In one riverine community in Lagos, the components of modern civilisation are yet to arrive, write Akinbami Omowale and Eduviere Godbless
One of the global challenges the world still faces, today, is the issue of development. Development is a light to lives, and lack of it has eaten so deep that disasters, which could easily have been averted, happen. Most communities still languish in the dark for lack of basic communal needs which are yet undiscovered and Itun-Agan, a community in Lagos, is an epitome of such. An Island founded in the year 1905 by the late parents of Chief Lot Ikuesan, the Baale of the community, Itun-Agan, is a small community under the Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State.
The journey to Itun-Agan, for these reporters, was a bitter experience as one could easily see from a distance all the emptiness clouding it. The people, whose chief occupations are fishing, carpentry, boat sailing and civil service employment, were so beautiful and welcoming, but this was a community which does not have access to electricity from the power grid, save the power gotten from generators.
“I can’t wait to behold it,” an octogenarian traditional leader and one of the oldest people in the community, Chief Lot Ikuesan, told THISDAY. “We have so many problems and we plead for the government to come to our aid. We don’t have access to good water, a primary healthcare centre, a town hall, a jetty or even good structures and furniture for the schools in our community.”
The lack of development and basic social infrastructure in this community is so heart-touching that even words alone fail to provide a complete expression.
In the past, people used to sail down to other communities for education, until a primary and secondary school was built in the community by Comrade Ayodele Adebowale Adewale, a former executive chairman of the Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State. The primary school, which was commissioned on October 24, 2014, however, still lacks good furniture and well trained teachers. This is the same for the Itun-Agan Secondary School.
In an interview conducted with THISDAY, the French teacher of the secondary school, Mr. Larry Winifred, noted that “the primary school that has a good structure, but no good furniture in the classrooms; while the secondary school lacks good structures and furniture.”
Speaking of his job, Mr. Larry said he doesn’t get paid for what he is doing in the community. “My work here is voluntary,” he said, “I see a great future in them and, whatever I do, it is for the interest of my people.”
The issue of water is equally another alarming highlight in the community, as there are only three boreholes and few water wells, which serve the entire area. The three bore-holes, which are no longer functioning, have now been forgotten and abandoned for eons, due to lack of support and maintenance.
The largest development the community has ever had since its creation is the Globacom mast, which was built by Mike Adenuga early last year.
“Thank God for that man, if it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have been able to be communicating with our people in far places”, Chief Ikuesan said.
In an interview with THISDAY, with one of the youths of the community, Mr. Bode Joseph, he said “it pricks me to see that our community languish in the dark and it hurts to know that we lack so many good things’’.
Another issue devastating minds of the people of Itun-agan is the lack of a town-hall and health care centre. The health centre is especially crucial, as lots of bitter tears results from mortality.
And since there is no physical health centre, there are few professional health workers around, leaving the health of the community in a very vulnerable position.
“When there’s an emergency, we either board a boat to take the patient to town for proper medical treatment or patronise our traditional doctors to handle the case,” Chief Ikuesan said.
One of the nurses, Mrs. Omole Maria, told THISDAY: “People here, especially the pregnant women, don’t go for ante-natal, which is very dangerous and leads to high mortality rate at child birth.”
Furthermore, Mrs. Maria unveils how the harsh economy of the country has affected the people of Itun-agan community, so much that they can no longer afford to patronise them or even hospitals for proper treatments.
“One cannot really respond at once when emergency for proper medical attention is required and this has claimed so many lives because of lack of health centre,” she said.
Furthermore, security is a long cry for the people of Itun-Agan community, as they lack police station. Where there’s no coordination by military, jungle justice becomes a solution for fighting crime.
Meanwhile, the community is renowned for its fishing business, which is the major occupation and primary source of livelihood for its inhabitants.
Mrs. Adebisi Taju, a 40-year-old crayfish supplier, told THISDAY that she was born into it. She expressed her grief on the increment of the price of fuel and how it has drastically affected the business. “This business is seasonal and the increase in fuel price has really affected us especially in the aspect of transportation of our goods to other places for sales,” she said.
Water, the only means of transportation to the island gets tougher by the day. Speaking of transportation, Mr. Idowu Ade, a wood seller, said the increment of fuel has also affected his business so much that he can hardly transport his materials for sales.
A boat builder in the community, Oluwasegun Omotayo, whose hands are employed to build boats mostly during the crayfish season, noted that if a jetty, electricity, water and good structures are provided, life in Itun-Agan would be better.