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At least Two Lives Are Lost On Nigerian Roads Every Four Hours-Research

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LUKMON AKINTOLA

LAGOS

If the duo of Taye and Kehinde Animashaun had envisaged their death would follow a visit to their mother, they would not have embarked on the journey.

31 year-old, the duo were returning to their hometown in Ijoko, Ogun State from Sango area of the same state when they crashed into a stationary truck by the roadside on July 15, 2018. For the duo, and the bike man riding, it was instant death.

It is the same fate that befell the family of Tavershima Jebe when he lost his wife and three children in an accident that took place in Akwanga, Nasarawa State on September 15, 2019.

Indeed, death via road accident is now a recurring decimal in Nigeria. Statistics from the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) stated that an average of 11 persons die from accidents either through cars, bikes, trucks or other moving mechanisms.

FRSC officials helping victims of an accident

The Facts

Statistical analysis has also shown that every four hours, at least two lives are lost on Nigerian roads, while annually about 20,000 of the 11.654 million vehicles in the country are involved in accidents.

The deaths have led to the loss of a score of promising lives that ordinarily could have turned leaders of tomorrow, maybe even today.

The situation has indeed become worrisome, as it has led to a drastic loss in productive human capital, as a consistent amount of deaths are recorded annually.

According to the Federal Road Safety Corp Commission (FRSC), there were 12, 077 road accidents of which 5, 400 persons died in 2015.

In 2017, the FRSC recorded 4,410 deaths from 7,937 road crashes with 23,392 people injured. The figure was lower than the 4,527 deaths recorded in 2016.

In the first quarter of 2018, the FRSC recorded 1, 945 crashes nationwide, a 13 percent reduction in accident cases compared to the same period in 2017 which is put at 2,240 accidents.

The period in review also witnessed a corresponding decline in the number of people killed, as 1,079 were killed in 2018 as against 1, 297 in 2017.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), road traffic injuries caused an estimated 1.35 million deaths worldwide in 2016. What it means is that one person is killed every 25 seconds.

It is also a fact that low-income countries now have the highest annual road traffic fatality rates, at 24. 1 per 100, 000, while the rate in high-income countries is lowest, at 9.2 per 1000, 000.

While there is a global concerted effort to reduce the figures, total eradication is what is desired.

Road management officials have collectively identified speed violations as the main cause of road crashes. Other variable factors such as inpatient and reckless driving, distraction, and attempted robbery also have their place in the equation.

Though deaths via road accidents occur daily, the toll rises during the concluding parts of the year especially as festivities such as Christmas and New Year draw near.

Its recurring nature has thus raised eyebrows with blames being ascribed, and calls for related organisations to rise to their responsibilities being heightened.

In December 2013, the FRSC revealed how 24 people were killed in 28 road crashes recorded during the yuletide period.

In the preceding year, at least 88 people died in various accidents across Nigeria during the festive period between December 22 and December 31, an official cumulative reports by the FRSC showed.

A 2017 report by the FRSC also revealed that over 4,410 deaths occurred in the year. The rate of death from accidents during the festive period is indeed high with some blaming it on bad roads among other factors.

Who Is To Blame?

Prince Abimbola Sunday Abimbola, Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Epe Branch blamed both drivers and the government, calling for training for drivers when they contravene traffic laws.

“Money they say is the root of all evil. In the festive period, people have access to money, they have saved for the period and they are happy going home. On their way home during the journey, they have stopovers and a bottle or two of beer is consumed. In some cases, more than three bottles are consumed. At the end of the day, you find out that almost all of the people driving during the festive period are either almost drunk or are indeed drunk, it is the common thing these days. People take Tramadol, sniff gum. Today, Indian hemp is smoked everywhere, most of the things they tell you are for pile contains alcohol and local drugs.

“Alcohol is sold in sachet and they are readily available. Besides that, another cause of accidents is bad roads, the government is not making new roads, and the old ones are in a bad shape, they are hardly maintained except when there is an uproar from the consequences of a major accident. Today, the roads that are constructed have a life span of fewer than four years except those done by renowned construction companies. These are the causes of accidents on our roads.

“In the Ibeju Lekki axis of Lagos State where I reside, most of the time when these accidents happen, they are caused by truck drivers. I am sure you heard of the Dangote truck that recently killed three innocent people in BRT buses in Ikorodu. The truck drivers drive with so much recklessness because in a way they believe that they are driving for the superman of Africa, and nothing can happen to them. Several tricycle riders have been killed and some maimed by the truck drivers along the Lekki-Epe Expressway. These are issues we should look into, there has to be a total change of attitude to driving.”

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Prince Abimbola also called on the government to construct new, standard roads and repair old ones to taste.

He said: “roads are often repaired in January, February, basically early in the year. By July, August, September, and October, the rains would have arrived destroying some portions of the roads and accidents will naturally be on the rise. A driver driving on the fast lane may want to divert to the service lane because of a pothole and that alone can cause a road accident if he is not careful.

“Normally, it would be expected that by November and even early December when the rain has subsided, palliative works would be done on these roads in preparation for festive travelers, but this is never done. We have to find a solution to this problem instead of accepting it as the norm.”

Alhaji Hakeem Bello, a transporter in the Ajah axis of Lagos ascribes blame for the continuous accident on Nigerian roads during festive periods on traffic enforcement officers. According to him, most of the supposed traffic officials are only interested in generating revenue for their agencies rather than the safety of lives.

“Are the Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO) not susceptible to corruption? The Road Safety hardly does anything good. All they do is harass people. You are putting penal issues ahead of restoration. If somebody drives wrongly, you ask him to go and pay a fine, you are not talking about training or enlightening him so that he doesn’t commit the same offence again. He has to know why he should not commit that offence, it is not all about fear, in Lagos State, fear is the tool for enforcement. The government both federal and states are looking for revenue and when a driver drives wrongly, they fine him, they make him pay penalty but they don’t train him. That way, he gets to commit the offence again, and probably kills somebody the next time he gets stopped because he would attempt to escape by all means available to him. If the government wants to generate revenue, it should not be at the expense of its people. The government pays lip service to complains, and always say that they are working to better the situation, but nothing gets done. Look at the men of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), were they not better during the past administration? They victimised Lagosians and when we cried out, the then governor came to the rescue, the men of LASTMA still did their job. They are back to their old style now, and we have been complaining, but nothing has been done about their highhandedness. They said the new law was not punitive, but it has turned out to be so. You can get arrested for staying too long at a bus stop, where is that done?”

On his part, a teacher in one of the government schools in Lagos State who preferred anonymity called for a total re-orientation of the Nigerian driver.

According to him, the situation is so bad that the average Nigerian driver does not know the basics of driving on the road. “They don’t know that they should give preference to a learner or that a driver with a ‘Baby On Board’ sticker on his car needs to be given preference.

“The driving culture is worse with commercial buses. The drivers hardly listen to you. The more you complain, the faster they go. Some of them drive as if they are possessed. I am not sure that they even go to driving school at all. The only thing that can change the situation is a total re-orientation.

“Frustration is in the land and most people driving were not originally drivers. Some of them after losing their jobs became Uber drivers or Cab 45 drivers because they need money to feed their children, pay school fees, but the fact is that they are not trained, drivers.

“People like this will be exposed if they have to drive a long distance because what they do typically is to take their bosses to the office and back home.”

“Most of the time when you travel home to the East at the end of the year, you can be sure that you have only made the trip when you return because your life is in the hands of the driver who you know nothing about. Your fate is in the hands of his company, and that is why people prefer to travel with transport companies who have proven themselves over time,” Nkechi Ozurigbo, a member of the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC), serving in Lagos State stated.

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Road Safety Corps

FRSC Corps Marshal, Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi, while acknowledging the fact that there would always be crashes on roads explained that the corps objective is to ensure that there are no deaths in the crashes.

Explaining how the corps was able to manage the 2018 festive period, Dr. Oyeyemi revealed that in 2018, the FRSC activated 201 mobile courts and deployed 21,000 personnel for duty.

He revealed that the team included recovery vehicles, ambulances, and bikes, adding that the FRSC also partitioned the country into critical 52 corridors, and divided their operations into three segments namely pre-Christmas, post-Christmas and post-New Year.

He stated that the move resulted in a reduction in crashes and fatalities, attributing the result to the corps enlightenment programmes and the support from stakeholders, including the security services, media, and the transport unions.

His words: “The corps worked assiduously in 2017 to bring down the rate of road traffic crashes nationwide as we recorded 7,937 crashes as against 8,560 in 2016, indicating a decrease of 7.28 percent, while the number of people killed in 2017 was 4,410 as against 4,527 in 2016. This represents a reduction of 2.58 percent.

“Our principal responsibility during the period was to ensure a free flow of traffic; you may likely experience some gridlock in one or two areas in the cause of the ongoing construction work. So, we are not talking about enforcement; we are talking about the issue of getting the travelers home safely.

“Also, the recovery vehicles were deployed to critical locations and we also worked with private tow trucks operators so that peradventure if there is any breakdown of any vehicle or truck, immediately we will be able to remove all these obstructions which normally lead to gridlock,” Dr. Oyeyemi said.

Urging members of the public to make use of its toll-free number 122, the Corps Marshall added that road users can place a call to the number whenever they get to a crash scene before FRSC personnel.

“They should be able to call 122 and inform us so that we can deploy appropriate personnel and the required vehicle or whatever is required. I want to assure the public that we will be able to reduce the stress for the travelers.”

With drink driving known to be common in the festive period, the FRSC boss said such offenders will be prosecuted.

“We have purchased digital alcoholisers. I want to assure members of the public that we will lessen the stress of this by the end of the year patrol 2018/2019.”

While it is laudable that the corps was able to achieve its 2018 corporate strategic goal of improved enforcement and rescue services to reduce road traffic crashes by 15 percent and fatalities by 30 percent, traveler craving presently is to see the FRSC better that achievement, even as Christmas and New Year draws nearer.

 

Road Maintenance Agency

In the past, the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA), is known to have claimed to ensure a better and safer road for commuters traveling for Christmas. However, it appears that with the worsening roads, the responsibility has become too much for the agency to manage especially with several bad federal roads staring commuter in the face when traveling. The situation has thus seen calls for a better road maintenance culture, and improved policy system.

In anticipation of the 2018 Christmas period, Nurudeen Rafindadi, Managing Director of FERMA was quoted as saying that critical federal roads had been identified to be given palliative measures during the festive period.

“In order to realise this goal, the agency has been assigned 16 very critical and prominent roads that need to be addressed immediately within the period.”

Rafindadi also added that FERMA has put in place an implementation plan for the maintenance and repair of identified roads and others frequently used by motorist including those outside the ministry’s jurisdiction.

While the FERMA boss might have sounded convincing, not much evidence was seen, as complaints about the bad conditions of federal roads continue to mount. This position has given rise to concerns.

Advocacy

It is a known fact that to control climate change there has been advocacy against tree cutting, but where one is cut, at least two is planted as a replacement. A similar culture has been advocated for roads. A case where alternative roads are adequately put in shape before a major road is closed is only logical, as the idea of travelers spending five hours on a journey which should ordinarily not exceed two hours should not be acceptable.

Though the FRSC is known to shut down the major part of its operations in December with the bulk of its officers on the roads, it is hoped that Dr. Oyeyemi’s statement in Abuja while giving a performance review earlier in the year that “we are not saying there will be no crash, but the focus is that let there be zero death” becomes the watchword of the FRSC and related agencies as the 2019 festive period beckons.

 

 

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Opinion

Man Makes Vegetable Soup Of Huge Snake Killed In His House

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A man with the Twitter handle caesar_mayor has shared pictures of a huge snake killed in his house.
Having killed the snake, he made  vegetable soup with the reptile, and shared pictures.
Some snakes are considered a delicay in Africa, and other parts of the world.
There are people who hold the opinion that the meat of a snake tastes like chicken.
Nigerian man cooks and eats huge snake he killed in his house
Nigerian man cooks and eats huge snake he killed in his house
Nigerian man cooks and eats huge snake he killed in his house
Nigerian man cooks and eats huge snake he killed in his house
Nigerian man cooks and eats huge snake he killed in his house
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Nigeria/Russia Relations: The missing link  

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Russia

By Hussaini Monguno

On November 15, 1884, 14 mainly European countries gathered in Berlin for a meeting which lasted to February 26, 1885. The aim of that conference was to split the continent of Africa and share it to the Europeans who were scrambling over it.

The countries represented were; Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands. Others include; Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden-Norway (unified from 1814 to 1905), Turkey, and the United States of America. Of these 14 nations, France, Germany, Great Britain, and Portugal were the major players in the conference, controlling most of Africa at the time.

Russia, though present at the conference, was not interested in the greedy project of acquiring Africa by force of arms. The Russians held firmly to the guiding principle of their policy as advocated by one of their founding fathers, V.I. Lenin who advocated equality and peaceful coexistence amongst all the peoples of the world.

It was this same message of equality of mankind that led Khrushchev (the former Soviet leader) to move a motion to end all forms of colonialism by 1960 at the plenary of the XVth session of the United Nations General assembly. The passage of the motion led to the crumbling of colonialism, and sovereign African states began to emerge one after another. Nigeria took its turn to gain independence in 1960.

The Soviet Union – precursor to Russian Federation – built into its foreign policy architecture a sensitive and positive response to assist Africa in building an egalitarian society for themselves.

In the case of Nigeria, the warm response from Russia was instant. Nigeria became independent on October 1 1960. In less than two months – on November 25, 1960 – the two countries established diplomatic relations.

The founding fathers of Nigeria said the foreign policy of the country was based on Africa as its cornerstone. Ordinarily, this should have drafted Nigeria very close to the Russians who took it on themselves to fight for the decolonization of Africa. Ironically, this was not the case because the first Republic leaders were under the heavy influence of the colonial masters.

The colonial masters induced Nigerian leaders to launch heavy, unfriendly propaganda against Russia in Nigeria during the early and mid-1960s. In contrast to this, nations like the United Kingdom, the United States of America, France, Italy, Spain and other countries in Western Europe at large enjoyed positive propaganda which made them seem as ideal and friendly.

The system of governance in most African countries including Nigeria was fashioned after their former colonialists and gave preference to the interests of the colonial masters. With this mindset, the environment was not conducive to friendly Nigeria-Russia relations.

During the early 60’s, the main interest of the Soviet Union was to expand its political influence among the countries of Africa and have more states converted into socialist-oriented nations in the then ideologically polarized world that was popularly referred to as the cold war. Nigeria being a capitalist state was not inclined to change its orientation. Its colonial master and allies were opposed to Nigeria and any of its former colonies having cordial relationship with Russia which they came to identify as a strong iron curtain – not be allowed a space of further expansion in Africa. Any manifestation of or link to the communist ideology was met with censorship and repression.

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But there was no let-up on the part of Russia. They seized every opportunity to advertise their goodwill to Nigeria. When the civil war broke out in Nigeria with the Eastern Region declaring itself an independent state of Biafra, it was Russia that came to bail out Nigeria with arms to put down the insurrection. At the time, both the United States and the United Kingdom refused to sale arms to Nigeria. In fact France went a step further by recognizing Biafra as a sovereign state.

The Nigerian Civil War opened the eyes of Nigerian leaders to the reality of world politics. Nigerian youths became eager recipients of Soviet scholarships for higher education in the Soviet Union. This was a major opportunity for the Soviet Union to establish itself in sub-Saharan Africa’s major country.

Immediately after the war, General Yakubu Gowon, Nigeria’s Head of State, paid a State Visit to Moscow in 1971. President Olusegun Obasanjo also visited Russia in 2001 and on June 24 2009, Russian President Dimitry Medvedev became the first Russian President to visit Nigeria.

These top level visits are too far in between and do not reflect the several challenges confronting Nigeria-Russia relations.

For instance, in order for agreements among nations to become operational, they are to be passed by the National parliament and that forms their legal framework. The agreements signed with Russia during these visits are yet to be ratified by the parliament with particular reference to the Abuja agreement of 2009 which covered six critical areas: Viz- Investment, cooperation in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy, understanding in the field of exploration of outer space for peaceful purposes, transfer of persons sentenced to imprisonment, declaration on principles of friendly relations and partnership between Nigeria and the Russian Federation and several other agreements on the eventual establishment of the Intergovernmental Commission on Economic and Scientific-Technical Cooperation (ICESTC) between the two countries.

Adequate knowledge and clear understanding of culture, history, language, mentality, world-view, capabilities and potentials of other nations are crucial to foreign policy making. There is weak indication that the two countries have sufficient and adequate perception of each other. This in part is responsible for the lack of the political will to fully implement their existing bilateral agreements.

We have had serial disappointments with the western world from their refusal to help in the fight to keep Nigeria one and their current refusal to help with weapons to put down the Boko Haram insurgency under the spurious claims that the Nigerian military is abusing human rights. The supply of military equipment and materiel notably the MI-35 attack helicopters by Russia have played a high value addition in our fight against Boko Haram. Unfortunately majority among the Nigeria political elites are under strong influence of London and Washington whose interest is to distance Moscow from the affairs of African countries.

Still, there has been increased trade between Nigeria and Russia since the civil war experience. Dramatically, the Soviet Union became Nigeria’s best friend and ally such that by the time the civil war ended in 1970 Nigeria had opened its doors to other Soviet imports such as consumer goods and industrial manufacture.

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The most significant highlight of the growing economic cooperation between the two countries was the award of contracts to Soviet companies for the establishment of the Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Complex and for the laying of oil pipelines across the country in line with the articles form economic and technical cooperation agreed upon by the two countries.

The project was however not completed as scheduled, and has continued to suffer several setbacks over the decades due to what should be seen as a lack of political will and adequate appreciation of the potential of the steel project to radically transform the economy of Nigeria and its capacity to be the foundation for the industrialization of the nation.

Similarly, ALSCON, Nigeria’s only aluminum smelting plant, handed over to Russian aluminum giant, United Company RUSAL PLC was closed down in 2014. Again, nothing much is heard of Gazprom, the Russian national energy giant, the biggest in the world, who signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on the exploration and exploitation of the nation’s huge gas reserves with a new joint venture company to be known as NiGaz Energy Company, which will also take part in several other critical infrastructural development projects, including the training of Nigerians among others. Both companies were expected to invest up to 2.5 billion dollars in the joint venture.

These are very good signs for Nigeria-Russia relations and should be pursued with vigor because they can lead to slow but steady growth of bilateral trade and the promotion of direct contacts between Nigerian and Russian officials and institutions, agencies and companies, opening up of opportunities for further cooperation in the area of energy, metallurgy, oil and gas and promotion of bilateral cooperation in the cultural sphere.

Nigeria needs Russian technology to boost industrialization just as Russia needs Nigeria as a market for its industrial products and military equipment. All issues on the privatization of ALSCON to Russian RUSAL including the legal tussles require diplomatic solutions in a manner that will bring the company to function at its maximum capacity.

The volume of on-going trade between the two countries still remains very low – a paltry $350 million. This is ridiculous given the rich economic and trade endowments of both Nigeria and Russia. Worse still, there is a consistent huge imbalance in favor of Russia.

Inadequate information on business opportunities in Nigeria poses one of the major problems. Foreign investors including Russians have no access to update and reliable information on business prospects in Nigeria. If and when Russian businesses discover, for example, the rich agricultural products that are available in Nigeria, they’d wonder why they had not known about these all along.

In Nigeria, there are exceptional high-quality agricultural products such as oranges, mangoes, citrus, sweet honey that could easily rise to the top of the market demand in Russia.

There are many options available for the two countries to expand and deepen mutual trade and diplomatic ties in the interest of the two countries, world peace and prosperity. These options must be speedily pursued.

–      Monguno is member, Board of Directors, FCDA-Abuja-Nigeria.

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Man United, Barcelona Battle Over Victor Osimhen

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Victor Osimhen

The duo of Manchester United and Barcelona are said to be battling for the signature of Nigerian and Super Eagles forward, Victor Osimhen.

According to a report by French regional newspaper La Voix du Nord, the Lille forward might no longer be at Lille at the end of the coming transfer window.

According to reports by La Voix du Nord, the Nigerian international has many suitors and Man United is just one of the top teams keeping tabs on him.

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Man United are currently in the transfer market for a quality forward ahead of the winter transfer window in January, the likes of the quartet of Aleksandr Sobolev, Callum Wilson, Moussa Dembele and Mario Mandzukic are already on a list of probable strikers coming to Man United.

Interestingly, Osimhen, who will be handed Ligur 1 player of the month trophy during Lille’s home game against Bordeaux on October 26, was first linked with United after winning the top scorer award at the U17 World Cup in 2015, but Derek Langley, ex-head of youth player recruitment, denied the reports.

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