FOR THE PROLIFERATION OF BAD ROADS, TO FOSTER ECONOMIC INCLUSION AMONG THE LOWER CLASSES OF NIGERIAN SOCIETY
The release to the public of this important intervention in the affairs of our dear nation became necessary given the complete neglect it has suffered from this administration. If you can accuse the last administration of one thing, it is that its number one priority was the masses of our great country. The most important benefit of a public treasury is that its contents find its way—by hook or by crook; in dribs and drabs—to the public.
With the past administration, we had enjoyed an advanced level of talks, and you could already see the translation into action of our important proposal. But the nestling’s life was snuffed. That administration’s life was truncated all too cruelly, and with it, it seems, our brainchild, and consequently, the wellbeing of the masses.
This is not necessarily an indictment on the current administration. We believe that, like cattle, it only sometimes requires the prod’s indelicate touch to reorient itself in the right direction. After all, the man at the head of government is a stark socialist. And with this administration riddled with men like Mr Babatunde Fashola, an inveterate elitist, a man with enormous cataracts in his social vision, a push becomes doubly essential, to both remind Mr President of his deepest convictions and remind the people of what they must expect from any government that claims to derive legitimacy from it. In a democracy and even in dictatorships, the people only need to weaponise their will, and change begins to materialise. People must be brought into the realisation of their collective power; otherwise, our democracy shall remain a democracy of elites, a supremacy of elite concerns and values.
For too long, the elite has made off with our commonwealth in the name of incrementalism and conventional wisdom—which upon examination hardly bears up to scrutiny. We are assured our yearnings are impossible, fanciful, based on a shaky understanding of what is possible in the world. Public utilities are a luxury, we are told, privatize the lot, because it is aliens who run these private enterprises. Education, we learn, is expensive and should creep farther and farther away from the grasp of the ordinary man. Every day we are made to burrow deeper and deeper into the wall to which they had pushed us. We only need to cast a glance across to the United States, where Mr Sanders has at the very least sparked a revolution challenging the insidious conventional wisdoms perpetuated by disconnected, self-interested, insignificant—in numbers at least—members of our polity. What is the point of government if it cannot ensure the wellbeing of the greatest number of the governed? Why should every one not simply fend for themselves?
But let’s not lose ourselves.
Much has been made of Nigeria’s economic problems. Much of it stems from an infrastructural deficit. Much of Nigeria’s infrastructure is crumbling. Much of it is rotting. Many other things are simply non-existent. The impact on the country’s economy and social stability has been dire. The volumes written on the problems and their solutions can fill every inch of a small town.
Left to men like Mr Fashola, perhaps a Final Solution to the problem of poverty may have been fashioned. To them Mr G.K. Chesterton is a simpleton. When hats are not enough to go round, the solution that actually does work is to lob heads off. After all, poverty is a deadly affliction that must not be permitted to taint the lofty aspirations of society, lofty aspirations typified by high-rises and gated communities. But poverty, as it happens, is a direct consequence of the actions and inactions of the leadership class. If people must be delivered from this captivity, there is a need to overturn conventional wisdoms. Solutions to economic problems must transcend this preoccupation with hapless indices that conceal more than they reveal.
A cursory excursion through Nigeria’s highways will reveal that most of them are in a deplorable state. Because most people, despite exhortations to the contrary, do not think beyond the confines of their experience, they will miss the true import of deplorable roads: that nationwide these bad roads are responsible for daily commercial activities to the tune of N50 million i.e. well over a billion naira in a month of thirty days. There is in this an interesting parallel to the sale of items in traffic for instance. And to imagine that we are constantly bombarded with the questionable notion that some so-called productivity is lost in traffic. What productivity can be more productive than the enormous sales, daily, of manufactured goods? Think of people who will lose jobs, or livelihood, if the enormous number of beef rolls shifted in traffic was eliminated.
And it upon this piece of insight our proposal rests. We will not bore you with all the painful details technical proposals demand. Broad summaries are sufficient. Our proposal is a template for the economic empowerment of the lowest of the low within society. We have christened this plan in accordance with its brave audacity. It entails the creation of Economic Corridors for the Empowerment of the Poor Who Mostly Reside in Remote Villages Deep in the Forests Bordering Highways (or Who Simply Find Their Way Down From Slightly Far-off Urban Centres, All of Which is Simply Too Bloody Long To Fashion An Acronym From).
What is this economic corridor, you say? Simple. That the government must revamp bad road infrastructure is a given. But this revamp must as a necessity not be total. For every 60 kilometres of good highway, there must be one kilometre of bad road, where speed must necessarily slow to a crawl, where progress is so inhibited the allure of goods become enhanced. This one kilometre is the economic corridor, complete with roadside hostels. This one kilometre is what might ensure sustenance for some of the poorest people in the land. It is what will ensure the viability of industries like the dodo ikire industry and the highway plantain chips industry and the countless others I have failed to mention. Successive governments have failed the poor in this nation. We present an opportunity to redeem this debt. Nigeria will be great.