At least in the last one year or so, every road in Lagos seems to have been possessed by demons causing inexplicable blockages and long hours in traffic.
I am overwhelmed by accolades from many readers who are excited by my incisive, critical analysis of contemporary events in our country using literature and lately, music. Many have written to indicate their interest to meet me personally. Many have written to ask several questions bothering on writing skills, my political persuasion and my general inclination to life. Many have also written to abuse and berate our weekly commentary, labelling me as the mouthpiece of some political interests.
Some have written to plead that I reduce my commentary towards politicians and the present power machinery. First, I want to appreciate all those who read my essay every week and take their time to send a mail. For those who feel offended by our exegesis, we have no apology. We must individually and collectively deploy our talents to save our country from predators and from all forms of suffocating strangulation.
In the coming weeks, I hope to dissect more literary works, music and even African proverbs as metaphors to dismember our contemporary socio-political and economic experience. Let me state categorically that I am non-partisan. I am only a scholar and a critic who is concerned about the situation in his country and therefore committed to the diagnosis of its multiple ailments.
Last week, I was inundated with mail from different parts of the country following my essay entitled Fela and Nigerian youths. The mails were varied in content and opinion but I appreciate them all. However, seventy percent of those who sent in mails asked me to do a part two of the essay the next week. Following a serious, destiny defining, academic engagement at the University of Lagos the preceding week, I could not send in any essay for publication. I had replied a few mails with a promise to do a part 2 of the essay under reference. However, events have overtaken my promise to write a part 2 of the essay.
This week, cumulatively, I have spent about 60 hours in traffic gridlock, shuttling short distances within Lagos. Therefore, I have decided to dedicate this week to address the excruciating traffic situation in Lagos, our dear center of excellence.
Recently, at least in the last one year or so, every road in Lagos seems to have been possessed by demons from the pit of pandemonium, causing inexplicable blockages and long hours in traffic. Initially, Lagosians thought it was as a result of the repair of roads going on all across the city, so we decided to bear the pain with equanimity. Truly speaking, the governor of Lagos state Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode had embarked on a total reconstruction of major and minor roads in the state to the admiration of all. However, as time went on and especially after he lost the APC governorship primaries, all hell have been let lose.
The roads have collapsed abysmally and there seems to be a conspiracy from hellfire to even collapse existing roads. Shockingly, works have stopped in some of the construction sites living the mechanized items of constructions blocking the road. It is a hellish experience for road users in Lagos, even on weekends. Right now, it will take many hours to move from one point to another in any part of Lagos. Businesses are suffering, appointments are cancelled too and the most dilapidating effect is on the health of those who either drive or use public transportation to work or to attend various engagements.
To live in Lagos now is pure hell. Many cases of health issues are reported and some lives have been lost too. How is it possible for a person to live the house by 4 am everyday and return by 12 midnight and still remain sane? No, it is not possible. The biggest health challenge in Lagos now is stress.
People are stressed to their bare bones and to their brains. The body is daily fatigued beyond measure and Lagosians are smiling and suffering, with due respect to the late afro beat sensation, abami eda. These days, people are always on edge and explode like electric spark at the slightest provocation. Usually, there used to be rush hour, when traffic is expected to be heavy, that is between 6am to 9am and between 5pm to 9pm. But these days, twenty four hours round the clock, Lagos is shut down by snail speed, traffic congestion.
Every single hour in Lagos now is rush hour even during midday when the roads are normally empty.
Beside the daily gridlock on our roads, the roads are very bad which is also affecting vehicles. Every vehicle owner in Lagos is complaining bitterly while the spare part sellers are smiling to the bank. The question that naturally arises is this, what has changed, what has happened to our Lagos, center of excellence? The government and party in power in Lagos should answer that question. More specifically, the governor of Lagos State should give a detailed explanation to Lagosians why the city has become a nightmare in terms of vehicular movement.
To say that every single road in Lagos State deserves urgent attention is to put it mildly. Even if Akinwunmi Ambode has lost the party primaries to represent his part in the next governorship elections, he has a duty to perform. He has a moral responsibility to repay Lagos. Posterity is a very harsh judge. Today, Ambode may have lost the party primaries, but he has not become irrelevant in Nigeria’s political journey. He has the opportunity to demonstrate that he is indeed committed to serving humanity irrespective of the circumstances around him. It is not impossible for Ambode to arise and aspire to be the president of Nigerian one day or to a higher office in Nigeria. When such a time comes, his last days in office as the governor of Lagos shall surely be revisited, we will not be victims of amnesia forever.
Also, Ambode is not in power alone, he represents APC, the party under which he contested and won the last governorship elections. His failings or achievements are surely that of his party. So if Lagos has become a snail island where people spend many hours to move around, it does present a metaphor for the progress of APC as a political party both within and outside Lagos. Does it indeed, mean that Lagosians do not have a choice? Does it mean that the Lagos State government can do whatever that tickles its fancy with the welfare of Lagosians?
Let us use every available outlet, mainstream media, and social media to bring the present traffic situation in Lagos to the doorstep of the powers that be. The most annoying thing about this situation is that when military personnel, a high ranking police officer and even government officials want to move around the congested city, they use siren to harass weary and hapless citizens trapped inside the traffic. In this way, the powers that be do not feel the pain of the traffic situation. Let the traffic situation improve with immediate effect, we really won’t ask for more.
Dr. Adiele writes via [email protected]