The Oasis Reporters
December 26, 2021
By Greg Abolo
In the 1970s after the infamous Nigeria/Biafra civil war, Lagos became the global poster child’ for traffic gridlock, otherwise called ‘Go-Slow’ in Nigerian street language. Governments after governments all performed different remedies to solve the chaotic traffic jams that made living in Lagos, a nightmarish experience. Yet, nothing worked.
From odd and even number days for vehicles to ply Lagos roads to BRT dedicated lanes, the problems remained unsolved, until the tenure of Lateef Kayode Jakande in 1979 who set a machinery in motion to build a modern metro line in Lagos, aimed at solving the gridlock that would have transformed the city. But Major Gen. Muhammadu Buhari came calling with his military coup in 1983 and citing corruption allegations, canceled the contract. The city lost.
Lagos became worse, as more cars continued to pour into the city. Even the Federal Government had to plan a movement out of Lagos to a new Federal Capital city of Abuja, now experiencing the worst nightmares of traffic gridlock.
As governor of Lagos State, Barrister Fashola showed some imagination by demolishing roadside shanties and makeshift markets near roads and Lagos breathed some relief, before it relapsed again.
Nigeria’s struggles between States and the Federal government whereby each had it’s own roads to maintain covered the gross ineptitude in governance and the lack of initiative.
Recall when a pan Yoruba based party, the Alliance for Democracy (AD) swept the gubernatorial seats in South West States.
AD governors like Niyi Adebayo of Ekiti state and other were at their best, erecting signposts at failed portions of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) led Federal government announcing that the Federal government had failed in fixing their own roads.
Yet the governors showed an unmitigated lack of initiative to ameliorate the situation. Neither did they do much on even state owned roads.
When it comes to good roads in Nigeria, credit has to be given to Niger Delta States even though it can be argued that they could have done much more, considering the amount of money that accrued to them.
One governor that has shown gumption in decongesting traffic gridlocks in his state is Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, headquarters of Nigeria’s oil and gas sector, the nation’s cash cow. It became a go to state for many Nigerians seeking economic mobility in the richest oil and gas enclave in the country.
Rivers State’ s capital city, Port Harcourt has been bursting at it’s seams, with thousands pouring into Port Harcourt on a daily basis. The city has over the decades, become a city you could spend between one to six hours on the same spot, waiting for traffic to flow. It was that bad. To get to a place of work, many would leave home by four o’clock in the morning, just to beat the traffic gridlock. Even at that, roads remained perennially just as bad.
But see Wike’s plans as seen by a commentator on social media:
“Wike fixed some parts of a federal road and that’s the crux.
Did it help?
The table of Ikpeazu at Osisioma began in 2016 yet not completed.
Wike started his flyovers in 2018 and has delivered 8″.
Another commentator said:
“When Wike constructed the flyover at Rumuokoro, did he repair the failed portion of East-West road?
Even after the commissioning of the Rumuokoro flyover, commuters were still going through hell on that road due to failed portions on the East-West road“.
One can therefore deduce that Nyesom Wine may not have fixed as many more Federal roads in Rivers state for the comfort of residents, but he built flyovers to cross connect road users to diverse directions using such flyover bridges which at the same time, made room for free flowing traffic.
That’s governorship initiative and good sense. He saw no need getting into needless arguments over Federal versus state roads that some inept governors hide under to cover their lack of initiative or imaginative thinking.
Port Harcourt now has free flowing traffic all over and it’s all thanks to Nyesom Wike’s right thinking on infrastructure and governance.