Today the focus is on national exodus, which is internal mass movements that happen at specific periods, especially festive seasons in the year.
Our country has since become known as a society that neglects the main issues and majors in the minor. This unwholesome attitude is displayed more frequently on issues that on the surface seem insignificant but when taken holistically ought to be matters that should receive greater attention. One of such issues is the one am going to deal with in this discourse. It is about the mismanagement of what should be known as exodus of our citizens at certain points of the year. Exodus can be mass migration; this should naturally be of concern to any nationalistic government because of what it signposts and the many negative consequences it brings to bear on the development processes of the affected entity. But that’s not what I intend to discuss in today’s outing. It can also be about those who come into the country.
In truth every country has a right to regulate who comes into the country and who stays permanently and under what conditions. It is a reasonable responsibility of every government. President Donald Trump of the United States tried to revalidate the above position recently when he said only hell has no boundary, that Heaven has boundary and rules governing entry. But like I said, these are not the issues for today. I hope to talk about them in the very near future. Today the focus is on national exodus, which is internal mass movements that happen at specific periods, especially festive seasons in the year. We witness such during Easter, Sallah and Christmas and end of year. At such times, citizens pour into the roads and airports, heading to one destination or the other. As would be expected, high traffic, be it human or vehicular, would throw up challenges in form of crowd control, traffic management, health and adequate logistics and of course the biggest of them all, security and comfort of the travelling public.
In organized societies they know about such developments, they expect it and one thing good about them is that expectation gives vent to adequate preparation. Travel directives are issued in advance, detailing the state of travel routes, possible challenges and danger spots are identified and citizens warned in advance on how to conduct their affairs in such areas. The health departments are put on the alert and emergency departments in strategic hospitals are put on vigilance. Ambulance units are retrained and deployed to strategic points of major routes so that in event of accident there is quick professional response. Security is visible and helpful for 24 hours of the day. Proactiveness is a key ingredient in the exercise and response.
Our experience seems to be different. Most of us, including those in authority, behave as if we are oblivious of what the times and seasons portend. When it would seem like we know, our reaction and approach seem to border on nonchalance and shoddiness. Rather than introduce measures to ameliorate hardship and give at least minimum level of comfort and security to the travelling public, we see instead efforts that compound the travelers’ woes. Petrol is not available; suddenly we begin to experience widespread scarcity and attendant high cost where it is found. In some instances it is at this point government begins to talk very loudly about non-functionality of our refineries, the beauty of privatization, high landing cost and appropriate petroleum pricing. Talk of leaders becoming the peoples’ No. 1 Enemy and you won’t be wrong.
If government was the only fall guy in this matter, it could have been bearable and perhaps hope would have been high that it is an issue that can be quickly rectified. Unfortunately, it does not seem as a government mistake, it is increasingly appearing like governance and system collapse and everybody, particularly those charged with law enforcement are cashing in on the situation to make the best for themselves at the detriment of national development and growth. If this were not the case, one would wonder why such periods of high traffic are the times all agencies of government get into the roads to check for one thing or the other. Couldn’t such checking which could be normal and legal have taken place at more auspicious times? Shouldn’t we be worried that 58 years after independence we are unable to fashion out creative ways of checking citizens’ documents?
A simple legislation making it mandatory to jail anybody with incomplete vehicle particulars in the event of accident would automatically knock sense into most citizens and achieve far better compliance than road blocks and ‘stop and ask’ exercises by various government agencies would do. We can as well ask citizens to submit some of these documents when involved in bank transactions, governmental activities and school enrolments and the appropriate body can pick the documents and verify and by so doing infringe less on the fundamental rights of citizens. It is time we introduced a system of correctional justice and do less with this punishment system. It is wrong, for instance, to stop a citizen and virtually block the road to other road users on account that he cannot produce the vehicle’s roadworthiness certificate. These and some other similar matters can be handled by advice and booking.
Our nation should learn to manage national exodus. We should learn to give our citizens the best treatment and to uphold their dignity in all circumstances and at all times. They are the sovereignty. At this time it is important for the security personnel including FRSC marshals should be on the roads, highways inclusive, to facilitate traffic and not to compound it. They should be around 24/7 to ease traffic and provide security. Aviation authority should reexamine the sector and see if it is ready to take increased volume of travelers. Security agencies should release emergency security numbers for each state to the public on time. It is time we begin to build a humane country, which is what it should be.