In which out of the 195 countries in the world is there a replication of the Oshodi-Apapa gridlock? This was the question I put to my hosts on a live television interview a few months ago? For a few second, my hosts could not utter a word as they were dumbfounded by the challenge to name any other country – 193 members of the United Nations and the two others that are not, where you could find the type of madness and eyesore that is that stretch.
I even left the same challenge to the public through the medium. Just show me anywhere else in the world Apapa ugliness is replicated. Till date, nobody has come up with another example, meaning that I’m not alone in believing that Nigeria is the only country in the whole globe that could showcase such utter waste.
I call it a waste because you needed to know what Apapa was before the current deterioration. I do, because years ago, I used to live close to the area to have a whiff of the grandeur of that exclusive resort, which was indeed a different world of its own, both in the day and at night.
For us children, living in the nearby Ajegunle, this was the place we went to sell our birds, which we caught in the different swamps around us to the Europeans and other high-heeled Nigerians, some of them pretending to be Oyibo. It was a place for the high and mighty, who preferred a different kind of life different from what they could get from Ikoyi, Victoria Island and to an extent, Ikeja – life of excitement in the belly of natural opulence. In my mind’s eye, I picture the scenic difference between Ajegunle and Apapa and how it conduces that of night and day.
It is an ambience that would give you a picturesque panorama of being in Europe. In fact, if you could not travel to Europe, you could make do with Apapa. You may have heard of the Apapa Amusement Park. That was Nigeria’s Disney at a time. I even hear that if you were wondering what it looked like to make out with an Oyibo woman, just arm yourself with a $100, the experience is yours.
Yes! So much was life in Apapa that you also had Oyibo Oloshos to wet your coital appetite, were you interested in variety. But visit Apapa today and see the desolation and the ugliness. That is if you could find your way to the area and back in one piece.
What has happened to Apapa? Because of the mismanagement of a simple road infrastructure owing to the location of a port, the mainstay of countries like Singapore and even nearby Benin Republic, a once quintessential city of monumental beauty and opulence, has transformed into an ugly wasteland comparable to war-wearied cities of the ancient times.
That ostensibly, has become the sad story of Nigeria – an apt description of a country that has allowed its beauty to be encrusted with caked earth out of many years of playing in the mud – a demonstrable example of the biblical prodigal son, reduced to eating from the feeds meant for pigs, rather than the fatlings on the family table. Monumental shame, I hear you say!
Yes! Just as I asked my TV hosts, I now ask again, in which other country outside Nigeria would a government and the people devote a whole six-plus years discussing the issue of cows – how to feed them, which road they would take to the pasture, how the life of one equals scores of humans – old and young, women and children? Dear compatriots, tell me if you have the answer.
Tell me in which other country in the world, 175 of them – 173 recognised by the UN and two not recognised, replicates the sad story of today’s Nigeria, as exemplified by the gory spectacle that assaults the eyes daily – where human beings are butchered like wild animals in the bush, hundreds of school children are picked from their beds and driven into the forest and killed one after the other to force their parents and, or government to pay ransom.
Perhaps, you could mention Afghanistan and Somalia. But is it the same. In Afghanistan for instance, the people are being forced to change their ways from what used to be their norms and tradition, to a new world and they are resisting it. In Afghanistan, women are not allowed to come out from their homes without fully veiled or go to school or appear in public alone. Therefore, it could be said that they are fighting a cause to resist the change. Okay, Somalia! But Somalia is a failed state, a basket case. Is it what Nigeria is pursuing?
Otherwise, where else is this happening? Just check the Nigerian military in just one year or less. May be you are not taking a count. Let me refresh your memory about the sequence. Also note the outlandish stories around the incidents and the reactions thereof.
On July 14, 2020 Tolupe Arotile Nigeria’s first combat helicopter pilot was killed by a car in the barrack of the Nigerian Air Force in Kaduna at the age of 24. According to Ibikunle Daramola, Director of Public Relations and Information for the Nigerian Air Force, she was hit by her classmate while reversing the car, causing her to hit her head on the tarmac.
Reactions: Nigerians were outraged. Government: “President Muhammadu Buhari received with deep pain the passing of Flying Officer, Tolulope Arotile, condoling with the family on loss of such a promising officer, whose short stay on earth impacted greatly on the nation, especially in peace and security.” It was signed by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu.
“The President salutes Arotile’s bravery in the field to protect the country from onslaught of bandits and terrorists, assuring that her memory will be indelible, and her efforts remembered.”
Sunday, February 21, 2021: Seven people die after another NAF military plane on the mission to rescuing 42 people kidnapped in Niger State, crashed close to the runway of the Abuja International Airport.
Reactions: Nigerians, tongue-tied. Presidency: “President Muhammadu Buhari is deeply saddened by the fatal crash of Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Beechcraft KingAir B350i aircraft on Sunday in Abuja that claimed the lives of seven personnel.
“On behalf of the Federal Government, President Buhari extends heartfelt condolences to family members, friends and colleagues of those who died as a result of this tragedy.
“The President joins the Nigerian Air Force, the military and other Nigerians in mourning the unfortunate loss of the dedicated and courageous personnel, who died in the line of duty.
“President Buhari notes that while investigations into the cause of the crash are ongoing, the safety of the Nigerian airspace remains a key priority of the government.” This time, it was signed by Femi Adesina, another spokesman.
“He prays that God will comfort the bereaved families and nation, and grant the souls of the departed peaceful rest.”
March 31, 2021: Edward Gabkwet, an Air Commodore, and spokesman for Nigerian Air Forc confirmed that a NAF fighter jet disappeared “while on interdiction mission in support of ground troops. The mission was part of the ongoing counterinsurgency operations in the North East. The loss of radar contact occurred at about 5:08 pm on 31 March 2021.
“Details of the whereabout of the aircraft or likely cause of contact loss are still sketchy but will be relayed to the general public as soon as they become clear. Meanwhile, search and rescue efforts are ongoing.” Again, Nigerians were left nonplused. It is not certain if the Presidency reacted.
On April 25 or thereabout, some 20 soldiers were reportedly killed by NAF bombings, in a mistaken attack in Mainok, about 55 kilometers (34 miles) from Maiduguri, Borno’s capital. NAF had since launched an investigation, amid public confusion.
May 21, 2021, Ibrahim Attahiru, killed in a NAF a crash as his plane was about to land at the Kaduna International Airport, with 10 other military personnel on board, some of them senior officers.
Attahiru, until Friday, when he died in the crash, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), five days to the fifth month of his appointment on January 26, 2021, after the sack of his predecessor, Tukur Buratai.
Has the devil joined in the effort to vanquish Nigeria? Could these string of unpalatable events be mere coincidence? There is a local saying that when a fowl farts the ground will start pursuing it. Is this the case with Nigeria? Worse still, what if this is the handiwork of a fifth-columnists sabotaging the efforts of our men in uniform?
“President Muhammadu Buhari is deeply saddened over the air crash that claimed the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, and other military officers. The President condoles with families of the deceased, the military, and Nigerians in general.
“While praying that God receives the souls of the patriots, the President says the crash ‘is one mortal blow to our underbelly, at a time our armed forces are poised to end the security challenges facing the country. The President pledged that the departed would not die in vain.”
This was Femi Adesina again, on behalf of his boss. Of course, waiting for the masquerade himself to address Nigerians on this colossal tragedy, as say, a Joe Biden of the US or even nearer home, Akufo Addo of Ghana, would is akin to the people getting Sallah meat. But, isn’t it time to do the needful?
It is said that when an old woman falls twice on the way to the market, she must pause and recount the contents of her basket. Shouldn’t Aso Rock Villa copy that old woman by taking that route? Is there any other country outside Nigeria where this is happening?