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IBADAN: THE DEATH AT AJIBODE-SHASHA ROAD By Chukwuma Iwuanyanwu

Source: huhuonline.com

I was reading Luke Onyekakeyah last week in Guardian, and he dwelt on the efforts of Fashola Babatunde, the action Governor of Lagos State, to turn Lagos into a mega city. A good project indeed , and I know by now, the big plan is afoot. From what I read from Onyekakeyah's piece, Lagos will sooner or later witness a sprawling architectural masterpiece, but what surprises me, from what I read, was the absence of parking lots in all the overall detail design. We should remember that as the population of Lagos grows, so also the number of cars that ply the roads. The bottom line is that the Governor should not think of solving the nasty congestion in Lagos without a master plan for the spots for these cars. Fashola Babatunde and his team do not need a soothsayer or a rocket scientist to reveal to them the importance of this structure in any modern city around the world; it is just a common sense.

In many cities around Nigeria, one will notice few constructed roads, but no gutter to collect the run off when there is a rainfall, and many a time, an integrated sewage system is lacking. Even in our elementary science, agents of denudation, which flood is one of them can pull down any structure with persistent flow, so common sense knows the harm flood will cause when there is no constructed channel for it, and it will eat anything as it meanders along the way. If one fails to construct a channel for the flood, it will construct one for itself, and that has been the main reason why our roads never last the rainy season, but this is only a common sense that the flood will need a channel. During road construction, it is also a common sense that the edges will have angle of elevation so that there will be no percolation, which will ruin the road judging from the tinny coal tar poured, no thanks to corruption, yet in all the road constructions in our cities, these features are lacking most of the time.

In some of the cities, modern buildings are the order of the day and rents are collected three years in advance, but guess what, there are no garages built for car owners. Decency and common sense will tell us that these cars need places for parking, and in the original designs of these buildings, such features have no place. One wonders whether these people have senses. Abuja is the only planned modern city in the sub-Saharan region, but many of the houses I have visited had no garages, even in Asokoro areas. None of the roads has modern parking spaces, so cars parked any where there is available space, disturbing the flow of traffic. It is only in Abuja, I saw some areas with covered gutters, but majority of the cities in Nigeria have open and non-flowing contents. I do hear that Calabar is an exception; I have not visited the place after the days of Donald Duke. One wonders whether our people have common sense. The worst thing is that these gutters have become garbage collectors with mosquitoes flying everywhere, both in the afternoon and at night. At times, one wonders what separates us from animals that wander in the bushes. We do love malaria and it will not kill us.

Nigeria has large markets, like Idimota, Balogun, Ariaria, Ochanja and one lying in Sabon Geri, but guess what, these markets lack decent toilets. When anybody is pressed by nature, the next call is at the corner of the market and one wonders whether our people have common sense that hygiene is one of the processes of public health. In Nigeria, we defecate and we pass urine everywhere, no qualms, because we are filthy. I don't know whether the situation has changed, otherwise, the road to Eko will parade Mallams, butt naked, defecating at the edges of the water channels and one dared not open the windows of Molue, otherwise one will swallow the putrefaction oozing out. We love dirt and that is why we suffer from all manners of diseases. I hope Fashola has taken care of this national shame. Is it not a common sense to build public toilets here and there, at least charge nominal fee to keep it clean?

Most of the daily fatal road accidents in Nigeria that claim many lives are as a result of direct collisions. In the event of one vehicle trying to over take another, it comes in forceful head to head hit with the on-coming vehicle. Common sense will tell us that in our ever busy highways, where there is never an observable set national speed limit, a dualization of the roads is necessary; it is never a luxury. If they had stopped stealing our oil money during Obasanjo administration, the revenue generated then could have dualized most of the national highways in that country. The State Governors could have and can still do it now, dualize some of the busy roads in their various states. But the problem is that majority of then lacks common sense, may be the Harvard training could have added value to them, so that they can remember this life saving approach.

In Nigeria, location and trustworthy banks are no more a problem, thanks to Soludo for strengthening them. Banks have many functions and I think one of them is issuing and cashing checks, but the questions are these: do we honor checks in Nigeria? Do we buy things and settle them with checks as it is done in USA and other civilized nations? I know another fear is the issuance of fake checks by some fraudsters. Is it not a common sense that every Nigerian must carry identity card at this time of world development? One of our greatest problems in Nigeria is the unitary government we are practicing and we call ourselves federating units, no we are not. Federalism is the ability of each federating unit to go about its business without control from Abuja. They have to control their resources and pay taxes to the center. In USA, I have a Californian identity card and when I was in New Jersey, I had a New Jersey identity card. Imo State is supposed to issue identity cards to those that reside in it, so also is Kano, Lagos, Enugu, Ibadan, Port Harcourt and Sokoto. Why should there be a national identity card that spurned corruption, though the states are not better? In an organized society, when checks are written out, the identity card number is written on it and if it turns out to be stolen or fake, an arrest is made; but most of the time, there are machines that checks whether there is money in the banks for the check and again, if it is genuine as it is done in USA.

When I was working with National Insurance Corporation (NICON), Yaba, my monthly salary went to Union Bank, Lagos and any time I needed money, I had to go to the bank and withdrew the amount I needed; so why most companies at this time of technology cannot pay workers salary straight to the bank? I have read time without number how armed robbers snatched workers salary from the point of withdrawal along to its destination. Where are the common senses among Nigerians? Some of the tales that come out of Nigeria are just like movies written, choreographed, acted and directed by bunch of idiots. The attitudes of Nigerians have changed since I left that shores in the early 90s. It is a country with no man contests for honor any more. Everybody wants to be a millionaire by all means; they want to copy our dirty politicians. That guy or that babe, sitting behind that table in a bank or in an any office may be an informant to the dare devil armed robbers. He/she knows when money is going to be withdrawn from the bank and he/she will inform the gangsters when the money has left the bank.

Thisday newspapers (though not among my favorites any more) reported on Saturday (July 27, 2009) the robbery that occurred in Oyo, Ibadan at Ajibode-Shasha Road. A gang numbering about 15 attacked the car that harbored the salaries of the employees of a construction company, killing five Police men, the driver of the car and the accountant of the company. That was avoidable death; and it shows that at this moment, at this time of the century, many Nigerians still lack common sense. What will happen if the construction company had each employee to have an account with a bank, so that each month, their salaries will be paid directly to the bank and any of them can go to the bank and make withdrawals.

Those police men, the driver and the accountant just died in a humiliating manner and many of such deaths have occurred time and time again, but since there is no common sense among many Nigerians, it will repeat itself in no distant future. If anyone lacks sense/wisdom, ask for it and the good Lord, who gives it liberally will not withhold it, was a biblical injunction. When shall we learn and when shall we stop wasting the blood of the innocent ones, as it is done in Nigeria? The families of the dead will bear the brunt alone, but we can do better and all it takes is a common sense which every reasonable human being can possess at no cost?

Chukwuma Iwuanyanwu is the Executive Director, Harcourt Foundation, Los Angeles.

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