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Giving Sanwo-Olu a bad name…

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No one in a position of authority deliberately sets out to give himself a bad image. What usually happens is that aides, family members, friends, influencers, lobbyists, and those in the corridors of power deliberately or inadvertently crop up injuries or bad image for their principals. Some do this to curry favour as they pretend to be more Catholic than the pope, crying louder than the bereaved. Others do it deliberately to feather their own nests.

Still, there are those who act consciously to give their principal a bad image. They hold grudges or have axes to grind for one reason or the other. It is not everything that happens in government that the governors know something about. No man can be in more than one place at a time. Moshood Abiola recalled that he once introduced his Foreman to his father and the old man retorted, “Mba, no man can be four-man or do the job of four men!”

Authority must be delegated – but the one who delegates has a duty to ensure that the power so delegated is not abused. Where delegated authority is abused, the one who delegates carries the can because the buck stops on his table. Anyone who abuses the power delegated to him is either whipped into line or the powers delegated to him are withdrawn.

It is in this wise that I beseech Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos state, to either whip Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO) into line or withdraw/review the powers vested in them, which they have, in my view, exercised arbitrarily, thereby inflicting much pain and sorrow on Lagos vehicle owners. The way and manner these two agencies, plus their Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) counterparts, extort Lagos motorists must now come to the attention of Gov. Sanwo-Olu.

Not all presidents have the capacity to do what former president Olusegun Obasanjo was reputed as doing: taking time to read virtually every memo sent to him, rather than consigning them to aides to handle. Also, not all administrators can do what Brigadier-Genereal Mohamed Buba Marwa perfected as his own style of governance when he was the military administrator of Lagos State. Marwa double-checked, even triple-checked, any information he received before acting on them. He had reliable friends outside of the civil service structure and government circles that he bounced information and decisions off before making up his mind.

Again, not all politicians will be like Ayodele Fayose, the former governor of Ekiti State. Street-wise, man of the garb, and man of the people, Fayose hardly allowed a day to pass without walking the street and mingling with ordinary people. E pele, e pele, he would greet the people as he mingled with the hoi polloi. He was not averse to sharing his telephone numbers with the man in the street. He was also fond of putting phone calls across to ordinary people to seek first-hand information about happenings in their locality. I witnessed him bounce proposed decisions off ordinary folks or recruit them to conduct opinion surveys for him on critical issues affecting their communities.

Every leader has his own style, which differs from one leader to another. I cannot claim to know Sanwo-Olu’s preferred style. Therefore, I would beseech whoever has his ears or those closer to his media advisers and image-makers than I do, to kindly bring this information to their knowledge: LASTMA and Lagos VIO, through their ingenious but oppressive activities on Lagos roads, are giving the governor a bad name. Under the guise of performing official duties, they fleece the people.

Three weeks ago they almost ruined the wake of the wife of my brother-pastor: there is this place at the foot of the Mile 12 bridge while driving towards Ikorodu where a conglomeration of Police, LASTMA, VIO, name it, are to be found congregating and hibernating; once an unsuspecting motorist steps on what they call the BRT lane, they swoop on the victim. No plea moves them. No condition you are in sways them. You must bribe them, and they usually demand hefty sums.

If a motorist not familiar with a route mistakenly steps on BRT lane, what is wrong if you educate him/her and direct him/her to the right lane? Not these scoundrels parading as law enforcers! It is like they have been given a target to meet by their office or they are the ones that have set a target for themselves!

The woman ferrying the snacks for the wake of my friend’s wife was arrested and they demanded a bribe. She would not give. So, they kept moving her from one location to another. My friend, exasperated and sweating profusely at the other end at Ijede where the wake was to be held, called me. I began to trace these felons – common criminals in official uniforms acting under the seal and authority of the Lagos State Government. When they saw that the woman would not budge, they took her to an office in the Ojota area where she paid N70,000 and was let off the hook. She almost missed the ceremony.

A few days ago, another friend who recounted the ordeal of his acquaintance in the hands of the same hounds told me that the receipts they write for offenders paying fines are usually fake and that the money often ends up in private pockets. It doesn’t get worse than that! The victims lose and the Lagos State Government loses as well. Some miscreants in uniform and their accomplices smile at the bank at the expense of both.

There is a subsisting court judgment barring VIOs from demanding the certificate of road worthiness of private vehicles. There is another on the restriction of the operations of FRSC officials, limiting them only to Federal roads. These brigands spurn court orders and peddle their impunity in broad daylight. But their day of reckoning may just be around the corner! Have you seen the videos of irate citizens engaging electricity officials who come disconnecting their lines? It may soon be the turn of LASTMA, FRSC and VIO officials to begin to have their own baptism of fire. We have seen isolated cases already. It may soon become more widespread and commonplace.

Lessen the people’s burden! Stop adding misery upon misery on a population already lying prostrate. When the long-suffering people of Israel told Jeroboam, who succeeded to the throne after the death of his father, King Solomon, to lessen their burden and he refused, threatening instead to make the people’s suffering doubly sore, the people scattered from following him! Tell Sanwo-Olu and his party, the All Progressives Congress that another general election will soon be here! Have they forgotten so soon how they lost the presidential election but managed to escape with the skin of their teeth in the last governorship election?

When penalties for traffic offences are insanely high, you end up aiding and abetting corruption. In the present dire economic situation, many will prefer to cut corners and save some bucks instead of paying outrageous fines. Government loses at both ends: It loses the money it intends to make and loses as well the support and empathy of the citizens. No fine for minor traffic offence should attract the penalty of a fine higher than N5,000. Before you compare the penalties for traffic offences in the United States and such other places (in dollar terms) with what you should replicate here, first compare the minimum wage here with the minimum wage in those other countries.

Sanwo-Olu should please withdraw the power of LASTMA to impound vehicles, arrest and impose fines on motorists. Their duty should simply be to direct traffic. When you see them crowd together at traffic lights, their main objective is for mischief. If the STOP sign (red light) is on but they flag you on because there is no traffic on the other ends, you will be making a mistake to obey them because the installed camera will pick you as breaking the traffic light. In the next few hours, you will receive a notice on your phone that you have committed a traffic offence and should come to an office to settle your fine!

If they urge you on when the traffic light stops you and you choose to disobey them and obey the traffic light, they will swoop on you, taking fake photographs and accusing you of obstructing the free flow of traffic! Head or tail, you lose! Head or tail, they win! Have you noticed that traffic lights here do not operate as traffic lights operate elsewhere? They have tampered with them and have confused the way traffic lights normally work. This is one reason foreign countries usually advise their nationals, even those with dual nationalities, not to drive while in Nigeria.

The oppressive tendencies of LASTMA, VIO and FRSC on Lagos roads are becoming suffocating and unbearable. Something urgent should be done by the governor before citizens begin to take the law into their own hands. In this country, every layer of officials armed with guns or uniforms and licensed by the government usually results in another layer of oppression and impunity. I am beginning to reconsider my support for state policing!

Feedback

I think it is the greatest height of foolishness entrenching immunity clause in the Constitution, knowing the kind of human beings we are! Why wait for somebody to steal billions of Naira before being dragged out of office and prosecuted? After stealing so much, they now have enough money to hire a team of SANs! Let the clause be removed! Let prosecution start as soon as the president or governor dips his hands in the treasury. – Damola Oshodi

You have contributed your own views in the interest of justice and fairness. You have made your opinion known in the interest of the masses and the fear of God. I hope those concerned would see this and that their conscience would prick them so they can mend their ways. Perversion of justice is a great sin against God and humanity. Regardless of our religion, we must understand that “there is God” in heaven who will judge the judges who judge cases here on earth. Judges take an oath to do justice but some veer away to do injustice because of money! Note that we came into this world naked and will go away from it also naked. – Aderemi Ajadi Desalu

Civil servants are Nigeria’s biggest problem. Compare their income with their assets and expenses! Estates everywhere! Children studying home and abroad in the most expensive schools! Always on vacation with family, friends and concubines; milking the nation’s treasury! Without them, politicians cannot steal a kobo! As for Bobrisky, I don’t care about the outcome of his case! A celebrity like him can be used to send a signal to others but I want to see how the likes of Wasiu Ayinde, Davido, Osupa, Pasuma, Alaga Iduro and Alaga Ibere and those throwing bundles of Naira notes at events will also be treated. The nuisance has increased the rate of crime, like banditry and kidnapping, in our society. –  Palcorub

Former Editor of PUNCH newspapers, Chairman of the Editorial Board and Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Bolawole writes the On the Lord’s Day column in the Sunday Tribune and the Treasurers column in the New Telegraph newspapers. He is also a public affairs analyst on radio and television. He can be reached on turnpot@gmail.com +234 807 552 5533

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