How do you appease someone that lived and experienced the glory of the past in the various government reserved areas scattered around the country against the rape and nostalgia of the ever appealing past? How do you convince someone that grew up as a child with the smell of roses, hibiscus flowers, trees and sometimes fresh fruit and vegetable gardens in their
neighborhoods and compound that his child deserves instead the noise and fumes from generators and cars contained in apartments and terrace houses and a mindless commercialization of a heritage of decent living left as a deserving legacy to our society by the colonial masters.
How did we justify that our idea of modernity is to destroy our past heritage and replace it with a less enviable and deserving
replacement? On what indices can we judge the new to be better than the old?
To gain a clearer insight without being too academic, people live in varied arrangements in brevity, we can categorize them
safely as low income or high density, middle income or light density and high income and low density neighborhoods . Each of these neighborhoods address different needs, requires different facilities and consequently come in different sizes of land, different house types and indeed different building requirement permits.
It follows consequently while planning, that the peculiar nature of each neighborhood will demand the kind of road network, nature of municipal power and water supply, drainage and sewage systems etc. To be clear, high density neighborhoods emanating from old cities in the Roman Empire adopted the “Grid Iron” system of planning while the low density neighborhoods embraced the concentric city planning methods. Example can be seen in our old city centers (high density area) against our G.R.A (low density).
WHAT WAS ONCE SANE
There are several reasons for the differentiation of living neighborhoods in society but the one that easily comes to mind is the basic economic status of occupants. People are encouraged to live where they can afford. Obviously, the cost of living in a high density neighborhood must be less than living in a low density neighborhood. It goes without saying that it was a thing
of pride in the old G.R.A to ensure your garden and flowers were very well manicured and in a lot of homes retain the full time Gardeners, cooks, drivers e.t.c. The high diversity neighborhoods had similar services but the asks were more democratized amongst residents and became significantly affordable by each occupant unlike in the G.R.A. that will be the entire responsibility of one occupant.
Each of these neighborhoods had a peculiar social fabric, each left occupants with different experiences. Everyone of them have produced largely successful citizens and bad eggs alike.
There is also a further reason to create different neighborhoods in society, obviously some people require more security than others (like top government personnel) because of the risk that comes with their duties amongst many others. Much more so, it is the aspiration of many young people to give their children better than they received.
How then do we address the need for development and growing population in our cities and old neighborhoods? That should be the logical question that most agitates the mind of government and its citizens. Fundamental to every society is the proper understanding of the needs of its people and the ability to balance it against what is sustainable and in the best interest of society. Nothing compares more than the divergent forces of the centripetal and centrifugal forces while society will opt for less control in pursuit of comfort and economic gain.
Government must concern itself with the fall out and after effect of such demand. Government’s ability to address these matter well depends largely on the propinquity between them and technical and rounded professional advice from experts in the management of the aspherical environment.
As society grows in age and population, the need for expansion and gentrification (no more urban renewal) grows. There are intensely professional administrations. It requires study and projections. It seeks to mediate the future based on empirical evidence, it seeks to balance the delicate nature of society. It seeks to adequately provide for each neighborhood what they
need and would need and plan for when it can go through a rebirth in due time. Frankly, we can’t leave this in the hands of the barely informed, the cost to society is way too much.
THE OLD VS THE NEW
Old neighborhoods should experience upgrade in infrastructure, systemic upgrade in the physical development maintaining the basic values of old, improving on the quality of life and experience of the people to accommodate population growth.
New neighborhoods should be created ( we cannot sweat the old ones) and make them unrecognizable. We must rise up to the challenge and shape the future today. New neighborhoods are springing up all across the nation, most of them without adequate planning . This is terrible as the consequence is too impactful on people and their environments.
Neighborhood is 60% of value. Good planning is the basic structure upon which value is judged and municipal services provided. If the plan cannot capture the provision of such facilities, the value will erode or be stagnant, people’s investmentswill suffer.
Most painfully, Ikoyi has suffered a most shameful abuse. In it is the greatest metaphor of our decline as a people and society just like the hope for a better and new Nigeria with an enviable future, it was an ideal neighborhood. It provided a platform for all tribes in Nigeria to co-exist. It housed schools that have retained proud alumni, it provided recreational clubs and encouraged a work life balance. In essence, this should have been adopted as a template for our future expansion and
I recently met with an old friend who was looking to move out of Ikoyi because it no longer felt like what she knew and had grown to love. She no longer felt the serenity and safe haven feeling it used to give. Garden compounds have been replaced with high rise buildings, she could no longer have a peaceful morning down to her car because she shares the elevator with about eight strangers or is it the chaos that is their parking lot where she spends a good minimum of 20minutes waiting for her neighbours to move their cars so that she can drive out? Oh! And the crazy traffic she faces every time she’s driving out of the neighbourhood.
The streets she used to peacefully jog without a care in the world is now filled with strange cars that she always has to look over her shoulders whenever she’s alone. She was done with it and was ready to move out to at least have some sanity again just because she would give anything not to hear the cries of her neighbor’s babies in the middle of the night.
This here is a perfect example of what people that lived in the old Ikoyi are feeling, a lot of them would rather move out tosmaller gated estates than live with what they have in the new Ikoyi now.
The beauty that jewel of a neighborhood presented became like her oil, its destruction becomes its economic benefit. In essence, a low density neighborhood at the alter of economic gain without consideration for what it will present as a challenge tomorrow.
Pray, how do you justify that a boulevard like Temple road and Bourdilon road today are turned to high streets where no one can safely stroll, hold hands with neighborhood sweethearts or go to pick cherries in a neighborhood compound?
Are we incapable of creating another neighborhood of like manner and status? Ikoyi was followed by Victoria Island in our for beats without destroying Ikoyi. In the 1980s Lekki was conceived without sacrificing Victoria Island. Why are we stuck
now? Can we stop? Think and stem this tide please!
Posterity will question us. Posterity will judge us; will our answers be that we died on the alter of economic gain?
By Sandra Dada