Nigerian Governors and Their Reckless Convoys | By Olu Akeredolu
The African philosopher must have researched deeply into the attitude of the black man when he came out with the saying that you may never know the true nature and manners of an African until he becomes rich and powerful. The African wise one in that thought went on to state that when an African man is still poor, he borrows somebody else’s behavior in the way he relates with others. It is when he becomes rich or attains a prominent position in the society that he comes out with his true colour, true manners and nature. In every society, you hardly find any rule without exceptions. Perhaps people have this in mind when they often say that, in every dark cloud, there would still be a silver lining. So, the very one within that upper class in the African society who refuses to lose his senses will always stay humble when success continues to stay his way because he knows that nothing is promised to last forever. Success can thus be explained in two ways. A man at the top who nevertheless remains humble would continue to see a giant stride in performance that creates the greatest good for the greatest number in a society as his own success. It does not matter whether the person in question is rich in money, property or personal. Any society that benefits from an endeavor whether public or private, that exhibits a human face, usually acknowledges it. That is why, for over half a century that Chief Obafemi Awolowo left office as Premier of the Western Region of Nigeria, his name and memories remain in the hearts of his people. Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Jerry Rawlings of Ghana are in this category too.
Another way to measure success can be in form of one’s high position, enormous wealth or possession. This easily identifies the current Nigerian political office holders where majority of them run the rat race to occupy public office just to serve selves in lieu of serving the larger society. When you come to think of it, you discover that you are at a dilemma as to why it is not common to find any silver lining in a dark cloud within the rank of the Nigerian politicians of today. Finding a clean character within the Nigerian political class was possible up to the end of the second republic. As events continue to show thereafter, humility and candor have been constantly in short supply to majority of the Nigerian politicians especially the high office holders among them. Immediately they are sworn in either as governor or whatever, they usually become think-gods. From that moment on, they usually become invisible while arrogating so much pomposity and arrogance to themselves and expect that they are courted and worshipped by the same people they are meant to serve.
So many things are wrong with Africans especially Nigerians. The Nigerian elite especially those in high offices are simply serial lawbreakers because they now see themselves as untouchable. No wonder that The World Justice Project ranked Nigeria as the 93rd out of 99 countries with the lowest respect for the rule of law. Where there is respect for one and the other, the ruler would not see himself as god over the ruled who are ordinarily supposed to be his employers. He would know that he is accountable to them at all time especially in his public dealings. He would know that as his employers, the people are bestowed with the power to hire and fire him. He would know that the people are with the authority to discipline him at any time if he misbehaves. Recently, the governor of the state of Texas in the United States must have realised this by surrendering himself to a county authority when he was indicted for alleged misuse of power. As at now, you won’t see a thing like that or similar to it happening in any of the African countries where political leaders are gods. They play god and the people around them worship them as such in order to gain appointments, contracts and other patronages.
If not, the governors and deputy governors usually in long convoys would not be using the Nigerian roads as if there are no other road users. If not, their drivers would not be driving recklessly on the public roads with the assumption that they are above the law of the land. Such driving becomes more inconceivable considering the poor state of most of the Nigerian roads. The result of this is usually the carnage and wanton wastage of the precious lives of innocent road users. The families of those who lost their lives to such mad driving would have to grapple with the pain associated with the fatalities and may not forget in a hurry. The Kogi Governor, Mr. Wada’s first convoy road accident claimed the life of his ADC on 28 December, 2012. Less than a year after this unfortunate incident, this same governor’s convoy again was involved in another fatal road auto crash which claimed the life of a prominent Nigerian academic – Professor Festus Iyayi, a former president of the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU). That accident occurred at Lokoja, the capital of Kogi state while the Prof was on his way to Kano to attend a meeting of the ASUU National Executive Council concerning the over four-month’s old strike that was embarked upon by the union at that time. In September 2013, in-between the governor’s two auto crashes, his deputy, Mr. Yomi Awoniyi’s convoy was also involved in auto accident.
In the league of executive governors/deputy governors’ convoy road accidents are also governor Adams Oshiomole of Edo state on Benin-Abuja road on December 28, 2013; the deputy governor of Zamfara state, Malam Ibrahim Wakkala’s convoy road accident said to occur at Jere town along Kaduna-Abuja expressway where one of his drivers lost his life in August 2013; the Niger state deputy governor, Mr. Ahmed Musa Ibeto’s convoy auto accident reportedly occurred along Minna-Kagara road and the lives of two occupants of a motorcycle were lost into that accident; the road accident allegedly involving the Ondo state deputy governor, Alhaji Ali Olanusi’s convoy occurred at Aponmu-Owena along the Akure-Ondo road on February 1, 2014. This was a road accident too many. It was the most pathetic of all the alleged executive convoy’s auto accidents. It was too pathetic because a whole family except one member lost their lives to that accident. The chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalist, NTA chapter in Ondo State, Mr. Alex Akinwale, his pregnant wife, Mrs. Rebecca Akinwale (nee Abiola Alao), their daughter, Pauline Akinwale and one other family member traveling in a car back to Akure all died in the accident that fateful day. The incident becomes more pathetic because the families of the victims of the accident were said to have been treated with no respect by the Ondo State government as if those who lost their lives to that accident were mere dogs.
Road accidents involving governors/deputy governors may not be surprising in a country like Nigeria where human lives have become so cheap and where you find many roads without the required speed-limit signboards. Potholes and worn-out areas are the unofficial speed-limit signs to careful drivers that are very familiar with the Nigerian roads. Very reckless drivers often run into bad roads and deep potholes on top speed to endanger the lives of other road users. Such driving is so common with the Nigerian political office holders’ long convoy drivers who see themselves as gods on the roads whenever they travel. Their driving is always very confusing to other road users who often times find no space to maneuver themselves out of impending road accidents because of the long convoys. It usually becomes a matter of luck to escape auto crash when the other road users are coming from the opposite direction and meeting the convoy at a very sharp bend. Nigerian political office holders and their staff need courtesy orientation to know how to treat the people they are meant to serve with respect including reasonable and responsible use of the public roads.