By Ubaka Okofu
The hectic traffic situation on Lagos roads can only be strange to a sitting governor and a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who has an avalanche of armed escorts that bulldozed through traffic jams, and most times drove against such traffic to create an unobstructed passage for their principals.
Sad enough, most times, motorists and unlucky pedestrians are traumatized for clogging the way. While ‘ordinary’ Nigerians and those who are not in power are victims of daily avoidable Lagos road traffic bottlenecks, politicians are either flying in the air or have the way cleared for them by those who are by no means lesser citizens.
Whether in Lagos or elsewhere in the country, traffic has a way of easing when a Governor’s convoy approaches. It’s unwritten in Nigeria that the way must be cleared when a politician approaches. This was however not the case for Ayo Fayose, a former Governor of Ekiti state who, the penultimate week was a victim of notorious Lagos traffic jam. The daring former governor of Ekiti state was sported on Okada ( commercial motorbike) sandwiched between a sweat bathed rider and a mobile police escort who was as helpless as his boss.
From the photo of the Ex-Governor in social media, the riffle of the police escort was hanging down the same way the former Governor managed to cling onto his personal effect while the Okada tore through the maze created by stranded vehicles. This would have been impossible were Fayose still in government.
Are there lessons to be learnt from Fayose’s traffic ordeal? Yes. Power is transient! Whether as a President, a Governor or even a local government Chairman, your office has an expiry date, and importantly why your stewardship must be such that should outlive your stay in office. Pertinently, whatever policy a reigning political officer implemented or failed to implement as a President, or Governor or local government Chairman awaits him on exiting the office.
Ayo Fayose has only shown that he was a human who must react in the face of an extremely helpless situation. Alas! Such recurring extremely helpless situation has been a daily routine of the denizens who had to bear these avoidable woes mildly. Fayose may never have anticipated a situation that would compel him to climb down from his high SUV and ride on a banned commercial motorbike-like any commoner on busy Lagos traffic. Fayose’s ordeal is only a signpost of what is to come!
If nothing is done to revive the Nigerian economy which is lying prostate, a time will come when those in power would ride on banned Okada to flee the anguish of frustrated Nigerians.
Its’ only assumable that we cannot always escape from our mess. Whatever we sowed is what we shall reap. Only recently, Senator Ali Mohammed Ndume, a sitting Senator of the House of Senate representing Borno south senatorial district in the Senate was quoted to have made known his desire to relocate from the country if the borrowing by the federal government which he is part of continuing without easing off the prevailing pulverized Nigerian economy. Senator Ndume should know that there is no place like home, and if we all have to run away from the mess created by some of us who mostly politicians who will be left to fix Nigeria?
Faraway in Edo state and precisely at Ologbo, a boundary town between Edo state and Delta state, former Governor James Ibori was trapped in the usual traffic jam on Benin /Sapele road. But, Ibori was lucky, the people recognised him and created an emergence route for his convoy. The following week, the Governor of Delta state mobilized men and materials to the several failed portions on the Delta state side of the Benin / Sapele road.
A Professor of English and Literature, and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the Delta State University, Professor Sunny Awhefada once suggested that the only way to have our roads motorable again was to prevent politicians from flying. This he said could be achieved if we occupied all the airports in the country and prevented them from operating.
True, if politicians are compelled to drive on our failed roads again, money allocated for rehabilitations and constructions of new roads would not be embezzled but deplored to fix the roads. James Ibori’s experience at Ologbo and the timely intervention of the present Governor of Delta state are instructive.
This brings us to the argument of which between the federal government and the host state governor should fix a federal trunk that is impassable. This writer does not want to go into the politics and dichotomy of the federal and its’ state counterpart. But, it only takes a responsible state governor to fix a federal road that is causing the people of his state untold hardship.
For months now, the people of Edo state and commuters on Benin / Sapele road have had to go through hell on the failed portions of that road stretching from RCC to Ologbo where the state shares a common boundary with Delta, a sister state.
The governor of Edo, Godwin Obaseki had turned his face from the numerous complaints and protests by commuters lamenting the hardship the bad road was causing them. While feigning ignorance of the losses the bad road had, and still causing the state, the governor had since shifted the blame to the federal government alleging that the road is a federal trunk and should be fixed by President Mohammadu Buhari.
We must note that in 2019, the Lagos state government placed a ban on commercial okada on the Lagos expressway. The penalty for flouting the law is either a fine of N50,000 or having the bike impounded or both as the case may be.
Now that Ayo Fayose was seen riding on Okada on the dual carriages of such an important airport service road, what are the relevant authorities going to do about such anomaly, especially on the law prohibiting Okada on the expressway? If the authorities fail to prosecute Ayo Fayose and his bike man, maintaining the Lagos state ban on commercial Okada will be difficult. Maybe the authorities should allow the ban to fizzle out.
Ubaka is based in Lagos