18 November 2012

Nigeria: Bitter Pill

"If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favour freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without ploughing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning."- Frederick Douglass

The knives are out as Lagosians cannot reach a consensus if, the esteemed Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola is combative, obstructive, indignant or all of the above, about curbing the activities of Okada riders on the streets of Lagos.

Conspiratory theorists are on overdrive,as they argue vociferously, when they attempt to give meaning to what they do not understand. Some are of the view that the governor is scoring a own goal for his party and that since he is leaving, come 2015,that he really does not care .

The other camp tends to agree with Fashola's move. They see it as pragmatic,objective and progressive for the long term development of Lagos State.

Here's my disclaimer: to the sceptics, no, I have no political aspirations in Lagos or Nigeria for that matter and have no vested interest in any politician or political party but I support the governor's stance. Yes,things are hard and unbearable for many Lagosians. It is true the wheel of progress is slow and arduous and we,as people, are not used to dealing with long term goals and we are more agreeable with instant results, fleeting promises that fail to materialise.

This is a matter of principle over politics.I believe that Fashola is a principled man and he wants to do the best for Lagos even if it is to the incandescence of his party grandees. Now, that is a man of value, history will show that Fashola has the best intentions for Lagos and its people. Lagos deserves better and the people should strive to look further than the life of one administration.

The facts are there for all to see; Lagos has had many years of stagnation structurally, developmentally, so it takes a lot of hard work and courage to get the state working again and properly. Deaths and serious injuries by Okada is quite high and the hospital beds are littered with victims of this mode of transport. And yes, it is the favoured means of snatch and grab robbers, or criminals evading capture and the list goes on.

Fashola reeled out statistics to illustrate the alarming rise in accident rates, resulting in injuries and deaths, from the unrestricted operations of commercial motorcyclists, it is quite shocking.

I have heard of the arguments; that Okada riders are serving the needs of the community and its people, those that cannot afford to pay high fares, that the Okada riders were betrayed by Fashola as they supported his re-election and political aspirations, so, he owes them! And the riders also, if their threats are to be believed, that if the riders are not allowed to ply the roads,they may resort to thieving! So they want to hold the people to ransom then?

No one owes anyone anything. When will we learn that we cannot sell our votes or loyalty for favours? Can we see the real issue here: We need safe and regulated mode of transport and what happens to Okada riders out of work? Fashola has admitted that it will be hard and that Lagosians should endure the inconveniences accompanying the implementation of the traffic law, especially the restriction of Okada riders. Fashola said,"There will be no gain without pain.You should be ready to sacrifice if you want reward". He said the difficulties currently being experienced by commuters in the state were characteristics of the introductory stage of every life-changing policy.That's true.

He added that the law would be of benefit to residents on the long-run. And "The road traffic law is meant to keep you safe and alive. Okada will not be our transportation model in this state. Our state will not be a dumping ground for motorcycles".

He remonstrated with Lagosians "What we want from residents is some sacrifice. When we were building BRT corridors a few years ago, people complained; but now the BRT has been accepted by everybody". You see, the governor has a point and he seems reasonable, when he said that the state would continue to explore ways to improve its transportation sector and tackle present challenges.

The plan is well planned and that the completion of the state's light rail project would also boost the transport system. That is a man of honour, a leader, who despite, taking an unpopular move and stands by it, that is no mean feat. People of Lagos be patient, we will get a better state that will be a standard bearer for the rest of the country.

Best man won

Do something. Either lead, follow, or get out of the way."- Ted Turner

So the best man won. Barak Obama faced history squarely in the face and whatever happens , his win definitely rewrote the political history of America.The political pundits who,are a seasoned lot, did not know what to make of the win.

They did not see it coming. In fact some of them were honest to say that they had called it wrong. The Republican overplayed the them and us card that they failed to realise that the country had moved on without them.

Obama won the minority votes; black, women, Hispanic and the young people's votes.The Republican party itself is being pushed into the political wilderness as they represent a party of old white men who are stuck in the bygone years of divide and rule.

Obama's victory was built on a superior and pragmatic ground game, which turned out in droves. The right wing commentators even say Obama only beat Romney by the Republican party disunity amongst the ranks , and that the only thing Republicans agreed was they wanted to get rid of Obama. They had money, they wanted to protect their way of life despite the general population groaning under the pressing economic recession.

They took people's votes for granted, they offered nothing in return and the old propaganda, keeping voters ignorant and distracted, does not wash, at least not for intelligent young voters, or the middle class and hard working people.

Obama's winning formula was the way it included an effective coalition of minorities, younger women,first time voters and urban educated people.

This world is for the next generation and it was right that Obama won. When politicians marginalized themselves and excludes themselves from the ordinary people , they will get a master class thumping at the polls. So it will pay our politicians to learn from this result. The young are learning so fast and they will use their votes with the information at their finger tips.

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