Ebuka Obi-Uchendu: The Abuja delusion/illusion (YNaija FrontPage)
I look at all these evidently important roads and wonder what really the government is doing. Then I realize that they’re actually busy constructing 10 lane highways from the airport to the city. Yes in Abuja of course; complete with bridges and street lights all the way through.
I’m really not sure how to say this without sounding overly dramatic, but our Federal Government disgusts me. I don’t understand how things work in Aso Rock, or how they are able to sleep at night, knowing that some of the most basic infrastructure under their purview, is non-existent. Every week, every single week, a Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting is held, the president gets to show off his newest and well starched pan-Nigerian garb, while everyone in the room stays smiling as if some performance index just showed that Nigeria had nothing to worry about.
I lived in Abuja for 14 years of my life so I almost know what it feels like to stay in the capital city and believe that all’s well with Nigeria. Back then, I only left the town to visit my village and for the most part, it was a set route home, most of which never really gave me a proper feel of Nigeria. If I visited a place like Lagos, I was more consumed by the chaos than by the fact that almost nothing worked. The truth is, visitors or tourists never truly understand what locals go through in any city.
Moving to Lagos over 6 years ago, has made me see reason with complaints I heard growing up in Abuja. Back then, there was talk about Niger Deltans coming to the capital for the first time and being shocked out of the socks that a city like that existed in their country, built with oil from their backyard. That apparently sowed the seeds for what has today given birth to militancy, kidnapping, oil bunkering and violent revolts against government.
Abuja is not a reflection of Nigeria, Even though I can see why living there can make one think that way. But that excuse should not be valid for those in government, who by virtue of their oath of office, should leave the comfort of their offices once in a while and see what Nigeria is, especially those visible infrastructural lapses that litter the country. No one needs to look too hard to find them. Not the government.
The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway has taken almost a decade now just to award its contract. Makes you wonder how long the execution itself will take. Asphalt on the Benin-Ore Road, has been constantly washed away by floods; and sometimes, tears of Federal Ministers. Many years down the line, it is still under re-construction. The Enugu-Onitsha Expressway was once a bone of contention between the Federal Government and a former Anambra State Governor who wanted to fix it with state funds since the federal neglect had become unbearable. Today, lives are still being lost while the FEC continues to assure us that the road would soon be delivered in first class shape to motorists. The unfortunate flooding especially in and around Kogi State is obviously a natural disaster and could befall any country really. But anyone who plies that route will tell you that the Abaji-Lokoja Road was already on its way to being washed away. The floods were just a sad catalyst that sped up the inevitable.
The worst of all for me though is that Apapa-Oshodi Expressway. Earlier in the year, it looked like all was well and set for the road to finally become the well laid 10 lane expressway it was always meant to be. Julius Berger started construction at the Mile 2 end of the road and started working their way towards Cele. But sometime in August, the construction tractors disappeared and have not reappeared since. Some have said that they left because government owed them money. Others say government revoked the contract since they now wanted to concession the road on some Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement. Whatever the case, the fact is that work has stopped on what is arguably Nigeria’s most economically important and yet most dilapidated road. The state of disrepair on that road can honestly not be described properly. It has to be experienced to be understood. And as if to add salt to injury, the fuel tankers are back to using the road as a park, making the already sorry traffic state unbearable.
I look at all these evidently important roads and wonder what really the government is doing. Then I realize that they’re actually busy constructing 10 lane highways from the airport to the city. Yes in Abuja of course; complete with bridges and street lights all the way through. The same streetlights that were impossible to install on the Third Mainland Bridge, which they shut down for upwards of 3 months for repairs, only to open it back up with fewer side railings and absolutely no lighting.
I’ve tried to understand it all. I really have, but I still can’t.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.