By Okpata Josh
My parents stay in Satellite Town and formative years were spent there. What was supposed to be structured for middle class public and private sector retirees but is now torn between estates (Chevron, NNPC, Mobil, CBN, Agip, Shell, Daily Times, Federal Civil Service etc) and Igbo trader money, the latter increasingly having the upper hand. I’m talking Igbo businessmen dealing in everything from jewelry to spare parts, from Alaba down to Tradefair.
So it’s only natural that Igbos are a majority and that is reflected in voting patterns every election year. For years they have mostly voted as a bloc, for years their votes haven’t counted and they I would presume, have been punished by the government at the center for doing so. Remarkably poor power distribution, constantly deteriorating roads, nonexistent water supply, grossly inadequate healthcare facilities and a general failure of social infrastructure. It’s not unusual for us to thrive with or without government support so nobody makes a fuss but we all feel the pain of living without dividends of democracy year after year.
That pain drove me to the ballot in 2015 to vote for the first time. I was so excited that I bought packs of water and glucose to keep myself and other people motivated while awaiting our turns to vote. I talked with countless strangers until my vocal cords hurt. I urged people on the streets who did not seem to be taking part in the exercises to work towards getting their permanent voters’ card (PVCs) so that they can vote subsequently.
I was largely nonpartisan, yet, still inspired so that I stayed long even after casting my vote to ensure that my votes, as well as those of dutiful Nigerians, were protected. It was an opportunity for me and many others from my generation to see actual change in government away from the monopoly we had been used to in Lagos State.
That year, and for the first time since 1999, eight seats available to Lagos in the House of Representatives were won by minority parties including the seat representing Amuwo Odofin constituency, where I voted.
You can imagine my excitement when I learned that Hon. Oghene Emma Egoh defeated the incumbent and would soon be going into the green chambers. I felt that Egoh, a man who I didn’t know personally but lived a few blocks from the street I grew up on in Satellite Town, would be someone I could relate to. I was wrong.
Between 2015 to date, the already debilitated state of the scarce amenities worsened, infrastructure disappeared, insecurity has worsened such to the point that I avoid visits to see my parents.
Recently, on my way home for the crossover service, there was hardly a 50 meter stretch of road without dangerous potholes all over, even okadas could not escape them. Many of the roads have become completely unmotorable which has, in turn, led to a worsening of traffic conditions that is almost too severe for a residential area. The fact that there are touts popping up all the time with strange tax requests has largely compounded the issues in that area.
I did not expect a miracle from Hon. Egoh, however, at the very least, whether by appropriation, or a bill, or by some constituency projects, or even through exercising some leverage available to him, I expected that the lives of the people of Satellite Town and Amuwo Odofin would get better, even if slightly.
One time there was a fire that destroyed a portion of the Festac bridge, as far as I know, it took over a year to fix less than 100 meters of that bridge. Incredible.
Our hopes as a community have been dashed. In retrospect, Egoh’s time in the House of Representatives seems to have been 1 step forward and 2 steps backward.
For those who will argue there is a local government chairman, a member of the House of Assembly and a governor, all of whom have are also responsible, I say we have always had those people but they have never done anything, they are unfortunate constants. The only variable in this equation was Egoh, however, he has not lived up to the expectations that were had of him.
Another election year us upon and I will go back to the polls with the same zeal from four years ago. However, this time, I will be partisan. Wherever in the world, I am, I will return to vote and engage others to do so too. Let’s give someone else a chance to help make our lives better in Amuwo Odofin. I will put my time, money, abilities and energy where my mouth is.
Hon. Oghene Emma Egoh has to go as well as the rest of the “constants”. This is what democracy is about.