THE FESTAC WE ONCE KNEW

Posted by LAGOS on 10/25/2006 6:37:54 AM |

Written by: LAGOS


When the federal government under the leadership of general yakubu gowon concieved the idea of building a model estate to accomodate the various contingent coming to nigeria for the world black arts and cultural featival tagged "festac 77'',they left no one in doubt that they were dead serious about the project.when festac town was finally completed , it turned out to be one of the biggest and grandest building projects ever embarked upon any where in the world.The estate was a masterpiece to behold,giving great credits to the craftmanship of its builders .After the end of the festival and all the participants had gone ,the federal govt decided to give the houses to lucky nigerians through the act of balloting. My father was among the lucky few who won flats through the balloting process, which ultimately necessitated us vacating our ramshackled one room apartment at surulere for a posh three bedroom flat in the estate. When we finally moved into festac town in 1977, though i was quite little then,i could recall how beautifully laid out the estate  was. The streets were well planned with provision for practically everything imaginable.The streets  were well lit at night with functional streetlights, the taps were running twenty-four seven,the entire environment was so clean that u'll think twice before dropping any dirt on the streets.The designers of the estate really took their time in designing the estate,they put everything into consideration and  at the end of the day they succeeded in providing every amenity one could ever imagined. Every avenue had a standby plant in the unlikely event of power cut,incinerators were placed in strategic points all over the estate to deal with dirts,parks were designated in choice spots all over the estate to provide comfort zones for inhabitants to ease off stress on weekends.In addition to all these L shaped restaurants were built on each avenue to accomodate shopping malls, eatries,pubs and community centre were residents could gather,socialize and integrate.Festac town was in deed a model to the world,the infrastructures therein were world class,its layout were something to behold and its residents were reverred all over the country. You only needed to say you lived in festac town and everyone would look at you as a superstar.Security in the estate was very tight in those early days with hundreds of brown khaki clad (FHA)security men roaming all over its nook and crannys.Life in the estate those days was funfilled,wths lots of  '''coded ''areas for the kids and adults to have their fun.The various parks in the estate were fitted with a all kinds of amemities to thrill the kids ,in fact most of them could best be described as mini amusement parks.The structures in the estates were also something to talk about ,there were different kinds of buildings ranging from blocks of eight,sixteen,and thirty-two flats.There were also other smaller buildings which had between five and six bedrooms with boys quaters behind.Festac residents then , were a mixed breed of lower ,upper and middle classed people from different parts of nigeria. I remember then that in my block we had families from ishan,igala yorubas,calabars hausa's  igbos all living together in peace and harmony.someone once decribed festac town as a mini nigeria and i couldnt agree less.For me as a kid,growing up in festac town was a rare priviledge,because it afforded me an opportunity to experience life in a very organised environment.Evrything was working perfectly in those days to an extent that the strets of festac town were mechanically swept by machines.Waste disposal was carried out with quick dispatch and i remember with nostalgia how we used to watch the waste disposal men manipulating their wonderful yellow machines.Festac afforded us a lot of opportunities then,we had good public schools,an efficient water board and a near perfect transport network.In those days,the only form of transport vehicles allowed in the estate were taxi's painted in the appropriate colour of yellow and the never forgotten LSTC buses which ran through festac with unrivalled efficiency.Festac hold lots of sweet memories about the wonder years of growing up,i remember the football competitions we use to have during long vacations on the various sandy pitches all around  the estate,they were always crowd pullers and very interesting.Festac had seasons for every game those days,there was a season for lawn tennis ,table tennis, kite flying,''kosso tossing'' football, tyre rolling , athletics etc .just name the game and festac children had a perculiar season for it.But sadly a lot of things have gone wrong with the estate in recent times.The decay actually started during the babangida era when corruption was at its  nascent stage in nigeria ,a lot of things began to go wrong concerning the administration of the estate.To compound issues the federal housing authority had to move permanently to abuja which made it impossible for the small staff left behind to effectively administer the estate as of old.Gradually the estate began to rot as a lot of forbidden things began to gain grounds in the town.In a bid to expand the estate further,the federal housing authority began to sell land indiscriminately in the estate and in the process a lot of the beautiful parks and playground virtually disappeared.Gigantic structures began to spring up in every nook and  cranny  of the estate leading to population explosion and ultimate ly,pressure on the amenities available on the estate.At this point most of the original owners of houses in the estate began to sell their houses and moved out thereby paving way for a new set of residents who never knew the real festac and its historical heritage.The festac of today is devoid of the alluring charm of old.nothing works in the estate anymore.From being a modest wholly residential area ,festac has been transformed into a commercial hub where practically every type of business from banking to 419 is practised. Infact the town is reknowned as the capital of 419 scam in the whole of NIGERIA.what a shame for a town which was once a model to the whole africa.REST IN PEACE ,THE FESTAC WE ONCE KNEW 


 



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Topic: NATURAL RESOURCES AND DEVELOPMENT
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mustapha iliyasu jnr (jalingo, Nigeria)
I will like to use this opportunity to thank the commissioner of Agriculture, permanent secretary and The Director Taraba state Agriculture development programme towards their efforts of seeing the state proliferating as well as developing the state leaving the phase of poverty through meiotic and mitotic phase of reproduction........
Yesterday 9:11am
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