© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Abuja, Nigeria and ‘Hurricane Mediocrity’
By Olanrewaju Osho
ONE of the special blessings of God upon Nigeria is the low incidents of natural disasters within the borders of the country. Though Nigeria still loses lots of lives and records needless deaths daily, those avoidable deaths are caused by the country’s leadership disaster.
Take for example the around over 6,000 deaths that occur in traffic fatalities across Nigeria annually. If those people live in the UK, US or Sweden, 90 per cent of them will be alive and kicking. The same goes for the disaster of our hospitals, engineering and town planning that cause the deaths of thousands annually.
Our transport system disaster makes it very easy for people to just disappear in transit and our security and law enforcement disaster see to it that most of the thousands that are kidnapped for ritual or ransom purposes annually are never rescued.
Our religious disaster ensures that terrorism continues to play a vibrant role in destabilizing Nigeria and ushering hundreds to their gruesome untimely grave every month.
Over 90 per cent of the disasters recorded in Nigeria in the last four decades are poor leadership and poor followership-induced disasters. Those kinds of disasters are unheard of in developed climes. An example was when bombs exploded in the military armoury in Ikeja cantonment some years ago killing several hundreds.
One of the common natural disasters in the Americas and other parts of the world is the hurricane. What is a hurricane?
A hurricane is a type of storm called a tropical cyclone, which forms over tropical or subtropical waters.
A tropical cyclone is a rotating low-pressure weather system that has organized thunderstorms but no fronts (a boundary separating two air masses of different densities). Tropical cyclones with maximum sustained surface winds of less than 39 miles per hour (mph) are called tropical depressions. Those with maximum sustained winds of 39 mph or higher are called tropical storms. When a storm’s maximum sustained winds reach 74 mph, it is called a hurricane.
Hurricanes originate in the Atlantic basin, which includes the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico, the eastern North Pacific Ocean, and, less frequently, the central North Pacific Ocean.
When a hurricane occurs, it can cause an unimaginable level of damage including flooding, destroying power and telecommunications infrastructure, pulling down trees, causing fires or destroying houses and even cities.
Hurricane season usually spans from June 1 to November 30. It can also occur outside this period in other instances.
Deadly as hurricanes are, the developed countries have not only largely mastered hurricane systems to the point that they name each one and predict its time of commencement and landfall accurately. This level of mastery over the elements also manifests at the speed at which the leaders and key governmental actors and security agents help cities ravaged by hurricanes to quickly bounce back.
I had witnessed a couple of hurricanes in the US while on Holiday and I have come to the conclusion that there is a hurricane that matters so much in overcoming the effects of disasters caused by destructive hurricanes. This very powerful hurricane is what I call the ‘Positive People Hurricane.’
I came to this conclusion after watching the speed at which occupants of flooded houses and cities are rescued; power and telecommunications infrastructure repaired and restored, and normalcy restored in affected cities after unfortunate incidents of hurricane. How Nigeria and Abuja her capital city today badly needs ‘Positive People Hurricane’ to conquer all self-induced disasters and underdevelopment.
God in his infinite mercies ensured that Nigeria is far removed from the hurricane belt. This is because God sees the impact of hurricane mediocrity in the Nigerian nation and knows that one single hurricane will wipe away the entire population of a city because we have been colonised by a culture of mediocrity, inefficiency and corruption for decades now.
You do not need to look too far to see hurricane mediocrity in Nigeria. It towers across our entire land mass like a colossus and its centre of operations is Abuja, our capital city.
Abuja, for example, was designed to be Nigeria’s global capital city; the pride of Africans all over the world. The city died shortly after it was born. It was ravaged and destroyed by ‘Hurricane Mediocrity’. The ministers, civil servants and key players in the implementation of the Abuja dream are all captured in the eye of hurricane mediocrity. Half of the lands allocated in Abuja were done under fictitious names by land officers in the Ministry in charge of FCT while 70 per cent of the people dwells in urban slums.
Hurricane mediocrity made land racketeering and contract fraud the easiest way to become rich in Abuja. The city makes you to perpetually wonder why a plot of land in the city centre is more expensive than a similar plot in Dallas Texas. It makes you come to the conclusion that mediocrity promotes fake value.
The city of Abuja receives billions upon billions in budgetary allocations every year but the billions are washed away by hurricane mediocrity. It was N242 billion in 2018 and over N270 billion this year. Yet, the sewage lines are sipping out on the roads and modern bus stops and car parks are too much luxuries to come by.
Those who love to boast call Abuja the fastest growing city in Africa or even the world because they lack understanding of how a modern city should look like.
Hurricane mediocrity ensures that Abuja people live in fear of men of the underworld and darkness most of the time and have no single tourist centre after 40 years of existence.
There are new estates springing up everywhere in the city, but hurricane mediocrity caused the estates to have no good access roads, no potable water and no world-class quality of conceptualization and construction.
Abuja was designed to have a central sewage system, underground electric system design and exquisite downtown or city centre layout. Hurricane mediocrity makes the actualization of this impossible.
Abuja was designed to have a central sewage system, underground electric system design and exquisite downtown or city centre layout. Hurricane mediocrity makes the actualization of this impossible. Every rain knocks out power in Abuja and throws people into darkness. Hurricane mediocrity makes Abuja Electricity Development Corporation clueless on how to restore power for days and weeks in some cases.
There is not a single aspect of development in Abuja and the FCT that Hurricane mediocrity is not messing with. This problem is amplified by the quality of political officers and public servants in charge of the city’s development. The sad thing is that the situation looks very hopeless and the territory appears irredeemably buried in the belly of hurricane mediocrity.
Bad as things are because of hurricane mediocrity, it gets much worse when you remember that Abuja ought to be Nigeria’s best as the city of power where the President and all the powerful people in government reside. If it is, therefore, this damaged by hurricane mediocrity, you can just ponder and imagine the depth of hurricane mediocrity’s pounding in all the 36 states of Nigeria. No wonder Nigerian leaders cannot solve a well-known power challenge in over 30 years. Hurricane mediocrity rubbishes budget or investment and engenders underdevelopment.
The good news is that there are pockets of people who can become the positive hurricane of Nigeria’s redemption and restoration. The worrisome thing is that with this category of ‘Positive People Hurricane’, their storm is perpetually gathering without making landfall. And the waiting game continues.
Olanrewaju Osho is a development specialist and a public affairs professional. He was the FCT Senatorial Candidate of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) in the 2019 General Elections.