Somewhere around a major road in Surulere, there is an open man hole. It is open because someone thought it was a good idea to steal the heavy metal cover that had been used to seal that hole. He or she then went on their merry way, leaving behind a gaping chasm in the ground for an unsuspecting pedestrian to fall into.
While I was a corp member in Abuja, we would often be without electricity for days. We would later to be told that the reason for the dark spell was that someone had taken some parts out of our neighborhood transformer. Perhaps you have also heard of cases where it was the power cables that were harvested by vandals.
How about the rail project that was stalled because the railway tracks that had been laid somehow vanished during the night?
Is it the ever present example of beautifully laid out landscape projects covered in litter, or drainage systems that are overflowing with debris. We seem to think that everything, from empty water bottles to dirty diapers, go on the sides of the road and the gutters.
Then there is that irritating justification for treating public property with disrespect, that “government property is no one’s property”.
Well here is a newsflash people, government property is everybody’s property.
How about the times we looked the other way?
“E no concern me” we say, when it actual fact, it really does concern every one of us.
Because in the end, when these things no longer work the way they are supposed to, guess who the ones are who suffer. The ones with homes overrun with rodents, the ones scooping dirty flood water out of our sitting rooms when it rains, the ones fanning ourselves with old newspapers when the power companies claim they cannot find the parts to fix the vandalized equipment.
The impression that our own macro act of vandalism is insignificant is the justification many people give themselves for doing any of these things. We forget that when we put the pure water sachets from a hundred random people in one singe gutter, it becomes an overflowing cesspit.
I have seen people stand beside a trash bin and still throw their refuse on the ground.
There are a lot of things wrong with this country. There are also a lot of ways that the government is failing us, but there are also many ways that we are sabotaging ourselves.