22.09.2012 Feature Article

Nigeria, What Is The Purpose And Role Of Government?

Nigeria, What Is The Purpose And Role Of Government?
22.09.2012 LISTEN

Nigeria, What Is The Purpose And Role Of Government?

Written by Paul I. Adujie Esq.
Is there government in Nigeria? Where are the organs of governments in Nigeria? Local, state and federal? What are the purpose and functions of government, at municipal, or local, state and federal government levels? What is the role of government in the lives of Nigerians?

Government is profoundly absent in the lives of a majority of millions of Nigerians. But why?

Why is government so profoundly absent in the lives of Nigerians or why are various levels government in Nigeria not modulating Nigerian lives? Why is government not performing its basic or elemental functions?

These were the questions on every lips this weekend as a friend and I, traversed Bayelsa and Rivers States

On Saturday September 15, 2012, a friend and I, including hundreds of thousands of other Nigerians in their thousands, "enjoyed" and "basked" in the standstill traffic that is Choba, Port Harcourt in Rivers State

What is the matter with Nigerian federal, state and local governments? Why has all strata of governments in Nigeria abandoned Nigerians? This sense of utter neglect and shameless abandonment were the unanimous assessment of all who endured the road torture and chaos which is now commonplace in Nigeria.

The Port Harcourt Yenagoa road is quite possibly the worst road axis in Nigeria, and this is beyond dispute, this week proved it twice!

First, there was the incident in which a tractor-trailer with loads or consignment of timber, overturned spilled its goods on the highway, and there was no efforts by any agency of our governments to clear the mess and so the road was clogged and impassable for about 72 hours.

And there was no crane or heavy equipment to move the tractor-trailer and the dumped goods away from the highway in order to unclog it! And so it were, that for over three days, Nigerians in their hundreds of thousands endured the indignity of having to wallow through three-feet high mounds of mud or portor-portor to get there from here on the East-West Road axis.

Why does the Federal Roads Safety Corps not have heavy equipment and tow vehicles to remove broken, damaged and or vehicles involved in accident out of public streets and highways? Why is there no presence of traffic wardens, traffic police, soldiers and other sundry uniformed services to clear clogged roads and to direct traffic on our roads, to assure easy ebb and flow of traffic as a national duty?

Why is it that municipal, or local, state and federal levels of government do not see it fit, to attach importance to the flow of economic activities and reduce the loss of man-hours, by ensuring that traffic flows? Why would all levels and strata of government in Nigeria exhibit lack of concerns when economic activities grind to a halt as road arteries are clogged and economic activities are frozen to a frigid pulp?

Why would any reasonable government, local, state or federal and any combinations therewith, ignore the unbearable mental stress and unnecessary tension borne by a majority of her citizens traffic logjams on a daily basis and as a matter of fact, a nationwide phenomenon? And allow life to grind to a complete halt? Nigeria is not at war, and yet, worse things seems to manage to happen in Nigeria than in war zones where governmental authority is absent and anarchy is the rule!

What is the purpose of government in Nigeria if it cannot even It cannot repair roads, it cannot operate water supply or clear garbage from public space? It is becoming glaringly clear that government in Nigeria cannot control traffic, as exemplified by the blockage of a major roadway as a timber-trailer overturned in the first road incident which is explained above

Then, in quick succession, there was a second incident of road chaos in Nigeria this week, in which I personally bore witness, as I endured untold sufferings and extreme hardships, it was the road chaos at Choba junction, Choba, the community made famous by the establishment of the University of Port Harcourt.

Traffic on Saturday was miserable and the palpable misery was made worse and multiplied by a factor of a million, with the absence of traffic wardens, regular police or any uniformed agent. No agency of any levels of the Nigerian governmental apparatuses were in sight of represented in any manner or form! It was shameful and equally heartbreaking!

Nigerians road users were abandoned by all levels of what ought to be the government organs in our nation. Nigerians were left to their own devices! The rule of the jungle prevailed.

Might became right and it was the survival of the fittest and most audacious. Every motorist became federal government and survival became the ability to intimidate other road users, either through sheer arrogance or size of vehicle or a combination of both.

There were complete absence of government as objective arbiter or referee ... and the motorist did not know and or, they were unwilling to exhibit rules of the road courtesies to each other and standstills were the norm! There were six illegal lanes heading to either direction, East or West and North or South! A majority of the motorists behaved like maniacs and lunatics simultaneously!

But why are Nigerian roads is such disrepairs and poorly maintained? Why are there no efforts to control or officiate public behaviors on our highways? Why are all levels of government so absent?

Nigeria is not at war as was Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria! The billion Naira question therefore is, why are so many Nigerian highways impassable and in palpable disrepairs? Why are federal highways shamefully under endless constructions? Why are municipal or local authorities and their state counterpart so unconcerned about traffic jams, which are mostly induced by bad roads, potholes and floods?

Why are various strata of governments in Nigeria so splendidly uninterested in the immeasurable suffering on our roadways?

Nigerian roads may have caused mental illness in hundreds of thousands of Nigerians already! The terrible state of disrepair and dearth of maintenance of Nigerian roads have cause incalculable damage to many vehicles and exacted the ultimate price in death tolls of hundreds of thousands of Nigerians who are killed on our highways due to lack of maintenance and perpetual state of constructions of and on our roads!

I went on a road trip from Yenagoa in Bayelsa to Ode in Ekiti State the roads were rough all the way, except for a smooth patch from Warri to Benin City. The rest of the travel through multiple states, were unmitigated torture. Miserable roads, all!

Nigerians are so hardworking compared to any national that I have interacted with, bar none! But our government, at all levels behave like robber barons and absentee landlords! Nigerians have in their millions constituted themselves into 180 million substitute-federal governments, providing own electricity through millions of electricity generators. Nigerian citizens are constantly filling the voids created by profound absence by governments at local, state, and federal levels!

Nigerians have provided own water-boards through water-bore-holes self-help. Nigerians also have become adept at producing its own policing and safety and security services through hiring of own security personnel and building and living in homes that are actually fortresses and iron-cages in the name of safety and security of persons and properties, thereby offending all senses of beauty and aesthetics!

Now, I suspect that Nigerians are at the cusps of building private roads! It is already happening incrementally! There are now throngs of unemployed citizens constituting themselves into mob- for-hire, for motorists in distress on Nigerian highways, and at a fee of course! These throngs of "helpers" will push your vehicle if it falls into potholes which are so common on Nigerian roads, be it in metropolis or highways. They will push, shove, repair and do whatever necessary to rescue at a fee, any motorist in bad roads induced car-mess or car troubles!

There are simply no good roads in Nigeria! But why is this so, and why must this remain so? How can Nigerians achieve optimum economic growth and development given these obstacles and impediment to free movements of goods and services from point A to point B within Nigeria without the currently strenuously arduous efforts? Life spans of vehicles are considerably reduced due to the poor state of roads in Nigeria... from the exhaust pipe to the tires, axle, wheels alignment and balancing etc. Travel for business and recreation in Nigeria is made pointlessly and needlessly exacting and tortuous as a consequence of our terrible roads!

Too many things in Nigeria are outrageous, outlandish and bizarre. Too many things are extremely abnormal and yet Nigerians smile and pray through them all. Nigerian roads are a case study in the orchestrated, choreographed and organized chaos of how life is lived in Nigeria! Millions of Nigerians pray and claim that they cover dangers and obvious risks with the blood of Jesus, as they embark on trips over terrible roads, instead of demanding insisting on government actions!

In the midst of the anarchy at the end of over two frustrating, agitating and most aggravating hours stuck in the space, and seeing no symbol of authority such as a traffic warden, police officer, or members of Federal Roads Safety Corps member, FERMA, the Nigerian Army, Navy, the Air Force or any uniformed symbol of government at any level!

There was no spontaneous protest even though the heartache was palpable and yet, Nigerians managed to be calm in place, despite and instead of displaying seething rage! Everyone bore the burdens quietly, apparently covering extreme angers with the blood of Jesus as well? Nigerians are not docile or are they?

Invariably or as should be expected, many motorists resorted to "self-help" by creating additional lanes going north and south, these illegal lanes in themselves created additional crises and intensified the chaos which already subsisted. Many Nigerians should be asking and are indeed asking, What Does Government Do!

And so, after spending more than two hours on the same spot at the notorious road traffic chaos which is also known as Choba in Port Harcourt, the vexing question on every lip therefore became; What Exactly Is The Purpose And Role of Government in Nigeria?

The value of the Naira is in the doldrums, unemployment rate has skyrocketed, electricity generation and transmission in dire straits, Nigerian roads are impassably terrible and the list goes on! What can the strata of governments in Nigeria control? Naira value? Road traffic? Garbage removal? Unemployment? What does government in Nigeria do well, effectively and efficiently? What Exactly Is The Purpose And Role of Government in Nigeria?