Every other day, Nigerians receive news of devastating
loss of lives of fellow compatriots on the country’s
major roads. In a country where lives have become so
cheap, losing them due to armed robbery, kidnappings,
accidents and other criminal activities seem to suggest
or indeed, confirm that lives no longer truly have meanings.
Pathetically, news of such carnage and the helplessness of
governments make nonsense of their primary responsibility
which, as is the mandate anywhere else in the world especially
the civilised world, the protection of lives and properties of
citizens.
Although one thing that has been identified as resulting in
the highest number of deaths has been located in vehicular
accidents in Nigeria, the poor state of roads, banditry and
related crime like kidnapping also contribute to the unnecessary
and avoidable loss of lives.
There is no gainsaying that every road is important, but
because of the special roles some roads play in the lives of those
who reside where they are located, some roads are particularly
more important than others. It is for this reason that we take
special note, and must emphasise the point arising from Federal
Government’s identification of roads that have been classified as
“critical economic routes” in the country. Such critical economic
roads, the Federal Government has said, should be fixed this
year. These roads are the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway; Abuja-
Lokoja Road; the Second Niger Bridge at Asaba (in Delta State)
and Onitsha (in Anambra State).
Other are the dual carriage way at Abuja-Abaji-Lokoja; Kano-
Maiduguri dual carriage way; rehabilitation of Enugu-Port
Harcourt dual carriage way; rehabilitation/reconstruction of
Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan Expressway; Loko-Oweto Bridge in
Nasarawa/Benue; reconstruction of outstanding sections of
Benin-Ofosu-Ore-Shagamu road; rehabilitation of Odukpani-
Itu-Ikot Ekpene road; Odukpani-Itu-Bridgehead and
rehabilitation of Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa road.
In his appearance before the Senate Committee on Works
when he defended this year’s budget as it affects his ministry
on Monday, February 6, this year, the Minister of Power, Works
and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola assured that the roads,
having been captured, would be done. The minister said that
the sum of N311,487,641,643 has already been set aside for road
construction under Works arm of his ministry.
There are other roads which come under the second priority
list. Such roads have 17.84 percent of the budgetary allocation
which is N43,143,299,357. The roads in this second category
include those “which serve as links between the major routes
and agricultural producing hubs, factories and mining deposits
for the evacuation of agricultural produce, manufactured goods
and raw materials to markets and ports across the country.”
Some of the roads here are the dualisation of Sapele-Ewu road
(Delta and Edo States); addition to the dualisation of Lagos-
Ota-Abeokuta road (Lagos and Ogun States); rehabilitation of
Owerri-Umuahia road (Imo and Abia States); dualisation of
Yenegoe road junction-Kolo-Otuoke-Bayelsa Palm in Bayelosa
state; rehabilitation of Damaturu-Biu road; rehabilitation of
Hadejia-Nguru-Gashua-Bayamari road (Jigawa and Yobe States)
and the rehabilitation of Ilorin-Kabba-Obajana road (Kwara and
Kogi States).
There are other projects in the third grade area. These are
“specifically targeted at routes leading to the nation’s refineries,
petroleum depots, major ports and mineral producing areas in
the country to ease the movement of petroleum products and
imported goods from the ports and depots to other parts of the
country.” For projects in this group, the sum of N25,508,708,266
which is 10.55 percent is proposed to execute them.
Other projects are rehabilitation of Apapa-Oshodi Expressway
in Lagos; dualisation of Suleja-Minna road; construction of
Bodo-Bonny road with a bridge across the Opobo channel in
Rivers State; access road to Apapa/Tin Can Port, NNPC Depot
(Atlas Cove), to Mile 2, etc.
According to Fashola, roads given fourth priority attention
are those in “key agricultural states producing cash crops like
yam, rice, maize, cassava, fruits, etc.” The minister further noted
that the goal was “to boost the production of these crops and
ease their movement to markets to enhance food sufficiency
in the country and minimise losses,” for which 3.68 percent or
N8.9billion has been allocated. The projects here include the
rehabilitation of Sokoto-Tambuwal-Jega-Kontagora-Makera
in Sokoto and Kebbi States; rehabilitation of Otukpo-9th Mile-
Enugu-Port Harcourt dual carriage way in Benue and Enugu
States; rehabilitation of Abakaliki-Afikpo road in Ebonyi State;
rehabilitation of Akure-Ondo; rehabilitation of Aba-Azumini-
Opobo road; rehabilitation of Wukari-Mutum Biyu-Jalingo-
Numan road section I and Wukari-Mutum Biyu road in Taraba
State.
All these are unassailable. We also appreciate Minister
Fashola’s priority attention to the “highly trafficked” roads
and bridges of North-South and East-West roads because they
come handy in distribution of goods and services. But that is not
all. The Federal Government must necessarily go beyond that.
What need do these provisions serve if commuters do not have
protection on the access roads?
This is why we call on, not only the Federal Government, but
the state and local governments and Nigerians to see that they
realise the fact that for security to be effective, it must be seen to
enjoy the collaborative effort of everybody.
If this advice is heeded, a state like Kogi which is strategically
located state in Nigeria, known as the Confluence State because
of its unique characteristic of having a point where River Niger
and River Benue, Nigeria’s two main rivers, come together, can
be made safe.
It is highly regrettable that Kogi State has assumed such
notoriety of becoming another minefield of Nigeria, the latest
being the raw deal meted out to Onitsha bound traders in
Okene. With proper policing on Nigerian roads, the menace of
the evil ones should be a thing of the past. We have no doubt
that Nigeria’s security personnel have the capacity to achieve
such a goal.

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