Where are we all rushing to?
I was not made for Nigerian roads. I thrive better in other climes. Neither does Dr Bob Arnot, my friend who was in charge of “Justice for all” for Nigeria many years ago. Being married to a Nigerian, Bob contributed three pieces to this column at the start of it. All of it was about how driving in Nigeria is a suicidal business.
In fact, in one of Bob’s pieces, he mentioned that every time he left home in Maitama in Abuja to his office also in Maitama he felt he might die in an accident, even though the distance is only 10 minutes. In fact, I was in stitches when I re-read all his pieces recently.
How, we are often reading and driving, eating and driving, fully distracted by sisi on the highway or stopping mid-highway to buy food or ease ourselves without a care for the driver behind us. Bob was pretty bullish about our honking manners. For the umpteenth time, I wish to relate our habit of honking and how full-grown men and women, no matter their level, honk endlessly for no reason.
We used to think only taxi drivers do that but we now know that most people do the unimaginable when they are on Nigerian roads. By the way, these are things they dare not do outside Nigeria
We used to think only taxi drivers do that but we now know that most people do the unimaginable when they are on Nigerian roads. By the way, these are things they dare not do outside Nigeria. Honk endlessly? Impossible! Nigerians behave themselves outside Nigeria. They know the laws there and keep it. Here. Ah! The enforcement leaves a lot to be desired. They make it easy to break the law. The traffic warden has a stick, and well, other enforcers are bendable.
But it is our impatience that takes the cake. My people cannot wait for a pedestrian to cross. Then they jump traffic lights and overtake when they should not, putting everyone also at risk. Have you ever tried to deal with a driver behind you that seems to want to obliterate you by his sheer speed.
When my son was younger, his classmates and himself had a mantra ‘No time.’ When I say eat before your football match. He says, No time. So, we are by nature people in a hurry to nowhere. Often, when the crash happens as a result of No time, we now remember God and how the devil deceived us.
We can be more reflective even in our driving. More thoughtful. More considerate. As you put your leg on that accelerator be kind to the next driver. Nigerians. Drive more carefully. Be more polite on the wheels. It is possible!
Accident victims across the country are languishing in hospitals with broken limbs, and many people have passed on because someone did not pay attention. Driving while texting is still a norm in Nigeria and I still see parents keep unstamped babies in front seats.
It is sad when we drive like speed athletes on our highways forgetting that there are other road users and the car is a machine, it can fail and you can be tired, careless and lose control. Let us be more genteel, more caring, more humane on the highway. From a crash, you or someone else can die. Trust me. The meeting you were hurrying to will go on without you. Let us pause… Drive more carefully.