I want to start by commiserating with all the families that have lost love ones in the ghastly inferno that happened on the Otedola bridge yesterday. I also want to console those that managed to escape the carnage but have had incalculable damages done to their means of livelihood or businesses. Those that are in the hospital for one injury on the other, my thoughts are with you as well.
But, how long are we going to continue to allow avoidable deaths turn us to a nation of mourners? Just a couple of days ago we were all mourning the deaths caused by the rampaging Fulani herdsmen. We dont know what tomorrow holds for us as I am very certain this is not the last.
Prayers alone will not prevent all these deaths. We need a government that is responsive to the yearnings and aspiration of the people it has vowed to serve. We need a government lead by a leader with vision, national outlook, not parochial selfish interest, that has the political will and commitment to make this country great.
Many things could have been done to prevent the inferno that happened on the Otedola bridge. At the HEART of the issue is SAFETY on our roads. One of the presenters on Channels TV this morning talked about how, while doing a report of road usage by truck drivers, that 80% were illiterate. I want to add to that if we do a random check on just the tires of these trucks alone, 90% of them will be found to not be road worthy. If the government were to focus on just checking the tires of these trucks alone, not only will it prevent this kind of accidents, it will have a multiplier effect on the economy.
How you may want to ask? Let’s say government comes up with a policy like: An Act for Road Safety and Road Worthiness, which amongst other things empowers a regulatory agency of government to ensure that all vehicles that ply our road must be certified and the agency is allowed to implement this judiciously. The immediate effect would be that every vehicle in the country would ensure that they comply leading to a boom in the tire industry. We all know that a lot of people go about with bad tires for so long and are under no obligations to change their tires. This becomes extremely more import for the trucks as an average of these trucks have between 12 to 18 tires. These trucks are owned by individuals and companies that have been gaming the system for so long. They can conveniently pay for their trucks to be road worthy but they wont because no one is holding them to account.
Imagine the effect a booming and vibrant tire industry will have on the economy, Dunlop and co would have to increase their production leading to increased employment opportunities. A lot of our unemployed graduates can have career prospects. Students can even opportunities to do internship in such companies which is a win-win situation for both: the companies get “cheap” labor while the students gets the necessary exposure that prepares them for their career path. We will be forced to stop importing used tires into the country leading to reduced pressure on the naira. On the upstream sector of this, we will see a boom in rubber plantation to support the demand from increased manufacturing leading to employment opportunities along the rubber value chain and of course potential for foreign exchange earning. It is not in government’s place to create job. What the government owns the people is to create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive, comes out with the right policies. From the example above, by enacting just one policy to address safety concerns, its able to create employment and of course increase potential for foreign exchange earning.
What I am saying in essence that incidents like this should be an opportunity for government to identify and address the causes by enacting the right policies instead of just throwing our hands up in the air helpless and just pray. What I expect as a response from government is the executive strengthening/coming up with a bill to tackle this and prevent it from happening in future or the legislators conducting an hearing to look at road safety issues in the country in general and the Otedola inferno in particular.
Governance is not rocket science. Little things that matter can go a long way to uplift this country if only we have the right kind of leadership that is committed to serve the people. There are so many things that matter in Nigeria that we have not exploited as nation. Exploiting them and addressing them one by one will lead to an aggregate effect that would end up making this country a buoyant one and an economic power. I shall be highlighting this little things that matter in subsequent write-ups
One day, one day, we shall get it right.
God bless Nigeria.
© Dr. Jay Osi Samuels