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Class action 2: Enough Nigerians have died in road crashes

I recently felt the way Dickson did too.  After catching the embers of Mrs Ladi Mankami Wuyep’s burial service at the main COCIN Church Jos,…

I recently felt the way Dickson did too.  After catching the embers of Mrs Ladi Mankami Wuyep’s burial service at the main COCIN Church Jos, I returned to where the accident happened in Gitata.  I passed the tiny bridge where it all happened and went back to the police station.  The policemen on duty in that ramshackle station (the floor was not even cemented – it was sand), opened the back door of the grey Peugeot 607.  ‘She must have died from shock’, said the Sergeant.  I thought it could have been whiplash.  ‘There was no cut on her body, but we brought her out dead’.  I looked in the back seat and nothing indicated anybody had been dispatched to the heavens therefrom.  On the floor carpet in the car was an empty plastic bottle of Coke, perhaps Mrs Wuyep’s last drink.  As I climbed back into my car, I wondered what exactly this life is all about.

All the recklessness of past and present governments has come home to roost as is evident in our near state of anarchy (Niger Delta, Road Mishaps, Escalating Corruption, Kidnappings, Robberies etc).  As PDP celebrates its ‘10 years of Democracy’, life expectancy for the Nigerian man is inching close to 40 years.  For women, its only slightly more, say 43 years; women have other issues like child birth to contend with too.    

We have seen entire families wiped out, and all that is on the mouths of our public officers the next day, is ‘…pass me the public till, I need to buy another house in Cayman Islands…’ or Australia or wherever the hell else catches their hopeless fancy.  The rest of us continue our mad chase for meaningless wealth the very next day.  Indeed, aside from the abject primitiveness that makes our public officers and politicians steal the entire commonwealth and stash same abroad, and then spirit all their children abroad to be slaves in the white man’s country, and then live in morbid fear in their own country, the other fact that points to our total backwardness is how our people die by dozens on the roads.

A review of the newspapers in the last month, reveal an escalation of the total stupidity on our roads.  Again it is obvious that the FRSC has forgotten why they exist.  I challenge them to prove me wrong on this.  In the past month, we have seen 70 people dying in a single accident around Ekpoma, 24 around Ibadan, and another accident claimed 22 members of the Shanono family in Kano.  A few days after the Shanono tragedy, another 22 people were burnt to death at Kwanar Kofa, near Kano.  Daily Trust of May 11, says 18 people died in a road accident Abaji, near Abuja; 9 people died in an accident in Jakana, Maiduguri; 18 members of COCIN averted death in Apo bus crash, and 11 people died as trailer smashed into building at Ibadan (The Nation May 28, 2009), the same day that 4 people died in Ahoko, on the Abuja-Lokoja road.  The paper didn’t even capture the event involving Dickson’s mum.  5 people died.

It was also the first anniversary of the death of 46 Army officers discharged from national assignment, who drove down all the way from Darfur, Sudan only to crash and burn to death in Bauchi/Yobe State.  Over 50 professional footballers have died in road accidents in the past one year in Nigeria.  If it was anywhere else, all these news will feature on CNN, BBC Al-Jazeera and Sky all at once.  But here, even NTA does not bother visiting the sites!  Per capita, Nigeria has the HIGHEST accident/crash rate IN THE WORLD!!!  Which tourist will want to visit such a HOBBESIAN country?

We, the people, do not have any choice but to make this known to the highest authorities.  We are losing our sanity; our souls.  I make bold to tell Professor Akunyili, that Nigeria today, is not a country designed for proper human existence let alone a nation, for its leaders, have shown little concern for the sanctity of human lives.  To them, it doesn’t matter who dies so long as they are not their relatives.  Even where they are, burial ceremonies present fresh opportunities for sycophancy, politicking and sharing of needless favours. Julius Berger has just been awarded a contract to expand Abuja Airport road while there are thousands of roads begging for attention around the nation which will add to local economies.  As they embark on the vast road projects in Abuja, it is clear that no attention will be paid to pedestrians, and ‘speed limits, feeder bridges, hard shoulders, pedestrian brisges’ do not appear in the dictionaries of our works ministry or road safety corps.

Can you rebrand a country that does not treat its people as human beings?  A country where people die on the roads like chicken?  A country where the so called ‘leaders’ infest their subjects with their own low self-esteem (where they think material acquisition will liberate them?)  Please spare me that talk of ‘attitude of Nigerians’.  People are like water, they follow the path charted out by their leaders; their governments.  Was it not the same Nigerians that Buhari and Idiagbon guided? The same that Fashola is using today to change Lagos?  What about the real; like politics and corruption at FRSC and everywhere else in government; like politics and corruption in road contracts; like failed roads; like executive waywardness on the roads?

Please readers, lets text our opinions and experiences on road accidents to the numbers above.  This should not stop with airing our views only, but we must readily escalate our grievances to the policy-making level. It is not about the ‘greatness’ of a country, but first and foremost, about how human the inhabitants are made to feel.  I know the President, a good man, will appreciate this.  He should expect our representations soon.