Ota, a town in Ogun state is famous and notorious for various reasons. The town is famous as a huge commercial centre.
It is also in history as one of the towns in the defunct western region whose traditional ruler, the Olota, was deposed by the government in the ‘50s. The town is also famous for having a distinguished Nigerian, former President Olusgun Obasanjo, as a permanent resident
On the other hand, Ota, next to only Ijebu-Ode, is notorious for having very bad, virtually unmotorable roads in Ogun state. And this is not because there had been no governors or indeed governance in Ogun state for the past 16 years years, despite the noticeable massive development of Abeokuta, the capital. Of course, for the past 20 years, there had also been federal government with Obasanjo presiding for at least eight years, throughout which he could have but failed to develop a single federal road even in Ogun State.
That is why the threat of Ota branch of Nigerian Bar Association to embark on nation-wide protest against Governor Dapo Abiodun, in effect, holding him responsible for the poor state of roads in Ota.
The threat of the town’s branch of the Bar association to alert the nation on poor state of roads would be like taking coal to Newcastle in Australia. Apart from that, as in many other states and roads in the country, not all roads in Ota are necessarily the responsibility of Ogun state, as some are federal.
Were there no lawyers in Ota throughout Obasanjo’s second tenure of eight years between 1999 and 2007? Why did the lawyers look the other way or fail to join public criticisms of Obasanjo for neglecting Ota federal roads, even when he was still in office and even now? Remarkably, current governor Dapo Abiodun was preceded by Ibikunle Amosu and Gbenga Daniel, both under whom the state of roads in Ota was not better than it is today. Yet, Ota lawyers tolerated the poor roads.
If, for 16 years, Ota lawyers collaborated with that discomfort, it is no courage or alertness for Ota lawyers to come charging against a seeming soft target.
On his part, Dapo Abiodun must help himself (to) drop that image. He made himself vulnerable for cheap grandstanding of Ota lawyers. Governor Abiodun must make a statement of intent, indeed, his presence in all ramifications in appointment of commissioners, commencement of reconstruction of roads in Ijebu-Ode and Ota as well as other parts of the state similarly deserving.
That is six months after Abiodun was sworn-in as governor. For now, in terms of governance, it is either no news or bad news, none of which Ogun state deserves.
Flood all over, but only in Nigeria?
We are back at our notorious and lazy pastime, complaining, moaning, blaming everything over natural agony, admittedly, partly if not wholy human tragedy. Was it avoidable? Possibly yes but inescapable owing to our gross misconduct in many spheres of life.
Welcome to Nigeria, the much acclaimed climate change. Welcome? It was coming all along except that our only awareness was in attending international conferences, or signing on to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change or being eventually acquainted with reports of Nigeria’s participation in such gathering. That was like many otherwise organised countries where the frightening and aggressive climate change has been treating them worse than Nigeria. Imagine therefore, how we have been howling over the first direct hit of climate change. Were we caught napping by the rains? If we were, why should we have been caught unprepared?
Down south west, the constant admonition is to get the message in unmistakable terms, the moment death ravages the neighbourhood or you ignore at your peril. Timing of the rains in the past three months was a favour to Nigeria from God. Otherwise, in the past couple of years in major countries of the world, the story has been not just heavy rains and/or flood, but also earthquake, typhoon, tornado, heavy storm, hurricane and wild fire. United States, Britain, India, Japan, China, Australia, Latin America and the entire tropical belt of the world were virtually routinely hit. Could the flood in Nigeria but especially in Lagos have therefore been due to poor or lack of drainage on our roads, as we often conveniently grumble?
Decent or even ordinary civilised lifestyle in private and public seemed to have departed Nigeria with the colonialists on October 1st, 1960. Since then, degradation set in and gets worse everyday in our conduct as rulers and the ruled. As young ones, we were taught at schools that Nigeria’ climate comprised rainy season from April to September or farthest, October after which dry season would set in till the following March. But even before the climate change alarm to the whole world, rainy season in Nigeria, quite strangely, had extended to December or even the following January. Did we bother about the sudden and gradual climate change which is now more of a reality in Nigeria?
Quite noticeable is the degree of the fallout of climate change. In civilised countries, damage is virtually self-controlled as the flood draws away either through existing well-maintained or towards any direction to which it is diverted.. Well-maintained because of initial proper construction by certified professional contractors patronised by public-spirited officials. It should therefore be no surprise in the current rains and flood in the country, Lagos bore the brunt.. Poor Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu. Overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster, the governor had to declare emergency on roads in the state. All the roads or only the roads affected? Which road could be certified to have been unaffected anyway, since supposed underground drainages at Lekki and Victoria Island as well as other high brow parts were not exempt from the flood?
From where does Sanwo-Olu commence his reconstruction effort? The picture of fallout of the flood showed that whether high or low density area in Lagos state, living habit is virtually the same as residents nonchalantly throw dirt on the streets which eventually accumulate to block open or underground drainages. Otherwise, Lekki-Ajah, Lekki estate roads, Law school area on Ozumba Mbadiwe road, Federal Palace roads could not have been blocked or flooded. There was also the theory that Lagos is sinking. In which case, Lagos state government can consider a special study by government oceanographers except that such must not be treated as another job for the boys.
Deserving of the governor’s special attention are the rural roads in local government areas like Ifako, Bariga, Somolu, Ijegun, Idimu, Egbeda, Egbe, Ipaja, Akowonjo, Ikeja and Ikorodu in particular. From television reports of the road leading to Isawo in Ikorodu, could governor Sanwo-Olu ever believe that contract was awarded for construction of roads like Isawo and environ? If so, was any job done? For all contracts awarded for contruction and/or repairs of roads in local government areas of Lagos state, this is the time for accountability. There is total misconception of governance, the purpose of which politicians have corrupted since1999. To that extent,, a deplorable policy is in place to patronise societal drop-outs as local government stalwarts. That stupid policy actually diminishes the status of well-educated and responsible ones among such appointees.
That is the rationale of state governors in embezzling revenue allocation of local governments from the federation account. From the confiscated revenue allocation of local government councils, state governors merely dash some tens of millions of naira to the mostly imposed council chairmen for their upkeep rather than any function in office. And for all the criticisms that a particular governor did not carry party members along, the fact of history is that at one stage during tenure, governors in Lagos released millions of naira to council stalwarts for construction of roads in Lagos state. The council stalwarts either did not spend the money for the specified purpose or the purportedly repaired/newly constructed roads were the ones so soon washed away by the flood. And no ex-governor could justifiably be blamed for sustaining a policy so inherited.
Rather amusingly, when, for example, Ambode was humiliated and halted against second term, the very same council stalwarts he had patronised were the first to abandon him. That is a lesson for Sanwo-Olu to learn and put his name in history. His major concern should now be never to repeat, or sustain the poor roads just washed away in Lagos state. The fact of being a party stalwart does not make a capable road contractor or dutiful council chairman to enhance a ruling party’s public image. The governor should be interested in what went wrong to make roads constructed or repaired in council areas washed away by flood in under two years.
This is not to say flood disasters are limited to Nigeria. Countries like United States, Britain, Japan, India, North Korea, Taiwan, South Korea are on record with history flood or collapse of erstwhile strong infrastructure like bridges. The lesson to learn is there, not only avert similar occurrence in the future but also to sanction the culprits, even if party members.