By Bose Adelaja
While hawkers were at one end of the road, street traders occupied the other end. To compound the problem, mini-bus (danfo) drivers busied themselves with picking and dropping passengers in unauthorised places.
At Ogolonto, there was a traffic jam which stretched to some kilometres. It was so chaotic that instead of the usual 20 minutes, the commuters spent three hours before alighting at Oshodi.
At the popular Mile 12, the passengers were ‘greeted’ by the offensive odour from the heaps of refuse at Akanimodo market. Surprised by what he saw, one of the passengers who identified himself as Jimmy Charles asked the conductor why people allowed refuse to become mountains.
Jimmy who recently returned to Nigeria from Spain where he had lived for many years, was flattened by the response of the conductor. Are you a ‘’JJC’ (Jonny just come)?” he retorted.
Alighting at Oshodi, Jimmy who was going to see some friends at Ajegunle, boarded another bus to Boundary.
He was upset when some street urchins popularly called area boys, emerged from no-where at Mile Two and started demanding for money from the driver in a very unruly manner.
By the time Jimmy alighted at Berger Suya, he became totally downcast as the Nigeria of his dream had faded away. The popular suja joint was an eyesore with refuse dotting the entire landscape.
These acts of indiscipline have become a recurring decimal in Lagos, the acclaimed “Centre of Excellence”.
Apparently upset by these ugly scenarios, a rescue group – Spirit of Lagos- has pledged to restore sanity to the mega-city. The group said it has initiated projects to actualise this dream.
One of such projects took off last Friday at Kofo Abayomi Street of Lagos Island. The Project Coordinator, Mr Niyi Omotosho said restoring the lost glory of Lagos is paramount to the group.
According to him, the Spirit of Lagos seeks to bring about an attitudinal change through fundamental re-orientation of the citizenry.
The group which has been in existence for about four years, charged motorists to suppress the animalistic instinct in them and voluntarily obey traffic light at road junctions even when they are not under the watch of traffic wardens.
‘’Why would a trader choose to display his wares on a pedestrian bridge on an expressway and inhibiting human movement?” he asked. He wondered why reasonable people will close major roads and streets in the name of holding parties. Omotosho decried the attitude of local government officials who give out such permits.
“Why would people fold their arms and expect manna to fall from heaven. We can’t leave things in the hands of government without doing our part in our interest. The Spirit of Lagos is the embodiment of all things good about Lagos and the very lifeline that connects its glorious past with its future that we dream of.
Historically, Lagos has always been a fair and just place to live both in terms of access to recourse for injustice and a collective responsibility to fight wrong to an individual or a group.
History is replete with examples of these acts of liberation that make everyone free in Lagos. These will be reenacted and presented to reawaken Lagosians to a spirit that should never die through indifference and a lack of information of all that the government continues to put in place to ensure justice for all in Lagos,”he said.
A concerned citizen and member of the group, Anthony Ajero, echoed Omotosho’s concern, saying: “No society thrives without a clear understanding of and a commitment to what it means to be a citizen and a willingness to comply with those rules.
Voluntary commitment to maintain law and order is the basis for peaceful enjoyment for all. For Lagos to truly take its place in the league of cities, its residents must embrace the citizenship spirit as manifested in all aspects of living including, traffic, sanitation, health and safety and patriotism,” he said.