Opinion: June 28: A traumatic day for Lagosians

lagos bridge inferno

:This piece recognises Lagos State and its special position in the scheme of the federation. It recognises, equally, that divine arrangements are wholly devoid of ignorance and encapsulated in infinite intelligence by which there are no accidents. However, human arrangements are riddled with ignorance and accidents.

The pivotal role which Lagos State has been playing in the country can, therefore, be said to be wholly known and predestined. The state can be said to be first amongst equals in its attempt to provide infrastructure for its teeming population. This piece is an attempt to further streamline the pivotal role of Lagos State from the events that led to and have resulted from the inferno of 28th June at the Otedola Bridge in Lagos.

Human life is inestimable. Its loss is by human accounts irreversible. However, the loss of the human life may sometimes be examined in the light of the life not lost, but in fact, lived as hellish.  When a person lives fully on earth and exits it, the proper reference is that the person has exited the earth space and not the loss of that life. It is as a result of these inherent subjects of life that philosophy holds a pride of place as a subject discipline.The extent to which the importance of the subject is appreciated in Nigeria by Nigerians is a different kettle of fish.

Harnessing the importance of life is the prelude to the realisation of sustainable development, whether economical, physical, psychological or otherwise. Not surprisingly, the African Charter on Human and People’s rights by Article 16(b) enjoins State parties to assure to its people, emotional health and wellbeing. John Rawls, the famed modern political philosopher has articulated this state of well-being in his themes on veil of ignorance and difference principles. The criticism of this principle does not detract from its validity on the articulation of an acceptable minimum standard worthy of human being and the realisation of which, Rawls places squarely on governance. Thus, those who choose to govern must be men and women with good intent willing to operate from a veil of ignorance. Operating and administering from this position of veil of ignorance, society can only be served; and, in fairness, that assures the best possible state of life for every member of society. Intent is the nucleus of this position and of law. Law considers action from the position of intent.

Intent goes to the qualification to govern. If the intention of governance is to harness the quality of goodness in the human being and therefore the quality of life, then the person with an intention to govern must conduct an internal examination in this regard. As lawyers say, nemo dat quod non habet – meaning that no one is able to give that which he does not have. Why should those who govern examine their own intent in putting themselves forward to govern? The simple reason is that where the requisite qualifying intent is absent, the need for the individual or group of individuals is also absent. For a group of people can exist without a formal government. Animals are a group but thrive on survival of the fittest. What distinguishes the human society from the animal grouping is that humans have the capacity and ability to desire peace and order. This translates to a conscious and unconscious desire to be governed. Human experience has demonstrated that when a person or group of people hijack the administration of another group this does not advance the human evolution and ultimately, such a group disintegrates in anarchy or withers from the weariness of bondage.

Democracy typifies the human evolution and freedom, which is life. Freedom is the breath of life. To that extent, there is a conscious and unconscious understanding for the legitimacy of governance anchored on inclusiveness – a condition that assures all the constituent members of the given society they are imbued with the potential to govern and be governed. For this potentiality to concretise each constituent member of the society must be mentally and physically prepared. History demonstrates that all societies with this aspiration become prosperous. Thus, the intent of the governed is also relevant.

How is the intent of the governing relevant? Take the case of one who steals. The thief in many cases aims at taking away what does not belong to him by the instrumentality of terror for self- benefit or for loved ones. Ultimately, the intent here could be regarded as self-absorbed; for should the opinion of loved ones be sought, it may be that a path of perseverance and resignation to the vicissitudes of life would be preferred. An analogy can safely be made-where the intent of the persons putting themselves forward to govern is not altruistic, a theoretical examination places this class as no further from the intent identified. Thus, in such cases, the person or persons in government simply appropriate power by direct or indirect duress. In any case where the constituent members of a society have not voluntarily extended themselves to the class of the governing as their true representatives it can, theoretically, be stated that human society ceases to exist.  Lagos State has demonstrated an uncommon example of not belonging to this category.

It is in light of the above analysis, that the events and the resultant casualties of the June 28th 2018 inferno must be re-appraised. Lagos State is, perhaps, wearied from the task before it but the astuteness of the state must be self-evident now more than ever. The intent of continuing service of the people must be refreshed. Life truly matters and life-not of a hellish nature! Lagos State should thus make  progress from her current focus on provision of infrastructure to the evaluation of the human life for sustainable development. One immediate step is to conduct a peculiar inspection and examination of the Otedola Bridge in order to forestall a repeat of the tragedy of June 28.

The state needs to consider the following:

Set up a commission of enquiry into the immediate cause and long term impact of the accident.

Re-assess the question of driving in the metropolis with an aim of establishing an enforceable vehicular distance in traffic or slow-down position.

Establish a Trust fund with citizens of goodwill for, if need be consequential action.

Set up of an inspection directorate for articulated vehicles prior to their take-off position. This is the standard procedure in more advanced nations.

Establish a professional school for the training of an inspectorate arm specifically for articulated vehicles for the driving, monitoring of loading, etc.

Enforce restriction on the time of movement of articulated vehicles within the Lagos metropolis.Punch

 

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