By Wale Odunsi
This is not the type of essay you have to read up until the middle or closing section before you get the point. It is straightforward. President Muhammadu Buhari, Minister Muhammad Bello and the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) must know that the deplorable lighting in Abuja is part of the factors causing accidents and fueling insecurity.
I cannot grasp why several roads and streets across the city where the seat of power is domiciled are enveloped in darkness day in, day out. As personally observed, the categories of lightning are in three parts: The functioning, the fluctuating, the nonoperating. The second and third are becoming the norm despite budgetary allocations.
Leadership is commitment, hard work, performance, not convoys, escorts, sirens. Go round the councils – Abaji, AMAC, Bwari, Gwagwalada, Kuje, Kwali – at night. Tour locations in Apo, Dawaki, Garki, Gudu, Jabi, Kubwa, Life Camp, Lugbe, Utako, Wuse, Wuye, Zuba among others to see how the people suffer the incompetence of fellow countrymen.
For highways that used to be bright from dusk to dawn, the reverse is the case now. Check Nnamdi Azikwe expressway, Sani Abacha way, and so on. It is agonizing. You cannot visit countries’ capital cities and not feel sorry for Nigeria; leave out America and Europe, Asia and the Middle East, I’m talking about Africa.
The happenings in the world’s most populous black state is no longer a surprise. We are in a country where certain civil/public (supposed) servants entered office on the grounds of nomination/recommendation, not on the strength of brilliance/capability. The jokes in this part of the world are innumerable, we export electricity even when millions live in darkness.
I believe in the school of thought that Nigeria, the richest on the continent, ought to be a developed nation if it had more selfless individuals in positions of authority. Most are/were not leaders, they are/were mere elected and appointed officials. Oh and of course, those who attained control through gun barrel.
The FCTA is the ministry that administers the republic’s capital and I must stress unequivocally that its effort on public lighting is below par. Are Nigerians expected to protest over everything? The government infuriates while counselling that we remain patriotic. Why encourage the electorates to be nationalists when basic services aren’t largely available?
The FCTA is giving the impression that it exists only for demolition, land allocation and road construction? They can’t even finish the works at Apo roundabout, Games Village-Area One intersection, Galadimawa, etc, these projects started years ago. Let’s assume COVID-19 and economic downturn slowed down execution, did they affect lighting too?
Who are the persons responsible for keeping roads and streets well-lit? Who are the ones tasked to confirm traffic lights function round-the-clock? Relevant directors and supervisors should be on the field more than in air-conditioned offices. Why are they not being probed for failing in their job? Why are heads not rolling for glaring neglect?
The current situation dents FCTA’s image, there is no gentler way to put it. The management must diligently discharge its duties. It is unacceptable for the government to continually disregard the citizenry. The words on the lips of residents are that only highbrow areas in Abuja enjoy top quality service.
Granted that places such as Asokoro, Guzape, Maitama and the likes are entitled to preferential treatment perhaps due to high tax remittances and occupation by ‘big men’, the rest should not be overlooked. The government must provide basic structures and facilities for all; the provisions must not be selective. This is common sense, this is the beauty of public administration.
I appeal to President Buhari, Minister Bello, and the FCTA to replicate what they see abroad; Nigerians want to see change (the same APC mantra) in the coming weeks. But if the authorities fail to prove that we are paramount, I leave them to their conscience and pray that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. Many thanks to Abraham Lincoln.
Wale Odunsi tweets from @WaleOdunsi; email: [email protected]