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Un-Objectionable Perspectives On Benin-Sapele-Warri Road (2). By Tony Afejuku

Prof Tony Afejuku

"With this democracy, na so so crazy here and there we dey see: Absolving the self of responsibility. Na state road. Na federal. Na dis and that. I don’t want to use curse words on these people but the situation is damaging and damning."

Professor Ademola Da Sylva and Professor Ibrahim Bello Kano, as already argued and as seen in their presentations, rained forth their profusions on my Benin-Sapele-Warri journey. They held us under their sway with their enlightening contemplations. 

Now there are two other readers, Ayodele Suyi and he who wishes not to disclose his identity (among others) whose notions and impressions are equally of appealing quality to be brought to the attention of readers and followers of this column which should be reproduced for their appreciation and appetite. They may not be considered as creative composers in the mold of Da Sylva and IBK; but their minimal, plain style/manner of communication is distinct enough for anyone to follow the rhythm of the notes of pain and suffering of travellers on the Benin-Warri-Sapele Road which I captured or tried to capture in my gift of words – if you allow me to say so. 

Enjoy our minimalists, our plainly plain stylists – whose tune and words and ideas and feelings are true and sharp.

Dr. X (not his actual name as he wants to remain anonymous even though he is Canada-based):

After reading what I called your Sapele-Warri journey which actually it was, the first thought that came to me was in the form of a question: 

“Is something fundamentally wrong with us?” This question elicited further thoughts as follows:

If there were no templates of the 50s to 60s, I could have been easily deceived that we’re cursed. However, even the IBB Bridge which we refused to call by that name was just built in 1990. Thus, achievements like this (it was the longest at the time) made (and still make) people fond of the military because to them, at least they saw infrastructural development. 

With this democracy, na so so crazy here and there we dey see: Absolving the self of responsibility. Na state road. Na federal. Na dis and that. I don’t want to use curse words on these people but the situation is damaging and damning. 

I remember when Ambode got into office. His major project was 200 roads or something like that. Fashola had done well to an extent on roads, so his focus was inner roads. However, when I read him back then, I cried because I remembered my government classes. This is the duty of the LOCAL GOVERNMENT. How can a governor be so happy doing LG work? NA COUNCILLOR e be? 

When going through situation here in my adopted Canada, I put it that, we Nigerians are one of the MOST UNGRATEFUL AND WICKED PEOPLE God made. 

At a time, I asked myself “wetin be dis people problem sef, why na every time dem go de do construction? Oyibo na wa o.” 

Then I thought, even if it’s corruption (which it was not) and they want to spend money, at least they create jobs for the people. They also ensure the roads are maintained regularly. Lastly, I’m not an expert but I guess snow, salt and water do damages to the roads. And these things are planned to ensure that there are roads and alternatives. 

In Naija there are no standards. Even if there were, the standards have kept reducing day by day. Now governors want us to lick their feet for paying civil servants their dues, what rightfully belong to civil servants. Haba! 

We are only doing ourselves if we keep stealing from ourselves. Looking for contacts and contracts, using foreign contractors and inflating costs to the detriment of our people and country. Building bad roads with poor materials so that they will expire in two years or at the most in five years is the game, it’s our people’s stock-in-trade. We are indeed clowning. Our leaders are clowns. Those of us hailing them are clowns as well. Stupid, foolish clowns they all are; we all are. You are not one of them though going by your truthful writings. (May we meet one day; may we meet here in Canada or in Naija someday). 

Roads, like other social amenities, are FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS of citizens and good roads are BASIC RESPONSIBILITIES of government to its people. I listen to radio shows and a bulk of complaints is usually BAD ROADS. These guys listen. They read. But in our country they, our people in power and authority, are busy stealing us dry and blue and building their so-called future home away from home. They are engaging the foreigner to build our roads and helping them to steal our money and refusing to invest in-house. Foolish fools who are foolish fools, destroying themselves and our land, as you say time after time!

Ayodele Suyi of Tribune: 

A fellow journalist (Michael Egbejule of your newspaper) and I discussed that your Warri trip at length. You narrowly escaped that tanker incident. Now, my advice: avoid Benin-Sapele-Warri-Road for now! I was expected to be in Ekiti (now) for a burial of a close family member, but I couldn’t make it. Twenty-two passengers were kidnapped on the Owo Road just last week! The risk is too much for me to take. On my last trip to Ekiti, we were approaching Ifon when soldiers turned us back because of the bad road and the kidnapping and killing that took place on the terribly bad spot. We had to go back to Owo, drive to Akure, Ondo, Ore before coming back to Benin! Your piece has romanticized our calamity as a people. Our leaders are cursed and cursed they will ever be – unless they change now. But will they? The Tribune paper arrived Benin at 5.45AM on Thursday. The parcel going to Warri got there at 2:38pm. We have railway from Kano to Niger Republic but not from Benin to Warri (and Sapele). Are we normal? I am fully with you, our very erudite writer, master and super columnist.

None of the alluded-to authors and readers can be called or seen as a parochial parochial (is Professor IBK reading this?) suffering the pangs of parochialism of the parochially parochial of our so-called political leaders in their orbit of parochiality. The Benin-Sapele-Warri Road is becoming a symbol and metaphor of and for our deplorably deplorable and disjointedly disjointed country: your country my country our country which is not their country.

I should at this ending juncture volunteer this informative information: Professors Ademola Da Sylva and Ibrahim Bello-Kano are extending this conversation and narrative through their especial art and science of literary and philosophical philosophy which shall grace this column in no distant time.   


Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.

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