It was a very sad moment indeed for the entire people of Ekiti State and Nigerians in general on Sunday 24th of April 2016, the day that dastardly ended the precious lives of seven able-bodied gentlemen from the state via a ghastly motor accident.
The last time I checked, among the deceased persons were six medical doctors and the driver of the affected vehicle. They were actually travelling toward attending the annual general meeting of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) scheduled to hold in Sokoto.
We reportedly learnt that the incident happened along Abuja-Kaduna Expressway. It was gathered that the vehicle, precisely a bus, abruptly ran into a deep pothole in the middle of the road; thereby somersaulting.
The men of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) had allegedly attributed the incident to over-speeding. The report was emphatically refuted by the survivors of the accident who claimed that the deceased driver was a professional. They further stated that the corps was indirectly informing the public that the 12 doctors in the bus couldn’t ask the driver to refrain from over-speeding if truly he was in any way involved in such act.
It would be recalled that it was that same Abuja-Kaduna expressway that truncated the life of Nigeria’s Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr James Ocholi (SAN) including that of his wife and son, few months ago. This very incident was equally allegedly attributed to over speeding by the FRSC.
As much as I sincerely sympathiSe with the families of the Ekiti seven alongside the victims who are still lying critically in the hospital. We need to understand one fact: our roads are not in good condition, and such anomaly is seriously telling on the society. We are not unaware that a road accident could be caused by several factors to include, but not limited to, driver’s recklessness, indolence on the part of passengers, as well as the not unusual nonchalant behaviours of officials of the FRSC. It is imperative to acknowledge that the greater percentage of road accidents on our major roads was as a result of the pathetic physiognomy of the said roads.
To this end, the governments at all levels should act fast toward reawakening the pitiable state of the various roads. These roads are seriously yearning for rehabilitation. I am aware all the federal roads that are currently dilapidated were captured in the 2016 budget, hence soonest we ought to start witnessing a different era as regards the fate of the roads.
The intending contracts should not be awarded to ‘ghost’ contractors; such practice has been the major plight faced by this country in the area of road construction. In view of this, the President Buhari led administration that has the fight against corruption as one of its priorities ought to do something differently towards ensuring that the Egyptians we saw yesterday wouldn’t retrace their footsteps back to this dispensation that’s anchored in change.
Furthermore, the FRSC ought to stop issuance of driver’s licence to the prospective owners/bearers by proxy. It is not anymore news that some personnel of the enforcement agency invariably connive with unscrupulous elements towards issuing driver’s licence, number plate, et al, to them without passing through due process. They should also abstain from condoning the use of scraps in the name of ‘car/vehicles’ or ‘motor spare parts’ on our roads.
Similarly, recklessness of several drivers including adherence to ‘one-way’ syndrome, over speeding, non application of seatbelt, making call or texting/chatting while on the steering, drinking/smoking – driving, and what have you, should be properly checkmated by the corps. Mobile courts ought to be set up at strategic locations to, try anyone caught in the act or accused of any of suchlike lackadaisical attitudes and other related ones.
However, in most occasions, you would observe that the passengers, or car owners, as the case may be, often instigate their drivers to move on a high speed, stating that they are already late to their destinations. Even when the commercial/private driver over-speeds out of pleasure, the said set of people won’t bother to throw a caution at him.
The citizenry need to be thoroughly oriented on the fact that, he who drives safely definitely arrives safely. Such campaign requires to be carried out, from time to time, by the FRSC in collaboration with various corporate bodies such as the churches, mosques, civil society groups, the media, and the National Orientation Agency (NOA). The time to act is now, before this untold and unspeakable scenario gets out of hand. Think about it!
Comr Fred Doc Nwaozor is Chief Executive Director, Centre for Counselling, Research & Career Development – Owerri