Nothing is bad about constructing flyovers to ease the movement of people, facilitate the transportation of goods and services, and decongest the road for vehicular movement when needed. No doubt; it eases frustration 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 it is not needed, and the needed work is left undone. It is worrisome if critical investments in the lives of the masses are left half-done because people may not easily see them, or they may not be directly beneficial to certain individuals or groups of people.
Hunger is ravaging Nigeria, while unemployment and underemployment are the nightmares, and extreme poverty has demoralised 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 people’s priority is to construct flyovers, especially as they are preparing for the 2023 annual budget. But kudos to governors that are involved in all-around developmental projects.
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The construction of flyover is becoming the major developmental project and focus for many state governors in Nigeria in recent times; even in states that are not paying workers’ salaries. 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 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; at least, to have an image for electioneering. 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 the governance with misplaced priority.
Most of the projects that are located in the rural areas hardly receive the needed attention, which is 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. 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 they 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 the federal government is expected 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. Even though the schools are closed down and children are roaming the streets, medical doctors are on strike, and there is no food for the people to eat, the construction of a flyover may take precedence.
In conclusion, some state governors in Nigeria have abandoned, ignored, neglected, failed, or refused to invest in the critical sectors of the economy, such as health, education, and agriculture, which are not usually visible to an average man on the street at the initial stages. But in reality, they are the most important and critical sectors and they impact more on the lives of the people from generation to generation. These critical sectors determine the well-being of the people, quality of life and life expectancy. They also have a multiplier on the overall well-being of the national economy.
So, it is high time we de-emphasised elephant projects and pay more attention to what matters most in the lives of the people while planning for the long term. The building of flyovers contributes positively to the economy of a nation, but it is not sufficient when it comes to human development. In fact, it is not one, or directly linked to the developmental indicators such as health, education, Gross National Income (GNI) per capita and life expectancy. 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 or other projects with little or no meaning to the people.
By Omale Omachi Samuel who is the Special Duties Officer, Centre for Social Justice, Abuja and can be reached at: [email protected]