Blackbox Nigeria



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Awosanya A.

Like a colleague of mine does say – “who cares? Your agitation does not hold water”. Candidly speaking, does it truly hold water? But in a society where no voice is aired, no voice is heard, goes the popular saying. And where no voice is aired and heard, no action is made. On Friday, 29th of November, a LASTMA officer attached to the central enforcement team of the agency, the person of Oyeshina Ola, was attacked in the course of discharging his lawful duty by an erred driver and declared dead at LASUTH in the early hour of Saturday, 30th of November, 2019. This is one of many attacks encountered by traffic officers, not only in the traffic law enforcement teams but also traffic control unit of the agency. These attacks are not only perpetrated by commercial motorists in the state, but also by vulgar private vehicles, commuters, and surprisingly officers of the armed forces such as the Nigerian Police and Soldiers. Today, 30th of November makes it a year and three days that officer Adeyemo was killed by a F-SARS officer in the night at Iyana Ipaja. Is our job unnecessary? Should people be bigger than the laws of the land?

There is this question I have been asking people a very long time ago – “shouldn’t we enforce traffic laws?” Some of the responses are always that – it should be exercised with the use of discretion; it is not a do or die affair; it is carried out for selfish reasons; it should be on the basis of civility; and all. The question is rhetorical, but these responses I get do not satisfactorily answer my question. In the execution of the laws of the land, enforcement is important and the fact that nobody likes to be controlled makes basic enforcement an enormous task particularly when there is no cooperation from the public, nor support from the government. If law enforcement is necessary, then it should be made so, and one of the ways to make it necessary is to bluntly frown at misdemeanours when necessary. The essence of laws are reflected when those laws are enforced. That Lagos has been referred to as “no man’s Land” makes everyone in the state to claim they are stakeholders, and therefore above the laws. There should be no room for laws violators in a state with rare qualities.
Lagos State, as a geographical location is ten times smaller than Sambisa forest of Borno State in landmass. What this means is that, it is a very small area but with bogus population in human and vehicular traffic, because it remains the economic hub of West Africa where people all over the country want to come and do one thing or the other for economic purpose. How can people’s wayward activities be controlled on the road if not by the way of law enforcement? But with the ugly incidences targeted at eliminating traffic law enforcers, there is a drawback as
Officers are now scared to carry out their lawful duties because it appears the people are now powerful than government and laws. We weep every month due to the heartless treatment and attacks from the motorists and the public. Officers also have families. They have children too. Most of them are breadwinners in their respective families. Of course, people die every day, but are these officers dying of natural causes? LASTMA officers are representatives of the state on Lagos roads. It is not possible for the governor to be everywhere, and that is why he employs people to make his goals achievable. Parts of those employed are these traffic officers who are saddled with the responsibility of installing sanity on the roads. To restore sanity is not limited to traffic control, the large aspect falls on enforcing traffic laws. It is when these laws are enforced that motorists get cautioned, desist from disobeying the laws and thereby make the road safe for people to ply without disturbance.
There was a time in Lagos when the slogan was “the fear of LASTMA is the beginning of Wisdom”. There was virtually no case of attack or death caused by the public or motorists in the state during this period. The enforcement was stringent. The support from the government was massive. And the compliance of the motorists was impressive. One would begin to wonder what went wrong. Why do people suddenly turn their back against obedience to laws. Everybody now claims they are above the laws thus contributing massively to traffic lock jam. And when officers try to intervene, their lives are unceremoniously cut short. The feelings are weird. We are really scared. Our government must come to our aid. We need them to bring back the old days.

It is important to commend the actions of our amiable governor, Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu for his efforts repositioning LASTMA and improving the welfare of the traffic officials. He has shown through his numerous gestures that he is a welfarist. However, our lives are in danger in the hands of motorists. We can only perform as expected and beyond when our lives are safe. These heartless people will always be loose if they are left unattended to with severe actions.


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