Unarguably, neighbours are the hallmark of a society, taking care of one another’s needs promptly as they arise even before close relations far away can respond to requests.
In the past, neighbours rejoiced together when good events occurred and also shared the challenges of life, creating a somewhat family bond.
Irrespective of this practice however, observers note that the level of neighbourly trust in recent times is falling rapidly.
They argue that although the African culture supports being good neighbours, the European lifestyle or culture has affected communal relationship among Nigerians.
Sociologists argue further that people in rural areas feel safer and they trust their neighbours than urban dwellers, maybe because of crimes associated with urban living.
According to them, the present neighborhoods are not as tightly-knit as they were in previous years when neighbours knew one another well.
They note that the residents of Lagos, who they describe as people grappling with diverse security challenges ranging from kidnapping to armed robbery and cultism, are, however, doing well in reinstating the practice of good neighbourliness.
Some residents of the state said they valued good neighbourliness one of instruments for survival strategies in the face of rising criminal activities.
“There is an unwritten code for residents of the area to be their neighbour’s keepers’’, the Baale of Aguda in Surulere, Abdulfatai Adefemi, said.
He, nonetheless, said that it could be only an individual identified to be of a good character that would always be supported by his neighbours in time of need.
He said further that neighbours usually levied themselves to pay the men who were securing their lives and property against intruders.
He also said that residents used the blowing of whistles at night to inform neighbours in the event of security emergency.
“When people blow whistles, the vigilance group in the area is expected to respond by storming the scene.
“The security guards also have a big whistle that they blow to make the people in the area to take note of their presence,’’ he explained.
Mr Adefemi said: “If criminals are caught, the community will hand over them to police for further investigation and prosecution.’’
He explained that the strong bond in his community had helped in no small way in fostering mutual trust and confidence.
“We hold regular meetings between landlords and the Community Development Association and we always stress that any landlord that does not know the occupation of his tenants will be held responsible in the event of crime.
“Also, it is agreed that any landlord that notices something questionable about a tenant is required to inform the appropriate authorities,’’ he said.
He said that the vigilance group in the community always liaised with security guards on the other streets to ensure safety.
But Adewale Ayeni, Chairman, Igbogila Community Development Area, Ipaja in Alimosho Local Government Area, noted that poor security consciousness and care-free attitude among residents had been worrisome.
“Most people are not vigilant enough to know what is happening around them; this is not the way to keep communities safe.
“However, sometimes, when incidents of armed robbery increase, we mobilise ourselves and keep vigil.
“Other precautionary measures we have taken include prohibiting night parties and regularly working with the police,’’ he said.
According to him, inter-personal relations and having good knowledge of neighbours have assisted in building mutual trust and confidence.
“We mandate all landlords to investigate their would-be tenants to ascertain what they do for a living.
“This background information helps us to know whether the prospective tenant would pose a security threat or not,’’ he said.
Mr Ayeni said the role of the residents associations in ensuring security in neighbourhoods cannot be over-emphasised.
“We mobilise ourselves when there are issues to deal with and we deliberate on how best we can make the community safe for our normal activities.
In his view, the President of Alaguntan Community Development Youth Association, simply known as Alade, observed that tackling security challenges had become an individual thing in various neighbouhoods.
“In some cases, residents build tall walls/fences, some employ local guards, while others adopt the approach of community development associations.
“Having inter-personal relationships go a long way into having a secure community; it is easier to know who your neighbours are, and what they do for a living,’’ he said
However, international law recognises good neighbourliness as one of the most important principles of law relating to harmonious interstate relations.
Legal practitioners also describe it as one of the oldest principles of international law; without which there can be no orderly world community.
Concerned citizens, therefore, agree that being good to neighbours holds the key to peace and communal harmony.