Nothing is bad about constructing flyovers to ease the movement of people; facilitate the transportation of goods and services, and de-congest the road for vehicular movement when needed. No doubt, it eases frustrations in a choked environment, and to some extent improves the quality of life. But it becomes problematic if it is done only to show that someone is working, even where such are not needed, and the needed works are left undone. It is worrisome if critical investments in the lives of the masses are left half-done because people may not easily see it, or not directly beneficial to certain individuals or groups of people.
Hunger is ravaging Nigeria, while unemployment and underemployment are the nightmares for many today. Extreme poverty has demoralized the majority of the citizens. But only a few politicians look in these directions when it comes to budgeting and project allocations. In the midst of these national emergencies, some politician’s priority is to construct flyovers, especially as they are preparing for the 2023 annual budget.
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The constructions of flyovers are becoming the major developmental projects and focus for many state governors in Nigeria in recent times. Even states that are not paying workers’ salaries are also involved. Flyover is now the main thing because it is what people can easily see, feel and touch to know that a particular governor in a particular state is actually working, even if it is not the priority of the people at the moment. They feel proud even if they are not doing any other thing to improve the quality of life, and put food on the tables for the masses.
It shows that the ultimate aim of some politicians is not to reduce hunger, extreme poverty, unemployment, inequality, treatable diseases, and untimely deaths in the respective states, but to have images to show that they are working. Commonly, the obvious developmental projects are located in the city centres where people can see, and benefit only the people in the urban centres. Majorly, the motive is to glorify one individual or group of people, even if the citizens are dying of hunger, especially at the grassroots. The one that matters most in the lives of the people, and touches the generality of the people in the immediate, short-term, and long-term are left unattended to. It clearly shows governance with misplaced priority.
Most of the projects that are located in rural areas hardly receive the needed attention. These projects are capable of reducing the rural-urban migration and its associated costs. Even though monies are budgeted for such projects, they usually suffer a lot of setbacks and are hardly utilized. In most cases, the allocation for such rural projects will not be released, or released but diverted for personal gains.
The issue of insecurity, health, education, and agriculture are secondary as far as these politicians are protected receiving medical treatment abroad; sending their children to school overseas, and they can afford to buy food at any given price. It is only a few politicians that pay attention and invest in these sectors that affect the generality of the people, who don’t only look for praise from men but have a genuine passion for the growth and development of our society.
In terms of security, the huge amount of money received by the state governors in the name of security votes is not accounted for but expected the federal government to provide security for their states and local government levels, which has failed over time. Some have failed woefully to provide the basic amenities for the state and local governments but resulted to construct one glorified flyover after six years in office. Even though the schools are closed down and children are roaming on the street and there is no food for the people to eat, the construction of flyovers may take precedence.
Finally, any governor or state government that genuinely wants to develop the people, and the state should invest more in education, health, agriculture (food), sanitation, and water supply, and not only the construction of the flyover.
Omale Omachi Samuel writes from Abuja.