Since Nigeria was awash with petrodollars, the federal authorities decided to build an adjunct to that town. So, a smaller but equally well laid out town was built across the West African trans-highway leading to the Benin Republic, which became known as the Satellite Town. That smaller town, though less sophisticated in planning and execution than Festac Town, hosts the Central Bank of Nigeria Estate and several other estates owned by major oil companies and other industries in the 1980s.
It is inside these enormous housing estates and adjunct communities that the Rotary Club of Satellite Town is tucked in. As the District Governor Akeredolu noted during the club’s presentation of exercise books and grants to selected students of the Satellite senior secondary and Navy Town senior secondary schools last Saturday, the Satellite communities have the potential to host a large Rotary Club. But that is not the case, and there is no doubt that the decay of Satellite Town had affected the health of the club, founded in 1982.
So, those who allowed the town to dilapidate have not only downgraded the quality of life in the estate, they are also denying the residents the benefits that could come from hosting a vibrant Rotary club with all the attendant benefits. To restore the lost glory, the federal government, owners of the major estate in the Satellite town must lead the way. They should be supported by the state and local council authorities since the extensions have more or less interwoven with the original federal government estate.
The local council authority should borrow a leaf from the Amuwo-Odofin local council, which maintains the inner roads in Festac Town, even though the estate is owned by the Federal Housing Authority, a federal government agency. A planned urban renewal program is an emergency that would do everybody a lot of good. Whether for the enhancement of the value of the huge investment in housing in the area, or the quality of life of the residents, or general public health, the three levels of government and the residents association should work together to renew Satellite Town.
The Federal Ministry of Works, which behaves like an irresponsible landowner must mend its waywardness. While allowing the estate to become an eyesore, it still collects levies on transactions on properties it owns in the estate. It even collects development levy, yet there is no iota of development going on. Without equivocation, one can say that if those Africans who marveled at the beauty of Festac and Satellite Towns when Nigeria showed off its economic prowess in 1977 and beyond should visit now, they will be ashamed at the level of decadence and backwardness of the estate.
I urge all government authorities to emulate the Rotary Club of Satellite Town, led by Rotarian Vera Nwagu, who despite their environmental challenges, still find a place in their heart to engage in doing public good. Other public-spirited individuals resident in Satellite Town and its environs must seek out where the club meets and join them. As one of the best managed international non-governmental organizations with enormous potentials, Rotary stands in good stead to show how to save Satellite Town.