Will your high walls protect you and your family?

Everywhere in Lagos, amidst lack of infrastructural maintenance, posh suburbs are springing up by the day. The real estate market in Nigeria and Lagos in particular, is booming. Some don’t even allow the erratic nature of PHCN to deter them; these estates boast of independent power generation.

Many of these so called estates are actually just a street off the main road, gated off with very obvious restrictions to commercial motor bikes (Okada) and other means of public transportation. Even taxis are forbidden from entering most of them.

Some of these “special streets” begin beside an open, blocked and overflowing drainage system, which lies a few feet below the jagged edges of a main road that was last maintained decades ago. Many of these new estates, particularly in Lekki and its environs, are surrounded by huge slums. The hawkers and sellers that peddle their wares on the sides of the main road or “express” as they are popularly called, live close by or in these slums.These growing slums and rate of unemployment are a constant reminder of the need for us to open our eyes to the increasing levels of poverty around us and the growing insecurity we’re all faced with.

Many who live in these ‘’special streets’’ live in high-walled buildings, often laced with electric or dangerously spiked fences.The question is:“do our high walls protect us from the criminal intent of the many who are deprived and desperate? If these high walls have protected us so far, is there any guarantee that they’ll continue to protect us from harm?


The average Nigerian who survives well below a dollar a day is poor. His family is poor and except he is lifted out of poverty, chances are that he’ll regenerate poverty down his lineage. The poor who give up on society’s ability to create economic opportunities, give access and instill a good measure of equality take laws into their hands. They break down our high walls in many ways: They make us reinforce our homes till some of them look like lion cages; they make us pay dearly for armed security guards in our homes and offices; they break into our homes; they accost us armed at ATMs; they kidnap kith and kin and ask for ransom, they make us unable to allow our children play freely on the streets like we did growing up; they make us buy cars with tinted windows and drive overly self-conscious. They break into our freedom to be and steal our ability to trust and be trusted.

The most vulnerable to social harm is the rich and growing middle class – not the burgeoning population of the poor, many of whom have no dream or hope and therefore, have nothing to lose willingly breaking down high walls.

For the few poor who eventually get the opportunity of a good education and good job, they would compete and compete very fiercely with the children of the rich or privileged. Being street smart may serve the children of the high wall breaker some advantages. Mingling in the streets sharpens their sense of manipulation and fight-for-survival. These instincts would be called to play at the perfect time. During national crises like environmental disasters, wars or revolutions, our high walls would be broken and our vulnerabilities exposed by the miscreant who would survive better without electricity, transport, water, sanitary systems, dependable health care, and foods with little or no nutritional value.

So, why have we become more passionate about erecting high walls than nipping the factors that are making them our way of life unfortunately? How well do our high walls protect us and our families? What are we doing individually and collectively to help reduce the growing levels of poverty we see all around us? Do we see poverty as a collective responsibility to help reduce by little sacrifices and sustainable societal contributions or do we see it as a government problem and continue to rely on high walls? For those of us who own or manage businesses, what can we do to keep growing our businesses and their potentials to employ more people, even at low or no skill levels? What can we do at the individual and community levels to help millions to own and manage their own small businesses that can in turn employ 2 or 3 more persons? How can our spiritual centres help the poor in their congregation to create wealth? Can our spiritual centres get more involved in large scale farming, bakery, manufacturing, etc, and employ millions of the poor idling in our streets?

We love our children and want the best for them. Many of us think Nigeria is not “that best” thing that we want for them. The U.K in a few months will impose a 3,000 Pound bond selected travelers. Many first time travelers going to the UK to study are likely to be affected. Even if you can afford the bond, the UK’s retention of foreign students after graduation – especially Nigerians, has dropped dramatically. The country is saturated with Nigerians already. Seventy percent of blacks in the U.K are Nigerian. The U.S’s admittance of Nigerians into the Visa Lottery scheme is near zero percent, as Nigerians have over shot the quota per country in recent years, being the highest winners of the scheme. Canadian tertiary education is one of the most expensive, and before long, they’re likely to be oversaturated with Nigerians too and Canada would want to place stringent restrictions like the U.S and U.K.

So, many of our children currently studying abroad will have no choice but to return home as some are already doing. They would return to the high walls and the vulnerabilities we have been too delusional to face and tackle.

We have reached that level in the socio-political climate of Nigeria where we need to look around us and really “give back” to the community. Nigerians are a giving people and there’s no doubt that the extended family system has checked the tendency for the majority of the very poor to take on extreme measures to alleviate their poverty. But, we also tend to prefer giving handouts as a quick fix than empowering people to find a sustainable means of earning an income, even when we can. The latter is where communal effort has a significant role to play. Most companies only practice Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility (CSER) as a public relations stunt or when there is something in it for them. The ‘sustainability’ component of CSR is often neglected and with the poverty levels in Nigeria, this is to our detriment. CSR is one good way to break down high walls. High walls have shifted from signifying ‘privacy’ as they did decades ago to ‘fear’.

There is no place like home. The more we can make our society less dependent on high walls, the better for us all. If we do not develop and make Nigeria better, no one else will. The ball is in our court.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. jennifer says:

    hmmmmmmmmm reminds me of the lyrics Dolly Parton ‘one is only poor only if he choose to be”. there is actually no need holding pple against their will or constitute a nuisance in the society and blame it on poverty. the question should be what positive thing can I do to enrich my life and affect my environment positively

    1. On point.
      If you do not work on yourself and your emotions, you will end up where others ended.
      Whatever you tell your inner mind, reflects on what happens to you physically.

  2. Tito Akpeti says:

    KEE.. you are spot on. These”highwalls” are indeed a by product of an economy that needs rejuvenation. Until the gap between the rich and poor is narrowed to acceptable standards , we may have to mange these “mini berlin walls ” as they appear to offer arguably an illusionary level of protection against the raiders of day and night.

  3. Tito Akpeti says:

    KEE.. you are spot on. These”highwalls” are indeed a by product of an economy that needs rejuvenation. Worthy of note is that we have to think outside the box while purging ourselves of overflogged cliches like its Govts responsibility to bla bla bla….. .

    A great American president once said “ask what you can do for your country as against what your country can do for you ” . The most successfull economies are not built on regulation. They are offshoots of free trade and the dictates of demand and supply. Don’t get me wrong , i do not support a total hands off approach , however i crave for umpire status of the Government to avoid gangup, substandardisation and even monopoly.

    Until there is conscious effort at changing mindsets and paradigms that are not topical,we may have to manage these “mini Berlin walls ” as they seemingly appear offer an illusionary level of protection against the raiders of the day and night.

  4. iyki amobi says:

    Great piece and good inspiration

  5. Buchi says:

    I love this piece. Love has actually grown cold. Tackling poverty requires a multifaceted approach. Economic growth objectives must be combined with equity. So measures dat guarantee distribution of the gains from growth in an equitable manner should be vigorously pursued. This is where all hands need to be on deck.

  6. Koyejo Osundina says:

    That’s the level bad leadership in this country has taken us to. I don’t blame peeps dat decides to run out d country for greener pasture though the suppose green pasture not green. This country has a long way to go, a nice article. Building high walls as a result of degradeable security, but dat won’t protect niether us nor our family only positive change will.

  7. Dieyi Victor says:

    Very inspiring. Totally on point! Keep up the great work sir.

  8. Nathaniel Adenugba says:

    nice one Sir

  9. Engr. Bright says:

    nice piece of work….if from a security point of view sincerely Building high walls myt give 3% protection for we and our families then how abt the rest 97%…. apart from building high walls are we building personal relationships with people? in our small confined environment how do we interact and relate with the poor and even the rich? our personal lives have a whole lot to play in ensuring our family security and even our security…..’ it is good to be good so he said’…..Sir Fetkovich

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