Lagos is recognized as the commercial capital of Nigeria and as well the third fastest growing economy in Africa. Lagos is known for rapid and continuous urban development and remains the envy of many Nigerian states. However, this story of development is not the same for Agboyi township, a riverine community sited in Agboyi-Ketu Local Council Development Area, Lagos.
Agboyi is bounded by Alapere in the west and Ogudu in the South. It is however an isolated Island with no connecting bridges to link to the neighbouring communities. It is noteworthy to mention that this community is over 600 years old and remains one of the oldest Lagos towns.
According to High Chief Abdul-Jeleel Salawudeen, the Osolomade of Agboyi Land, in an interview with an online news platform legit.ng held in 2018 , it was revealed that Agboyi has over 1.5 million residents. Agboyi has the largest voting population in the Agboyi-Ketu LCDA with 2 federal wards. Agboyi comprises Agboyi 1, 2 & 3 together with some adjoining communities. Prominent of these communities is Oko-Agbon (Coconut Farm). Each of the communities have a Baale (Community Head) but there is a Paramount ruler, The Olu of Agboyi Kingdom whose palace is situated in Agboyi 1.
On a community engagement visit to the Agboyi township, the Health Volunteers Nigeria Initiative team discovered that many of the houses were without toilets as the river was a site for open defecation. There are claims that the river is being polluted with chemical wastes from factories in Ikeja, Ogba and Agege thus making life more difficult for the people whose major source of livelihood is fishing. These chemicals are toxic to fishes hence reducing the quality and quantity of consumable aquatic life.
The Agboyi township is completely devoid of Government presence. There is no sight of tarred roads or potable drinking water and other basic amenities that make life easy. The township has 1 Health center with staff working 8-hourly only on week days. There is no Hospital or other Secondary care facility. Worse enough, this Community has only 1 Government Primary School and no Secondary School. This means that most of the children who attend schools have to cross the river in canoes to access their schools in Alapere or Ketu. Across the river, the closest secondary care facility is over a kilometer away. One would imagine a Medical emergency in this Community. It will most likely be fatal before the patient can be taken across the river and transported to the hospital.
The rains are a sorrow-sweet for the people of the Agboyi township. When it rains, the people are happy as they will be able to collect water for drinking. However, the ugly side is that there is always a resulting flood. Sometimes, this may mean that residents would not be able to leave their home in days. Most residents of this Community buy drinking water in kegs as this is business for some people who fetch the pipeborne water in kegs from Alapere and transport to Agboyi across the river. Others who do not buy from these merchants buy from those who bring sachet water in bags from Alapere.
The people continually cry for Government attention. They need bridges that will connect them to Alapere and Ogudu so that development can be accelerated in Agboyi. The bridges will mean that water pipes can be passed across to the community. Also, construction companies and business oriented individuals will find it easier to gain access to the community for infrastructural development and investments. The people need a Comprehensive medical facility and 24-hourly Health Center to deliver quality healthcare, manage chronic ailments and promptly attend to Medical emergencies. The people need schools that will improve literacy and education levels too. These are but a few of the yearnings of this community.
The stories of Agboyi may not be on the front pages of the newspapers or make it to the news headlines but for the people, the single and most consistent thought remains, “When will succour come?”
Sijuade Akinyemi-Eshilokun is a Health Enthusiast, Community Development Strategist and Writer. He is the Executive Director of the Health Volunteers Nigeria Initiative