Nigeria's Opium in a Compendium

23 October 2020
book review

"The Danfo Driver in all of us" written by Niran Adedokun, a lawyer, writer and journalist progress nerve-racking insights into the frail framework of Nigeria's democracy.

The power of insight in Niran Adedokun's second book is a pointer to the fact that he, like some other conscientious Nigerians is no passive passenger in the vehicle of nation building. Carefully, he had articulated his views on a wide variety of social and national issues from his mental notes over a period of five years as a columnist at Punch Newspapers.

After his stint as a special assistant to the wife of the former Kwara State governor, Mrs Toyin Saraki, the author had a panoramic view of power, governance and more importantly, the place of followership that he couldn't help but share albeit in vignettes. In this collection of opinion articles titled, "The Danfo Driver in all of us and other essays," he breaks down the complex concerns about Nigeria and how those perennial issues have become a norm in the absence of the rule of law.

The raw materials for the five-part book started at a crucial period in Nigeria's political history. The former President, Dr. Good luck Ebele Jonathan had the rare opportunity to organise a credible election in the face of widespread criticisms against the government and a morbid fear of electoral violence. The peaceful handover to President Muhammadu Buhari did not necessarily guarantee a seemless transition from one ruling party to another nor did it change the general living conditions of the people remarkably.

In choosing this unconventional title for the book, Adedokun relied on everyday experience that his readers can easily relate with.

"The Danfo Driver in all of us" is a title of one of the essays in the book," the author explained in an exclusive interview with Art Weekend. "There is something in almost every Nigerian that sets the country back: their attitude, behaviours and tendencies that if reconsidered, would do the country well. The unifying idea is most of my writings is that the citizen has a huge role to play in the development of their country.

"In one of the essays, I write that I was done worrying with the politicians. They would not change and they are essentially the same no matter what party they belong. It is the citizens of the country that could change the country. I wanted to sell the idea of citizenship to the readers of the book. That's how the idea of Danfo Driver came."

For him, Danfo Driver has a symbolic meaning of being selfish. He would further freshen up the story behind his new collection by recounting the temperament of the average commercial bus driver otherwise known as the "Danfo Driver."

"The Danfo Driver" thinks about himself alone. Look at the traffic for example , I have observed the Danfo driver for some time and I know that he thinks of himself a lot. He doesn't care whether any person is able to use the road or not. He is very self-centred. I see that as an intrinsic characteristic of a lot of Nigerians.

"The people who steal all the money in Nigeria are thinking of only themselves alone. If you have a budget that is supposed to take care of all Nigerians and you just appropriate for yourself and your family members, it shows how selfish you are. Another thing about Danfo Drivers is that they are mostly unruly. They beat traffic lights, they overspeed and carry excess passengers. A lot of them do not obey the laws of the land. They are inconsiderate and lack compassion," he argued.

In addition to his strong political views, the author wrote on marriages and family life, discrimination against single parents and other domestic matters that have significant impact on the larger society.

Meanwhile, he had travelled around with the self-published book and generated conversations around the themes of corruption, abuse of power, accountability, ethnic bigotry, nepotism, poor infrastructure, development amongst others. His first book, "Ladies Calling the Shot" is an expose on the life and career of leading female film directors in Nollywood which has indeed turned out to be a strong literary tool for female empowerment.

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