One of the most common responsibilities expected of successive governments in Nigeria is the provision of what can pass as good roads. But the pervasive corruption that has ravaged Nigeria's fragile soul for the past 55 years has created a tall barrier to the actualisation of this simple demand. Roads have either become death-traps aimed at eliminating citizens who ought to enjoy them, or a fierce-looking sea after only few minutes of raining, resulting from lack of drainage as often seen on majority of roads in Lagos State.
The Lagos State Government, generating a monthly internal revenue in the region of N20 billion, cannot justify the deplorable state of the roads throughout the state. The attached photos, taken on the morning of Sunday, October 18th, 2015, do not capture fully the condition of Lagos roads on rainy days.
In my article of August 23rd, 2015, in which I detailed the terrible state of Fagba's roads in Lagos State, before deciding to now present these images from Victoria Island and Ikoyi areas of the same State, I stated in part thus:
"On the Island, an area considered to be of "high status" gets buried on rainy days, with the water deep enough to float a powerboat! The problem? Lack of drainage! Consequently, the water, lacking direction of any kind, goes wild on the street and swallows it up for several hours, even days. Isn't it preposterous that that a government should construct a road without considering a proper drainage system?"
The embarrassing photos accompanying this article justify the above quote, except that the rain lacked the required intensity to properly project the mental images of a floating powerboat on these roads.
Evidence from saner climes show that the world around us has developed beyond reminding any responsible government to look into issues such as good roads. Any government waiting to be reminded that the people need good roads, water, power, etc, should immediately cease to exist! That our collective demand as citizens still revolves on such matters is a testimony that Nigerians have over thirteen billion miles to cover before arriving at the much-talked-about 'Promise Land', if we ever will.
Lagos State, going by the size of income it generates every month, should be found among five of the most developed cities in the world. Certainly the reason for this setback is not indefinable: the extortionate corruption in Lagos State has mutilated the soul of the State, and as usual, the people are the prime victims. Not only are they deprived of their rights as people, they are robbed by desperate representatives well armed with smart pens, and whose conscience have been carefully buried right at the base of the Pacific Ocean.
So, the unvarnished truth, I must reiterate, is that it is the pernicious effect of corruption and insensitivity that has created the eyesore that we see on Lagos roads. This is why contracts on road construction, for instance, are often offered to mediocre companies who will charge very little for a shoddy job. The result is that members of the public are greatly dishonored with outrageous figures for a 'road construction' that must be carried out without a drainage plan! It is synonymous with the case of presenting a hungry child with a bowl of foo-foo and withdrawing the plate of soup which should naturally accompany the foo-foo itself, and then expect the child to set forth for a dance! Indeed, there can be no other way of insulting humanity!
Whilst development at the federal level has not been achievable thus far, Lagos State on its own has not done any better. The open fraud being freely carried out along Lekki Road under the guise of 'Toll Gates' remains one of the biggest cases of fraud from which humanity will ever suffer. The biggest tragedy being that such unjustifiable extortion is seemingly supported by 'law' against tax-payers whose cars must acquire the skills of a submarine to survive on Lagos roads.
This open disrespect and robbery against the people must stop herewith. The Lagos State Government should proceed to fix these roads immediately! The electorates deserve better than they are getting and will not beg for their constitutional rights! Occupants of government offices must understand that the era of incompetence and mediocrity has been safely confined to history.
Elias Ozikpu is a playwright, novelist, student, polemicist and a committed human rights activist.