Anthony Kila makes a passionate appeal to Nigeria’s influencers in the religious realm to preach the importance of good driving etiquettes to their followers
My appeal to our religious leaders is to include our roads in their sermons. We already have a lot of Christian and Muslim cars, at least going by their religious and moral stickers. What we need now is religious drivers since we can’t get good drivers.
Dear Spiritual Fathers and Mothers,
There is a very basic functional virtue that this country desperately needs in order to regain and preserve our humanity and even function rationally. Yes, you are right, there are many needed virtues but let us take them one at a time. One clearly missing virtue is that of good drivers. No one needs to be remembered of the importance safe roads and their value to our health, time and lifestyle as a whole. We must quickly add here that a good driver is someone that can steer a vehicle and above all understands the etiquettes and rules of safe driving.
Ordinarily, matters relating to good driving should be directed to driving schools and traffic law enforcement agencies. Alas, reality and experience show us that appealing to those two entities would be a total waste of time. They really do not want to and cannot breed and monitor safe driving and good drivers.
The main purpose of driving schools in a society is to prepare good drivers for the road. A driving school is expected to achieve this purpose by teaching those desirous of driving the art of steering vehicles and knowledge of traffic rules and etiquette. Therein lie our problems. There are too many people on our roads who did not bother with the trouble of going to any driving school and they clearly have no knowledge of basic traffic rules and norms. There are also too many people who attended driving schools but only did so to get proof of learning in order to be licensed rather than learning to be good drivers. Driving school teachers and owners are mostly driven solely by profit, rarely by conscience or ethics and so they accommodate as much as they can physically accommodate.
The main purpose of traffic law enforcement agencies in a society is to on behalf of the government and in the name of the people help keep our roads and consequently lives safe. They should be doing so by absolving two major functions. One is making sure no one is allowed to go about with dangerous vehicles that can put at risk the life of its driver, passenger and other road users. The other function is to make sure drivers obey traffic laws also to make sure no driver puts his or her own life or that of passengers and other road user at risk. Also important is not to delay other road users. A cursory look at the officers on our roads will show anyone that the last thing on the mind of those men and women in uniform seem to be the interest of road users. Most times our traffic law enforcers come across like hunters looking for their preys. What seem to matter to them is money not safety.
Given where we are, this epistle is directed to you, our dear fathers and mothers in God, it is written out of desperation. It is an appeal to ask you to step in one of the many areas where others have failed. I am sending the plea based on the position you have earned yourself in our society.
General desperation, uncertainty, atomisation, alienation and a need for access to an influential authority that can intervene in favour of anyone beyond merit has made our religious fathers and mothers a central point in our lives. Some people seem worried and disturbed by your status, wealth and influence in our societies. I have no problem with any of your privileges, I genuinely believe you have earned it as you have successfully created a mechanism that generates obedience and declaration of allegiance to virtue.
Let us think about it: While so many children don’t listen to their biological parents, they listen or at least pretend to listen to their spiritual parents. While so many spouses do not respect each other, they certainly pay deference to spiritual parents. Flight Captains know what it takes to get passengers to “remain seated till the plane comes to a complete halt…” in Nigeria. I bet most of those passengers will remain seated if the instruction was coming from a religious parent instead of a pilot.
My appeal to our religious leaders is to include our roads in their sermons. We already have a lot of Christian and Muslim cars, at least going by their religious and moral stickers. What we need now is religious drivers since we can’t get good drivers. To help us, my suggestion is that leaders in our churches and mosques dedicate some Sundays and Fridays in a year to how Christian and Muslim drivers should behave on the road.
Maybe just maybe…
Perhaps if people are told in churches and mosques that the same way “God loves cheerful givers”, God also takes delight in drivers that yield the way to others. Maybe if people hear in mosques and churches that it is a sign of faith not to try to go past those ahead of you but by remaining in your lane, God will take to your destination and compensate your patience. If people get to hear from their Pastors and Imams the virtues and blessings of drivers who don’t insult or railroad others. Maybe if our Pastors and Imams take time to teach their congregation that by their driving one should be able to tell a person of faith. Perhaps if churches gave time for people to give testimonies of the blessings they received for being kind, considerate and caring drivers, others might be inspired to become religious drivers too. We certainly need religious drivers behind the wheels of all the religious vehicles on our roads.
My appeal to our religious leaders is to include our roads in their sermons. We already have a lot of Christian and Muslim cars, at least going by their religious and moral stickers. What we need now is religious drivers since we can’t get good drivers. To help us, my suggestion is that leaders in our churches and mosques dedicate some Sundays and Fridays in a year to how Christian and Muslim drivers should behave on the road
*Prof. Kila is Centre Director at CIAPS Lagos.