Nigerian politicians should reduce travelling by air and patronise Nigerian roads in order to feel what the masses are going through, a public affair analyst and former Commissioner for Information in Taraba State, Emmanuel Bello, has said.
He charged the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), to stop flying and undertake a tour of bad roads in the country for him to see the anguish and pains of commuters.
According to him, air transport has a way of detaching the nation’s policy makers from reality.
Bello in a interview with journalists in Jos on Monday said that part of the nonchalant attitude toward the road sector stems from the fact that elite have abandoned road transpiration.
He said, “I believe our elites don’t feel the pains millions go through daily on the roads. I have nothing against air transportation as I use it too. But Nigeria is still a road economy and we have to conquer the land before colonising the air. Our political class should do more road transportation.
“In fact, they should patronise public transport from time to time to appreciate the horrors and nightmares called Nigerian roads. The road from Jalingo to Numan on your way to Gombe, for instance, is a horror flick. It is a federal road but we must forget this thing called federal roads and urge state governments to wade in to reduce the hardship of their people.
He said, “The minister in charge of the road sector must just find a way to stop flying and start using the roads. I think he should spend a week going round these roads to know what we are talking about. He can’t fix all the roads at once but he should do biometrics of these highways, not just in one part of the country but all over.”
Bello urged stakeholders to declare a state of emergency on inner city roads and that of the rural areas.
He said, “Someone once said the road to development is just that: roads! I think state governments should concentrate on providing roads. A governor who does nothing but fixes roads or build new ones would be seen as a hero. I like what Taraba state government is doing. Governor Darius Ishaku is interested in aviation but also sees the need to fix roads.
“And he’s doing so with vigour. I believe the governors must come together and collaborate on this one too. And we must stop seeing roads as belonging to the Federal Government. I think there is even a policy in place where if they fix the so-called federal roads passing through their domains, they get refunded.
“At the local government level, efforts must be made to at least grade roads and make life bearable for the farmers and other road users. We can’t claim to be serious about development until and unless we declare a state of emergency in the road sector.”