Alhaji Abdulraman Olalekan Amosan, Secretary, Roads Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), Lagos State Chapter, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to do more in the socio-economic and infrastructure development of the nation, as well as in the implementation of policies and projects in order to reciprocate the huge votes given to him by the citizens, which led to his victory at the just concluded presidential election.
He also spoke on the challenges facing the transport sector, the outcome of the 2019 general elections and other topical issues.
What are your views on the just concluded general elections?
As patriotic Nigerian and a firm believer in participatory democracy, I think that our democracy is still evolving. Though the elections have come and gone, I am particularly happy that the nation is still very intact, and that we still remain one Nigeria. Before the elections, there was so much tensions and bickering by politicians and their supporters. I personally believe that each election comes with another opportunity for the country to gain more experience and maturity in the deepening of our democracy. Just like other previous elections in Nigerian, the 2019 general elections had its own challenges, and my humble advice to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is to spend the next four years, to thoroughly review all these challenges, in order to organise better elections in future. Though every election presents another opportunity to better the previous one, I strongly urge INEC to introduce e-voting in future elections, in order to make our elections more transparent and rancour-free, as well as for timely collation and declaration of election results. With e-voting, ugly issues of electoral malpractices, such as ballot box-snatching, buying of voter’s cards and other desperate tendencies of our politicians would become a thing of the past. Above all, our politicians, like good sportsmen and women, must imbibe patriotism and endeavour always to play by the rules. Our politicians must not see politics as a do or die affair. It must not be seen as a business venture, but as a call for service to the public. They must realise that politics, like sports, is just a contest, and in a contest, there must be a winner and a loser. Two contestants cannot emerge as winners at the same time. Again, the winner- takes-all mentality of our politicians must be discouraged. Rather, there is the need for the winners to integrate the losers in their administrations, in order to promote inclusiveness and sense of belonging, while discouraging desperations and anti-democratic practices among politicians.
What are your expectations from Muhammadu Buhari’s government in the next four years?
Firstly, I would want him to keep up with his fight against corruption, and ensure that corruption if not totally wiped out in the country, would be drastically reduced. For those who may be accusing him of partisan in the war on corruption, my question is what did they do when they were in power over the years? At least, Buhari has started doing something in this regard, every patriotic Nigerian must support him in order to sanitise the nation and move her forward. There is no way you can fight corruption, without corruption fighting back, unfortunately that is what is happening today. Secondly, I would want Buhari to do more in the next four years. He must realise the reasons Nigerians have voted him back again, and he should come up with quality policies that will drive the economy, create jobs, improve lives and security, create enabling environment for business and food security, as well as improve power, infrastructure development across Nigeria. The president must know that, by voting for him back to power, Nigerians are desirous of higher expectations from him in his second term, hence he must use the next four years to consolidate on his past performances.
What are your expectations from the incoming governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu?
Firstly, our association welcomes and rejoices with the governor-elect, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for his sweet victory at the just concluded governorship elections in Lagos State, and would want to bring to his attention the sorry state of the road network in the state. Equally, I would want to make a passionate appeal to him to make the rehabilitation of the roads network as his number one priority when he assumes office in May 29th. Certainly, there is the urgent need for the incoming governor to embark on massive rehabilitation of Lagos roads for easy movement of people and goods. Also there is the need for the incoming government to implement workable solutions to finally bring to an end the perennial obstructions and reckless parking of trucks on bridges and major roads in Lagos. While tasking the governor-elect to lay emphasis on bringing to an end the nightmare been suffered by road users, I would want him to adopt the use of modern technology for effective management of the transport sector. Our association has in the past participated in series meetings with the government and various stakeholders where everyone had agreed on the need to have all the trucks relocated off the roads to certain facilities off the metropolis. It is imperative to note that for us to end the menace of trucks blockage of Lagos roads there is the need for the government to create parking facilities away from the town, large enough to accommodate large number of trucks. Such facilities will serve as primary holding bays for all trucks coming into Lagos to load. With the integration and deployment of relevant modern technologies, government can easily manage, control and permit a given number of trucks to drive into the metropolis to carry goods or load petroleum products, thereby putting to an end, the present chaotic situation.
Basically, with technology-driven facilities, any truck whose turn it is to drive into town to go and load, the name of the truck driver and number of the vehicle would be announced and a text message would be sent to the driver, which will then authorise him to formally drive into town for loading. But it is unfortunate that presently, some of these trucks are still parking on the major road for days without getting to their destinations, thereby blocking the highways and totally grounding the free flow of traffic on major highways. This situation ends up creating all manners of security challenges and environmental hazards to the people. But like I said earlier, it is unfortunate that even as we talk now, the situation still remains the same.
What I don’t really know is; whether the government does not have the will power to effect the necessary changes or whether the truck operators are proving stubborn to comply. But like everyone, I am really concerned about this endless traffic gridlocks on Lagos roads. It has continued to record huge loses of man-hours and huge loses to the economy. Our association has already ordered our members operating within these areas to strictly comply with measures put in place by the government, in order to bring the situation to an end. Similarly, I want to appeal to others to also do the same in order to end these unnecessary gridlocks. I want the incoming government to have full understanding of the challenges ahead, and to display its readiness, capacity and the political will to thoroughly deal with the deplorable traffic situation
What are some of the challenges facing the transport industry?
Certainly, there are numerous challenges facing the industry, and some of these problems include dearth of genuine spare parts. These days it is unfortunate that if you go to the market in search of original spare parts, it is difficult to see genuine and original spare parts, unlike what it used to be in the years past. For example, if your vehicle is down with engine problem, and you decide to go to the market in search of the original relevant auto parts, you might be surprised that what you will be given are fake spare parts, thereby complicating the situation for you. Like I said, that is the major problem facing us. The secondary challenge is the deplorable state of the road network in Lagos. If you take a critical look at the road network in Lagos, you will no doubt agree with me that there is a total collapse of much of the roads infrastructure in the state, probably due to the location of the state close to the ocean and the swampy nature of its soil. Also, it may be correct to say that the swampy nature of the Lagos, to a very large extent contributed to frequent flooding of the roads, sometimes leading to total damage of critical roads infrastructure. But thanks to the government in power for some of the timely palliative measures put in place to address the situation, and also for the introduction of high capacity bus system on Lagos roads. Our association appreciates these efforts, and we are already partnering with the government for the successful implementation of the high capacity bus systems initiative.
What is your take on relative peace among various transport unions in Lagos?
Firstly, I would want to attribute this to the maturity and firm believe in God by present leaders of various transport associations and stakeholders in the sector, who continue to uphold strong commitment in ensuring that the industry can only move forward under a peaceful and friendly environment. Our able chairman, Alhaji Mohammed Musa, a renowned Islamic scholar, has made our members to imbibe the tenets of harmony and peaceful co-existence. The quality of reforms his leadership has brought to the association has totally re-oriented and re-engineered the conducts, behaviours and operations of our members, especially on the ways we relate with the public and members of other associations in the transport sector. Similarly, leaders of other transport associations have equally done a lot to reform their members, and the overall result is the peaceful atmosphere presently existing in the industry. Secondly, unlike in the olden days, the present leaders in the industry are more enlightened, more exposed and more matured. They don’t see themselves as rivals or enemies. Rather, they see themselves as partners in progress, committed towards improving the capacity and harmonious understanding in the industry, while protecting the interests of their members and other stakeholders.