By Chioma Gabriel
I grew up at Olodi Apapa area of Lagos by the Oshodi-Apapa expressway. I used to live in a street called Ladipo which is off Industrial Road and Industrial Road is off Oshodi-Apapa Expressway . My street was located somewhere very close to Trinity Police Station and in the good old days, a famed Musician, Bongos Ikwue used to live somewhere opposite the police Station. My younger brother Jude used to hang out with one of his son’s Alan Bongos and they used to driver chopper by the expressway.
We used to worship at Sacred Heart Parish Apapa from the time of Rev Father Hannifin to Rev Father John Burke. We were familiar with Apapa Suya spots and sometimes, would hang out at Apapa Club for swimming lessons and other recreational activities.
Apapa used to harbor many expatriates who had a lot of businesses in the area. When I grew up and started working in Vanguard, I used to trek to the office which was a short distance and on occasions, would take one ride in a bus to get to the office.
Apapa and its environs used to be a beehive of activities and fun. The roads were free and Apapa Wharf had free access. We used to go to the Tincan Island, enter a ship and ferry into the Snake Island to visit folks. I still remember a quiet eatery, ‘Kosi wahala’ tucked inside the Island and the Island’s private beach.
From my bus-stop, it was one bus drop to Oshodi, to CMS and many places in Lagos.
But all that was in the past. It’s like I’m discussing history, what will be taught to the next generation that will be like the colonial days and the days of Nigeria’s independence.
Consistent poor leadership and bad governance have destroyed Lagos and Nigeria. There are no more roads leading to Apapa and its environs. The last time I tried driving to Apapa, it was impossible. It was a journey I insisted on making using both car, bike and trekking. Apapa is a ghost land. The beautiful community no longer exists. There were no roads either through Oshodi or through anywhere.
Aliens and urchins from other countries have taken over the city. The businesses that made Apapa popular have died. Many houses in Apapa have become empty and the new occupants are now aliens from other African countries who ride ‘okada’ and peddle death on daily basis.
It is so disheartening that a few rich but ungodly men who located certain businesses and tank farms have occupied that axis of Lagos with their own businesses and have killed every other business. Many Apapa-based companies have gone under while some managed to relocate. The accomplices of these ungodly businessmen who are tanker drivers and their cohorts have chased out every other road user, destroyed the roads and because there is no leadership and government in place, the situation gets worse by the day.
It’s such a shame that in Nigeria, morons are the barons; thieves are kings, the monkey works and the baboon chops. Might is consistently right and bad governance and leadership have become the order of the day. The ordinary people suffer and those in authority who are supposed to be the rulers look the other way. They come up with lies everyday and try to force them down on the people to believe and accept as if the people are brainless.
What is happening in Apapa is a test case of how key institutions died in Nigeria. Before Apapa gets buried in the dustbin of history, Nigerians following the process should know that was how refineries died. That was how Ajaokuta Steel died. That was how NITEL died and that was how many things that used to make Nigeria a beautiful country died.
The once beautiful Apapa has died. Apapa is now Nigeria’s signpost of incompetence, mismanagement, and lack of vision. The roads leading to Nigeria’s premier ports, Apapa and Tincan, are now totally impassable, source of untimely death of people and businesses.
The big men behind the problem are the first to condemn the situation and introduce cheap palliatives as a means of solving the problems.
Nigerians should wake up and call a spade by name and think of what will become of Nigeria in the next couple of years if things continue to go this way. There must be a change and very fast too before things deteriorate to a point of no return.
‘Trop c’est trop’ (Enough is enough).