by Tunde Ayeleru
As we all know, ACN is giving a serious opposition and criticism to the PDP-led federal government, how come the same party in Oyo State is too intolerant to criticisms and divergent opinions from the people. As a scholar of Literary Criticism, I know the importance of criticism and critiquing.
I read with keen interest an article written by a secondary school teacher of Literature-in-English called Akinolu Hassan in defence of the financial recklessness and contract inflation as exemplified by the just inaugurated Mokola fly-over in Ibadan, Oyo State capital.
The article leaves a lot to be desired, and its contents negate the claim of identity of its author. As a teacher of Textual Analysis at the tertiary level of education and a Professor and Critic of African Literatures, I could see clearly that the writer of the article is more than a post-primary school teacher.
The amount of information provided in the article shows clearly that the author of the paper is either a member of the Oyo State Executive Council or someone who knows so much about the award of contracts by the current state government. The contents of the article clearly betray the attempt of the writer to mask her/his identity.
This clarification is needed to let people know that this is an era of deceit at the governmental level. Now, let me react to some of the weak defence of the administration as presented by Mr. Akinolu Hassan, who incidentally teaches Literature like me, though at different levels”: his at the secondary school level; while I do mine at the Ivory Tower.
I have deliberately decided to ignore the introductory part of the article since it only attacks personality instead of addressing the real issues. This part tries, in vain, to cover up the germane issue of either negligence or corruption, raised in Senator Ladoja’s “traumatising” interview; traumatizing in the sense that it has caused some people sleepless nights since it was aired and published in the media. My reaction is premised on the fact that many people who listened to or read the interview, regardless of their political leaning, believed that Ladoja had raised some issues of socio-economic and political concern. And for me as a tax payer and a stakeholder in Oyo State, I need an explanation on these issues. I deserve to know how my hard- earned tax is being spent by those elected to watch over our common treasury.
The article in question reminds us that Ladoja will be 72 years in 2015, and the writer’s fear that he might become the next governor of Oyo State is very palpable. The writer also rightly observed that Ladoja is undoubtedly a brilliant and an unassuming politician as we could all see, especially from his last interview. The interview was a brilliant one; it was well analysed, logical, convincing, cerebral, straight to the point, highly intellectual, mature in parts, lucidly presented, and above all, it was devoid of name-calling and character assassination.
All these observations have shown that there is wisdom in age: “old wine”, they say, “tastes better”. On the sub-standard nature of the fly-over, the writer will agree with me that the fly-over is sub-standard compared with its like in Ibadan. The Mokola fly-over and that of Molete have been compared severally and the writer does not need to be an engineer to know that the Molete fly-over built 35 years ago is better in quality and quantity, than the just inaugurated Mokola fly-over. The Molete fly-over has four lanes, while Mokola over-head Bridge has only two lanes. The Molete fly-over can carry all types of vehicles irrespective of their weight and size, including the “so-called articulated vehicles”, while the Mokola fly-over can only carry small vehicles with light weight: the reason why there is a restriction imposed on it. If there is no visible heavy traffic on the Molete fly-over, it is because of its four lanes that have succeeded in easing out traffic jam on the bridge. That is why the writer of the subjective article erroneously thought that the “Molete fly-over is not necessary as a dual carriage bridge as there is sparse traffic on it”. The Mokola fly-over, instead of eliminating the traffic jam peculiar to the Mokola Roundabout, has just pushed forward the point of the traffic jam to the Danax/Adamasingba junction. The construction of the bridge has, therefore, failed to achieve, to a large extent, the set goal of easy traffic flow.
On the cost of the construction of the fly-over, it is ridiculous that the author of the article tacitly accepted that the government was negligent in the handling of financial matters. His claim that Oyo State government did not compare note with the government of Ogun State is an admittance of the fact that the government is not a good manager of our hard-earned resources. As an individual, if the writer of the piece wants to buy, for instance a car, will he not do what is generally known as market survey? The good people of Oyo State, including me, will never fall for this naked lie.
He also claimed that houses were demolished and compensation paid to people in Mokola for the construction of the bridge. The government has told us at different fora that the purpose of the two-lane bridge was to avoid demolishing people’s buildings/houses. I know Mokola very well before and after the construction; what and whose houses were demolished for the erection of the fly-over? Does the writer listen to jingles by the government about the fly-over, where it was said that the bridge was constructed without demolition of people’s properties?
“Truth”, they say, “is always constant”. If a person tells a lie, he or she will need ten other lies to help it to get a semblance of the truth. There have been series of contradictions from the government quarters since the case of Mokola fly-over gained prominence. Quoting from the article; the author said, “also included in it (the 2.9bn Naira) is the cost of compensation for demolished buildings”. I challenge the author of the article to make public the names of people whose buildings were demolished. Let us see his picture of Mokola before the fly-over and the present one to enable us ascertain the number of buildings that were demolished.
Concerning the traders displaced; how many of them have been properly relocated and compensated? I am happy that the masked writer claimed to be a teacher; he should just go round the town and talk objectively to people and see how they feel about the government he is trying to protect. I am sure he knows that one of the most serious problems facing Ibadan is that of potable water. How does he rationalize a situation whereby people do not get water to drink, and the government is busy drilling boreholes for flowers?
Lastly, let me remind the author of the article that every person is a political animal. People are desperate in their quest for power, and those already in power use all means to retain it. These include deceit, attack on the personality of their perceived opponents, corruption, blatant lies, outright ‘thieving’, etc. Some even change political parties and attempt to supplant the pioneer founders and owners of the party; some embark on mad amassing of wealth through contract inflation, outright embezzlement of public funds and use of state powers to silence the opposition. The claim that Ladoja alone is desperate for power is not correct; all politicians including the clueless ones who are not as brilliant as Ladoja even devise different tricks, and, in most cases, illegal means to get to power and hold on to it. This, therefore, explains why mediocres are occupying positions of authorities in our country.
What I expected from Mr. Akinolu Hassan was a meticulous and systematic defence of all the allegations leveled against the state government by Senator Ladoja, instead of abuse and name-calling. As we all know, ACN is giving a serious opposition and criticism to the PDP-led federal government, how come the same party in Oyo State is too intolerant to criticisms and divergent opinions from the people. As a scholar of Literary Criticism, I know the importance of criticism and critiquing.
Criticism may seem bitter, but there are some underlining constructive elements in every criticism that a wise person needs to harness for amelioration.
Tunde Ayeleru is a Professor of French and African Literatures in the University of Ibadan. Nigeria.
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