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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 September, 2003, 08:45 GMT 09:45 UK
Job-seekers invade Nigeria's 'Monkey village'
By Sam Olukoya
BBC, Bonny Island

"Monkey village" is the nickname of a large forest that used to be inhabited by lots of monkeys on Bonny Island in Rivers State, south-eastern Nigeria.

A woman weaving house building material
Outsiders create jobs for themselves as unemployment rises

But gradually the primates found themselves driven out of their habitat, as the forest was invaded by human beings.

The trees where the monkeys used to live are being felled to create room for the ever increasing number of unemployed people drifting to Bonny Island from all over Nigeria.

With its multi-billion dollar natural gas project and booming oil industry, the human population grew as job-seekers migrated there year upon year.

Outnumbered

However, things have now changed with the number of job seekers clearly out-numbering available jobs, in the village with a population of 10,000 people.

With no jobs, many residents of Monkey village spend their time in beer parlours.

The job-seekers prefer to live in Monkey village because of the low rent paid for the houses.

Monkey village is at best a slum, where people live under poor condition, in houses made of palm-tree leaves and branches.

The settlement lacks basic amenities like water and electricity and the only medical facility is a private clinic, which operates from a kiosk.

The unemployed have chosen to remain here with the hope that some day they would get a well-paid job in the oil industry.

Some of the village residents have taken advantage of the peculiar needs of the place to create jobs for themselves.

Divine job

Olayikan Jacob, has set up a church to meet the spiritual needs of the village.

"I came here for the fact that maybe I could secure a job, but on the other hand, I never knew I would get a job that is divine.

There is a lot of robberies and things that never used to happen in Bonny before their arrival
Efrida Jumbo
Monkey village resident
"As the destiny would want it, in the course of looking for a so-called public job I was caught up by the Holy Spirit to do his work that was how earth commenced," said Mr Jacob.

Apart from the spiritual life, various clubs make nightlife in Monkey village very exciting.

It is here where the rather rich young men from the oil and gas companies meet with unemployed ladies.

But the indigenes of Bonny Island are not happy with the job-seekers of Monkey village, who they regard as unwanted visitors.

Crime

Efrida Jumbo told me the outsiders, have brought crime and prostitution to the island.

"So Bonny as a whole is affected by the influx of people from outside.

Monkey village
Monkey village is at best a slum with a population of 10,000
"There is a lot of robberies and things that never used to happen in Bonny before their arrival," said Ms Jumbo.

Crime such as bag-snatching takes away your freedom to move around, she said.

Some indigenes have even expressed fears of losing Bonny Island to outsiders as the influx of migrants increases.




SEE ALSO:
Nigeria oil town clashes ease
19 Aug 03  |  Africa
Nigeria's elections in the south
15 Apr 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Nigeria
07 Jul 03  |  Country profiles


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