Lagos, Nigeria: With Challenges, Make Opportunities
“You see Lagos up from the air and it’s a sprawl with no infrastructure.” This quote is stated from Kunlé Adeyemi mentioned in article from Fortune Magazine. In other words, Lagos, known as the commercial capital of Nigeria, is seen from above as a beautiful country but when you get a closer look inside you see the great effect of infrastructure. With congested roads and poor maintenance, think of such a large population, how can people live this way? How can one learn to live in such a cluttered and crowded society? Fortunately, the government is trying to fix this problem. According to a peer-reviewed article by Meng Chen, he states that the government is very confident in the newly elected president. He mentions in the journal about the plan the government has to change Nigeria to make it a better place. Their first thing to do on their list is to clean up the areas involving infrastructure. Many believe that if this issue is fixed, more good things will come out of it. Households will be living better lifestyles along with being healthier. Also the small foreign businesses and markets will start to increase in income and actually business. They have been struggling due to the broken up roads and overcrowded traffic. If the electricity is updated and becomes more advanced, it will help out with the living situations amongst the people. With Nigeria facing all these great challenges, what solutions are being done to make citizens live a safe and normal life?
“The rain had cleared the oppressive heat that had already dropped like a blanket over Lagos: but the smell of garbage from refuse dumps, unflushed toilets and stale bodies was still overwhelming.” (Graceland, p.10) In the novel, “Graceland” written by Chris Abani, much of infrastructure is described from the sight of the main character, Elvis who is actually a resident of Lagos. This novel is a favorite text of mine that we read in class. It’s style of writing really stuck out to me as the reader and it made me feel as if I were living this lifestyle that he describes. He begins the novel describing Lagos but what Abani does is something quite interesting. He describes Lagos as an ugly violent society along with being a very poor state but turns it around and also describes it as somewhat beautiful. This is very important in the novel because it relates to how it really is in real life. People see Lagos from an outside view and think it is this beautiful scenic place but when in reality it is much more. The novel describes Lagos in a more personal way because he is going deep inside and telling the story from someone actually living through this crisis. It’s a great way for someone to get connected with the topic and really understand it. This novel relates so much to the real life struggles of infrastructure in Nigeria. It’s very impressive when writers include real life situations and use much imagery in their writing.
My closest experience to this topic would be when my town flooded and it left my family along with the other townspeople without electricity for 5 days. The roads were all clogged from the sewers a couple feet to the point where you could not drive or leave the property unless you had a boat. The electricity on many streets including mine went out. Thankfully we had a generator and so do others on the block. For the 5 days we had to save as much as we could and be light when using water. It was a very difficult time because we never had to deal with this way of living and had to adjust very fast. The townspeople that were able to get out of their house came around in boats bringing anything they could, including groceries or people even to their businesses. This can relate to Lagos in some ways when it comes to generating your electricity and water. Also not being able to drive anywhere because of the ruined roads. Viewing pictures and seeing videos of Lagos, I’ve noticed how many help each other to get by. From this experience of mine, I admire these citizens of Lagos in how they deal with this situation everyday of their lives.
The saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” is like saying when given a challenge, take that challenge and make it into an opportunity. While struggling with lack of electricity and water, these citizens go out there and make a living off of this needed necessity. These “challenges” actually help with unemployment. It gives people a way to survive and support themselves along with their families. For example, people have businesses where they sell electricity generators along with repairing them. “The shortage of infrastructure means that a great deal of businesses are having to self-generate electricity at vast cost, which puts them at a competitive disadvantage,” explains Phillip Ihenacho who is the CEO of Seven Energy. This quote is directly from a news article in, “fDi Intellegence”. Another example would be the lack of water. Some of the people are not supplied by water so instead of doing nothing, they go out their and become water treatment engineers along with anything that can help make things easier for people. For investors, instead of looking into the infrastructures and running away, it is a great opportunity for them to make money and also improve Lagos economically and also in terms of property. Unfortunately, if things actually get fixed and are improved, these jobs will no longer exist. At the same time, it will allow business and market owners to get back into things. Hopefully with these improvements new jobs will come along for the people.
Lagos can be brought back to the days that it was called beautiful even with looking into it deeper. With the help of the government and the people it could be even better. With a population of 170 million people its economic growth has not had issues as much as when it comes to infrastructure in Nigeria. With such disorganization, the government has failed to fix the problems that are very much needed. If people learn through the inside out, maybe they will be more willing to put in more of an effort in helping this third world country. Realizing what they go through, it makes me as a person want to help them out and fix these infrastructures. I believe more people out there are feeling the same way and hopefully come together as a government to tend to these important problems.
Abani, Chris. GraceLand. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2004. Print.
Chen, Meng. "Trading Up: Nigeria's Infrastructure Fix.(AFRICA)." Harvard International Review 33.3 (2011): 6. Web.
"Lagos, Nigeria: Africa's Big Apple." Fortune Lagos Nigeria Africas Big Apple Comments. 12 June 2014. Web.
"Nigerian Infrastructure: Building from the Base up." - Locations. Web. 6 Dec. 2015.
Polgreen, Lydia. "Money and Violence Hobble Democracy in Nigeria." The New York Times. The New York Times, 23 Nov. 2006. Web