July 9, 2016
There is an expression used in my dialect to depict certain lines of thinking that are not consistent with what one might call natural logic. The expression is “Mburu, mburu” literally meaning “Left, left”. Left left thinking is what I respectfully think is going on if we say that the way to build a new mega city is to demolish existing houses. Left left thinking is also demonstrated in a plan that tows the line of banning hawkers over the course of a week or two in a city that has had hawkers for decades. What was that wise statement they used to make about Rome?
Now don’t get me wrong, I do not like what you might call the nuisance of hawkers or even the possibility that armed men who point a gun at you in traffic could be disguised as hawkers. I want a mega city too but we need to examine the genesis of a problem when we are trying to solve it. Why do able bodied young men and women choose to spend a minimum of twelve hours at the mercy of the elements seven days a week just to make maybe 10% profit margins? Why? Why? Why? It could be because they have NO OTHER CHOICE!
I think if we really want to solve a problem and not choice create a cosmetic 21st century city, we need to look at the blocked pipe from the other end. If we gave these struggling Nigerians an alternative to hawking, might they take the chance and get off the streets? If we gave them jobs to do, is it possible they might want a more comfortable, less risky life for themselves? I think they do. You say it is not as easy as I think. I agree. But why should it be easier to destory what they already have than to create something new for them? Why? Why? Why?
In my opinion the big cities we emulate in the west and elswhere where not built to the level at which we see them overnight. Neither were they built by brute force. Most of them grew out of their stoneage behavioural patterns because their economies grew and their people had OPPORTUNITIES. With all due respect and multiple salutes to the Lagos State Goverment, I must say let us desist from this “Mburu, mburu” thinking and solve problems with positive action rather than brute force.