The Ailments Around Nigeria’s Neck

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The Ozubulu Tragedy

First, my deepest sympathies, go out to the people of Ozubulu, Anambra State, on the deaths of those that were murdered, and those that were injured and traumatised, during the senseless attack on innocent people, who were attending Sunday Mass at St Phillips Catholic Church. This is a challenge for the Nigeria Police Force, to ensure that every person involved in this heinous crime, is apprehended and punished to the fullest extent of the law. Similar condolences go to the family of Heather Heyer, who was murdered in a violent attack by a white supremacist, as she joined protesters demonstrating against a white supremacist racist and anti-Semitic rally in Charlottesville, and to the people of Sierra Leone for those that lost their lives and those that are still missing, as a result of the recent Mudslide.

Madam Special Assistant

Let me register my shock and disdain for the statement made by a Special Assistant to the President, saying that it was ‘disrespectful and intrusive’ for Nigerians to ask about the exact ailment that the President is suffering from. Sometimes, I wonder about the utterances of some of the people that have been placed in positions of authority by Government. More often than not, they sound like a bunch of self-serving bootlickers.

What does respect have to do with it? HELLO! He is our President, voted for by the people, in office because of the people, to serve the people. A lot of Nigerians love him, and placed the little hope that they have left, in him. Should they not ask? Secondly, it is our country, Nigeria’s money, that funded the President’s expensive treatment/‘medical vacation’ in London, and paid the parking fees etc of the aircraft that waited for him for over 100 days, which I’m told could be up to £800 per hour or even more, depending on the type of aircraft or the airport. Furthermore, it is also Nigeria’s money, that paid for the incessant visits by the President’s family and public officials to Abuja House, London. I would imagine that, one has a right to know what one’s money is being spent on.

The round-the-clock statements by Government Spokespersons and APC members, that Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended)(the Constitution) was complied with, that is, transmission of a declaration to the Senate President and Speaker of the House, that the Vice President shall act in the absence of the President, ended up sounding like a broken record, a cacophony. It seems to me that, the reason that the President’s illness is being shrouded in mystery, is simply to avoid any informed clamour by ‘awon ota’ (the enemies) for Section 144 of the Constitution to be invoked against him, or for his resignation. Once the nature of the President’s illness is revealed, medical experts will be able to give Nigerians the ‘411’ (information) on his condition, and tell us with certainty, for instance if he will have to keep going on medical vacations or whether he is capable of continuing effectively or not, as President.

So Madam Special Assistant, I beg to disagree with you. Nigerians are well within their rights to enquire. I would go further to say that, that misstatement by Madam Special Assistant, is an insult to the intelligence of Nigerians. This kind of ‘take it or leave it’ attitude displayed by Government spokes people, does more harm than good, as it riles people, causes nothing but disaffection and reduces the President’s ratings among Nigerians. One expects more measured responses, from spokes people. Maybe it would have been better, for her to simply have said that she doesn’t know the nature of Mr President’s ailment, just like Femi Adesina said he doesn’t know who is paying the President’s medical bills! Madam Special Assistant, I hope you also enjoyed your trip to London “to visit the Queen”, or rather in this case, the ‘Lion King’ (as Mrs Buhari and Senator Sani referred to His Excellency)! I saw you on television. That said, we wish you well Mr President. Allah ba ka lafiya. Allah ya kara sauki. Ameen. Welcome back.

Public Nuisance: Convoys and Sirens

2 Saturdays ago, my husband and I were sitting patiently in traffic on Adeola Odeku. We were heading to a wedding at Federal Palace Hotel. All of a sudden, from behind us, we heard the blaring of sirens and the sound of that loud, annoying horn that emanates from patrol vans in convoys. For a moment, I wondered if it was Acting President Osinbajo passing by. The ‘convoy people’ turned their poor police personnel, into chaparral cocks, a specie of fast-running cuckoos – ‘roadrunners’, and had them running down the street like bats out of hell, to clear a path for the several convoys.

Our driver, sat glued to the spot like a statue, and kept letting the convoy people through. I was constrained to ask the driver, if he intended for us to spend the night on the same spot! Little did I know, that my husband was just as irritated as I was. As yet another convoy was trying to force its way through, my husband instructed the driver not to let them pass. The stubborn patrol van driver, moved menacingly and aggressively towards our car, as if he would hit our vehicle, if we refused to give way.

At that point, I wound down my window and warned the patrol van driver, that if he so much as made the mistake of hitting our vehicle, there would be trouble. When they were unable to get past us, their roadrunner resorted to begging us to let them through; when we refused, they cleared another route and took that. It turns out that, we were all going to the same wedding!

First, this is the type of behaviour, that breeds bitterness and resentment among Nigerians. They were some passengers in a ‘danfo’ bus next to us, they looked hot, bothered and angry. And why not? They had been sitting on the same spot for a while, as there was traffic, then the so-called ‘VIPs’ came to compound issues, all because they were rushing to attend a wedding!

Section 154(1) of the National Road Traffic Regulation 2012 provides thus: “No person other than the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Vice President, President of the of the of Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Deputy President of the Senate, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Governors and Deputy Governors of States shall drive a vehicle on any public road using siren, flashers or beacon lights”. Section 154(2) provides for a N3,000 fine or 7 months imprisonment or both, for the contravention of Section 154(1).

It seems that the Inspector General of Police, has somehow been permitted, to issue lists of additional people that can make use of this privilege that is reserved for the above-listed public officials, who were given this advantage because of their tight schedules and the need to get from A to B at short notice. However, in Nigeria, every Tom, Dick and Harry, who can afford to buy a patrol van and pay for 2 police personnel, has a convoy. I doubt that most of these people, are even included on the IG’s list.

The question is, can the IG’s list even be valid, when there is a law already in place that deals with the matter, which has not been amended? This blatant and illegal use of convoys and sirens, should be stopped. Why should people constantly use convoys to irritate and disturb Nigerians on the road, especially during the weekend, because they want to attend social functions and not urgent national assignments? The use of convoys and sirens, is a privilege that should be used with a sense of responsibility.

Driving in London one day, the Princess Royal, Anne, daughter of the Queen of England, was also driving by. She is said to be one of the busiest and hardest working royals. She had just one noiseless dispatch rider, leading her vehicle, and they proceeded down the road quietly, without fuss. Aside from being noisy nuisances, our convoys also drive dangerously, at break neck speed, and many of them have accidents, sometimes even fatal, killing innocent Nigerians who are unlucky to be on the road with them, going about their daily business. For instance, the convoy of former Governor of Kogi State, was involved in an accident on Lokoja-Abuja Road, which resulted in the death of Professor Festus Iyayi, who was on his way to Kano to attend an ASUU meeting.

Resume or Resign

I watched recently, with amusement, the interview of the silky Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Jimoh Moshood, on Sunrise Daily, as he claimed that the reason why the Police interfered with the ‘Resume or Resign’ Protesters on the second day or so of the sit-out, was that miscreants who had joined in the protest, had to be checked to avoid any trouble. Of course, this was vehemently denied by Deji Adeyanju, a member of the R or R Movement, who said that there were only about 10 people protesting, and they were never joined by any miscreants. In fact, from the clips of both events shown on television of the earlier days of the protests, the Pro-Buhari Protesters seemed a trifle more noisy and aggressive than those of the R or R, and no miscreants were seen with the R or R Protesters. Things only seemed to have taken a bad turn on 15/8/2017, when the R or R people took their campaign to Wuse Market.

Section 40 of the Constitution gives a person the right to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he (or she) may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his (or her) interests…”. Therefore, if the R or R Protesters decided to peacefully air their views and share their concerns with fellow Nigerians, it is their constitutional right to do so (even President Buhari said something to that effect). Government Authorities, especially Nigeria Police, please, take note. Stop the military intolerance mentality. Once you come out and make what they perceive to be an anti-Government statement, they seem to descend upon you like a pack of wolves, in most cases, using the excuse of miscreants, as a cover to scuttle your activities. Police, sometimes ‘una too do’ (overzealous), and in the wrong direction too. Your time will probably be better spent, cleaning up your image, having been named in a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, as one of the highest bribe takers in Nigeria!