found it.
Returning again to the slums of Lagos. Are they redeemable and can they be transferred? The answer must be capital YES. All that is required is courage to tackle it one step at a time and I know Governor Fashola is richly endowed with that rare quality courage.
In 1954, Dr. K. O. Mbadiwe, then Minister in the Balewa government charged with responsibility for lands in Lagos convinced the Federal Executive Council to undertake the slum clearance scheme in central Lagos. There was an uproar from Lagosians who derided, abused and called K.O. names, including ‘Slum Minister’. He was undaunted and persisted and the slums were cleared to create a new housing estate on the mainland called SURULERE. In the words of Dr. Mbadiwe, “the slum clearance was undertaken to make Lagos worthy of its pre-eminent position in Nigeria”. That was the beginning of transformation. It is also worrisome when one recalls that various successive governments had projected health for all by the year 2000, later 2010 and now 2020. If by 2013 the nation is still grappling with outbreak of cholera in a city such as Lagos, then the projection could only be a mirage.
Governor Fashola was not born in 1954 but history books are available to him. Mr. Governor, you have a date with history not just Lagos but Nigeria. In more a civilised, detribalised, better educated climes where people are elected more for what they bring and not what they take from our common table, there is no stopping your ascent on the political leadership of this country. Leadership is first the vision and then the courage to think outside the box and implement what is right but not necessarily popular for the improvement and good of the generality of the people.
I would, therefore, urge you Mr. Governor to do the needful and leave a permanent imprimatur on the whole of Lagos.
Dr. EDDIE MBADIWE, a pubic affairs commentator wrote from Lagos.