The Rule Of Criminals

One of the challenges facing Nigeria and Nigerians is how to achieve or establish the rule of law above the rule of criminals in government and everywhere.

The Rule Of Criminals

By Adeola Aderounmu

Which Way Nigeria?

One is saddened that there is no end in sight for Nigerians being ruled partly by politicians who are absolute criminals.

Ordinary Nigerians are facing very hard and extreme economic hardship and they also have to continue to cope with the reality that some of those who they expected to be part of the solution are actually political criminals.

My recent visit to Nigeria left another deep cut in my soul. What l saw is that majority of Nigerians are still suffering!

The kind of suffering in Nigeria exposes majority of the population to conditions that are completely unacceptable for humans. People have no access to basic facility or infrastructure. This information is not news.

However what may be news is that several millions of Nigerians are now in new category called systematic beggars. People are begging for food and money from those that still have a little to live on.

What l saw in Nigeria revealed that majoroity of Nigerians not only lack the basic things of life, they also lack material comfort. Many people are running around on empty stomachs.

In 2012, l defined mass poverty using Nigeria as a case study.  Since then the mass poverty situation in Nigeria has escalated.

Sadness is rampant. Deceit and mutual suspicion are written on everybody’s face. Today, a few people are tasking the government and police on the high rate of crime. The trend will continue because even the police are stopping people randomly on the streets and robbing them of their possessions!

Things are getting worse in Nigeria. The conditions of living are terrible. There is almost no word to describe the standard of living of the ordinary people. Poor is an understatement. What comes after low or poor standard of living? The living situations are extremely sad and disheartening.

At this sad point in Nigeria’s history, the lowest ebb the country has ever reached, one would expect that the government at various levels will show empathy and concern for the plights that have been inflicted on the people through years of misgovernance and negligence.

Alas! The present government is not helping matters in that direction at all.

As Nigerians are allegedly made to bear the grunt and pain of the decline in crude oil prices, the cost of governance itself remains at the same high level.

Governance in Nigeria is established on a twin culture of waste and propaganda.

The level of corruption in the present government easily contradicts the propaganda that Nigerians are paying for the low price of crude oil and the wastage of the Jonathan administration.

Nigeria does not depend on crude oil only by the way.

In any case if Nigerian politicians stop stealing and perhaps even start to drop some body and material weights, perhaps the effects of the drop in crude oil sales that have also also been aggravated by the Niger Delta Avengers would spread evenly among the population, and we can understand the situation together.

But sadly, as a manner of repetition, let me reiterate that the cost of governance in Nigeria remains high and wasteful.

Nigeria is spending a lot of money on arms of government that are invariably useless. The category that has been in the eye of the storm most is the legislative arm.

At the Senate and the House of Representatives, the revelations that have come to front since the emergence of the Buhari-APC mandate are shameful and scandalous.

A government that is fighting corruption mostly in the opponent camps yet housing criminals at its own backyard is a worthless government. That is what the APC government has become.

The scandals that have rocked the Senate where Mr. Saraki heads the other alleged criminals are enough to level it. But it stands as a monument of stinking corruption.

The scandals that have rocked the House of Representatives where Mr. Dogara heads the other alleged criminals are enough to sweep the house into the ocean so that it does not ever evolve again.

It is shocking that Nigerians know that they are partly ruled by criminals and they are suffering and living with the knowledge of the causes of majority of their problems. But they are not doing anything serious about it.

Something has to give in someday as a way of showing these criminals their ways out of governance.

We also actually need someone to remind this government of its virtual fight against corruption whereas the government itself is stinking and rotten, full of criminals in high and low places.

About 30 something years ago, when l was a little boy, l read an article in a newspaper. The title was: Who Is Fooling Who? I don’t remember the author but it mentioned that many things that are true today.

One of the challenges facing Nigeria and Nigerians is how to achieve or establish the rule of law above the rule of criminals in government and everywhere.

The political criminals are on the advantage because despite the fact that their criminalities are known and exposed, they have so far circumvent the law to their advantages. They have remain strong due to the weakness of the people and their passiveness to corruption everywhere.

The difference between common sense and political criminal sense remains crystal clear.

While common sense makes people leave the public scene in shame after a scandal, the political criminal sense makes people fight back using the weaknesses in the law especially in a nonsensical democracy like Nigeria where self preservation is the norm. Civility suffers.

The difference extends to the point  that with political criminal sense, every scandal is tagged as a political witchhunt. The political criminal sense does not deny the existence of a crime or scandal. It just fights against it.

Invariably, the changed promised by the APC has turned to a sham, more so because of the political criminals that persist and control the APC government.

When l’d visited civil service establishments during my one month stay in Nigeria, the situation and conditions of services are even worse. The morale is down, many things are still being done just like before.

The workers still receive bribes, the police are on the roads doing the usual collection and false accusation.  From the political criminals holding sway in Abuja, to the smallest streets in Nigeria, it is business of corruption as usual.

The things that have changed have brought more hardship to our lives. Things just got worse for the ordinary people. For example, under Mr. Fashola, Nigerians pay more money for darkness. There is promise of light and the bills are already higher for the services that have not been provided. What is 419 again?

The people earn less or nothing at all (when salaries are not paid for several month) but they pay more for everything. There are so many scams perpetrated by the Buhari-APC government that should have resulted to outright outrages.

But Nigerians are praying and fasting even on empty stomachs. Thanks to the magicians called men of God. Rather than build factories, more churches and mosques are sprining up everywhere in Nigeria.

Even in government houses where looting and stealing are taking place, there are churches and mosques in the premises. What is the meaning of den of robbers? Who is fooling who? Who prays in these religious houses and who are the political criminals in government?

It’s always a painful experience recounting the problems of Nigeria. Whereas we know that the solutions are easy. If people start to do the right things, just the right things, Nigeria will pick up.

But after decades of misrule and systemic disorientation,majority of the people are used to doing the wrong things. This cruel reality is what led to the emergence and sustenance of wrong doers and criminals in public offices.

So, the rule of criminals is very complicated.

There are other issues with the Buhari-APC mandate. Along with the painful existence of the rule of criminals, Nigerians are more than ever before battling with tribalism. Sadly too, the influence of religion in government has never been this prominent in the history of governance in Nigeria.

Up to the local government level, religious affiliation is a crucial factor in the curriculum vitae of office-seekers in Nigeria. What l saw in Nigeria shocked me!

That long-lasting solution of just doing the right things in public service eludes majority of Nigerians. But it must re-emerge side-by-side a political system or structure that is functional. That ancitipated change in political system has been called several names, from regional government to regional autonomy and even true fiscal federalism.

At this moment, at the end of august 2016, Nigeria is not working and the rule of criminals dominate the rule of law.

Nigeria needs a genuine political change.

Reference: Mass Poverty In Nigeria (2012) By Adeola Aderounmu.

https://aderinola.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/mass-poverty-in-nigeria-2012

 

aderounmu@gmail.com

 

 

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There Are No Drivers In Lagos

…..one of the vehicles that was supposed to be behind my car did the diagonal turning and collided with an oncoming lorry. There was another accident- two commercial buses collided with each other and an okada passenger flew between the 2 vehicles just before they collided. This is Lagos..!

There Are No Drivers In Lagos

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By Adeola Aderounmu

On my recent trip to Nigeria, l could almost not believe what l saw on Lagos roads. I knew that driving in Lagos had always been a hassle and that some people have ignorantly or maybe stupidly concluded many years ago that if you can drive in Lagos, then you can drive anywhere in the world. That notion is not only misleading; it is also very dangerous.

If driving in Lagos on the other hand means that you can drive anywhere in Nigeria, then l can generalize that there are no drivers in Nigeria. I took time to observe driving in my area and on major roads in Lagos. Not one person driving on Lagos roads that l saw passed the simple driving tests that l conducted.

One of the most amazing, yet disturbing discoveries l made was this: not one driver in Lagos knew how to turn left at a junction. In normal driving, on a two-way road, you drive to the end of the road whilst keeping to your lane, then you make a curve (like going around the last quarter of a circle or ring) to turn left. I did not see one driver in Lagos do this turn correctly.

To make left turns, all the drivers in Lagos made diagonals. They don’t even make it from their half of the road. Long before the actual turning point, as they approach the junction, Lagos drivers make long diagonals that put them head to head with the oncoming vehicles.

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The first time l observed this anomaly, l actually thought it was just a silly driver who was impatient.

Later l found out that everybody drives that way. Commercial vehicle drivers and private car drivers, drove the same way. This is the standard for driving in Lagos.

One day, l had a passenger at the back seat in my car. He said he thought l was driving straight-on after he saw that l actually turned left at a junction. He was not used to drivers using the full length of the road to the turning point before making the turn. He said l would get tired of my sane driving, but l never did because l wasn’t trained to drive like an insane person.

Every time l am making my normal left turn, there are other vehicles, between 1 to 3 that make the turn before me while l am at my normal driving. They think they are good drivers or that they are smarter in getting ahead.

In this essay, l cannot include the menace of the motor-cycles as commercial transportation means in Lagos. Let us save the discussion about that pestilence that is unleashed on Lagos for another time.

As a result of foolishness, recklessness and not-knowing-how to drive of almost all Lagos drivers, I was a witness to at least 3 accidents whilst l drove in Lagos.

Another day whilst l was doing my normal omoluabi junction-turning, one of the vehicles that was supposed to be behind my car did the diagonal turning and collided with an oncoming lorry. How many accidents on Lagos road are due to wrong driving?

This dangerous diagonal turning was one of the most obvious indicators of wrong driving by Lagos drivers that l observed and it remains a major cause of head-to-head collision/accidents at road junctions.

There was another accident due mainly to bad driving that was so serious that two commercial buses collided with each other on 23 Road in Festac Town. It was like a movie when an okada passenger flew between the two vehicles before they collided and he somersaulted on the road. The motor cycle and the okada-driver slided long the road like the movie was not about to finish yet.

In fact, the other useless and reckless driving of Lagos drivers are too numerous to elaborate here. But generally, it is a crazy situation on Lagos roads with human and vehicular traffic forming a permanent compound mess.

More of my observations below.

Lagos drivers do not know how to drive on lanes (but they can claim that most roads are not marked with lines and they’ll be right at that). Still, what happens to straight line driving? What l saw was that most of the drivers in Lagos do not even know about driving on a lane.

Once the roads are not marked, they are driving from right to left to center, just anyhow they like. They fill available space on the road and collide too easily with one another.

Lagos drivers do not keep the distance. There should be at least 5 meters between 2 cars on the road. For some vehicles, the distance behind them should be 10 meters if they have risk of rolling backwards or if they vehicles used for deliveries, having haulage facility/equipment trailing behind them.

In one accident, I saw an okada driver fastened to the back of a jeep and he could not detangle his motor cycle. It was so confusing; l did not even understand it even as we drove past the conjoined vehicles.

Lagos drivers do not use or respect the indicator light that shows when you when you change lanes or make a turn. 99.9 % of Lagos drivers do not look out for indicator lights. When you indicate a turn with your light and hoping that someone is using their brain on Lagos road, you have just made yourself a target for an accident and probably an untimely death.

Rather than using your signs, you and your passengers have to bring your heads out of the car and try to have contacts with the reckless drivers on the road and beg them to let you change your lane or to turn right or left.

In general driving on Lagos road is still very much an insane experience. It may not be the biggest problem in Nigeria but it is surely a significant part of public health question and analyses. It is either the people bring madness to the roads or the roads make people mad. Whichever way you view it, it is bad and sad.

On Lagos roads, there are no rooms for respect and courtesy. Everybody looks angry! People are not driving or behaving normally behind the wheels. Everybody is in a hurry and everybody believes that they should not give room to another driver. It’s as if everybody is chasing the same thing or the same thing is chasing everybody.

In all these negative brouhahas, one begins to wonder about the roles of the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC. This agency must be really rotten and inefficient. They are not working. How can they explain the acquisition of drivers’ licenses by all the bad drivers in Lagos? Have all these crazy drivers passed through any driving school? Have they been tested theoretically and practically?

In Lagos the dangers and evil on the road are so numerous that coming back home to your house in the evening is considered an everyday miracle.

So what are the ways out of this hydra-headed problem that has grown so big that it is now the norm to be drive anyhow-you-like in Lagos. Where do we start from in this country where everything has fallen apart and into pieces?

One can also question the roles of the bribe-loving police force in all these extreme dramas, thrillers and horrors on Lagos/ Nigerian roads. They are constant on the roads, pointing their guns at ordinary citizens as if there is a war in Lagos. But their primary concern is their filthy pockets.

The police, the FRSC, the people and even the state government  and its other transport agencies are all contributing their own quotas to the madness and complexity on Lagos roads. Everybody is claiming right, everybody is neglecting their duties and obligations and everybody is doing the wrong thing.

When Nigerians return home from Europe and America with their drivers’ licenses that were earned like war trophies, they are insulted and humiliated to the extent that the authorities make many of them to acquire the Nigerian license that are obtainable without undergoing driving tests.

In their ignorance, the men of the FRSC and the police turn down hard-earned foreign driver’s license. I heard they don’t even recognize international driver’s license. Really? Of course, they will accept the bribe that follows the argument on this.

During my stay in Lagos, l spent a substantial time shouting at some motorists and educating them on a few things that l saw them do wrong. Yes, l did that sometimes when l was behind the wheels and sometimes when l took my usual long walks along the streets.

Constantly proving that l was right, l just refuse to leave my lane for the stupid oncoming okada motor-cyclists and other drivers who really do not have any business on the road. I was hardly in a hurry, so that turned out well.

The first lesson in a driving school says: plan for your journey. That particular lesson will cure about 50% of the insanity on Lagos road. Where are people rushing to? They will overtake you with the narrowest of margin beside you or in front of you! What are they chasing?

There are rush hours and heavy traffic in major cities across the world. But the cars keep rolling. In Nigeria, the traffic stands still not only because of bad roads, but also because of bad driving and total absence of knowledge about safe driving.

So if the people plan their journeys, if drunkards are removed from the roads, and if the roads become motorable say 100 years from now because Nigerian roads are still among the most dangerous road in the world today, maybe more than 90% all the accidents on Nigerian roads will become preventable. Lofty goal l guess.

The traditional custodian of Lagos and the governor of Lagos, where do you go from here? Lagos drivers don’t know how to drive. They just move the vehicles. They need help and deliverance. You need help too because right under your watch, Lagos has fallen apart.

 

aderounmu@gmail.com

 

all images taken by Adeola Aderounmu