LAGOS, Nigeria — It was once a place so full of middle-class promise that locals called it Paradise Village or Little London, for its orderly grid of streets, palmy boulevards, parks, and new apartment buildings painted in pastel greens and blues. Lion statues marked one entrance to the suburban enclave on the bushy edges of Lagos, and an iron gate marked another.
“It used to say, ‘Welcome to Festac,’ ” said longtime resident Victor Udoh, 38, standing at the entrance one recent afternoon. “Now just look at it.”
He walked under a rusted yellow bar heralding the barely recognizable place that his neighborhood has become: a network of lightless streets and decaying apartments where water hasn’t run since 1995, generators buzz all day, and people cram into one-room living quarters that used to be called “face-me-I-face-you” but are now called “face-me-I-slap-you” because of how harsh life can be.
“Welcome to Festac,” Udoh said, this time with irony.
Nigeria is often associated with two things: the Boko Haram insurgency and oil. In recent days, attention has turned to the upcoming presidential election, the most competitive in Nigerian history, which many people fear could explode into violence.