Generally, people yearn for good governance and quality well being. It is only expected and reasonable that government, whatever its resources, prioritise the comfort and happiness of the citizenry. Two decades have passed since the establishment of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA).
The organisation was to assist Lagosians shuttle between places with just moderate traffic. In my opinion, I do not think they have been exceptional. This, however, will not suggest that they have not contributed to the traffic ease or management in Lagos. Many travellers, today, still groan under the same perennial traffic. The causative factors are understandably multifarious and overlapping. Let’s just leave that for another day.
The birth of LASTMA was a beautiful move. In fact, the brains behind its establishment are geniuses. Unfortunately, the officers of this noble agency are the major headache. To the exclusion of a few officers, quite a number of the others are irritatingly overzealous as they go about simple enforcement in the most hooligan fashion. We have read and practically seen them many a time wrestling at the steering with an erring motorist. Anytime an organisation is birthed with an honest motive, the human element in most cases is always a tragedy. Going further, we have seen them, again and again, create the very traffic hold up they were established to manage. Sometimes, their mode of enforcement beats one’s imagination completely. A simple case requesting a common sense approach gets commando – attention. I believe we are already full with such a hooligan display.
As a student of Administrative Law, I do know for certain that administrators could act discretionary. When “ belly’ however, becomes their “god”, issues calling for discretion are shamefacedly thrown out of the window. Since with discretion, the kickback will not sufficiently flow in their direction. It, yet, remains a puzzle to me that officers of traffic management will not apply discretion on matters of emergency. Why would the ambulance and hearse not be held accountable for traffic violations? Emergency – nothing can be simpler than that. The story of Modino Usman, a hypertensive patient whose death was connected to this pure lack of discretion and hooliganism on the part of the LASTMA is just one of the many tearful events that have been reported
For those of us who selflessly monitor their activities, we know they can no longer shock us. From their subtle practice of using a third party to get their ‘pay’ in order to avoid being directly indictable, for their manipulative claims of traffic offences. Believe me, just as we got tired of the malfeasance of SARS and ended it, we will soon get tired of this one, too, and call for its proscription. Say goodbye to hooliganism, kickback, malfeasance, and overzealousness and make Lagosians proud.
Samuel Ogunnaike resides in Lagos.