Has Fayose returned his loot?

Fayose

Humility may be a great virtue, even when it seems natural that a person of great intellect, irrespective of their racial origin, would be contemptuous of an idiot. The lack of respect by one race for another may not quite be about the colour of the skin, but the historic achievements that stand them out as superior to the other. Those who have sent men to the space can hardly be blamed for their contempt of those still battling with the most elementary aspects of societal development.

Let us be honest with ourselves, road construction is not classified as one of the historic scientific discoveries of the modern era. Neither is it the greatest of technological breakthroughs. It is not something that has got great scientists and engineers sweating for months and years. There have been roads before civilisation, even rats have a semblance of theirs.

Road construction is at the elementary ladder of development, yet it is still that thing we have been grappling with in Nigeria. What we call roads in our society are in their most derelict state, sources of avoidable accidents and traps for insecurity of every description.

Quite a number of ugly cultures tend to take root and fester when you have failed to nip them in the bud, or you have accepted them as your easy options. This writer was one of the first to decry the celebration of motorcycles as one mode of public transportation in Nigeria, not least because motorcycles were not designed for that purpose.

Sadly, our politicians sought cheap popularity with it. They bought motorcycles for their supporters in creating an impression that they have created jobs or empowered their constituents. They also created an impression that their identification with that dangerous and crude mode of public transportation stand them out as sympathisers of the poor and down-trodden. Not many politicians demonstrated that populism better than Ayodele Fayose, former governor of Ekiti State, who was recently in the news urging the Federal Government to urgently repair the so-called road that links Akure, capital of Ondo State, with Ado-Ekiti, capital of Ekiti State. Fayose, the charismatic politician or jester, would be accompanied wherever he went with a large crowd of motorcyclists and could often be seen riding one himself.

The Lagos State government has recently joined some of those state governments that have come to appreciate that motorcycles cannot be accommodated as a permanent mode of public transportation in our society. However, those who seek to ban the use of motorcycles as a means of public transportation in a big city such as Lagos must also invest on expanding intra-city routes for the purposes of efficient bus services, partnering with the private sector. They must also seek alternative sources of income for those who have come to rely on motorcycles for that purpose. This new transportation culture would be about decent drivers working shifts, enjoying short breaks between hours as well as having periodic holidays. One reason for the many accidents on our roads is because most of our drivers work 24 hours a day, seven days a week-no rest.

We need money that is not there to transform our society into a modern one. When former Governor Fayose called on the Federal Government to do the road work it needed not be begged to do, I said to myself that Fayose had found his voice because he must have returned the money the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission alleged he embezzled from his state. There is this saying among the Yoruba, roughly translated, that the one who has embezzled what belongs to the congregation should not be the one to lead a song. He or she would probably be shouted down. Now that what we collectively call the Abacha loot- in a society where living Abachas comfortably reside in opulence-would be expended in funding road works, the little Abachas in our midst must be made to cough out what they have stolen. When Ayodele Fayose has coughed out the little he stole, any admonition of his for a better Nigerian society would be appreciated and warmly applauded.

Akinola wrote from United Kingdom.

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