Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Respite for Lagos-Ibadan Expressway?

opinion

If there are indices to measure how low we have sunk into in matters of leadership in Nigeria for years now, I think the conditions of Lagos - Ibadan-Shagamu - Benin , Onitsha - Enugu , Enugu - Port Harcourt expressways etc will tell the story better.

You do not need to go too far to measure the depth of our leadership crisis in Nigeria for nearly four decades. Our problem has not been money, it has not been bad weather or bad soil, it is the failure of a people to come to terms with those who govern them.

Lagos - Ibadan expressway was commissioned almost 40 years ago when there were not too many vehicles in Nigeria. Under our own very eyes, things began to change; economic activities increased, population increased, vehicles increased, houses, churches, industries etc increased on the corridor but that road has remained like that for nearly forty years.

The criminal neglect of the Lagos - Ibadan expressway and other federal roads in Nigeria has lingered on with a huge price.

Billions have been lost, thousands of lives lost, millions of man hours lost. For 13 years since 1999 we have been talking about Lagos - Ibadan and Shagamu - Benin expressways, the busiest in the country.

Former President Obasanjo and the late President Umaru Yar'Adua saw the disaster and said that actions will be seen on these critical roads but all to no avail. Soon, we began to hear about Bi-Courtney and the concession agreement with the Federal Government signed since 2009.

For three years Bi-Courtney has been speaking from both sides of the mouth offering one reason or the other why work has not started on this critical road. Two years ago I began to notice mobilization of men and equipment on Lagos - Ibadan expressway only for them to vanish into the thin air. What we continued to see are signboards telling motorists that work will commence soon on the road.

The 'soon' has winded to years and the road continues to decay to an unbearable state. It is only in Nigeria that this kind absurdity can take place. It is only in Nigeria that this kind of impunity will be tolerated. It is only in Nigeria that we do not use sanctions or punishment to call people to order.

The truth is that if the economy of Nigeria is to be propped up quickly, we need to invest seriously on critical infrastructure like roads and power. The failure of the federal Government to reconstruct and rebuild Lagos - Ibadan and Shagamu - Benin roads has drastically reduced the rising economic strength of Lagos State .

Realizing the potential damage these unattended critical roads have brought to the economy of Lagos and South West states, ACN Governors met few weeks back to begin plans of building an alternative road to the existing Lagos - Ibadan expressway. Perhaps, the Federal Government was rattled by this decision and now decided to act even though belated.

The time you wake up from sleep is your morning. If after 13 years of democracy the PDP controlled Federal Government is now realizing that Lagos - Ibadan and Shagamu - Benin roads need to be fixed quickly, I say good morning PDP.

We expect such quick and decisive actions on the many dilapidated federal roads in Nigeria; be it the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway or the Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene Road. And Nigerians demand that for once, this government should match its words with action.

Joe Igbokweis the publicity secretary of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Lagos State

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