Taming The Killer Lagos-Ibadan Expressway
SATURDAY December, 26, 2015, the Christmas festive mood of the Adesinas and the Ogunleyes were cut short due to the untimely death of Professor (Mrs.) Foluke Ogunleye (Nee Adesina) – the senior sister of Pastor Femi Adesina who is the Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity. According to the deceased junior brother – Femi, in a telephone chat that I had with him soon after the accident, the late Professor who has been on Sabbatical Leave at a Zimbabwean University for some years only came to Nigeria for Christmas holiday and was due to travel back to her station on January 22, 2016 before she became a victim of a road that devours its users — Lagos/Ibadan expressway.
In the same vein, another friend of mine who was the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) during former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Administration recounted the gory tale of a Senior Nigerian Naval Officer who also lost his life on this same road when he went to Lagos for Project Inspection. The said officer missed his flight and then decided to return to Abuja by road when his own accident occurred. My friend-the former CNS, therefore made-up his mind not to ply that road again!
Incidentally, this same road is hosting the campgrounds of the largest Pentecostal Churches in Nigeria like the Redeemed Christian Church of God at Km 46, the Deeper Life Christian Ministry, the Mountain of Fire & Miracle Ministries, the Assemblies of God Church, the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria and some of their Tertiary Educational Institutions, among other religious and educational institutions. Could these set of people have any choice other than to ply this road even if they have to read Psalms 23 and 91 before they embark on their journey? Ditto to millions of other worshippers from Lagos, other parts of the country and worshippers from overseas who thronged these camp-grounds annually, quarterly and even monthly for Holy Pilgrimages and spiritual revivals.
To change the status of this killer road just like some other Nigerian roads, President Muhammadu Buhari should set politics aside and fix the road as soon as possible. Being a major artery road linking the South-West to the other parts of the country, while fixing it, the authorities may see the urgent need to complete an alternative route from Lagos- Lagos/Sokoto expressway that has been abandoned since General Olusegun Obasanjo’s Military Regime in 1978. The completion of this particular road, no doubt, will reduce pressure on the overburdened Lagos/Ibadan expressway.
And more importantly, as part of the solution, in order to preserve the life-span of these roads and safeguard the lives of the motorists plying the roads, articulated vehicles carrying petroleum products and other high tonnage products like cements and timbers should be restricted from the use of these roads. These trucks are the merchants of death on our roads. And this is a known fact that doesn’t need the services of Road Researchers and Consultants to unravel the mystery. The Federal Government is therefore enjoined to develop our Railway and Water-Transport networks with a view to handle the haulage of goods/products with high tonnage.
The activities of FRSC-Federal Roads Safety Commission Officers can check the recklessness of the motorists on our roads but they cannot prevent accidents due to poor conditions of our roads and the activities of operators of articulated vehicles like trailers and trucks
The needless carnage on Nigerian roads had sent hundreds, if not thousands of Nigerians to their untimely graves not minding victims’ social statuses since our independence in 1960.
And on this note, our thoughts are with the Adesinas and the Ogunleyes’ families. I met with the Late Professor Foluke Ogunleye in the early 1990s while she was a young lecturer at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife. She was on a visit to Lagos then and she decided to accompany her junior brother-Femi to one of our prayer-meetings in the house of our then Treasurer Apostle Alex Bamgbola who was the Managing Director/CEO of the defunct Victory Merchant Bank, and now the President of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN (Lagos chapter). Her youthful look then even made our host – Bro. Bamgbola to refer to her as a younger sister; a remark that her brother-Femi corrected, and quickly returned the seniority status to whom it belongs – Sister Foluke as he fondly called her. Missing a beloved one in a circumstance like this could be very painful; it is our prayers that the God of all comforts will comfort the bereaved families.
• Gbemiga Olakunle, JP is General Secretary, National Prayer Movement.