Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Response to the new Lagos traffic law

Road Traffic: This Law is an Ass

by Chinua Asuzu, Assizes Law Firm

The attention of our law firm has been drawn to the Law and Order Public Notice issued by the Lagos State Government and advertised on page 8 of The Guardian of June 9, 2008.

Our first reaction is to commend the Lagos State Government for its new policy and practice of bringing certain of its key laws, policies and programs to the attention of the general public. The Federal Government and all state and local governments should emulate this practice. In the context of our democratic transition, it is a very wholesome and most welcome development. True democracy includes access to and freedom of information. The public's right to know, coupled with the state's duty to disseminate information, are vital components of a democracy. Of course the mere publication of the key features of some pieces of legislation does not by itself mean that democracy has arrived, but it is a significant and progressive step in the march to democracy. For this step in our long journey towards democracy and good governance, we salute the leadership of Lagos State. In particular, we commend the Governor and the Attorney General.

Lagos State is on a path to reform. The anxiety and rush of the Fashola Administration to pursue and prosecute its admirable reform agenda can cause difficulties and create complications. Some of these difficulties and complications we should bear, others we should resist. The passage, implementation, and potential repercussions of the Road Traffic Law are among those deserving of citizen resistance. In law and order reform, more haste, less speed. This is because a rushed reform programme cannot be sustainable, thus creating the need for a later Administration to retrace the steps already taken. In the fields of law and justice sector reform, especially and order law-making and implementation, major mistakes can easily be made.

The Road Traffic Law of Lagos State whose key features were advertised in the press is one such mistake. We have not read the law, but we feel we can submit these preliminary objections at this stage because of the source of the publication- the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Information and Strategy. These are authoritative and reliable sources, and in view of the involvement of the Ministry of Justice, we can regard the publication as a fairly accurate summary of the contents of the statute.

Vicarious Liability in Criminal Law

The law stipulates vicarious liability for owners of vehicles with which road traffic offences have been committed. This is unsound in criminal law. Every adult offender should be personally liable for his crime. Not only is each adult personally liable for his crime, he is also solely liable for it, except in cases of aiding or abetting, conspiracy and the like, in which case the aiders, abettors and conspiracies have each committed crimes anyway- so that the principle of personal liability remains inviolate. Such "exceptions" are not relevant in the Road Traffic Law under review. It purports to impose criminal responsibility on innocent parties. Our legal system does not, as a general rule, countenance vicarious liability in criminal law (it does in tort). Whatever exceptions there may be to this rule are not relevant in the context of the Road Traffic Law. Upright judges would be constrained to find the offending driver not guilty in order to avoid punishing the innocent owner.

The Punishment must Fit the Crime

Various theories of punishment have been propounded by criminologists and penologists. These theories are not mutually exclusive; several of them could operate together in a given sentencing context. No matter which of the theories operate(s) in the mind of a criminal law draftsman or a judge in prescribing or imposing sentences, the one principle upon which virtually all criminologists, penologists, criminal lawyers and sociologists are agreed upon is that the punishment must fit the crime. In other words, the punishment must be proportionate to the kind and degree of crime committed by the offender. Here the kind of crime is traffic offence, a regulatory misdemeanour; the degree may range in severity from reckless driving causing no damage or injury to manslaughter by dangerous driving.

In criminal law, traffic offences are classed as regulatory offences, the least serious of criminal conduct. They are mala prohibita (they are wrong because they are prohibited; they are acts which are made offences by positive laws, and prohibited accordingly). This species of criminality is usually less serious than mala in se (crimes which are wrong in themselves, or evil, like rape). Mala in se crimes are wrong irrespective of legislative prohibition, although of course they are forbidden by positive law.

The fines imposed by the Road Traffic Law of Lagos State are excessive. They are too severe and are not at all commensurate with the regulatory offences in question. It is like using a hammer to kill a fly, not even a fly on a solid wall, but one perched on your TV screen.

All over the world, traffic offences are deemed to be among the most minor of crimes and are, and should be penalized accordingly. Terms of imprisonment are completely inappropriate for most traffic offences, except in aggravated circumstances. The fines themselves should thus be minimal and realistic having regard to the average income of the community for whom the law is made.

The Option of Fine must be Real

Regulatory offences such as traffic violations are usually punished by minimal fines. The amounts of such fines must take into account the average income of the working class in the jurisdiction. The fines should not be so high as to make any options of imprisonment inevitable in most cases. The fine option must be a real option, in fact the preferred option for the legal system. It must be capable of being exercised, or chosen, or elected, or opted for, by the average offender. The fines should be such that the average Lagosian or Nigerian can afford to pay. The criminal law cannot be deployed merely or mostly for increasing the Internally Generated Revenue of Lagos State. Any terms of imprisonment imposed must also be comparable in severity to the amounts of the fines. Finally, the punishment must fit the crime. In the few instances where imprisonment should be stipulated at all, the terms of imprisonment must be very short (a matter of a few days), again always with options of small fines.

Equality before the Law

The heavy fines stipulated in the law would foster too much inequality in its implementation. Poor offenders would go to jail, while rich ones walk. Further on equality, we hope the law will be enforced against police and senior government or public officers, who are the worst offenders of traffic laws and rules.

Passenger Liability?

The Road Traffic Law prescribes punishment for innocent passengers in vehicles driven by offending drivers. This clause is completely indefensible, unsupportable and unsustainable and should be urgently repealed. Upright judges would be constrained to find the offending driver not guilty in order to avoid punishing the innocent passenger. Our criminal law does not punish a person who has done no wrong. A passenger cannot be expected to wrestle with a reckless driver and thereby worsen the already dangerous situation.

Impounding Vehicles

The penalty of impounding or seizing vehicles is totally unnecessary and unduly militaristic, and might be found to violate section 44 of the Nigerian Constitution. The logistics of warehousing or parking seized vehicles would be nightmarish. Who would be responsible for damage to or loss of the vehicle, its parts or accessories? Would the Lagos State government employ special watchmen to look after seized vehicles? How would such seizure fit into the overall legal system? What happens if an appeal against the decision succeeds?

For Whom is this Law Made?

The Road Traffic Law appears to have been enacted exclusively for the state, rather than for the society or for both. Its emphasis and focus betray a shocking emotional distance between the Lagos State and its citizens for whose benefit and in whose interest the law ought to have been made. It reads like a Papal Bull of Excommunication or a pronunziamento imposed by a foreign despot on a conquered race. It is draconian beyond belief and does not reveal social welfare as its intendment. For instance, it does not include or emphasize safety concerns. The law does not stress the use of helmets by okada riders, nor does it place appropriate emphasis on the use of seat-belts by drivers.

Actual versus Potential Mischief in (Criminal) Legislation

The Road Traffic Law has failed to draw necessary distinctions between potential and actual mischief in penal legislation. It punishes the potentiality of mischief as severely as its actuality. It does not establish a varying schedule of punishments for the same conduct when it has varying degrees of consequences. For example, if I drive on the wrong side of the road but cause no harm for anybody, that is admittedly a traffic violation and an offence against the Law, but the punishment should be lighter than when I cause injury or damage to persons or property by my illicit driving.

Lagos State Should Deploy Tough Love

Lagos State should be interested in commanding willing respect of its laws rather than frightening people into obedience. Lagos State should also spend many months and many millions of naira educating its citizenry on road traffic rules and ethics. For the past several decades in Nigeria, drivers' licenses have been issued without driving tests, eye tests, or health tests. The result is that we have many drivers in Nigeria, mostly in Lagos State, who do not even know simple rules of the road, like giving way to traffic on the left, or the difference between speed and slow lanes, or speed limits. Reform should start with setting and monitoring criteria for driving schools, taking care in the issuance and renewal of driving licences, and in educating both old and new drivers on the rules of the road.

Offenders are members of the community and remain so even after they have offended. Their loyal, participatory, and trusting membership of the community is of tremendous social value. Where one man returns from jail for a traffic offence, or empties his bank account or borrows from his extended family to pay a traffic fine, only to observe another who has robed the state treasury go virtually unpunished, Wole Soyinka's rhetorical question becomes poignant: what sort of society is one a part of?

Road Traffic Education: Ignorance of the Law

Although ignorance of the daw affords no defence in criminal law, four points must be noted in the context of this oft-misquoted maxim.

First, ignorance of the law may operate to negate intention or other requisite mental element of an offence, and all offences including even strict liability and regulatory offences contain a mental element. Such a mental component may not attain the full definition of mens rea, but a naked actus reus discloses no crime.

Secondly, ignorance of the law should at least ameliorate criminal responsibility.

Moreover, we often forget that ignorance of fact is an excuse in criminal law (the maxim is: ignorantia facti excusat). A person who drives in the wrong direction on a one-way street without knowing it is a one-way street has committed no crime. His ignorance is of fact, not of law. But if he drove that way without knowing it is against the law to drive like that, he has offended, his ignorance being of law.

Finally, we must remember the rationale behind this doctrine ignorantia legis neminem excusat (ignorance of the law excuses no one). It is not an arbitrary rule. The reasoning is that if ignorance of the law were to be tenable in defence, that would raise major difficulties for a jurisdiction. In the first place, it could afford an escape for numerous defendants by their merely claiming ignorance of the law they have violated, especially if the burden were on the state to establish that the defendant knew the law. Secondly, it would impose an unrealistically heavy encumbrance on the state to bring the law to the actual (not merely constructive) notice of all citizens. In light of these bases for the tenet, where a judge is convinced that a particular defendant in a given case did not know the law he had violated, or that what he had done was contrary to law, and that it was reasonable in the circumstances for him not to have known, then that would surely influence the judge's decision, if not on guilt, then certainly on punishment.


No doubt the Lagos State Government had the noblest of motivations in proposing and passing the Road Traffic Law, but this is one of those instances where the road to hell is paved with the cobblestones of good intentions. Deterrence and the desire to sanitise road transport and traffic in Lagos must have actuated the legislation. The idea might have been to make the fines so heavy that nobody would offend. Such an idea would disclose an unfortunate illiteracy on sociology, social psychology, social engineering, and public policy. Saying that people who find the sanctions too severe should avoid breaking the law misses the point of penal legislation and public policy.

Realism in penal legislation includes a recognition that crimes will be committed, that prohibited conduct will nevertheless be perpetrated, and that no matter how badly we desire a crime-free society, we will never attain it this side of heaven.

A long line of criminological and psychological research has consistently shown that excessively severe penalties are of little deterrent value in criminal law. Subconsciously such penalties are not really believed, at least not in reference to the individual offender. Psychology teaches us that human beings tend to "disown" (in other words say to themselves that this could never happen to them) extreme repercussions, like death, death penalty, HIV/AIDS. This explains why, with all the campaigns about HIV/AIDS, billions of people still have unprotected sex. It accounts for the average human's greedy and selfish pursuit of career advancement, power, sex and wealth, even into old age and even in ill health. Although we know we will die, we do not really believe it. It is too extreme an event to be contemplated, so we discount or discountenance it.

Armed robbery rates will go down if the penalty were life instead of death- I mean life imprisonment of course. It would then be believable- the would-be able armed robber would dread the prospect of life behind bars. Human beings do not dread death; they dread life.

A Daniel Come to Judgment

The Nigerian legal system is based on common law jurisprudence. Our judges and lawyers are trained and learned in this school of law. Their training and orientation inhibit the imposition of excessive penalties or penalties incongruent with the legal system as a whole. Imagine a judge imposing a N2,000 for a certain offence at 10 a.m., only to be expected to impose a N250,000 for what he knows to be a much milder infraction at midday. To avoid imposing that penalty, about which he has no choice, he simply finds a loophole to find the defendant not guilty, so that he can sleep at night or be able to say "Amen" at the end of the family prayer. This judicial dodge is as old as Methuselah. Long time ago in the history of the English law, an overzealous government wanted to "stamp out" crime, and to do so passed a law prescribing heavy penalties for all classes of offences, including the most minor. The English judges, unable in good conscience to impose such punishments, kept finding defendants not guilty, to the chagrin of the Crown. There is such a thing as a common law conscience.

Legislative Criteria

Legislation should never be passed merely to express moral censure or the sensibilities of a few members of the government of the day. Factors that should be considered before legislation is proposed would include:

· the experience of the society and other societies with similar legislations,
· the compatibility and logical coherence of the bill with extant statutes in the polity, in other words, its congruence with the legal system, and
· the availability of resources for implementing the statute vis-à-vis the competing demands for those resources.

None of these factors favours the passage or sustenance of the provisions of the Road Traffic Law.

In other societies including other Nigerian states, traffic offences are among the most minor of crimes, punishable with relatively low fines.

Secondly, the Road Traffic Law is at variance with the general law of the land, as is submitted below.

On priority of demands on law enforcement resources and corrections facilities, Lagos and Nigeria cannot afford the prison space for incarcerating road traffic offenders while armed robbers roam the nights. Lagos and Nigeria cannot afford the parking and warehousing space for impounded vehicles, or the loss in revenue to the society by the suspension or cessation of offenders' businesses conducted with vehicles. Lagos and Nigeria cannot afford the law enforcement and judicial time to prosecute and enforce the Road Traffic Law as presently constituted, while major crime cases are being adjourned for lack of judicial time.

Synchrony with Extant Regime

The Criminal Code Law of Lagos State and other statutes with sanctions clauses prescribe milder sentences for offences more serious than the traffic violations dealt with by the Road Traffic Law. A perusal of the Criminal Code will reveal more serious crimes punishable with much lesser fines than are stipulated for traffic peccadilloes.

Tough Times Never Last

Harsh legal regimes never last. They are intrinsically unsustainable. There is no buy-in. A future governor, or a future attorney general, or a future legislative session, will swing the law to the other extreme, making road traffic offences virtually guiltless. This is inexorable law of history which has been observed in human society throughout the millennia. Whenever a tough, revolutionary change is introduced in the law in a sudden or revolutionary rather than a gradual or evolutionary manner, an opposite force is waiting in the wings to undo the "damage".

Murtala Muahmmad came to power to "eliminate" corruption overnight. Some bad guys were waiting in a dark alley to wipe him out. The Buhari/Idiagbon War Against Indiscipline petered away after a few months, and Babangida knocked them into oblivion to institute a farcical human rights era, releasing all those locked up by Buhari for corruption. This law of history brought an abrupt end to the reign of bullish Bamaiyi at the NDLEA. It has now eclipsed the frenetic career of Ribadu at the EFCC.

If the Fashola Administration pursued a ruthless regime of law and order, no matter how well meant, Lagosians would chafe under his government and yearn for change. He would lose the 2011 elections just because some moron comes promising to soften the law. From the trends so far, I would prefer to see Fashola re-elected in 2011. I therefore counsel gradual, evolutionary changes (which attract acceptance) rather than sudden, revolutionary ones (which invite resistance).

When young King Rehoboam, rejecting wise elderly counsel in preference to foolhardy younger counsel, threatened a harsh regime of law and order in Israel, the Israelites resisted him, saying, "What portion have we in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: look now to thine own house, David." So Israel departed unto their tents. (1 Kings 12:1-16)


The Lagos House of Assembly should urgently repeal the law. Among many other changes, terms of imprisonment should be removed entirely, and fines reduced to an average of N5,000, with higher fines being imposed depending on the severity, aggravation or consequences of each traffic offence. Liability of owners and passengers should be deleted, except where culpability is proved. Requisite mental elements should be incorporated, with such adverbs as "carelessly", "knowingly", "maliciously", "negligently" "recklessly", "without lawful justification" etc. Otherwise, a traffic violation committed in order to avoid a greater evil, like waiting armed robbers, would be punishable as crime. To make the prosecution's work easier in deserving cases, the burden of disproving the guilty mind may be placed on the defendant, rather than requiring the state to prove the presence of that element. Finally, in reviewing the Road Traffic Law, the draftsman should study earlier legislations with clauses governing or relating to conduct of road traffic.

Please respond.
Chinua Asuzu
Office: +234 (0)1 791 1575, 804 2343
Mobile: +234 (0)803 341 2508


The Pseudo-Independent 12:34 am  

inapplicable under Nigerian and UK law, buT applicable under American law and I have read of a case where a liquor shop owner and licencee/licensor were both convicted for the crime of an employee where alcohol was sold to a minor albeit I don't think we subscribe to American jurisprudence

Naapali 5:47 am  

Major head swelling from reading this post. Very pleased to see reason prevails among our lawyers if not among our lawmakers. Mala in se, now to find a way to use that at the lunch counter tomorrow. Perhaps a hermetic comment about calling Kraft cheese cheese.

onydchic 9:31 am  

I didn't have the patience to read this from beginning to end. Frankly, whoever wrote this, has missed the point IMO. Unless he hasn't been paying attention, THERE IS already a fine on driving against traffic. 50,000 i think. look how well that's turning out. The only thing I feel should be reversed is the passenger liability and the possible prosecution of the OWNER of the car, if he/she wasn't the one driving, because that's just ridiculous and unrealistic.

While the fines ARE a bit excessive, I think Lagosians need to have that fear instilled in them, because, every day, tons of people pay off officials with 5000, so tagging the fine at 5000 won't be very effective. And the article is worrying about the every day working man. Why? Why is he driving against traffic in the first place?

I'm all for law and order, and if it means filling Lagosians who think they above the law with fear, then gosh-darnit so be it!

southern-tree,  1:03 pm  

Ok...I did not read everything, but enough to agree with the lawyer on many things. I especially loved this bit: Further on equality, we hope the law will be enforced against police and senior government or public officers, who are the worst offenders of traffic laws and rules.

This we all know is true and the sad fact.

I do not violate traffic laws, so I doubt I'll every be in a position with the so called traffic police, but when I first saw the report on the new law, I was appalled! Talk about killing a fly resting on a TV screen with a sledge hammer!
Of all the pesky and unruly bus drivers and okada men on the roads, I have found that the hopeless police with their sirens are the by far the worst traffic offenders... and for what it's worth, the okada riders and bus drivers are merely copying what they have learnt from these unscrupulous idiots!

Sunglass Republic 2:03 pm  

I stopped reading when I got to "we have not read the law..."

Sandrine 6:05 pm  

Hi Jeremy,
I read the whole thing,it was interesting.A nice mix of juridical language, latin, quote from the bible, lay terms and metaphor (fly on the TV). It's almost as if it had been written by a group and everybody put their own sentences. Amazing also how somebody managed to mention HIV in a text on traffic law.Very creative.
I agree with Onydchic on the fines.They need to be higher than the pay offs or they will not be effective.
For the life of me I can not understand how somebody can go against traffic and not know it is against the law?
I would not have written "we have not read the law",it sounds a bit unprofessional!
What system is there for the driving licenses?Is it similar to the US?
Take care


Anonymous,  10:56 pm  

oh pls sandrine and onydichic!!
what do you mean you dont know how ppl drive on a one-way street?????????

don you not live in Lagos? Not all one way streets are clearly marked as such. We have a real lack of road signs in case you havent noticed, perhaps not so much on the island but have you tried driving in places like Aboru?Iyana-ipaja, Agege? or even Lekki? what signs do you see?

The govt has a responsibility too you know. And for saying N5000 is the 'bribe' and so a fine should be higher smacks of stupidity to me!!
Hope you are ready to shell out N250k? I assume the writer should NOT be worrying about the everyday man abi? This writeup is on point on all fronts, could be becaus i took the time to read it thru.

The silliest comment i'm seeing is
"I'm all for law and order, and if it means filling Lagosians who think they above the law with fear, then gosh-darnit so be it!"

Filling people with fear doesnt make society work... its very stupid for the reasons enumerated in the article.


Sandrine 1:31 pm  

@ anon 10:56

I do not live in Lagos, I live in Miami, Florida.My mistake for thinking that the street were marked.I guess now it makes more sense.However I still think that if a fine is not deterrent, nobody will care.To give you an example, in Miami, if you would tell people that a speeding fine is only $10, nobody would slow down.Now if you tell them that it is $150 and points are taken from the driving license, people will more likely be listening.I agree that fear doesn't work, as it was mentioned for the death penalty.But this is not fear, this is making it inconvenient for people.Of course I agree with you that they should start by making sure all the signs are correct.
For the record, I do care about everyday people.I just don't care about careless drivers. I have two friends that died because a driver was careless.


Anonymous,  3:26 pm  

Nicely written article. The government has still failed to understand the problem with naija. Its so easy to draft different laws in naija but its never easy to implement. I have always seen recent road laws as more of a new initiative for road thugs(Police, LASMA,FERMA)to device new ways of collecting their own "private funds". One classic example is the M.O.T. How has that improved the state of vehicles you see on the road?? The streets of Lagos are still filled with highly "risky" vehicles. How did they obtain MOT. Dont you think that now that the one way fine is higher, that the thugs wont increase their own fines as well. Also don't you think this could also lead to them knocking down road traffic signs or cover up the signs indicating one way ,just to catch people in their web of deceit. Just quite sad!

Onibudo 7:48 am  

I think the writer uses legal language to excuse some of the most abusive behaviours on the roads. This has nothing to do with one ways only but people driving against direct traffic. The Lagos state government as a matter of public policy is trying to reclaim our public spaces from impunity and recklessness. In a country where one of the greatest causes of death is road accident. It has to take drastic action and one of that is making this a strict liability offence. It is neither unusual nor unacceptable for this to also be vicarious in nature since the employer is often benefactor of the drivers behaviour.

I however recognise this is not my blog so I will not rehash my complete response to the post here. suffice it to say the primary role of government is to protect the lives of its citizens and it should be supported when it prioritises it with such determination.

Anonymous,  7:31 pm  


A check of your profile reveals the obvious; you do not live Lagos.

Please note that ephemeral visits, do not entitle you nor give you sufficient basis to write such elitist nonsense - How dare you!

You say "In a country where one of the greatest causes of death is road accident. "
I beg, where did that statistic come from? people die every day in our general hospitals for lack of insignificant sums, Malaria still kills our children by the thousands each day and yet you have the audacity to suggest that this new law somehow improves the quality of life of Lagosians?

Wake up!

Onibudo 7:52 am  

Anonymous itself is a refusal to truly be as open as others. I spend more of my year in Lagos than any other place on earth so go figure. I am part of the elite and have nothing to be ashamed about there as well. I also dare to speak as a Nigerian and a unabashed nationalist who wants the best for my country. This I can do from anywhere in the world.

On statistics all such info in Nigeria has a pinch of salt but there is a lot of proof on the ratio of traffic accidents per head of population in Africa and in Nigeria. If you insist however and post back on this I will get you the exact figures but my impression is that you are not truly interested in ideas just in scoring points.

On the other hand what is your point? That it is elitist to argue that the Lagos public space needs rescuing? The FRSC in Nigeria itself says over 60,000 fatalities and serious injuries has occurred on Okada's alone in the past 5 years. Anyone driving around Lagos knows that is quite an undercount. Are you truly concerned for the teeming masses of Nigerians when their lives are at risk from reckless and unbridled excess on the roads. I have lost members of my family to car accidents especially on the Lagos Ibadan expressway largely because of failure to challenge the impunity that pretends to be driving on roads across the country.

It is a shame that people hide behind name calling and bluster rather than discuss ideas and solutions. How can anyone argue for a city state of nearly 14 million where the public spaces are used for impunity and disregard for health and safety of others. Once again a i am proud of being part of an elite of Nigerians that engage in critical and creative thinking. I hope you come back with something worth discussing.

'Toye 11:21 pm  

An extremely well written and well thought out piece in my opinion. One would have thought the government would be doing all they could to figure out a way to inform and educate rather than take the heavy-handed approach. There is another way toresolve the problem which is to provide data on Lagos roads, which ones are one-way and which are not etc. Highly visual signs do help but also in today's world, devices like GPS would also help. I happen to be working on such a project which should be ready way before Christmas. The issue is that I have to get people to go out into the field to eyeball each sign to figure out which streets are traversable and which are not. We'll get there in the end. It's called NaijaNavigator.

Anonymous,  3:52 pm  


"On statistics all such info in Nigeria has a pinch of salt but there is a lot of proof on the ratio of traffic accidents per head of population in Africa and in Nigeria. "
Let me give you some statistics.

According to FRN official gazette of January 19th 2007 (,
Nigeria has a population of 140 million and Lagos a population of 9 million;

Nigeria has a Malaria death rate ( of children under the age of 5) of
729/(100000 of population) (
This means that approximately 1,020,600 children under the age of 5 die of malaria every year.

Lagos (based on census statistics) represents 6.4% of Nigeria's population;
which approximately translates to (assuming a non weighted distribution) 65,000 children under the age of 5 that die every year in Lagos.
And anyone working in Nigerian health care, knows these figures represent only the tip of the ice berg.

Where do we even begin to compare 65,000 deaths a year (of our children) to 60,000 fatalities and injuries over 5 years?

Is it that difficult to imagine how horrifying the actual figures might be if we had proper statistics on the full gamut of pathogens that have been eradicated or controlled by the rest of the civilized world that
still kill Nigerians by the thousands?

How long will it take self styled elitists like you to smell the coffee?

"Are you truly concerned for the teeming masses of Nigerians when their lives are at risk from reckless and unbridled excess on the roads."
Are you? really?
Lets assume Molue and Danfo drivers drive like saints, does that change the fact that those same teeming masses
are stuffed into cramped spaces like sardines transferring communicable (and in some cases incurable) diseases to each other while moving around safely on roads to go home to hovels akin to pig sties.
And while we are at it what about the official convoys bristling with armed bandits that "take one way"?
I guess going about the peoples biz justifies putting them at risk innit?
Duh! i forgot, immunity from prosecution effectively puts them above the Law while in office and spreading the Love (egunje/contracts/pp)
protects them from it thereafter.

"How can anyone argue for a city state of nearly 14 million where the public spaces are used for impunity and disregard for health and safety of others."

Which concerned citizen shouldn't argue for a city state of nearly 14 million where public spaces are in a constant state of neglect and disrepair, learning infrastructure decayed
while their leaders abjure their responsibilities by creating spurious and unenforceable laws to protect their declining status quo?

I can empathize with your loss; I've lost siblings, to the moribund state of health care infrastructure in Lagos.
But lets get real; you want creative thinking? i say lets put the theories into practice.

1. Infrastructure; Lets fix the roads, there are roads in the UK carrying less traffic per hour than the Lagos/Ibadan express road
that are wider and in better condition. It costs aprox 2.5 million per km (adjusted for egunje an inflation) so whats holding it up money?
we have enough money to give some state governments 60 million naira as security allocation every month! no questions asked.
Lets create alternative forms of transportation; i hear the railway corporation is being resuscitated... yeah like the Ajakuta steel complex.

2. Empower; lets make sure that the next generation of drivers actually know how to drive their vehicles safely.
Lets educate them as to why double parking can be a hazard and not just ask them to comply like mindless drones.
Lets put visible signs on the road, lets make up our minds about which streets are one way or not and mark them visibly as such.
Lets create viable road networks and remove the current bottle necks that Lagosians have to contend with each day
No matter how bad/poor/unequipped, driving schools should be a must.

3. Enforce; Lets dispense with the alphabet soup of rehashed acronyms (LASTMA, FERMA, KAI) and create an agency that is properly equipped
and staffed by suitably paid people who can hold their head up with pride in their occupation as
stewards of public infrastructure rather than the stooges of political agendas.
Lets put laws in place that guide the law abiding and punish those with culpable/malicious intent.

These issues have been discussed to the death by luminaries and common folk alike; the result? rhetoric and grandstanding.

I'm not saying that a sane and reasonable Road Traffic law wouldn't be desirable,
nor by any means am i casting aspersion on those who would try to make a real difference,
I'm just saying that the current iteration (of the Road Traffic Law) makes me wonder
if the best our leaders have to offer are gestures of impalpable value.
or is this simply another example of the cognitive dissonance that exists between the people and the elect?

I sincerely apologize if my initial post came across as a personal affront ("name calling" as you termed it)
It wasn't intended as such. Your initial post smacked of elitism "if it quacks like a Duck, it must be a Duck!" (I'm joking)

Onibudo 5:57 am  


Reading your post certainly makes it worthwhile to come back here and in my opinion it is possible for two reasonable people to come to perfectly different conclusion looking at the same facts without one being wrong. There is rooms for many possibilities. On the Elitism stuff it is actually not an insult if it follows its proper definition.

To the issues. Your argument seems to suggest that it is not possible to chew gum and walk at the same time. The number of children that die from treatable diseases is a tragedy at the same time to overlook this burgeoning carnage on our roads would be criminal. If you look at the numbers and the effect it is no doubt in my mind that there is a pressing case that something be done as a matter of urgency. The last figures that are credible (1996) suggest that 65 Nigerians die per 10,000 cars on the road. It makes it into the top 10 in Africa which is in itself the second worst region on road fatalities after Asia. Between 2000 and 2020 the UN is projecting an 80% increase in this numbers. On the other hand the US that has one of the worst records in the West has 2 fatalities for every 10,000 cars.

The effect of these fatalities are many but two stand out in direct response to your Malaria death figures. The first is the emergency room pressures shifts the limited medical resources to deal with drama of the traumas that come in from the roads in Urban areas as opposed to the rural poor whose children are more likely to die from treatable diseases. The second aspect is that because of its extremely young and dependent population every single productive adult is a critical unit of economic productivity and therefore a priority. The people mostly affected by traffic fatalities are in their most productive ages between 19 and 45 .

I raise these points to illustrate that there is a lot of merit to this law even though it has some hard core elements. it is extremely difficult for a fairly new government (the government is 1 year old) to fight of the history of cynicism we carry over from many years of misrule but nevertheless they deserve the opportunity to succeed and fail on their merit.

I find most people who espouse populist positions amongst Nigerians choose low hanging fruits and argue very predictably that until all the egregious problems of society are addressed nothing else can be done. What is wrong in seeking quick wins to build credibility? What is wrong with having a tactic that establishes government authority so that behaviour that is damaging on the part of the citizenry is addressed? It is quite a false choice to always make it an either/ or approach. The option between treating malaria and eradicating it or addressing dangerous driving is a false dichotomy both must be addressed.It will take quite some time and resources on infant mortality but there are quick and significant wins on traffic deaths.

It is also not honest to ignore the fact that Lagosians openly and wilfully drive on the wrong side of the road amongst many other crazy things that people do. Lagos state has been fighting the federal government to issue its own driving license so that there can be standards on the road. It certainly can do a lot more on infrastructure as well as its ongoing road signage renewal. I believe it will all come together given time.

I could go on but we will agree to disagree on this and many other points including trying to use domicile to dismiss contribution to topical issues about Nigeria. As you remain anonymous this s my last response . i respect you are a strong and passionate advocate of your point of view. Ire O

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