Lagos State, South-West, Nigeria, West Africa, is a city loved and revered by a large percentage of Africans and even all over the world. Lagos State is the fastest growing city and a magnificent economic hub in Africa. It has the highest number of Millionaires in Nigeria, and handles 80% of the Country’s Imports. So, its waterways are vital and significant to it.
Amazingly, amidst these huge and captivating resume lay an impoverished community. Ilaje Community in Bariga area, Somolu Local Government is an ugly sight to behold. The Community consists basically of the Egun and Ilaje people. While the Ilaje people were said to have migrated from Ondo State, Nigeria, the Egun people came from Badagry Local Government of Lagos State. It is a riverine area, and so their major occupation is fishing. Looking up from the community, one would see a beautifully constructed bridge yet, if anyone dares walk on the bridge, the stench from the community is bound to send such person running and scampering for safety. The Ilaje Community is characterized by:
- High level of poverty: They live on the lagoon; construct makeshift wood houses which most times are without doors and windows. These houses have no compartments, and up to three (3) generations with all their children live in a single room. These houses serve as their business centers in the day and homes at night.
- 98% of the families in the community live below a dollar per day. The children look and are malnourished in every sense of the word.
- The men fish, while the women roast the fish and sell at ridiculously low prices, else no one will buy from them.
- One of the Fishermen noted that fishing is seasonal; that there are times they would only catch few fishes. At these times, the hunger is increased because there is no means to meet the demand upon them.
- Lack of basic social amenities: Such as potable water, toilets, bath houses, drainage systems, good schools, recreational centers, good and habitable houses, designated refuse sites.
- Both adults and children defecate in the water they live in, yet they take their bath in it. They also dump their refuse in the same water, and that is the main source of water they cook with.
- The Schools there are a sorry sight, and leaves a foul taste in one’s mouth. The children are not provided with the necessary materials to learn, so they do not go to school. The Nursery School is dilapidated, and students do not even have uniforms
- The beach where they fish is filled with garbage from homes, dirt, fecal matter, and all kinds of disgusting things.
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- Extremely Low Level of Literacy: The literacy level in Ilaje is extremely low. Most members of the community have neither formal nor informal education. Even the school provided is filled with unqualified teachers.
- The sickening part is that the people show little or no zest to life. They live as though they are hopeless, and can only get worse.
- Most of the children either assist their families in fish selling, or are given out to work for others, so as to support their families.
- The low level of illiteracy has produced so much belief and faith in witchcraft, sorceries, etc. So they tend to attribute most issues to their beliefs, including education, immunization, etc.
- Child and women abuse.
- Impending Danger: These issues spell danger for the Community, the State and the World at large.
- The Community, particularly the children are prone to diseases of all kinds.
- Teenage pregnancy and gender inequality is bound to be on the rise, seeing that there is little or no interest in education; both formal and informal.
- The poverty level is on the rise, with no end in sight, and this would lead to increase in criminal activities.
The standard of living in Ilaje is sickening, horrifying and appalling. It is impossible to visit the community and not see fear in the eyes of the people. Any visitor will be more horrified to imagine that human beings could live in such a degenerated and degenerating atmosphere. The people of Ilaje are poor and very vulnerable. They need empowerment and protection.