Still wondering on the idea which the Lagos State University (LASU)’s current and potential stakeholders, as well as visitors may be consensual about? It’s the spiraling, seemingly insurmountable failure of community support for the University. This challenge is quite unmistakable that one might simply conclude that it doesn’t seem like LASU is anyone’s pride; the ubuquitous LASU Radio blaring benefits to the adjoining communities notwithstanding. This sharply contrasts the new popular lines of LASUITES that: “We are LASU/We are proud”. To conclude that this is disorienting is an understatement.
How can you convince anyone you treasure what you cannot showcase? It’s practically impossible to showcase LASU to potential or new admirers. The physical address of the University is incontrovertibly best signposted by the Badagry Expressway. What manner of a signpost is this, even with its supposed international status?
Not a few of the university staff have been dispossessed of their cars and other forms of means of transportation after years of intractable degeneracy that has also contributed to the failing health of many. Only last year, we lost the most senior plumber of the university, Mr. Idowu, due to the bad road, which undermined quick access to a health facility, when he needed to be rushed to one. Indeed, one death that took many LASUITES a long time to overcome was that of the son of one of our selfless colleagues. The deceased was dashing young lawyer with a most inspiring profile. He was returning home after the day’s hustle. With the road being almost impassable that day for vehicles, our promising boy was compelled to take a ride on “okada”. It turned out to be his last. The bike rider suddenly lost grip of the machine amidst the confusion of other rough riders including trucks…No effort was spared to revive our dear son but we were not anywhere near doing enough. We lost him.
Before our brother’s untimely demise, LASU appeared to have resigned to the fate wrought on it by the bad road. I don’t know of any LASU stakeholder who can recall the last time the main gate of Lagos State’s only university by Badagry Expressway was opened the normal way. One side of it had for long been consigned to disuse for years.
The hope of a new lease of life for the university was anxiously anticipated as VC Fagbohun was about to assume his office. We got flickers of assurance as the Ambode-led government promptly supported the new VC in his burning desire to rev up development in LASU. The International Bar Association-renowned environmental law expert seemed to have prioritized the environment. Promptly, the state government embarked on the paving of the intra-campus roads. All the roads were paved. The newly paved roads duly enhanced the greening of the environment. Thus followed all related physical developments especially routine cleaning including unprecedented horticultural practice. Ambode reasonably built on the initiatives of Governor Fashola. For the duration of the Fagbohun tenure therefore, LASU got unprecedented physical development. The height of it all manifested in Fagbohun finishing strong. Fagbohun upped the stake foever. He led LASU to the seemingly unattainable height of the nation’s second best university. But even the joy Fagbohun ushered in, to echo Ola Rotimi, seems to have a slender body. There’s an urgent need not only to preserve the glory of the present but to save the future. Will Sanwo-Olu save LASU? Will he find supporters in the relevant local government authorities? There are no clear signals, unfortunately. This is the gap the new VC has to fill immediately.
In despair, a colleague in LASU couldn’t hold back her hopelessness. She spoke out on Facebook wondering if traffic related laws promulgated by the Sanwo-Olu government were applicable in Alimosho and the adjoining areas. Simply put: the only road to LASU is a dead end. It looks so hopeless. You begin to wonder if shortly after LASU’s recent attainment of national leader, its fate will act out the submission of poet Kalu Uka, that “the happiest moment is the saddest encounter”.
The access road from Egbeda through the increasingly impossible Igando both in Alimosho Local Government presents unmistakable, killer spectacle, hard to come by in no other South-West state of Nigeria. Sure! The traffic wardens on roads leading to Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife are always at alert. Their counterparts for University of Ibadan are never found wanting always freeing the roads for traffic in spite of the proximity of the historic Bodijaa Market.
In case you’re tempted to dismiss the incomparability of OAU and UI with LASU on the basis of vehicular traffic, be it known too that the stated road to LASU is the only one left after the Badagry expressway has been abandoned by everyone. The situation has since become worse now that Seme Border has been reopened. All vehicles destined for the city and beyond from the border now travel via Igando.
Between Egbeda and Igando, there is no known formally established market to warrant impenetrable road. Let’s traverse that route together here: Coming from Iyana-Ipaja to Egbeda, there’s a layby for commercial buses to make for free flow of traffic. They don’t use it and it seemed to have become an agreed normal between law enforcers and commercial motorists. More threateningly, you are on your way to LASU from the nation’s premier and largest international airport via Dopemu to the same Egbeda on your way to LASU, right at Egbeda, comercial motorists routinely throw caution to the wind. They make u-turn from the two sides of the dual carriage road by GTBank making mess of that junction. Yet, less than 50 metres away by Ilaka Junction, they turn the road into some garage leaving other road users, pedestrians and cyclists, at their hard to come by mercy. As you survive Egbeda and head on to Idimu, the bus drivers constantly disrupt your free drive as they disregard the provided layby points to pick passengers arbitrarily. You can’t avoid sudden intermittent stops, which cause accidents often. The most annoying point perhaps is the Idimu Junction right in front of an LCDA secretariat. Bus drivers converge right at the gate of the secretariat to pick passengers even as a properly constructed layby is only one-minute drive beyond it. You wonder, what the CDA officials benefit form this anomie. The apogee of the traffic congestion these days is at Igando, where, ironically, there is a distinctly visible bus terminus. Bus drivers shy away from the terminus and instead constrict the road to the barest minimum leaving long stretch of traffic on the road, all day. So, you can’t have any such ambition of hurrying to LASU or returning either. The roads have been mended by the Sanwo-Olu administration in its short period of inception but the gains are being thwarted. Going to and returning from LASU is hellish, I can confirm. But LASU’s patronage is yet to be optimized going by Gov Sanwo-Olu’s projection of the collaboration with Cornell University in the United States. The governor volunteered this dream already. Are the local government bosses in the concerned neighbourhood ready to support the Governor’s ambition? To what extent? I believe LASU can midwife solutionist cooperation taking advantage of the current endearing Olympian height. It will be too soon to lower our guard after the second best excellence attainment. Welcome, new VC.
Tunde Akanni, PhD, a media scholar and development consultant, is with the Lagos State University (LASU) School of Communication. Follow him on Twitter via:@AkintundeAkanni