Tale of Lagos Community Where Defecation Costs Price of a Meal
With the envy of its infrastructure and being the commercial hub of Nigeria, every region in Lagos State would have been imagined to possess basic amenities. However, such is not the case with Agboyi 2, a community in Agboyi Ketu CDA of the state.
The residents of the community which is surrounded by water predominantly fish for a living.
Vanguard gathered during a visit that this peaceful community lacks proper “ile-igbonse” which translates “toilet”.
The Minister, Ministry of Water Resources, Dr Musa Wen Ibrahim, in October 2019 disclosed Nigeria ranks number one in the world for open defecation.
A community like Agboyi 2 is in no doubt one of the major contributors to this success of beating India to such feat.
A female resident, Mrs Mariam, who explicitly explained how they defecate said; “we cover our body while lowering ourselves in the middle of the water such that everybody sailing across the sea at such time will be seeing us.”
A resident was seen doing the same thing while on the way to the community.
“Likewise if we want to bath. We do that very early in the morning ― for those of us ashamed of being seen. But others do same anytime they prefer.
“We lower ourselves deep into the water while we bathe too.”
– Defecation at the cost of a meal –
A male resident, Mr Olabanji, in his own account said; “There is no toilet. But there is one constructed by a Rotary Group but no one is using it.”
When asked why, the six Agboyi residents answered in unison, “we are being asked to pay for using it.”
But on further explanation, it was revealed that the Rotary Group demanded they pay for the use of the toilet so that the money generated can be used in the maintenance of the toilet.
This may look like a good idea but on careful analysis, it is not a solution for the community. The money charged per usage according to some was N30 while others said N50.
This means anyone using the toilet twice per day would spend no lesser than N60 and N420 per week; N1,800 per month.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) reported in February 2018 that about 152 million Nigerians live on less than $2 (about N700) per day.
Also, in October 2019 during a press conference to mark the 2019 World Food Day, the Nigerian Minister of Agriculture, Sabo Nanono noted; “Food in Nigeria is fairly cheap compared to other countries. In Kano for instance, you can eat N30 worth of food and be satisfied. So, we should be thankful that we can feed ourselves and we have relatively cheap food in this country,”
Considering the feasibility of feeding at such cost, then it is right to say the people of Agboyi 2 community will be spending the cost of a meal in paying for defecating.
Another female resident, Mrs Mariam, jokingly narrated instances of someone suffering from “jedijedi” (translates “pile”); “How much would I pay if I am suffering from pile and would need to visit the toilet many times in the day.
“So, after paying for the first use and I walked out to discover I need to use the toilet again; that means I will need to pay again oooo”.
The Onikantan (a traditional title) of Agboyi 2 community noted the method of defecation by the male residents is depositing it inside nylon or any other container, then throw it into the river.
“That is how we have been doing it since we were born, even our forefathers.”
On the issue of why each household could not construct a toilet for themselves just as it is with typical households in the city, Agboyi 2 residents stated such might be dangerous for their building since they are in a riverine area.
According to Mrs Olabanji’s account, the Ketu Local Government Chairman, during the campaign for the last General election gave the community councillor some fund to carry out projects on the needs of the people.
She said that was when a toilet was built “around here”.
“When we complained that the way it was constructed is not okay, he replied to us, that his all he can do.”
The toilet constructed using pans is designed in such a way that an elderly person would be advised not to go near. Accounts from the residents revealed there have been instances of people falling while walking within the toilet due to its delicate construction.
Also considering the distance of the toilet from individual houses location, it is far, such that carrying water from an household to the location is similitude to early morning weight lifting.
The Iya Abiye (local gynaecologist) of the community, when questioned said this is a huge factor discouraging people from using the toilet.
Open defecation saves them the stress since they are in a riverine area and being already used to this kind of defecation, the people of Agboyi 2 community and its environs will need a more comfortable toilet to dissuade them from open defecation.