Next to Boko Haram insurgency, road accident is the second highest source of violent death in Nigeria. This is the painful truth. It is because of this ugly situation that Nigeria is ranked second-highest in the rate of road accidents among 193 countries of the world. To make matters worse, the World Health Organization, WHO, adjudge Nigeria the most dangerous country in Africa with 33.7 deaths per 100,000 population every year. According to WHO, one in every four road accident deaths in Africa occurs in Nigeria. That is very unfortunate.
In the last one week, Nigeria has recorded monumental tragedies from road accidents involving both the high and the low in society. From the Honourable Minister of state for Labour and Employment, Barrister James Ocholi, his wife and son along the ever busy Kaduna-Abuja road on Sunday, to that of the Chief of Training and Operations of the Nigerian Army, Major General YushauMahmoodAbubakar on the Maiduguri-Damaturu Road on Tuesday. The Army General was the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole before his recent deployment to Army Headquarters, Abuja. He was not alone, the road accident also involved the Acting General Officer Commanding 3 Division, Brigadier General MSA Aliyu, who sustained injuries and is currently receiving medical treatment. There was also report of 20 persons who lost their lives on Bauchi state on Monday and Tuesday. These figures exclude those that took place in other parts of the country.
Unfortunately, these are not the type of news one expects at this particular time when Nigeria is grappling with socio-economic and political challenges. Obviously, Nigerians are yet to learn any lesson from previous ugly experiences reflected in the number of deaths and injury recorded on Nigerian roads.
In 2013 for instance, 6450 Nigerians lost their lives on our roads, which includes 4552 men, 1398 women, 299 boys and 201 girls. Between 2009 and 2013, 30435 people were killed in road accidents in Nigeria (This is about the size of a European city, e.g. Gyula, Hungary). Also, 28480 men, 9198 women, 1520 boys and 859 girls, a total of 40057 people were injured in road accidents in 2013 while 183531 people were injured in road accidents between 2009 and 2013.
Road accidents have become a normal and re-occurring phenomenon in Nigeria which constitutes a menace in modern times. Although both the developed and developing nations of the world have suffered from varying degrees of road accidents, the developing countries clearly dominate with Nigeria having the second highest rate of road accidents among 193 ranked countries of the world. Deaths from reckless driving are the third leading cause of death in Nigeria. In 2012, at least 473 persons died from a total of 1,115 vehicular accidents nationwide. Already in 2013, April may go down as the worst month in terms of road accidents as according to reported cases, April 3, 2013: A luxury bus and a smaller bus crashed on the Abuja-Lokoja Road, 18 died. April 5, 2013: A petrol tanker set luxury bus and articulated vehicle ablaze at Ugbogui village on Ore-Benin Expressway, 80 people were burnt beyond recognition. April 6, 2013: At Dazigan, 11 kilometers from Potiskum, Yobe State, 20 died in an accident. April 11, 2013: 10 died on the Damaturu-Gashua Road also in Yobe State. April 14, 2013: Seven died on the Abuja-Lokoja Road, a car ran into an articulated vehicle. April 15, 2013: Five died on the Asaba-Onitsha Expressway. By the middle of April, 142 people had died from reported motor accidents, 30 per cent of the 473 deaths recorded in 2012 had been covered in only 15 days! There could be more unreported cases, and as often happens, some of the injured die without making the statistics
Some factors have been attributed to the frequent fatal accidents on our roads. These include; bad road network, poor driving culture, night trips, over-loading, dangerous driving, poor vehicle maintenance, bad /expired vehicle tires, among others.
The issue of bad state of roads has been overemphasized. As at today, it is difficult to ply the length of any our road without experiencing dangerous portions and death traps. This is not good for a richly endowed country despite 55 years of nationhood.
It is a serious indictment on the government that road accident is the third leading cause of death in Nigeria. It calls for immediate action by the Federal and state Governments, road safety agencies, motorists and other stakeholders.
We call on the Federal Government as well as state and local governments to immediately fix the roads and control traffics.
We also call on the FRSC to redouble its efforts in promoting healthy attitude on the road. It should come up with fresh strategies and ideas aimed at regulating the operation of different categories of vehicles that ply the road. Besides, its accident -free campaigns should go beyond the various motor parks to churches, mosques, other worship centres and markets. Road users must be cautioned on the need to always apply caution while driving.