By Dele Sobowale

“People, especially those from the South-West, could have been trekking from Lagos to Ibadan…if not for our intervention…there was no road” -President Buhari, February 22, 2022.

I had to rub my eyes several times after reading this statement in Channels TV headlines on February 23, 2022 to be sure that it was Baba Buhari, the President of Nigeria, who actually uttered that absolute falsehood. Hard to believe, it was, indeed, Buhari making a statement so totally untrue as to embarrass me as a citizen of this country. Granted, “You cannot adopt politics as a profession and remain honest” (LM Howe, 1871-1936, VBQ p 192). But, certainly, there must be some lies that are too unbelievable that no politician, let alone a President, should not tell. I don’t care who that person is; but anybody who says “there was no road” between Lagos and Ibadan before 2015 is lying. I have lived in Lagos and Ibadan since 1984; and there was never any time I trekked from one place to the other. Nobody, no matter how highly placed, especially someone who spent all those years in rural Daura, can tell me that I drove on grass and mud all those years. In fact, the people of the South-West were already driving on well-paved roads when Daura was still a wilderness. We didn’t need anyone from there to build roads for us.

LYING AGAINST PREDECESSORS

The statement, as it stands, is actually a defamation of previous Heads of State, military and civilian, and rather than diminishing his predecessors, it was actually a poor reflection on Buhari. To be candid, hereafter, I will find it difficult to believe anything Buhari says. For over 30 years, I was on that road, at least, twice a week. One four occasions, I actually went up and down the road twice in one day. I can claim to be an authority on the condition of the road for decades.

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FISH ROTS FROM THE HEAD

“An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882, VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, p 105.

Until now, I have been wondering why government spokesmen find it so easy to dissemble on factual matters ( e.g. the President is hale and hearty; this government has delivered 200 times power than what we inherited, etc) without any word of caution from above or embarrassment on their part. Now I know. They all work for a boss who actually approves of such conduct; one who does not allow facts to get in the way of fiction – if falsehood would serve his purpose.

This one, which will not be the last, joins a growing list of such statements made by Buhari which, after being fact-checked, turn out not to be so. A few Nigerians, with retentive memories, would recall the declaration last year that the FG had the list of 10 million people taken out of poverty. A few days after, the Director in charge of documenting the list of recipients of N5, 000 per month confessed that he was just embarking on developing the list.

Furthermore, a little understanding of arithmetic should have shown our President that N5, 000 per month or N167 per day will never lift anybody out of extreme poverty. In reality, it actually encourages people to wallow in poverty while pretending to assist them.

But, poverty is not my reason for writing today. My objectives are two. First, is to advise President Buhari to stop uttering statements like the one under reference. Second, is to set the record straight briefly.

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE LAGOS-IBADAN ROADS

I will be 78 in a few months. I took my first trip from Lagos to Ibadan in 1956 – at the age of 12. There were two Trunk A roads leading from Lagos to Ibadan. One went through Ikorodu, Shagamu, Iperu, Alomaja and ended at the present Ring Road at Ibadan – before public transporters went to Ogunpa Motor Park. The second passed through Mushin, Oshodi, Agege, Sango-Ota, Ifo, Papalanto, Abeokuta and proceeded to Ibadan to burst out at Apata and continue to Mokola and University of Ibadan. They were both single lane roads; but tarred.

The first expressway in Nigeria was planned and executed by the Gowon administration – with Alhaji Femi Okunnu as Federal Commissioner of Works. The 120-kilometre dual carriageway which included three toll gates – Ikeja, Ogere and Ibadan – was the first of its kind in Nigeria. Buhari was actually in government when the road was opened for use. Could it be old age which made him to forget that even if SW people were trekking before the expressway was opened in 1975, we certainly stopped trekking after that?

Ten per cent of the toll collection was meant for the continuous repairs and maintenance of the road. Unfortunately, Gowon’s successors, including Buhari (1984-5), failed to maintain the road. 

Furthermore, as early as the mid-1980s, it was clear that the road was carrying a heavier load than that for which it was designed. It needed to be totally rebuilt. The road gradually fell apart and a series of death traps developed. But, there was still a road.

The late President Yar’Adua started the current effort to upgrade the road in 2009. Jonathan continued and close to 50 per cent was already completed by 2015. So, it is absurd for any President coming into office after 2015 to claim credit for the work done before him. It is absolutely dishonest to say “there was no road”.

‘Buhari ignorant of S’West infrastructural problems – Afenifere’

By May this year, the Buhari administration would have spent seven years without completing a project half-finished by his predecessor. Instead of admitting failure, the President is attempting to re-write the history of the South-West. I totally agree with Afenifere. I will even go further.

“You can’t bully reality”.

As a further demonstration of his ignorance, Buhari mentioned the Lagos-Ibadan rail service. Apart from the “joy ride” he was given, Buhari knows nothing more about the rail service. I know more; because I went on the train with eyes wide open and took pictures.

Unless they have increased the trips, by late last year, only one trip a day was available to and fro. The maximum number of passengers could not have exceeded 4, 000 people. Yet, over 1, 000, 000 people are on the Lagos-Ibadan road everyday.

JOKES OF THE MONTH

‘Russian-Ukraine war: FG to evacuate Nigerians from Ukraine – Onyeama’

Mr Geoffrey Onyeama is Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister. When several serious governments were evacuating their citizens, NFG did nothing. Now they promise to evacuate Nigerians after all airports are closed, most Nigerians have fled and are scattered. Don’t laugh please!

‘Why military is reluctant to wipe out bandits  — El-Rufai’

The Kaduna State Governor went on to disclose to reporters that “preliminary investigations implicated some police, military personnel.” So, we are sending bandits to wipe out their friends. Don’t laugh!!!

‘FAAC shares N574.668bn among FG, states, LGs’

I have said it repeatedly; Nigerian most states will be totally bankrupt by the time Buhari leaves office in 2023. The amount shared last month represents the second time the three tiers of government would share less than N600bn in a month. The last was under Buhari in 2016. The one before it was in 2010 under President Yar’Adua. By December this year, public servants in most states will be in revolt.

YOU WILL PAY MORE FOR FUEL

Take it from me; you will pay more for fuel than you expect. Buhari, who shifted subsidy removal 18 months, is not an economist. And, he is surrounded by people who lack the courage to tell him the truth. With crude oil now over $120/barrel, Nigeria will be spending more than her crude oil revenue to pay for refined products. Then we will discover that nobody wants to lend us money abroad. Exchange rate will skyrocket…

Disclaimer

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