The Suburban Economy—Advocating Urban-Rural Migration
I said in my previous post that I reside in a relatively small town compared to the bigger cities like Warri, Benin City, Aba, and Ibadan, where I had previously lived.
I had decided when I was much younger to retire from medical practice at the age of Forty because I had wanted to leave the daily routine of hospital life to live the kind of life I had always wanted to live-—being an entrepreneur and, at the same time, having fun in what I am doing. Going into ministry was not in my plans when I conceived these thoughts prior to graduation from medical school in 1984.
I have said previously that the events of life are like waves of the ocean that hit the shoreline; the best way is to ride the waves. However, I followed the leading of my spirit and I found myself at Ughelli at the age of 40, retired from medical practice, and in ministry.
Initially, several people were genuinely concerned about my decision to stay in Ughelli, which is about 25 km from Warri. However, there are lessons that I learnt that I want to reiterate.
I never wanted the stress of living in busy cities in my old age
I have always wondered how old people cope with the stress in Lagos, Aba, Port Harcourt, Onitsha, Ibadan, and even Warri. The traffic is very nerve-racking. The blaring of horns and the fear that some crazy driver is going to ram into your car always keeps me on edge.
Though there are some terrible commercial motorbike riders in Ughelli, I have learnt how to avoid them.
I have always had my businesses or work in close proximity
Most of my businesses are either within my home or within my school compound.
My school is just about a 10-minute-walk from my home. I trek to work most times. I got so used to it, that one day, I went to speak in a nearby church, and I was already trekking home when some women reminded me that I was walking past the minivan that I drove down. The ignition keys were in my pocket, but I am too used to trekking to work.
My wife’s case was even worse off. She had gone to the market to buy some stuff with one of our drivers. After buying, she wanted to hop on a commercial motorbike, and not until the driver started screaming after her, “Madam, we come with motor ooh!”, did she remember that she came with a car.
In the suburban area, you can live a very simple and free life, without all the simulation and neighbourhood pressure.
I was able to get more done with ease because the things I need or the services I need are not more than 20 minutes drive from me. The good thing about Delta State is that you can get to a major city within 2 hours or less. That’s how long it will take you to come out of traffic from a side street in some cities to where you will climb a flyover.
I left Hilton Hotel, Victoria Garden City, Lagos by 4:45 a.m to catch an 8 a.m flight. There was traffic by 5:30 a.m along the route. I can leave my home by 6 a.m and still reach my local airport at Osubi even before they open their counters for services. If I fly into Osubi, I am home in less than 45 minutes.
Stress is one of the major killers for those above the age of 50 years. Going back home to Ughelli is always a thing of joy after the stress in most of the major cities, where I go to speak or do business.
Land was cheaper then, and still much cheaper than in the urban areas, so I was able to acquire large spaces, then, to actualize the kind of life I wanted to live.
Those high rise buildings and the block of flats in cities are very suffocating for me. I am claustrophobic, and the feeling of suffocating will kill me at this age if I reside in such places. The good thing is that you greet a lot of people while going to work or church. I trek to church most times. Research has shown that such social interactions increase your well-being.
Most of our ancestral communities are not far away
For me, they are less than an hour from my residence. Ovwor, Ofuoma, Effurun-Otor, Okwikpehre, Okuokoko, and Otokutu are quite close to Ughelli and to each other.
It is therefore not difficult to initiate and supervise your projects with a personal touch. If you have as low as 20,000 Naira, you can achieve something in your project site. If I am to come from Lagos, imagine the cost, even if you have to come by road, not to talk of air fare.
If you do not have much to start with, just like me, and do not get much, the suburban economy is the best place for you. Check what you spend to do a project in your hometown if you reside far from home. Whether you like it or not, for most of us Nigerians, one day we will reach your hometown, unless you choose to stay away permanently.
When we were at Aba, my wife would always remind me not to be carried away by church activities. She would say that even Jesus had Nazareth attached to His name. He was also born in His ancestral town.
If Joseph’s family had a home in Bethlehem, he would not have needed an inn or ended up in a manger.
Labour is cheaper, food is cheaper, and you can get quality education affordably. Even if you need high quality education, nowadays, you can get it too. After all, most of the schools some of us attended were in suburban areas. We left the cities to such places to school.
Most of the food you eat is from the suburban economy. Why don’t you get a piece of the pie? Even if you live in the city, get big land in the suburban area and be productive.
I drove with my wife, son, my wife’s assistant and our driver to the farm within a few minutes, and we had a good time. The cooked maize and coconuts we ate were from my farm and my house.
I have never felt healthier in very many years.
I gave a full lecture on community-initiated development at Owheologbo, in Isoko-North Local Government area of Delta state. This was during the annual conference of Owheologbo community Development Union.
We have had community-based development (CBD), and it was found out that because government and development agencies just brought these projects to the communities in rural areas, without consulting the locals, such projects usually failed. In the Fadama agricultural projects, they then introduced community-driven projects with the communities, specifying their needs and contributing their share too. They have a sense of ownership and greater commitment.
However, from my experience following my appointment as the chairman of the Effurun-Otor Economic Summit by HRM King Johnson Duku II, the Orovworere of Effurun-Otor Kingdom, I had a new insight about community development and the suburban economy.
HRM King Johnson Duku deliberately wanted our kingdom, which is a suburban one-city clan and kingdom, to be developed. He therefore set up a committee of experts, which I was privileged to head, to find ways to bring development to the kingdom. He removed the usual problems that prevented people from investing in communities in Delta State, like youths and even community leaders, demanding for all sorts of fees when you want to build or establish a business. At Effurun-Otor kingdom, you cannot be disturbed by anybody if you want to build or do business.
We needed a bridge linking Effurun-Otor to Ovwor, and therefore to Ughelli, Udu, and Otujeremi, our Local Government Headquarters. He set up a bridge committee and personally influenced the process of the actualization of that project. Today, a new bridge has been built and I drive there with ease after several decades after the abandonment of a former bridge.
I personally influenced my friend, Joseph Ndife, to site his paint manufacturing plant here. From my online interactions, I attracted one of the biggest fish farms in Delta State to Effurun-Otor, my maternal hometown. I attracted several of my friends to come and buy land there.
As said in my post on making money at home, my King, HRM King Johnson Duku, has several production units and products within his palace. If people must reside and invest in suburban communities outside their states or cities of origin, the kings and community leaders must ensure that they provide safe, conducive, and investor-friendly environments in such communities.
I am strongly recommending the suburban economy to those who are willing to live a simple and very relaxed life, and community-initiated development to those communities that want to attract investors to their suburban communities.
The suburban economy is the future.