I’m a Festac boy, through & through. I grew up & spent my formative years there. How a melting pot of culture came to be the representation of impunity is something to behold. This year, I spent Christmas in Festac. This is a thread of how my heart bleeds for this beautiful town.
We moved into Festac from Shomolu in 1978. I remember it then like it was yesterday. The place felt like London. There was no electric pole in sight. The streets were clean. There was a love garden and play area for kids in each close. It felt like paradise. #Festac.
Back then when you moved into #Festac, you get a visit from NITEL to install your phone line. The waste disposal people came every Thursday with their big trucks. There was a Gen in every close to power street lights at night. In the early days it used to power all the houses.
In #Festac then, the fear of FHA was the beginning of wisdom. FHA then was run by seasons real estate professionals. They kept to the master plan. Festac was to be a residential estate with provision for recreation. And as long as they were in charge, it remained largely so.
Then the military struck and FHA was in the hands of military administrators. Everything started going downhill. First they started selling all the open places. The ones meant for recreation and green environment. In the process, they blocked drainage channels. #Festac.
Streets started getting flooded with drain water and sewage. I remembered crying the day the bulldozers came to shut down our playground. It was the place we went to play football and hang out. It was the place to fool around with the neighbourhood girls and dream. #Festac.
We heard that one big man who works in a Brewery bought it. Right before our eyes, a mansion was built on the only space residents shared. With it was gone all the wonderful memories we created there. We couldn’t understand why our parents said or did nothing. We cried. #Festac.
Things deteriorated from there. The generators were cannibalised and they stopped working. Apparently, NEPA had other plans. They used to come on automatically when power went out, but they stopped. The refuse trucks stopped coming and the whole town became a filthy mess. #Festac.
Because of the indiscriminate building electrical installations that were underground, could no longer be accessed. Power issues had to be resolved by going overhead. Festac that never before knew power poles started seeing them springing up in pockets. #Festac.
Saddened by the state of things, many original occupants started selling their properties and moving out. Those on the main roads, had no choice. They either sold their homes to banks or retail shops or suffer d suffer the inconvenience that comes from a lack of privacy. #Festac.
Roads went terribly bad with potholes everywhere. Crime became constant, even prostitution too. There was some respite when the Amuwo Odofin LG HQ was relocated to #Festac. They repaired some roads & tried to bring sanity. But it was too late. The town had already gone rogue.
Now every street and open space in #Festac is a car shop. Medians meant for pedestrians to walk on have now become the permanent parking space of cars for sale. They line every major street. You wonder if the demand for cars in the town is so high to demand such glut of supply.
All these done in the full view and knowledge of the Amuwo Odofin LG. Some close associations have gone to the extent of erecting barricades in front of their close to prevent medians from being used as a car shop. If you want to define impunity, please visit #Festac.
For those of us who saw this town in its glory during her early years. What we see today is heart-wrenching. While we might not be able to reverse the commercialisation of #Festac, surely we shd be able to keep the median free for pedestrians and not turn it into a car shop.