“The Nation” newspaper deserves kudos for devoting its front page on September 18, 2022, to the following headline: “At the mercy of articulated vehicles”
• Lagosians lament avoidable loss of lives, life injuries
• Want to know what became of “law” regulating movement of trucks
The gory incident penultimate Saturday in which a container-bearing articulated vehicle rammed into vehicles and commuters at Iyana-Isolo Bus Stop in Lagos has again raised questions about danger of this vehicles and a seeming helplessness of the citizenry. Gboyega Alaka explores the situation and possible ways out.
For the umpteenth time, Saturday, September 10, 2022, turned out another bleak day for some commuters in Lagos, courtesy of the recklessness of articulated vehicles and their drivers. It was a day another wayward truck bearing a container, rammed into mini-busses, their passengers and commuters at Iyana-Isolo Bus Stop, instantly killing a six-year-old boy and inflicting severe injuries on several others.
Speaking with The Nation on Wednesday, Funmi, who sells roasted plantain and corn at the bus stop, said it was a horrible sight. “The driver of the trailer, which clearly had failed break, was struggling to control it as it approached the bus stop area; unfortunately, the driver of a danfo bus got in its front and he rammed into it, causing its container to fall off. Immediately, a father, who was struggling with his two children, was thrown under the danfo, while the girl was also thrown off. The boy however got hit by the exhaust of the trailer, which immediately tore his stomach, revealing part of his intestines. The boy died immediately but the girl survived with serious bruises and an injury to the face. Their father had to be pulled from under the danfo bus. I think his leg was broken, as he could not walk. Several other people got injured; I think there was another man, whose scrotum was smashed. It was a horrible sight. We learnt the father later died at the hospital.”
Another witness, Feyi, who sells sachet liquor at the bus stop, said it was a black Saturday.
“That Saturday was a black Saturday. In truth, the container trailer was going on its own but a danfo suddenly got in its front, causing it to lose balance and cause the bloody accident. Four vehicles were condemned immediately. Apart from the boy who died instantly, the father also suffered broken leg and the daughter was badly bruised, a conductor’s two legs were broken, while one man’s private part was mangled. Really, I don’t know if doctors would be able to treat that man.”
She also spoke of the rumour that the injured father had died.
Both women, were however delighted when this reporter broke news that the father was alive and recovering at the hospital to them.
“Glory to God,” they both chorused.
Both women and another man, a cab driver, however, gave kudos to the men of the Nigeria Police Force stationed at the Daleko Police post for their swift reaction.
“To tell you the truth, the police officers at the station here were very swift. They moved into action and helped in evacuating the casualties.”
That incident again raised questions about the roadworthiness of these articulated vehicles and the perennial danger they have constituted, with many asking what has become of a ‘law’ by the Lagos State government, restricting their movement to 9 pm to 6 am. They wonder why such a law, which would have reduced the chances of casualties, was abandoned.
As if to confirm that the Iyana-Isolo incident was no one-off, another articulated vehicle reportedly fell over at Five Star bus stop along the same Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, just two days after; and three days after, on Thursday, another fell on the service lane just after Cele bus stop, causing gridlock and diversion. Thankfully, the Cele incident may have happened at night; it also happened a few meters from the usually crowded bus stop area, where human and commercial activities were usually in full swing.
Driver rammed into us deliberately – victim
However, the father of the six-year-old now undergoing treatment at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) vehemently debunked the part of the witnesses’ narrative that a careless danfo driver caused the accident.
Speaking on his hospital bed, the victim (name withheld), who, as at the time of this discussion, was yet to learn of his daughters’ demise, said, “It’s not true that any danfo caused that accident. That trailer driver was simply a wicked soul who preferred to ram into human beings rather than ram into the median wall on his left. I saw everything. I saw the trailer; the driver had lost control from a distance and the vehicle was swaying while he was struggling to control it; but instead of him ramming into the median wall, he opted for a softer wedge, which was on his right, where we were waiting to board a bus, alongside other people and buses. I think he was trying to save his vehicle or its content from spilling.
“It all happened in seconds, so it’s not as if I had enough time to take any decision; but left to me alone, I probably would have jumped and escape unhurt. But I had my two children to struggle with and we were literally trapped. Before I knew it, I was under the bus, with my two children flung apart. I saw my boy try to get up but part of his intestines was out and blood was gushing out of his mouth. He was crying ‘daddy…;’ I think somebody carried him then. I tried to move but suddenly realised my leg was broken. I screamed for help but there was too much commotion. It was my injured daughter, who kept pointing at my direction that, ‘my daddy is there, my daddy is under the bus, before they pulled me out.”
We’ll prosecute driver/owners of truck – Police PRO Hundeyin.
A member of the family of the injured father, who pleaded anonymity, testified that the police, led by one Superintendent of Police Garba from Area D Police Command in Mushin was at LUTH on the day of the accident to take inventory of the casualties. She also said he has visited a couple of times since then.
However, when this reporter visited the Area D office to follow up on the matter, mum was the word, as both SUPOL Garba and the Area Commander refused to oblige any information on the number of casualties or whether the driver of the trailer had been arrested, referring him to the Police Public Relations Officer at the Command Headquarters in Ikeja instead.
Fortunately, the reporter’s visit also coincided with the moment the police were loading the container onto the seized trailer, giving vent to suspicions that they were about to release the vehicle to the owners.
But reacting to this, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin explained over a phone interview that the owners of the goods in the container approached the police to let them take their goods, which the force granted them.
He assured that the vehicle was still in police custody and there was no plan or attempt to return it to the owner as at the time of speaking.
As part of ongoing investigation, Hundeyin said “the vehicle would be subjected to VIO inspection to ascertain what really went wrong. Was it a break failure or negligence on the part of the driver?”
He said, “The transport company is separate from the owners of the goods in the container; so when the owners of the goods approached the police to let them evacuate their goods, we had to let them. And the best way was to let them take the container to their warehouse and offload, as opposed to transferring the goods into another vehicle at the station. And I have confirmation that it has been brought back to the station. So we have issues with the vehicle, we have issues with the driver, but not the goods inside it because it belonged to another person. That is policing with a human face. He revealed that the driver of the truck was at large but said the owners of the container have been identified and they have shown up.”
He however said he did not have the identity of the haulage company, but chipped in that he would not divulge even if he had it, insisting that the charges were against the driver of the vehicle and not his employer.
Would that therefore mean that the company would be let off if the police are not able to find the driver?
“No, if we are not able to find the driver, the company will be held liable, because the company should be able to provide the person who stood as guarantor when they were giving the driver employment,” he replied.
He also said it will be a good thing if the families of the victims indicate interest to sue. In the absence of that, however, Hundeyin said the police would still go ahead and charge the driver or company to court.
“It’s just a matter of time. Once the VIO inspection is concluded and we still don’t see the driver, the case will go to court. We’ll tell the magistrate that we are holding the company in lieu of the driver. It will then be left to the magistrate to make a pronouncement.”
On the number of casualties, he said information available to him stated that “a trailer rammed into three other vehicles, killing one and inflicting fractures one and a minor injury on another.”
We have to contend with the lacuna between the sublime serenity we inherited from the British Colonial government and our current hubris. We are now distinctly unlike London, England.
According to George Orwell (1903 to 1950). “England has the power to change out of all recognition and yet remain the same.”
Perhaps, this is what prompted the Duke of Somolu (Joseph Edgar) to lash out at the government on the front page of “ThisDay” newspaper on September 25, 2022.
Headline: “Babajide Sanwo-Olu – Auction of life”
“Tears flowed and anguish was spread as the Lagos State Government through their agents carried out an auction of cars earlier impounded for various traffic offences. My people, this was very traumatic and sad as Lagosians wept profusely as their cars were auctioned off at prices that were very far from markets.
Immediately after, the Lagos State Government sent out a long list of traffic offences that were quite intimidating and were expected to serve as warning and deterrent.
Now this would have been very constructive as least if for nothing else for two reasons – shoring up government revenues and returning sanity to the roads. But we all know that this exercise has been fraught with corruption and underhand transactions that has made a few very rich, others carless and with pain and the government worse for it in terms of PR and revenues.
I think the whole thing should be looked at very critically again with the aim of blocking the loopholes and ensuring probity and fairness.
I think the rightful owner of the cars should be given the first option of refusal. If I commit an offence, you impound my car and I am ready to buy back, it should be sold to me rather than carrying out a corruption-filled public auction where my is is sold off in front of me to the highest bidder who in turn comes back and sells to me at a funny price make a spread in minutes without any input just because he can shout or is sharing his mother’s bosom with the auctioneer.
Lagos, abeg revisit this process. It is fraught with back-end corruption thereby defeating the purpose. Thank you.”
History has given us plenty of unsolicited advice and red alerts.
From the classics we have: Aesol (c.620 BCE to 564 BCE)
“We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.”
However, what is most worrying is the racial slur delivered in 1988 by the Prime Minister of apartheid South Africa: “Black people cannot rule themselves because they don’t have the brains and mental capacity to govern a society. Give them guns, they would kill themselves. Give them power they will steal all the government’s money. Give them independence and power, they will use it to promote tribalism, ethnicity, hatred, killings and wars.” – PW Botha.
For the J.K. Randle family, it has been an incredible journey (and story) of survival, right on the cliff edge against fierce winds and powerful storms. Regardless, we remain steadfast in the firm belief that our just rewards are tranquillity, peace of mind and goodwill from our fellow human beings (both high and low). We are a family with a social conscience and we have demonstrated it over four generations spread over one hundred and fifty years of philanthropy.
Therefore, you must forgive us if in our moments of despair and distress we turn to our ancient tunes for comfort and solace.
(i) Stand by me – by Ben E. King
“When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we’ll see
No, I won’t be afraid, oh, I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me
So darlin’, darlin’, stand by me, oh, stand by me
Oh, stand, stand by me, stand by me
If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
Or the mountains should crumble to the sea
I won’t cry, I won’t cry, no, I won’t shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me
And darlin’, darlin’, stand by me, oh, stand by me
Whoa, stand now, stand by me, stand by me
Darlin’, darlin’, stand by me, oh, stand by me
Oh, stand now, stand by me, stand by me
Whenever you’re in trouble, won’t you stand by me? Oh, stand by me
Whoa, stand now, oh, stand…”
(ii) “The house of the rising sun – The Animals
“There is a house way down in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun
And it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy
And God I know I’m one
Mother was a tailor, yeah, yeah
Sewed my Levi jeans
My father was a gamblin’ man, yeah, yeah
Down, way down in New Orleans
Now the only thing a gamblin’ man ever needs
Is a suitcase, Lord, and a trunk
And the only time a fool like him is satisfied
Is when he’s all stone cold drunk”
(iii) “I’D rather go blind – By Etta James
Something told me it was over
“When I saw you and her talkin’
Something deep down in my soul said, ‘Cry, girl’
When I saw you and that girl walkin’ around
Whoo, I would rather, I would rather go blind, boy
Then to see you walk away from me, child, no
Whoo, so you see, I love you so much
That I don’t wanna watch you leave me, baby
Most of all, I just don’t, I just don’t wanna be free, no
Whoo, whoo, I was just, I was just, I was just
Sittin here thinkin’, of your kiss and your warm embrace, yeah.
When the reflection in the glass that I held to my lips now, baby
Revealed the tears that was on my face, yeah
Whoo and baby, baby, I’d rather, I’d rather be blind, boy
Then to see you walk away, see you walk away from me, yeah
Whoo, baby, baby, baby, I’d rather be blind….
What is truly bewildering is the ceaseless land grab by the government.
Thankfully, a Bishop has provided us with fascinating elucidation regarding the differences between “Country”; “State”; and “Nation”.
“A Country is a Territory from the Latin word Contra Terra”. The land that lies ahead of you. It is not necessarily a Nation.
“A Nation is an association of peoples who identify the shared core values. We collapse the Nation in a State.”
A nation is an institution that makes up a “State”. The State is not more powerful than the citizen.”
What our tormentors choose to forget is that we used to be a nation of laws as exemplified by eminent Nigerian lawyers: Nigerian Lawyers Middle Temple, 1910 – 1950
Williams Josiah Fitzac Folarin, first son of Zachariah A. Williams (Merchant, retired). Admitted to Middle Temple, January 21, 1910. Called to Bar, April 16, 1913.
Assumpcao Honorio Marcus Akilade, Deputy Registrar of Courts, Lagos. Southern Nigeria. Younger son of Marcolino Assumpcao of Ake, Abeokuta (Trader). Admitted to Middle Temple, May 30, 1910; Called to Bar April 16, 1913.
Assumpcao Placido Maclean Adeyemo, Government official, Lagos Southern Nigeria. Youngest son of Marcolino Assumpcao of Ake, Abeokuta (Trader). Admitted to Middle Temple, May30, 1910, Called to Bar April 16, 1913.
Moore Olaseni, younger son of Cornelius Bartholomew, Moore of Abeokuta (Merchant). Admitted to Middle Temple, October 28, 1910. Called to Bar, June 4, 1913.
Harrison Emanuel Jenkins Labia only son of James Labia Harrison of Lagos, Nigeria (Tailor). Admitted to Middle Temple, Novermber 7, 1911. Called to Bar, November 17, 1915.
Doherty Theophilus Adebayo second son of Josiah Henryson Doherty of Lagos, Nigeria (Merchant). Admitted to Middle Temple. June 13, 1918. Called to Bar, April 20, 1921.
Franklin Ebenezer Akinola eldest son of Rev. A. E. Franklin (Wesleyan Missioner). Admitted to Middle Temple, January 27, 1919. Called to Bar January 26, 1921.
Agbebi Ephraim Michael Ekundayo, Civil Servant of 55, Broad Street, Lagos. Eldest son of Deniyi Agbebi of 18, Lagos Street, Ebute Metta (Civil Pensioner). Admitted to Middle Temple, June 13, 1919. Called to Bar, June 8, 1921.
Desalu Adebiyi of Victoria Road, Lagos. Eldest son of Adeoye Desalu of Victoria Road (Trader). Admitted to Middle Temple, October 12, 1920. Called to Bar, June 13, 1923.
Regardless, we remain steadfast in the firm belief that our just rewards are tranquillity, peace of mind and goodwill from our fellow human beings (both high and low)
Benjamin John Stanley third son of Joshua Blackail Benjamin of Lagos, Nigeria. Admitted to Middle Temple . November 19, 1920. Called to Bar January 26, 1923.
Obafemi Charles Adebuji Harrison, third son of Edwin Harrison Obafemi of Lagos, Nigeria (Agriculturist). Admitted to Middle Temple. April 28, 1921. Called to Bar November 19, 1923.
Agusto Mohammed Lawal Basil of Lagos, Nigeria. Admitted to Middle Temple , August 30, 1921. Called to Bar January 28, 1924.
Doherty Albert Horatius Akintunde, first son of Josiah Henryson Doherty of Lagos, Nigeria (Merchant). Admitted to Middle Temple, November 9, 1921. Called to Bar, June 24, 1925.
Lucas Felix Olawale second son of John J. Lucas of Lagos, Nigeria (Government Official). Admitted to Middle Temple, May 9, 1922. Called to Bar November 17, 1924.
Ferreira Boaviutura (Bonaventura) Jorge, seventh son of Manoel Jorge Ferreira of Lagos, Nigeria (Trader). Admitted to Middle Temple. June 4, 1923. Called to Bar, November 17, 1925.
Beyond the perimeter of song and dance, we have been provided with the soothing inspiration of Martin Luther King Jnr. (1929 to 1968).
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at a time of challenge and controversy.”
It is not mere coincidence that rather than champion the cause of the J.K. Randle family, “Punch” newspaper devoted its front page editorial on October 2, 2022, to:
“NIGERIA @ 62: A FRACTURED PRESENT, A FOREBODING FUTURE”
“As they gathered during week-long low-key activities marking the country’s 62nd Independence Anniversary, Nigeria’s thoroughly discredited political leaders, despite their hypocritical precepts, could not ignore the prevailing mood of melancholy among the people. From the usual detachment from reality of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and his false claims of achievement, to homilies by other officials, and disquiet voiced by opinion moulders, the palpability of an artificial state unravelling and a presentiment of its future are unmistakable. Nigerians have a choice; either rework the doomed edifice or negotiate a peaceful loosening of the union.
The third option is fearful; failure to restore the federation to the path of rationality and progress could end in violent implosion and disorderly break-up. For this generation of Nigerians, resolving the questions of a common nationhood, of shared aspirations for the country’s over 250 ethnic nationalities cannot be put off for much longer. Tension is boiling over, and along with the disruptive activities of violent non-state actors, is reshaping the contours and dynamics of the state.
While the ruling elite are running the country aground and the people grumble helplessly, the fault lines in the federation, long papered over, have widened to chasms. For long, several international agencies have rated the country as fragile, or failing. To yet others, the country is already a failed state. In the Fragile State Index 2022 prepared by the US think tank, Fund for Peace, Nigeria ranked 16th most fragile country. The OECD’s State of Fragility 2022, using parameters such as economic, political and security, rated the country’s fragility from strongly fragile to severe. The World Population Review’s Failed States Report 2022 ranked Nigeria 14th and among the states “most in danger of failing.” Nigeria is like an adult crawling at age 62!
The WPR identifies two broad characteristics of a failed state: where the government cannot project authority over all the people and territory; and where the government structure is unsuccessful and cannot fully control resources. To many observers, Nigeria is failing; to others, it has already failed.
The dreams of nationhood nurtured at independence in 1960 have been shattered. Initial progress made in the first three decades has given way to incremental retrogression and gathering momentum. On all fronts, the country is in reverse.
Start with the economy: in the 1960s, there was rapid growth, propelled by the then three (later four) federating regions. Nigeria was the largest producer of palm oil with a global market share of 43 per cent. Today, said PwC, it is fifth largest with less than 2.0 per cent market share and is a net importer, ceding the first two spots to Malaysia and Indonesia, respectively.
From being the second largest producer of cocoa from the 1950s through to the 1960s and 1970s, Nigeria is now fourth largest producer after Ivory Coast, Indonesia, and Ghana. Similarly, Nigeria was once a leading producer of groundnuts, which along with cotton, provided revenues to fund the economy of the old Northern Region that today covers 19 states. Policies like import-substitution, industrial policies and estates, and indigenisation policies enabled the country to take tentative steps towards industrialisation.
The economy is in a disastrous shape. Diversity in exports and competition among the regions have been replaced by overreliance on crude oil revenues for foreign earnings and for funding the federal and 36 states. Self-reliance has vanished, replaced by neglect of productive initiative, agriculture, and mining.
The Central Bank of Nigeria has just raised benchmark interest to 15.5 percent, the highest in 20 years, as inflation reached 20.52 percent in August, and the highest in 17 years. The naira exchange rate hit N737 to $1 on Thursday at the parallel market.
The economy is disarticulated, spending trillions importing food and minerals it can produce, including refined petroleum products despite being a leading crude oil producer. Subsidising imported petrol may cost up to N6.4 trillion in 2022 in a N19.76 trillion budget that is to be funded by over N11.3 trillion borrowing. Total debt stood at N42.84 trillion by June 30 and servicing now drains over 90 percent of all government revenue.
Things have headed south since 1999 when the country transited from military to civilian rule. Under its degenerate and corrupt political class, Nigeria became the World Poverty Capital in 2018 and has maintained the title since then. The World Bank projects the number of poor in the country to hit 95.1 million by year-end. UNESCO says its out-of-school children now number 20 million, the world’s second highest after only India.
Corruption has degraded all institutions and hindered progress. The United Nations notes that corruption deepens inequalities, erodes trust in leaders and institutions and hinders economic growth, democracy, and sustainable development. Corruption drains about 40 per cent from government procurement, says the US Department of Commerce and is on track to cost up to 37 per cent of GDP, adds a PwC study.
It is estimated that Nigeria accounts for 20 per cent of the $50 billion in illicit financial flows by multinationals in Africa annually. The Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria reckons that over 70 percent of the national, state and LG budgets is lost to corrupt practices. Infrastructure is poor and the daily power supply of 4,000 megawatts cannot sustain a population of over 200 million, or an economy with GDP of $440.1 billion.
Education is in a shambles: adult illiteracy rose annually by 21.43 percent between 1991 and 2018, reported Knoema, with the number of illiterate adults rising from 24 million to 41.76 million in 2018, and 76 million by 2021, according to the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu. The ill-equipped, under-funded public universities have been shut for seven months by a lecturers’ strike.
Some fundamental factors may sound the country’s death knell: one is the faulty foundation.
A natural federation; it is operated like a unitary state. The centrifugal forces are tearing the country apart. Attempts to cobble together a nation of people with shared ideals have crashed. Irrevocably, the country is divided, peopled by mutually hostile groups divided by region, ethnicity, and religion. As Olusegun Obasanjo, a former president said, “We have never been this disunited, not even during the Civil War (1967-70).”
Right on target, he said the country had no national identity or shared aspiration the way Americans have the ‘American Dream’ or the Chinese a common destiny. With this, there is no national consensus even when confronted with existential threat as is unfolding with the disjointed, politicised response to terrorism and insecurity.
Countries at comparable stages of development in the 1960s like Brazil, India, China, Malaysia, Singapore, and South Korea have soared. The dream of joining the BRICS club of emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – to become BRINCS has failed. Flailing already under ruinous military regimes, the politicians who emerged as leaders since 1999 have accelerated Nigeria’s downward spiral.
Arising from the faulty structure, insecurity has reached state failure proportions: 1,743 persons were killed in 269 violent attacks by criminals in the first quarter of this year, translating to 19 persons murdered every day, according to The Cable Index. The figure reached 7,222 killed in the seven months to July according to the Nigerian Security Tracker. The governors of Katsina, Niger, Kaduna, Zamfara, Borno have separately confessed that terrorists control several local government areas in their states. Terrorists, kidnappers, oil thieves, cultists and armed robbers are everywhere.
Each successive government, rather than tame insecurity, ends up unwittingly as a force multiplier of crime and lawlessness. Impunity reigns. Nigeria exhibits classic isomorphic mimicry, where institutions mimic foreign ones but fail to deliver the expected outcomes.
The Presidency and the state administrations successively throw up worse occupants, the federal and state parliaments are corrupt, costly, and inefficient; state legislators and LGs have been captured by state governors and rendered impotent. The judiciary is compromised.
WPR cites several reasons for state failure: a predatory and corrupt government, ethnic violence, insurgency, inability to provide infrastructure, social services or implement policies, violation of human rights and civil liberties, insecurity, unstable political and economic systems. Nigeria amply reflects all these.
Nigerians need to reverse the headlong lunge towards total state collapse today. The preoccupation with the 2023 elections is misplaced. Elections are heavily monetised, compromised and the violent selection system has crowded out the upright and those without money or rich godfathers. Nigerians are emigrating in droves, including the most skilled.
The 1999 Constitution is restrictive, federal only in name, but centralising in practice. The political class must agree, and Nigerians should insist on its replacement with one that devolves more powers to the 36 states, enshrines fiscal federalism, state policing and resource control.
Nigeria’s independence was negotiated based on a consensus by representatives anchored on true federalism; that solemn agreement has been destroyed, the fundamental support of the amalgam of diverse people knocked off. It must be restored to save the union.
The choice before Nigerians is plain: the ideal is fashioning a truly federal constitution along the general outlines of the 1963 Constitution with the 36 states as federating units each with its own constitution. States that so desire can willingly combine for economic viability. There is the other sensible option suggested by an increasing number of stakeholders: peaceful negotiation and separation like the Czech Republic and Slovakia’s exemplary “Velvet Divorce” from old Czechoslovakia; though preceded by riots, the decoupling of Singapore from Malaysia avoided war. All four countries are doing very well; Singapore and Malaysia are export-led economies, Czech Republic and Slovakia are vibrant democracies and European Union member states.
The other alternative is to do nothing and allow the forces tearing the country apart to run out of control. Only chaos, violence and inevitably, state failure can ensue. Everyone loses. This option should be avoided at all costs.
Nigerians should stop being accomplices in their own oppression and pauperisation. Democracy is never left to politicians and office seekers alone; that attitude has taken the country to the precipice. They should organise at every level through sit-ins, peaceful protests, petitions, and regular engagements with elected officials to demand accountability. South Korea’s democracy is enriched by its activist youths. Peaceful protests are legitimate tools in democracies. Nigerians should resist impunity and misrule.
The future looks dark and ominous; it is up to Nigerians to take back their sovereignty, checkmate the unruly, corrupt, and unaccountable political class, and create a peaceful, prosperous polity.”
Both my grandfather, Dr. J.K. Randle and my father, Chief J.K. Randle were firmly against inequality. To put matters in their proper perspective, they believed in equality of opportunities – every one should be given the space and resources to excel.
By the same token, excellence cannot be bequeathed or inherited.
Regardless, we their successors are compelled to swim against strong currents of malice, deception and revenge as exemplified by the Chairman of the Chief J.K. Randle Memorial Hall who has gone toxic.
Here, I must pause to pay tribute to late Chief Olufemi Shomolu who died recently. I owe him an eternal debt of gratitude. In spite of his terminal illness, he travelled all the way from his abode in Abeokuta to Lagos for a meeting with Femi Majekodunmi about three months ago at the Lagos Motor Boat Club, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi.
He called me before the meeting and I encouraged him to talk sense to Femi Majekodunmi. The day after the meeting he was back in Abeokuta. When we spoke on the phone, he was totally exasperated. His trip to Lagos was a complete waste of time. Femi Majekodunmi’s private warfare against the J.K. Randle family remained unabated. I subscribe to the playwright Oscar Wilde’s (1854 to 1900) dictum
“Self advertisement is the worst form of recommendation.”
Hence, I shall restrain myself from spilling the beans regarding how on my qualifying as a Chartered Accountant I was sufficiently idealistic to embark on “Voluntary Service Overseas” [VSO] under the Methodist Church of England. I served in Banjul, Gambia; Abidjan and Dabou, Cote D’Ivoire; Cotonou; Dahomey; and Freetown and Koidu, Sierra Leone as a charity worker. The experience brought me an unforgettable lesson about the generosity of spirit and soul of poor people. That is a subject for another day.
Perhaps I should simply add that I sponsored the annual Dr. J.K. Randle Swimming Competition for several decades; This was in addition to the annual dinner for Nigerian Olympic Athletes in commemoration of my Dad’s role as Chef-de-Mission of the Nigerian team to the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia.
He recognised the role of sports as a leveller – both the poor and the rich were free to compete. Mind you we are talking about 1956 when virtually all sports (with the exception of boxing and football) were “Amateur”. Even then professional boxers and footballers were paid in pittance.
Aside of sports, Chief J.K. Randle genuinely loved the poor and underprivileged. As a member of the Lagos Executive Development Board [L E D B], he played a pivotal role in the Lagos Slum Clearance Scheme whereby slum dwellers were provided with brand new homes in what was called “New Lagos” (which is better known as “Surulere”). It took a great deal of persuasion to convince the slum dwellers that the government was not planning to steal their family land by deception and subterfuge.
When they eventually moved into their new abode, hitherto slum-dwellers became proud house owners. I remember accompanying my Dad to distribute Christmas gifts to them. They had found a new lease of life. The Christmas gifts were purchased from the most expensive shop (“Kingsway Stores”) in Lagos with his own money. He was thoroughly thrilled to witness the joy and happiness of poor people who had become rich.
By way of a footnote, perhaps I should add that it was Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (an Igboman who spoke fluent Yoruba, having attended Methodist Boys’ High School, Lagos and live at 136 ??? Bamgbose Street, Lagos) who came up with the slogan “Surulere” (There are virtue and reward in patience) and was a powerful catalyst in convincing the doubters that “New Lagos” (Surulere) would offer them a better life. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe later became a first President of Nigeria on October 1st, 1960.
In these matters (regarding governance), we are sometimes obliged to play Devil’s Advocate or rely on the Devil’s Dictionary which has delivered a unique definition of politics: “A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles or the conduct of public affairs for private advantage.”
Our plea to government and politicians is that they should get their priorities right. Some of the issues screaming for their attention have been powerfully highlighted:
(i) Front page “Punch” newspaper September 25, 2022:
“I LOST G-WAGON, ESCALADE, BENTLEY, OTHERS TO FLOOD”
– Lagos Landlord
My name is Daniel Okereke. I was a banker and I resigned voluntarily from my job at some point to pursue other businesses in real estate. That’s what I do. The property that was alleged to have sunk is my personal property in Akinwunmi Street in Mende, Lagos. I bought the land in 2007 and developed it in 2008. It’s actually the first house I ever built and it’s very personal and dear to me. It’s something I built at a time that I practically scratched it out and was hoping on God and finally, I was able to accomplish that. So, it’s different from having a ready-made fund somewhere that you use to build like I wish to subsequently. So, this is very personal to me because it was something I built in my 20s; that’s why it’s very personal to me. I know how I had to go through all kinds of legal channels to raise money and finally, God helped me to be able to achieve it.
What is the situation at the house that was said to have been sunk by flood?
There is actually no incident that is out of place. Where I live in Mende, Maryland, from time to time, when it rains very heavily, we have this surge because we have a canal of about 150 metres from my residence and other residencies around and so on. So, when it rains very heavily, if the government does not dredge the canal, water will start returning from the canal instead of flowing through, which devastates us. As I speak with you, I have lost at least five cars in this residence of mine but because it is my baby project, it’s very dear to me and more important than any other property I own or will ever own. I have been here since 2008 and whenever this surge comes, it flows from the canal and floods our homes and all that. It floods the streets and in some cases, the home.
What extent of damage was caused by the flood to your properties and to the building?
As I speak to you now, in order not to sound immodest, I have lost at least five cars and when I talk about cars here, I’m talking of cars like G-Wagon. I have lost a G-Wagon here, I have lost a Bentley here, I have lost a Chrysler, a Prado jeep, Range Rover Jeep, Escalade Truck and even an E-Class.