By Dele Sobowale
“There is a pleasure in being mad which none but mad men know”. Saul Bellow.
(VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS p 147).
TO be or not to be?” Shakespeare, 1564-1616 asked. That, again, is still the question. Whether or not we shall allow officials and their crazy convoys to continue to run us off the roads and kill us with impunity, this year will tell. I have no sympathy for any governor who gets maimed or killed because his crazy convoy had an accident.
Any official who wants to commit suicide is free to go; but they should not take us with them. They should demonstrate more sense than to go about racing at 150 kph, or more, on Nigeria’s bad roads as if they are on Formula I tracks in Dubai.
If any man drives his car or allows his driver to race his car at 150 kph through a crowded road or a narrow road with several sharp bends, we will not hesitate to call him what he is –a lunatic. Why is it that the same man doing the same thing not a lunatic simply because one day he finds himself a Governor or Minister?
Lunacy, after all, is a function of behavior – not status. That is the issue we must face with the deadly convoys carrying those who find themselves in transient positions of power in Nigeria today. For some reason, immunity and impunity have been carried to murderous extremes by people we thought were perfectly sane when we elected or selected them.
The poor police drivers and escorts, attached to them, have become sacrificial lambs to the power-god and vainglory of top officials. So have innocent by-standers who have sometimes lost their lives when the men and women in official vehicles come barreling down the road as if the devils in hell are after them.
Last year ended with the Governor of Kogi State adding to the growing list of officials who, annually, make sacrifices of other people’s lives to their own over-bloated egos. The picture of President Jonathan visiting the smiling Governor, now recuperating, drove me to fury. The man, the Chief Security Officer of his state, was at least an accessory to manslaughter – someone died because the Governor allowed the traffic laws to be disobeyed.
That is a fact. He can afford to smile because he is alive to disobey the law again. But, the dead will never smile again and their families are still mourning. To me nothing a governor does can ever wash away the blood on his hands as a result of one of these accidents.
Readers would recollect a few years ago, when former Governor Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State came to Lagos; and watched while his own crazy convoy assaulted a woman in Lagos State for not getting out of the way of “His Excellency” – whose money was not used to build the road. Among Ohakim’s defenders were two former respected columnists; then employed by the governor. One asked why the woman was blocking “a whole governor”.
I lost a great deal of regard for them after that. Let us leave aside the colloquialism about “whole governor”, as if there are half governors. They forgot that Ohakim was governor of Imo not Lagos. Six months later, I was almost involved with Ohakim’s convoy on the Third Mainland Bridge, until an exit separated us.
They did all they could to run me off my lane and I refused to move and I was prepared for the consequences. Later, Imo saw him in his true colours with his crazy convoys. Today, no longer governor and is now subject to the same sort of insults he heaped on others while in power.
That is the reward for lack of wisdom and foresight. A governor will leave after two terms; he goes sooner with one. Yet, from the first day, in office, they become social monsters on the roads which they once plied peacefully with other citizens.
Officials breaking traffic rules, by driving, or encouraging their convoys to drive, dangerously, are, to me, not different from those stealing our funds. They both take from other citizens what belongs to the people. While the immunity clause in our 1999 constitution grants them immunity from prosecution, while in office; it does not prevent investigation and prosecution for crimes committed after they leave office.
Where human lives have been lost, on account of reckless driving by governor’s convoys, I strongly believe that we will knock sense into heads that have taken leave of them if the Nigeria Police and the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, investigate and document all the facts about each accident.
Thereafter, a case file should be opened against each official, who, after investigation, is found to have been guilty of reckless driving or of being an accessory to it. Unlike corruption cases, which call for a lot of evidence and where the defendants are protected by complaisant justices, traffic offences are tried faster and the culprit can be cooling his heels in jail while EFCC is trying to get him prosecuted for safe-cracking. Until a former governor or Minister lands in jail for dangerous driving, we will never stop the annual sacrifice of innocent lives by our mindless officials.
PRIVATISATION OF ENUGU STATE
“A drama of greed and good intentions”. PUNCH, January 8, 2013 p 48.
That is perhaps the best summary of the situation in Enugu State.
Surely, something must be wrong with us. Illiteracy is often cited as a possible cause of our under-development. But, that cannot be the case with Enugu State which boasts of some of the best educated people in Nigeria, Africa and the world.
Certainly, at least 2,000 indigenes of that state must have traveled to the United States; several hundred thousands have relatives resident there. The Nigerian Presidential system was borrowed from that country; but we had proceeded to bastardise the presidential system by adopting a constitution fit only for the governance of slaves.
The military, which handed us the ridiculous constitution, had virtually privatized the states to whoever is the governor. That explains why no governor in the United States can be away from his desk for two weeks, without explanation, but the governor of Enugu State has been spirited away for more than six months and neither the rubber stamp State House of Assembly, nor Enugu professionals (especially lawyers) had made any attempt to reclaim the state from the clutches of an absentee governor.
What a pity. With each passing day, one cannot help the feeling that the British should never have left in 1960. With the leaders we have, hope is almost lost.
WHY JONATHAN’S GOVERNMENT IS SLOW 1.
“Time is very democratic; everybody has an equal share. The President and the pauper both have twenty four hours to the day”. Anonymous.
A few weeks ago, President Jonathan, after confessing that his government is slow attempted to excuse the tardiness. I had already observed in TIME MANAGEMENT FOR PRESIDENT JONATHAN that he wastes a lot of national time doing what other Presidents don’t do.
He spends a lot of time daily on internal PDP politics. Since then I have been tracking how often Jonathan is reported to be holding meetings with party officials. For more than two weeks, GEJ has been holding meetings with PDP officials daily; each meeting reportedly lasting about three hours. That means each day one eighth or 12.5% of the time available to the Nigerian president goes into minding the business of the PDP. Obama spends less than 0.5% on party.