It was supposed to be a quick errand. He was supposed to be back in a jiffy because it was an emergency. But it ended badly, in tears, pains, sorrow and tragic end. If he had ended in the emergency ward, maybe he would have had a chance. But it was not his day.
Indeed, his days were over. Waheed (real name held back because the family will be mourning for a long time) woke up that morning hoping the day would be better than the previous one. His wife was ill, and not getting any better. Another round of injections and the nurse who had been their care-giver called Waheed to go get a new drug at the pharmacy. Waheed scrambled into his trousers, slipped into the nearest pair of slippers and dashed out. He lived in Alekuwodo area of Osun State capital, Osogbo. About five minutes’ walk from the proposed Olaiya Flyover.
“I’ll be back in no time,” he promised. True, he got the drug, but fate had another journey planned for him. He must have thought he had looked left, right and left again before he crossed the road. At Olaiya Intersection. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t.
The last thing he heard was a loud bang that threw him into the air, screams of people who watched the sad scene, and then silence. Good Samaritans rushed Waheed to the hospital hoping for a miracle. The drug he had gone to buy for his sick wife lay on the road, useless in Waheed’s blood on the asphalt.
At Olaiya Junction. The nurse, neighbours, Waheed’s wife waited at home for Waheed, and the drug he’d gone to buy. Impatient at first, then they got angry, exasperated and then desperate. Fear set in, as the sun went down, and Waheed was still nowhere to be found. But Waheed was gone forever, cold and stiff in the mortuary.
The needed drug was at the accident scene. Waheed’s wife became a member of the widow’s club because of another accident at the Olaiya Intersection. You have heard of many such sad stories coming from the famous Olaiya Intersection, right? Some of us have even watched gory sights, scenes that we stil live with till date.
Tragic things have happened at Olaiya. Things that we can do something about; something like a flyover to keep our people safe, and even safer. So, why are some people angry that Governor Adegboyega Oyetola wants to keep Osun people safer, and stop the regular bloodshed at the junction? Are they being plainly mischievous or they just love seeing blood at “Orita Olaiya”? I don’t even want to think it’s the latter.
It’s safer to stick with the ‘mischief’ angle. Osun people are not like that. They don’t like bloodshed or blood spill, inadvertently or intentionally. So, I ask again, why do those saying “Objection, Mr. Governor” saying it? Because it’s an expensive project? Ah, try telling that to those who are in wheelchairs or their loved ones who have to bear the burdens of care for a man who once was a bread-winner. Try telling a young widow, a grieving mother, a bewildered 10-yearold, that a flyover would have saved them the pain they cannot explain, the tragedy they would have paid anything to avert.
Try telling a man whose ‘okada’, his only source of livelihood that he got on hire-purchase, was destroyed beyond repair at Olaiya Junction. And we can compare notes after they’ve bloodied your nose or knocked your jaw out of shape. Only those whom fate has forced to wear the painful shoes of tragedy can best describe how much it hurts.
What good thing is cheap? What lasting structures are built with coins? Flyovers are expensive because they are built to last and last. There’s a difference between costume jewellery and gold. There is a huge, unbridgeable gap between synthetic wig and authentic Brazilian weave. Guys, ask your main chicks, or better still, your side chicks. You know how much you part with to make us, your investments, happy. Again, there are those whose logic I have spent weeks trying to decipher. They said Olaiya Flyover is not priority. Wow!
There’s God ooo! When will it be priority? When fire trucks cannot get to burning buildings? When pregnant women in labour die in traffic jams? When ambulances cannot get to accident victims or cannot get accident victims to the hospital because they are stuck in gridlock, sweating and cursing, frustrated but impotent? These ‘not a priority’ crooners, have they missed major interview appointments before? Have they lost loved ones because the doctor got stuck in traffic for hours?
Have they watched their wives deliver in traffic and then watch the babies die slowly because they couldn’t get through traffic gridlock? These ones, have they been to Lagos or Port Harcourt before? Do they know what it is like to miss an important flight, or a connecting flight, the plane taking off while you are begging at the check-in counter? Oh yes, they think it won’t happen in Osun. How? Osogbo, the state capital will suddenly stop growing so this will not to happen, right? The vehicular density will simply disappear?
I simply do not understand people who don’t make plans for tomorrow. Or what kind of father refuses to send his children to school because “it’s not priority”, and would rather wait until Chevron and CBN are recruiting before dragging his 30-year-old illiterate son to school? To some, there’s not enough traffic jam in Osogbo to warrant an investment in a flyover, but that’s why we elect good governors to look out for us. And Osun is blessed with a governor who wants to fix tomorrow’s problems today. Smart men plan. Great leaders look ahead. Visionaries make provisions for the future. That is why Governor Oyetola is getting ahead of the problem. That’s why the Olaiya Flyover will be built. Guys, let’s do this.
Egbemode is the Osun State Commmissioner for Information and Civic Orientation.