Editor's note: Public affairs commentator, Abdullahi Haruna, writes on the recent Lokoja-Abuja traffic which Kogi state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello tried his best to ease the pain of commuters on Sunday, July 26. The writer urged federal authorities to fix the road with immediate effect.
Like it has been argued several times, governance is a twenty hours' job that demands the unalloyed attention and time of those saddled with the responsibility of leadership at the highest level. That's why good health is often considered a major prerequisite qualification for any top public job in addition to the mental alertness of the person seeking the office.
There is hardly enough time for a working and focused governor, who is determined to leave a legacy of stellar performance behind at the expiration of his tenure, rests, actually. It's either he is attending to one memo or in attendance of a high powered meeting or he is working the phones to get in touch with willing investors or he is paying an unscheduled visit to the site of an ongoing project. The list is endless. Of course, that's for a hard-working executive.
The bucket list of what-to-do for a diligent governor is never exhaustive, especially in a developing country like Nigeria that needs all hands on deck in order to move the country out of its current economic quagmire and political stagnation. If executives in the private sector managing their private businesses can be working round the clock in order to steer the ship of their companies to a safe harbour, what about those in the public sphere managing the lives of the masses?
Unfortunately, a lot of those elected to drive development in the country are not focused and diligent enough, preferring the life of hedonism to that of quality service delivery through altruistic service to humanity. One will, therefore, be excited about seeing a Nigerian leader who occasionally goes out of the conventional way to provide selfless service to the Nigerian people in the most unusual manner.
Against the foregoing, Kogi state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, became prominent, once again, in the media a few days ago for electing to be a traffic warden on the problematic Lokoja-Abuja highway, directing and controlling erratic traffic congestion that saw the youthful governor depart from the traffic scene around 4 am having arrived the place the previous day around 6:30 pm. In essence, the governor was a traffic warden for almost 24 hours, serving Nigerians of different hues because of the criticality of the road in linking the south and north of the country.
According to some pieces of information reliably gathered, commuters and motorists had slept on the Gegu-Koton Karfe axis of the Lokoja-Abuja road for two days due to the troubling traffic snarl on the road occasioned by a partial lockdown of one side of the two-laned Murtala bridge on Jamata portion of the road.
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The governor got an inkling of the ugly development through a phone call and quickly moved to the place with his security men and few aides, directing the flow of traffic, which lasted for hours. As at 10:45 pm of the said date, Governor Bello, who blamed men of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) for their initial passive response to the pathetic traffic situation, was still sweating it out, trying to control the backbreaking traffic. By the time he left the place, ease had already returned to the road which was utterly chaotic before his arrival.
Situating the narrative of the governor's intervention in a proper context shows that he is accessible, on one hand, going by the way he picked a random call to his phone alerting him to the dangers inherent in the paralyzing traffic situation on the road and his immediate mobilization to the epicentre of the traffic immediately he got the call. By so doing, the governor exemplified two key attributes of a leader in one fell swoop: accessibility and responsiveness.
Be that as it may, beyond the governor's commendable timely intervention, wherein he took on the roles of FRSC, NPF, military and paramilitary agencies to rescue Nigerians from nauseating traffic triggered by a bad road, it is imperative, therefore, to bring it to the attention of the federal government that the Lokoja-Abuja road needs critical rehabilitation at this time. In fact, the recent traffic snarl on the popular road was caused by a partial lockdown of one of the sides of the Murtala bridge thus paving way for motorists to use what's called one-way, which is a danger on its own.
What to do so that a governor will not have to become a traffic warden when he is supposed to be attending to other vital functions of the state? The federal government through the federal ministry of Works needs to urgently find a way to fix the road which has become one hell on earth for Nigerian travellers plying the route which is the main gateway to the north and south divides of the country. Although it is on records that previous administrations had awarded the contract to fix the road in the past, the call for immediate rehabilitation of the road is more than timely taking into cognizance the determination of the President Muhammadu Buhari to give the country a massive infrastructural facelift during his period in office.
Governor Bello has done well in this regard. He can do more by bringing it to the attention of the federal government the urgency to intervene in saving the road before it collapses. Thank goodness, both the governor and the presidency belong to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). That will make the lobbying a lot easier.
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