The Million Dollar Question73 views
In 1999 I could travel from Benin City to Warri and back three or four times in a day. Today I dare not contemplate it.
In 1997 I travelled from Warri to Lagos and back twice on the same day. Today I would be mad to even think of trying it.
In 1996 I could attend lectures at University of Benin from Lagos and return to Lagos same day after the lectures, even as we complained of the ‘bad’ condition of the road at that time. Today who dare try it? Of course, the road has gotten much worse.
The very first time I set foot on Lagos was on an Okada Air flight from Benin in 1985. The next time I would visit Lagos again was in 1990. On road! Incidentally, Lagos-Ibadan expressway was undergoing repairs, but that notwithstanding, we didn’t spend more than 30 minutes between Shagamu and Ojota.
It is perhaps instructive to observe that that road has remained under constant rehabilitation since the 1990s, yet no real improvement. Government after government carried out rehabilitation work on that road, every single day since then but the work just never seems to finish. Even today there is rehabilitation work still going on there. A former federal minister once wept profusely on seeing the condition of Benin-Shagamu Road. Since then, nothing much else.
Across the length and breath of the country is dilapidated road infrastructure everywhere. Now, I find myself repeating my friend Henri Omodjota ‘s question:
“Dem say Rome was not built in a day, but wetin we don build since 1999 when the country returned to democratic rule?”
I leave you to answer.
What I know is that we need to tweak our kind of democracy to suit our purpose. As things are presently, the waste is just too much for us to achieve anything meaningful as a country.
But who is to take the bull by the horn? Who has that political will, that patriotism, that gut to dare the monster?
As I write this, our Almighty Senate has confirmed procurement of 360 new luxury SUVs for its members at an unspecified cost. At this time of prohibitive exchange rate oh!
Peugeot car was once the standard official car of government officials in Nigeria. This was at a time Peugeot cars were assembled in Kaduna. All government auto procurements were made from Peugeot Automobiles of Nigeria, PAN, at Kaduna.
During his time as President, Buhari made Innoson Motors, a local auto manufacturer, the official vehicle of the Federal Government. Never mind whether his own government kept faith with this policy.
None of the 360 luxury SUVs just procured by our Senate was made from Innoson Motors. But of course, we love all things foreign. At the expense of our economy!
Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, may shout all it likes, but the truth is, those elected to manage our economy do not give a damn whether our economy collapses or not. After all, they have a ready justification for their failures and wrong actions in office – “Rome was not built in a day”.
But the question must be asked, if those who built Rome deliberately sabotaged themselves, would the city have been built?