The parlous state of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway came to the fore recently during a graduation lecture at the Dominican Institute, Ibadan, writes Godwin Haruna
The journey from Lagos to Ibadan used to last about one hour at the normal driving level. Not any more. On a bad day, it could last for six hours just like Prof. Pat Utomi of the Lagos Business School, experienced recently during his journey to Ibadan to deliver a lecture at the Dominican Institute recently. With his lecture titled: Sovereign National Conference: Re-appraising the Concept of Sovereignty, Utomi stated that if an accident could happen on such a busy highway and for three days, the debris had not been cleared resulting in kilometres of vehicular traffic, it suggested symptoms of a failed state.
On day in question, some petrol-laden trucks were involved in a fatal accident and the debris of the burnt tanks completely blocked the highway causing untold hardship to motorists. Utomi said the deplorable state of the road and the inability of the relevant authorities to clear the road were signs of ineffectiveness of the system in the country.
Tracing the historical evolution of Nigeria, he said the Nigerian state emerged from the early Nigerian intelligentsia’s struggle for self-autonomy. Utomi added that in the colonial era there was competition in all areas of life among the regional governments and this improved the quality of life at the time. “Back in the day, the public service competition in the regions was very fierce. All these competitions were reflective of the federalist structure of the country,” he stated.
However, he stated that the discovery of oil and the advent of military rule destroyed the federal structure that was in place from colonial times up to the post-independence era. He stated that the quality of life of the average Nigerian is worse today compared to what it was in 1960. He stated that the collapse of culture is traceable to the decline the country has suffered.
Still relating this to the carnage on Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Utomi said: “If there was an accident and three days later, traffic is unleashed on road users, then, there is no better illustration of a failed state,” he said.
He said there was a time when Nigeria was consulted by the United States Department of State on policies concerning Africa, but it was no longer so. Utomi declared that any gathering of the people is sovereign adding that it is the ultimate and final authority.
Earlier in a welcome address, President of the Dominican Institute, Ibadan, Prof. Anthony Akinwale said Nigeria could be described as a mosaic of cultures. “Every Nigerian bears a diversity of identities. Nigerians belong to different tribes and different religious traditions. Our diversity, if well managed, can be our strength and our weakness if mismanaged. From a state held together at gunpoint, Nigeria is in an urgent need of transmutation into a nation where everyone has equal opportunities to actualise his or her potentials and fulfill his or her aspirations,” Akinwale stated.
He congratulated the graduating students of philosophy and enjoined them to reflect on the inter-subjective quest for the common good which nationhood is about.
Head, Department of Philosophy of the Institute, Dr. Jude Mbukamma, thanked the guests that graced the graduation lecture and hoped that Nigeria would arrive at the promised land soon enough.