Sometime in June 2016, I parked my car on one of the streets off Coker Road in Ilupeju area in Lagos. The security personnel who allowed me to park made an impression on me because of his politeness. I was away for about 5 hours and when I came back to take my car, I decided to chat up the man. I just didn’t want to tip him and go away. I asked him if the security job is all he does. I was glad I asked.
Apparently, misfortune got my acquaintance into the job. He told me that he was a guitarist and his guitar playing skill had taken him outside the country where he earned money (hard currency) several times. Even though I was in a hurry to leave, I became interested in his story and gave him listening ears. He said he was happily married and had four (4) children. His life came crashing when his car (he drove) was involved in an accident in Sagamu, Ogun State. It was a multiple accident involving a Dangote truck that lost control around a bend and cleared off five (5) other smaller cars about 5 years before then. He was almost certain that I heard about the accident because, according to him, it was widely reported in the newspapers.
In the accident, he lost his wife and four (4) children who were in the car with him! He too was in a coma for a couple of days and got to know about the demise of his nuclear family members when he was eventually revived. He was hospitalised for 2 years. To my question on whether a case was filed against Dangote’s company, which owned the truck, he said the company’s management basically disowned the driver who had run away from the scene of the accident!
After he was discharged from the hospital, this man literally became destitute. He had sold all his belongings to cover medical expenses and he started picking the bits and pieces of his life together. In addition to the security job, he also plays guitar in his local church where he earns a stipend. However, his guitar playing skill is no longer the way it was because of the injury he sustained in the accident.
Sometime in 2000, a Dangote truck ran over tens of people who were on their way to work early in the morning at Estate Bus-stop, Alapere along the Expressway. Over 12 people were reported killed in the accident.
Earlier this year (2016), 10 people lost their lives in a fatal accident involving a Dangote SINO long truck and a Toyota Hiace bus belonging to God-Is-Good transport company at KM65, Benin – Ore Expressway. Some of the people reported to have been killed in the accident were Jane and Oyemwen Igbinoba who were preparing for their wedding scheduled for a month from the date of the accident.
On Sunday, December 18, 2016, The Punch newspaper reported that about 11 people (8 adults and 3 children) died and 5 others are in critical condition after a fully load commercial bus collided with a Dangote truck at Akintelu end of the Benin-Sagamu Expressway. The commercial bus belonging to Efex Motors was said to be conveying mostly guests of a wedding that held in Benin to Lagos when it collided with Dangote Cement truck heading towards Ore. According to the Ondo State FRSC Senior Commander, Osas Osadebamwen, the accident was caused by the Dangote truck driver, who “dangerously overtook the Efex bus.” As is their custom, the driver of the Dangote truck, identified as Idrisu Oseni, immediately fled the accident scene together with his ‘motor boy’.
The above-mentioned cases of wanton destruction of human lives are few of the many cases involving Dangote truck drivers and hapless Nigerian road users. Based on antecedents, there will be no negative consequences for the Dangote companies which own and operate the fleet of trucks on our roads.
In Nigeria, one of the key motivations for wealth acquisition is the immunity against reckless conduct it confers on the acquirers. Once you have enough money, you can get away with anything including murder! In our part of the world, the people who suffer for the consequences of their actions and inactions are the less privileged. Worse still is the fact that the source of the wealth of such acquirers is never questioned. Our orientation to wealth acquisition irrespective of the process is, “Just get it!” It is, therefore, surprising that we are surprised that many people have taken to pen robbery, armed robbery, kidnapping, ritual murders, among others.
In developed countries, the operative rule of law is such that the subtlest form of injustice is seen to be addressed. The signal from the Justice Department in such countries to all and sundry is that you cannot create private benefits at unbearable social costs. People and organisations found to disregard this signal are made to pay dearly for it. Of course, this thinking is informed by the values the significant individuals hold dear in these countries. For instance, because of the importance of innovation to the growth and development of their economies, they put antitrust laws in place so that no company grows too big to stifle the emergence of new companies that are more innovative.
When one juxtaposes the conditions prevalent in our environment with what obtain in the forward-looking countries, it begins to make sense why we are adjudged to belong to a dark country. Only in a dark country is your richest man, through his agents, busy creating widows, widowers and orphans at no cost to him or his companies.
Maybe it’s even inappropriate to voice my displeasure about the prevailing conditions in the dark country because as they say, “He who trades in the dark does not complain of being cheated.”
However, until the light of justice begins to shine through the enactment and application of laws that guarantee justice and equality, peace will very likely remain a luxury a dark country cannot afford.