ANALYSIS: This Disaster Under President Buhari, Minister Fashola, Governor Amosu’s WatchArticles/Opinion, Featured Contributors/Columnists, Latest News Saturday, November 5th, 2016
By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, African Examiner, Nigeria Bureau
BALTIMORE, MD (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Every government has its strong point; you may call it legacy if you wished – with which its memory lingers and most significantly, it is passed on, from one generation to another. Regrettably, some of the trademarks as related to the successive administration (civilian and military) in Nigeria, at best could be described as parochial, unpleasant and regressive.
The ‘’Evil Genius’’ and self-styled former Military President Ibrahim Babangida is indisputably remembered by Nigerians, for re-branding corruption in the country’s public service. In fact, the real expression used for the act, in connection with him, is that he ‘’institutionalized’’ corruption in Nigeria. Although, the cunning gap-toothed ex-Military President regime, might not be the one that started corruption in the Nigerian public service, but pitiably, his style of governance allowed the destructive culture to thrive extensively.
General Babangida’s successor – the taciturn late Gen Sani Abacha had no challenge in forging ahead with the negative trend repackaged by his predecessor. Abacha was simply a ‘corruption personified’. Most regrettably, the late Head of State, who was despotic; ruled with impunity; stole and squandered Nigerian commonwealth, without any pretension. Then, ‘it is either you are for, you live; or against him; then you bear and risk the consequences’. His tenure was so bad that it was described as the most ‘’darkest’’ era in the Nigerian political history.
As for many of his administration’s legacies and personal trademarks, the one which distinctly stands out the ‘Ebora Owu’ – former President Olusegun Obasanjo is his audacity and bluntness. But as good as these personal traits appear, the ‘’Balogun of Owu’’ due to selfish reasons, failed to utilize them for the common good of Nigeria, especially, during his tenure as the civilian leader of the country.
Interestingly, the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua administration was known to have given the governance in Nigeria, a more civil outlook. The late President was also reputed for his legacies of discipline and modesty in personal lifestyle and in governance approach. But the Katsina-born former President barely spent two years in office, when he passed on. Pray Allah to forgive his lapses.
Irrespective of the fact that he was part of late Yar’ Adua’s administration (then Vice President), the highpoint of the immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan was his negligence and weakness. These challenges were evident in his wife’s overwhelming political and social lifestyles. It was also indicated in his very poor grip of many of his political appointees. The former President was so naïve – to extent that he was beclouded that many sickening corrupt acts thrived effortlessly and ceaselessly, under his watch. In fact, the Bayelsa-born ex-President popularized as never before, the cliché: ‘’…in power, but not in charge’’ in the country’s polity. The obvious fact about Dr. Jonathan is that many Nigerians would remember him as a President without charisma; a very weak Leader, who was just opportune to be elected into such prominent political position, but woefully failed to be in charge of his administration.
The trade mark or a legacy is always the yardstick to assess or measure every personality and other variables that are related to, or surround him. So, if corruption, impunity, audacity, recklessness, weakness, indiscipline and others were the hallmarks of the past Nigerian leaders; what about the present helmsman – President Muhammadu Buhari? More importantly, what is the relevance in this piece?
That the incumbent President is a man with passion for discipline is not in doubt. It is also a common knowledge that President Buhari lacks tolerance for corruption. The President is also known to be very modest and always gives the impression that he is not far from the reality at the grassroot level. This is the real point I wish to address.
Unlike some of his predecessors, who engaged in many self-serving drives, President Buhari on one hand, appears being very conscious of the public goodwill, which was the first factor that worked for his election, therefore, is being careful and more mindful of his actions. The question of whether is in charge of his administration or not (for now) is a different issue entirely. I discussed this about three weekends ago, in a piece titled: ‘’Mrs Buhari’s Anger and Opposition’s Grandstanding’’.
The point I’m making here is that the Presidency, under Buahri’s watch is expected to be the type that will be prompt, proactive and responsive to every key issue and accord it, the deserving attention. It is on this ground I expect that his Presidency should be a departure from the usual trend in Nigerian government, where urgent attention to critical issues is delayed, but the same government returns to her abandon responsibility, after the avoidable disaster occured!
Let me state at this juncture that the appointment of the immediate past Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) as the Minister of Works, Power and Housing was with a purpose. President Buhari once stated that the reason for appointing him as a Minister to be in charge of the three critical sectors, despite all odds, was due to his diligence. And according to him (Buhari), the reward for hardworking is additional work. I agree with Mr. President in this regard.
However, the implication of Buhari’s reasoning is that the Minister expectedly, will be on top of his job. So, the question is that is Minister Fashola really on course? Readers should please make no mistake on whether I have anything against Mr. Fashola. In fact, I’m one of his admirers and ardent followers, since his days as the Governor in the Centre of Excellence, even till I write. This notwithstanding, I am convinced he (Fashola); President Buhari and by extension, the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosus’ attention need to be called to an ongoing embarrassment and the looming, but avoidable disaster under their watch!
The shame is the present state of Lagos-Abeokuta expressway. It is very painful and regrettable to declare that the challenge with this road, less than 10 years or thereabout, it was expanded has gone beyond being disrepair, but has totally collapsed. It is also disturbing to note that the misfortune state of the highway is not fresh. Early this year, I wrote a sub piece on it; calling the attention of the Hon. Minister and the need for urgent attention on it. But it is unfortunate that between then and now, the road has been completely abandoned and neglected! Really, I cannot imagine a disaster of this magnitude under the watch of an administration, which desires to be considered as the type with a sense of discipline and responsibility.
For instance, driving from Lagos through the old toll gate, then to Sango and to proceed to Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, is like passing the horse through the eyes of the needle. The overhead bridge which is meant to decongest the central part of the city (Sango), which is the key industrial local council area of the Gateway State can no longer, serve its purpose. The reason is because the leads to ascend and descend it (the overhead bridge) are totally bad! The challenge is no more about pot holes, but gullies on the road. Unfortunately, the same spots are plied by commercial buses, private cars and trucks – conveying goods such as fuel, chemicals, different industrial raw materials, cement, among so many goods.
The situation in Sango is like a child play when compared to another spot, called Owode Ijako – about two minutes’ drive away. The problem in this place is worst. What makes the experience more agonizing and disturbing there is that the spot is always water logged. It is another eyesore on that highway.
Again, there is another spot on the express road – Iyana Ilogbo. Unlike the Sango and Owode Ijako, the challenge on this spot affects road users traveling from Abeokuta back to Lagos. The state of the location is as terrible as the aforementioned. The three bad spots, aside other challenging spots on the road, for long have affected easy traffic flow, leading to serious gridlocks, which last for hours, every day. Many of those traveling from Lagos to Abeokuta, in effort to avoid being trapped in the Sango snarl, now divert from the toll gate, drive through Oju Ore in Otta, then back to Sango. Few road users also divert under Sango flyover and navigate their way through Otta, before bursting out to Sango, after the bad spot. But if they avoid Sango gridlock, Owode Ijako challenge is inevitable, as well as Iyana Ilogbo, while making return journey.
The questions are: Will President Buhari allow this embarrassment to remain? Will the present administration and Minister Fashola, allow this disaster to last under their watch? This is a government that got into power on change mantra. Recently, It launched ‘’change begins with me’’ national campaign. The disaster being witnessed presently on the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway, when considered since the problem has started is a return to the bad old era – when government always waited till havoc is wrecked on people before embarking on solution.
I have heard Mr. Fashola talking about the Nigerian economically important roads as the priority of the present administration for now. If that is the issue, does it mean the Lagos-Abeokuta highway does not fall in the category, in the Minister’s assessment? This is the road that links Lagos and Ogun States. Besides, it is the passage road for many manufacturing companies that use it to bring in raw materials and transport their finished products from the plants to different parts of the country. I do not understand how economically strategic a road could be than this, such that it will be abandoned and allowed to suffer the present embarrassing and dangerous fate.
Still, if the Federal Government fails to pay due attention to the sorry state of the road, what about the Ogun State government, whose all the spots in question are within her geographical area – sited within two – Sango/Otta and Ifo local government areas of the State? So, what is the matter with Governor Amosu?
I do not need the sermon that the road is Federal’s. Recall, despite being in the opposition then, former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu took up the responsibility of reconstructing the Agege motor road when the axis became an eyesore. His successor and now Minister of Works, took charge of some Federal projects in the State, while still in power. Both Tinubu and Fashola forwarded their bills to the Federal Government for payment. As we speak, the construction of the overhead bridge, ongoing in Abule Egba, a Lagos suburb, also on the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway, (majorly to ease traffic flow in the ever congested area) was the initiative of the incumbent Governor Akinwunmi Ambode. Just recently, Mr. Fashola was said to have visited the project site and directed its expansion, for overall positive effects.
I feel that Governor Amosu does not need any prompt before he concludes on taking a responsible and sensible decision on this matter. If he (Amosu) has been applauded to have transformed his State, especially in the areas of road construction and expansion, failure by him to support the Federal Government (by quick intervention and providing lasting solution), on the present state of the road is a minus on his part. Really, it will be shameful for Amosu’s administration, to allow the agony being suffered by the motorists and commuters on the road to continue, yet, expect support from the people who live, do businesses and pass through the areas daily. After all, whatever he spends in doing the right thing, will be refunded, (promptly or later) once the claim is made.
Finally, I urge Mr. Fashola to send his team of experts or better still, make a tour of the road from (Lagos to Abeokuta) so as to experience waste of precious time; the gridlock; the risk the road users and commuters are exposed to and pains they go through every day on the road. As a way out, there is need for a comprehensive report; support and collaboration between the State and Federal Government on what is supposed to be done on the road and the best way to execute the urgent task. Mr. President must be more responsive on issues that connect his government and the masses. Also very important is that Minister Fashola, Governor Amosu, must strive to save the face of this government. The duo must support in leaving for this administration – the legacies of diligence and responsibility as far as the present state of the road is concerned. Therefore, the disaster and others, in different parts of the country, must be urgently and adequately addressed!
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