By Kazeem Azeez Idowu*
It is not surprising that everything is happening like this in this country. The politicians we have are those that when they say ‘yes’ it means ‘may be’, when they say ‘may be’ it means ‘no’. But mind you if a political figure says ‘no’, it is evident that he is not a Nigerian politician. No politician in Nigeria would ever say no when he wants the electorates’ votes. At the time of campaign, things that are done and those that cannot be done, Nigerian politicians will assure you that all shall be done. And after giving him your mandates and he assumes office, the next thing he does is to go on media to broadcast that he has done all things that are left undone behind. They are good at nothing other than fetching for their pockets and doing with their mouths things that concern the citizens.
If not, then I say that if governorship and presidential aspirants in Nigeria so far, sincerely implemented their manifestoes with utmost good faith and political will or something close to that, when they assume office, Nigeria would top the list of countries with good road network in the world today. Many families have lost their beloved bread-winners to the Nigeria roads. Many wives have lost their beloved husbands and many husbands their lovely wives. Children have lost their amiable parents to the deadly roads: parents their good-nurtured children. Only God knows the amount of souls lost to the road today and those that will occur subsequently. To this road, I lost my beloved childhood friend, Islamiyyat in 2011, my amiable neighbours, comprising grandmother, father, mother and three children. In 2002, I lost a classmate with her entire family. To this same road, I lost a mentor and father Bar. I.k Imam Eleshinla, in 2012. In fact, if I should continue, this piece may not contain names.
Now imagine the number of casualties from my side alone, add it to your own side plus your friends’ own, your friends’ friends and the number is unimaginable. Instead of getting better, the roads are rather getting worse every day. Almost if not every year, huge amount of money is allocated to road construction. But one still wonders why the situation is still the same. Every time political aspirants come out to canvass for votes, promises upon promises are always on two main things; stable power supply and good roads. Then, why do our roads still remain the way they are? Is it that the money being allocated for the purpose is spent on other things or not spent all or misappropriated? Whatever way it is done, I do not wish to answer these questions. The answer is left to your imagination.
To be frank, over the years, three major factors have been identified as responsible for the loss of uncountable souls in the roads accident; human, mechanical and environmental factors. Many road accidents are humanly avoidable but for the recklessness of the drivers who want to make fortune just in one day- a journey meant for 7 hours, he would ply the road using 4 hours so that he could quickly come back to the garage to embark on another journey- the more journeys he goes the more moneys he has. However, at the long run, the money he earns may be used to pay the medical expenses, if God says he doesn’t die or his funeral expenses if he does, after he might have succeed in driving himself to death. And for flimsy reasons, though rarely, passengers fuel the drivers desire to drive recklessly. This as it appears to touch the human aspect, is still the least.
It is unfortunate that many drivers do not know what they drive every day. A motor-vehicle is any road vehicle driven by an engine. It is mechanical device in nature and just like human beings; it gets tired and needs rest. When a person becomes tired, he may take to medicine or treatment, relax and rest; the same thing goes to a motor-vehicle. Due to careless attitude of many commercial transporters, their motors-vehicles are left unserviced, hardly maintained except it develops a fault. For this negligent attitude, many lives have been lost – a driver may have exceeded 120 in his speedometer before he discovers that the car- break has failed – which if he had serviced the bus before he left home for journey, the faulty break might have been safely repaired. And this addresses the mechanical aspect.
Then on environmental aspect, a friend recently posted on his FACEBOOK wall that 99% of politicians would rot in hell fire and when she was asked why, her response was: ‘‘having lost my parents and three beloved friends to road accidents this month, I am tired of living in Nigeria. Many lives have been wasted by these people. The money, meant for the welfare of citizens are diverted to their personal use, the roads are bad, electricity is worse than being epileptic, no water, food is scarce, I… a…m…Am..Just tired…’ This reply stunned everyone that saw it. In fact, I do not think, persuasion could make her wish politicians well as at that time; after all, what advice can you give someone whose parent was murdered by a lion. As if the answer was not adequate, then she finally lamented: ‘Thank god! There is plane crash, if not these people would watch the entire citizenry lost to the road with their arms crossed’. Then I tell myself, ‘What a lamentation!’ What a Nigerian! What a leader!
I neither blame her nor blame persons like her. Frustration can make one becomes despondent and completely bellicose. In fact, it can breed terrorism especially if it spills over to other aspects of a person’s live. This is not even the point; the point is; if our roads can be as bad as they are, where is the money that had been allocated to the construction of roads so far? Or are these people telling us that they did not mean to fulfill their promises? Benin-Ore road, the persistent subject of discussion on the floor of the House, is still there. The road that connect Jebba, in Kwara State with Mokwa, in Niger Sate is more than worse, Ajase to Offa here in Kwara State, to use the word of Honourable Patrick, is in a state of anomie and in fact, macabrely bad. We were made to believe, through the media, the existence of what does not exist. And what surprises one is that we see it conspicuously everywhere, that Operation-No-Porthole has patched all portholes in Kwara state, when several roads still remain undone.
If I understand my friend very well, she actually meant to say that she was happy not because ‘plane crash’ really exists rather she was not unhappy that ‘plane crash’ creates equal risk and balance the hazard of road accident with that of the plane. This might not be unconnected with the fact that a person who flies on board the plane would necessarily think that he is completely safe and therefore deceitfully indifferent to whatever happens on the road. It is, perhaps, because the so called ‘government’ flies in the air using aeroplane, private jets and other types of aircraft and rarely travels on roads, that is one reason why the government becomes indifferent to the deadly road network we have in this nation. If this is not so, then why does the government, through careless attitude, let Nigerian roads become the easy road to the grave. Or must every Nigerian rest in peace, before the government would do something about all these roads that have become the entrance to the graveyard? I do not blame them, they fly in the air. And with that wouldn’t one say thank God that there is a plane crash just like my friend said.
It is highly regrettable that the roads which are supposed to be safe haven, joining one state with the other, have now turned to the threshold of death that directly leads to the world beyond the earth, the grave. Good road-network should be the government’s priority rather than the ocean of controversy it has drawn itself into. If nothing is done to these death traps called roads, in years to come, the roads may cease from being the easy roads to the grave but the grave itself.
By Kazeem Azeez Idowu