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‘Why no end in sight to Lagos unnerving traffic’

*Lawmaker blames FG for hindering Ayobo-Ipaja road construction

By EBUN SESSOU AND  ADERONKE  ADEYERI

Prince Bisi Yusuf is a member, Lagos State House of Assembly and also Chairman, Committee on Transport, Commerce and Industry of the House. In this interview, he explains why Lagos State  may not overcome traffic jam.

What are some of the challenges of being the Chairman, House Committee on Transportation?
The population of Lagos State is large  but we are tackling the problem one by one. We have been able to resolve the issue of motorcycle (Okada), but it cannot be totally resolved. It is difficult stop Okada from operating in some areas.

Traffic Gridlock at Mile 2 Bus Stop Along Oshodi Apapa Expressway Lagos.Photo By Akeem Salau.
Traffic Gridlock at Mile 2 Bus Stop Along Oshodi Apapa Expressway Lagos.Photo By Akeem Salau.

Many of our people don’t obey traffic light but we will keep on educating them on the need to obey the law. The same people travel abroad and obey the law there, but when they come to Nigeria, they disobey the law, may be there is a spirit behind that. Those are some of the challenges.

What are you doing to educate commercial drivers about the anti-smoking law?
I have consulted the state Commissioner for Transport, Comrade Kayode Opeifa, and I know he will do something about it. It is a law that everybody has to obey, ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Traffic jam is the order of the day in the state. Is there anything that can be done to curb it?
The driving culture of our people is very bad. People drive against one way and cause chaos. For instance, in  Apapa, the Federal Government is collecting billions of naira at the Apapa port, yet no construction work has been done. FG has not constructed any road in the state for many years, we maintain the roads that belong to them.

Most tankers parked along the road belong to rich people and they are untouchable in the country. Yet, if LASTMA arrests any of them, nothing would be done to them.

You have been a local government chairman and now you are a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly. Which of the two arms do you think affects the lives of the people more?
I would say the two are very important. At the local government level, one would serve the people, I live among my people and they love me. Presently, I am in the Lagos  House of Assembly and, if you need to get things done, it is important to satisfy the needs of the people, interact with your constituents every time and that is what I do. Being a local government chairman, it is important that I protect the interests of my people.

Ayobo-Ipaja road is terrible. As a lawmaker representing that constituency, how have you been able to influence the government controlled by your party to rehabilitate the road?
It is very unfortunate that Ayobo/Ipaja road is like that. The Federal Government is using the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to obstruct on-going construction of the road. The NNPC insists that the contractor should pay N290 million before allowing work to continue. The truth is that the FG just want to make APC unpopular in the state. All other roads around there have been completed, leaving that road, but I am appealing to the Federal Government to find lasting solution to the issue. Also, Gowon Estate road is pathetic. Unfortunately, the FG has done nothing to alleviate the problem of the people living in the area.

You are the longest serving local government chairman in Lagos State.  Could you enumerate some of your achievements when you were the Chairman of Ayobo/Ipaja LCDA  for nine years as some roads at Ayobo/Ipaja  LCDA  are still bad?
This is a serious matter. When the road was created in 2003, it was a death trap.  When I became chairman, three months after, I forced the state government to rehabilitate the road from Pako to Ayobo. The problem was that of erosion. The past governments both civilian and military did not do anything about the place. It is always good to criticize constructively.

How would you react to the 70 percent increase in the tariff of imported vehicles by the Federal Government?
That is the Federal Government for you, when you make policies without consulting the stakeholders, you would continue to have problems. FG is behaving like a military government, they wake up today, make a policy and implement it, they don’t think of the effect it would have on the people. The total debt we are incurring is greater than what we had under the military government. What is the alternative to stopping importation of vehicles, you would just compound the problem of the people, the rich would continue to be rich and the poor would continue to be poor.

If you are asked to advice President Goodluck Jonathan, what will  you tell him?
I would ask him to resign; he is the captain or the pilot of our plane. When you want to embark on a journey and you know that the captain or the pilot is not okay, the best thing is to disembark or change the pilot. Mr. President has lost the bearing, see what happened recently, they invaded where people were campaigning that Boko Haram members should bring back the over 200 girls kidnapped at the Federal Government Girls College, Chibok, Borno State, the only thing the President could do was to ride a campaign train to the place.

It is callous, they took about 15,000 army personnel to Ekiti, they want to capture the South West whereas our girls are in the bush. The lives of the people are not safe unless we rescue these children. We  all saw what happened in Egypt or Syria, we don’t pray for military incursion, it is not the best alternative. Our education, health are bad, and the only thing we have now is propaganda, they say our economy would be the giant of Africa, I don’t see how that would happen.


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