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Who will mourn the lowly?

As we all wept for General Azazi and Governor Yakowa, a news item caught my attention. A day before the crash, Senator Danjuma Goje, former governor of Gombe State, had gone to visit a certain Mallam Maigari Maimanja at Tumu Village at Akko Local Government Area of the State.  Maigari had lost a sister.  According to Thisday Newspaper, when Goje’s convoy made its usually chaotic exit from the man’s compound, they ran over a certain Haruna Maigari, a son to the person he went to condole.  Goje’s visit therefore doubled the poor man’s sorrow – he lost a sister, and a son – apart from leaving two others badly injured.

A few days earlier, on Akure-Owo Road, the convoy of Senator Ajayi Boroffice had allegedly run into the car of a certain elderly lady, 58-year-old Mrs Florence Adunni Olusori.  The poor lady had closed from work and was driving home ‘jejely’, as we would say it here on the streets, and actually avoided the useless siren-blaring convoy, only for one of the mad fellows who escort our vacuous big men to run her off the road and crush her.  According to her son, Peter Olusori, the senator actually alighted and tried to help his mum, but when the crowd started noticing it was Boroffice, he got into his car and left, abandoning his mum, who bled for two hours before being rescued by the police.  She later gave up the ghost upon arriving at the hospital. Poor woman…

These two incidences took me on a research into the despicable act of over speeding convoys conveying big men, their wives, concubines and God-knows-what-else.  Many times the convoys are actually empty.  It would seem that those who drive our big men – president, his vice, ministers, legislators, governors and so on, including 419 kingpins and kidnappers who can afford to pay for police – are on drugs, permanently, with the way they drive recklessly, causing accidents without as much as batting an eyelid!  Worst still, according to a report commissioned by the Rotimi Amaechi–led Nigerian Governors’ Forum in August 2011, it was discovered that many of the drivers in the convoys of our governors have dangerously high blood pressures AND bad eye sights.  Many of them also were without drivers’ licences. See http://dailypost.com.ng/2012/07/14/investigation-reveals-governors-drivers-poor-eyesights-high-blood-pressure/

I went and joined the Road Safety Special Marshall over a year ago, because of the way my heart bleeds when I see the many avoidable ghastly accidents in Abuja especially, and also the mad, unimaginable driving that some of our people do on the road. In Abuja, we prove daily that we don’t value human lives, that we are sub-human in some ways, with the recklessness on the roads and attendant accidents.  Daily! It is a trite fact that government in Nigeria does not know its work, and indeed itself contributes more to our problems.  If we had governance in Nigeria, they would worry about the sheer number of blind men who drive, not to talk of the intoxicated ones.  I saw a guy cause an accident recently at the entrance of Apo Legislative Quarters in Abuja.  He came out unscathed but not his victims. When he came out of his government-type Peugeot 406, he was dead drunk! Who cares?  This is Nigeria, where we only mourn the big men, many of whom cause a lot of accidents…

Yes, they do.  Further research into the subject reveals the following deaths caused by our ‘big men’. In no particular order, Delta State Governor Uduaghan’s convoy crashed in December 2011, and its victims fortunately had only injuries. In October 2009, it was the Ondo State Governor’s — six people died. In early 2012, three journalists were killed in an accident involving the convoy of the Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomole.  The convoy of Zamfara State governor crashed on June 25, 2012, killing a police officer attached to the governor. Other crashes include the convoys of Governors Peter Obi of Anambra State (September 2008); Liyel Imoke of Cross River State (March 2010); Niger State’s Babangida Aliyu (March 2011) and Theodore Orji of Abia (April 2012).

Yet others include the convoy of one Jide Awosedo, Ogun guber aspirant, in March 2011.  Less than a month ago, the convoy of the same Late Governor Yakowa knocked down and killed an orange seller.  On September 25, 2011, the convoy of the Senate President David Mark was in a fatal accident which claimed the lives of his orderly and driver.  On September 14, 2009, it was the speeding convoy of the then Speaker of the House of Representatives Dimeji Bankole. He lost an aide.  In January 2012, the convoy of the now ill Taraba Governor Danbaba Suntai killed a certain Eddy Kokobili, a 38-year-old man who had come to visit his in-laws-to-be in Abuja and was heading back to the Abuja Airport to fly out.  March 2011, the convoy of the then Bayelsa Governor Timipre Silva knocked down and killed an ‘okada’ rider.  In September this year, Nasarawa Governor Al-Makura’s convoy was involved in a ghastly accident: two died.  March 2011, Governor Ibrahim Shema’s convoy, allegedly in a bid to catch up with President Jonathan’s campaign trail, crashed.  Five died including his Aide de Camp.  In September of this year, the convoy of oil minister Diezani Alison Madueke allegedly killed a journalist with Pilot Newspapers, though her office denied responsibility.

The carnage is nationwide and totally despicable.  I believe many of the executives who are now cocooned in speeding convoys were once poor people themselves anyway.  It is amazing how people transform, and why these people think they need all this noise and commotion.  Only Governors Fashola (God bless that man) and Peter Obi of Anambra stand out as governors who have chosen not to use unnecessary convoys or sirens to run people out of the road.  The rest are operating like the gang of criminals.  We pray they give us some humanity back, and stop running our country like a bloody jungle, where noise pollution is nothing. Someone needs to remind these brigands that this is 2012, almost 2013, and nowhere else in the world is governance conducted like they are doing in Nigeria!  We, the citizens, will also keep putting these guys under subtle pressure until they change, or we change them for better, thinking people.  This convoy and siren issue is ONE CLEAR MANIFESTATION OF THE DISCONNECT BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND THE GOVERNED.

Unfortunately, President Jonathan has not led the way in making this change.  WE CAN BAN SIRENS AND OVER SPEEDING CONVOYS FOREVER IN NIGERIA!  Many of these incidences are just cases where government functionaries want to call attention to themselves. We, the people, say speed on, go on, we don’t care who you are, we don’t want to peep into your tinted SUV! Leave us alone!  We are not animals, stop animalizing us, or your end will be bad! Stop portraying us in such bad light in the league of nations.

I am aware that the security operatives attached to these functionaries cause the problem and many of the functionaries are held spell bound in fear as they are tossed left and right in their SUVs, but they also have a role to play in stopping this madness; after all, Fashola and Obi have set examples.  I also appeal that the administrators of the FCT especially, should try and enforce some rules as it relates to over speeding, noise, air and visual pollution.  This city, that should be an example, is presently an eyesore.  Merry XMAS in arrears and happy year 2013 in advance to all my readers, but I am not in a jolly mood. Do excuse me…

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