Ya Fun, Were Ni
As kids, anytime we heard the sound of the siren, we would chant:
Ya Fun, Were Ni
Ya Fun, Were NI
It means ‘Give way to him, he’s a mad man’. The sound of the siren meant that someone was speeding down the highway like a violently maniacal lunatic and was not to be trifled with! Today, that madness has persisted on our roads.
I have spent the past few years trying to understand why this barbaric behaviour has remained with our public office holders. When I couldn’t find a rational reason, I went to the studio and recorded a song about it.
The song is aptly titled ‘Ya Fun, Were Ni’. There must be a rare strain of chronic lunacy which has made this behaviour an inseparable characteristic of our people in government.
Every day, as we go about our lawful duties, we are harassed and bullied on the same roads paved with our tax payers’ money, by people we have elected into office based on their promise to serve us and improve our quality of life. Many lives have been lost due to accidents caused by this madness.
Yet, our governments refuse to put an end to it. When Buhari became President, I expected him to sign an executive order banning the lawless use of the siren by all manner of public officials. But sadly, he hasn’t. Perhaps, like those before him, he is presiding over a government of emergency.
A prevailing culture in our Government and the way our officials operate is what I call the Emergency Mentality. It is a culture of haste and purposelessness. They are always in a hurry. Yet they are leading us nowhere. Their hurriedness has not in any way translated to rapid development in the nation.
Neither has it produced quick solutions to the most pressing problems of the day. It is very much like running around in circles, without heading in any clearly defined direction.
In several aspects of our lives, we have problems crying for immediate solutions. Many challenges need to be tackled with urgency. But the kind of urgency we see in government is madness. It is urgency without purpose. It is urgency borne out of their failure to plan ahead with clearly defined objectives. It is urgency due to their incompetence and a lack of commitment to painstaking implementation of good policies.
Many times, we hear our government officials say Nigerians are impatient. How ironic. Our public officials are the ones always in a hurry. Yet they are always late to important functions. They surround themselves with a multitude of aides.
Yet they are unable to properly plan their schedules. I guess, asking them to properly plan and implement the rapid development of the nation, is asking for too much? Our ministers spend more time receiving visitors than they actually spend on national development. And once they pop out of their offices, aides in tow, they are in a mad rush to get to nowhere.
Early this year, the convoy of the Governor of Taraba State was involved in an accident. An aide who was described as Chief Detail (whatever that means), to the Governor’s wife, died on the spot. Where was Mr Governor coming from? Takum, where he had gone to spend the Christmas break.
Should somebody coming from a Christmas break be in a hurry? In another accident involving the convoy of the Governor of Borno State, a Senior Special Assistant to the Governor reportedly lost his life.
Three others were injured. In February 2016, the convoy of the Governor of Ebonyi State caused the death of a man whose only error was driving to work in the morning.
According to news reports, the man was jolted off the road into a ditch. The convoy did not stop. Officials from the state liaison office later explained that the Governor could not stop because he was running late for a meeting. People who are used to proper planning usually don’t get to meetings late. If you are late, it simply means you did not set out at the right time.
A former president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Dr Festus Iyayi was killed in an accident involving the convoy of the Former Governor of Kogi State. Expectedly, people made a lot of noises, but we soon went back to business as usual and the madness continued. This emergency syndrome has simply refused to leave us.
The Federal Road Safety Commission and the Inspector General of Police have been called upon several times to enforce sanity on our roads and rein in these reckless and lawless public officials but nothing has been done.
Under normal circumstances, only the Police, Fire Fighters and Ambulances are supposed to use the siren, and only when on an emergency. But in this country every Musa, Madu and Muyiwa runs around like a lunatic, blaring the siren, bullying and harassing innocent citizens on the highways.
Some of them even have uniformed officers threatening other motorists with horse whips! In this 21st Century! It’s beyond all human comprehension how we have allowed this oppressive, primitive and barbaric practice to continue.
People who are responsible for maintaining law and order brazenly conduct themselves in the most lawless and dangerous manner, constituting a grave risk to innocent motorists every day!
Meanwhile, the hapless Federal Road Safety officials stand by, looking like clowns, and still harass these same innocent motorists about brake lights and expired fire extinguishers while ignoring the real and present danger on our roads.
The bottom line is those who govern us do not treat us with respect. Those who claim to serve us constantly subject us to servitude. They constantly give us the image of a downtrodden lot. By their attitude, they are projecting our nation as backward and uncivilized. Meanwhile, they are now getting ready for another season of electioneering deceit. This is the time for us to also get ready to let them know that enough is enough!
• Muyiwa Kayode is CEO at USP Brand Management and author, The Seven Dimensions of Branding. Brand Nation is a platform for promoting national development based on the universal principles of branding.