When former President Goodluck Jonathan was handed the microphone at the commissioning of the 1.3km Ado-Ekiti flyover last weekend (May 25, 2018), he called the Ayodele Fayose project a first of its kind in Nigeria.
“It is not just the first flyover in Ekiti State. But it’s the first flyover of its kind in Nigeria. Even in Abuja, you don’t have this kind of flyover. There is no city in Nigeria that you have this kind of flyover. It’s not in Lagos, it’s not in Abuja. So, it’s the first kind of flyover in Nigeria. But the best flyover in Nigeria, you will come to Ekiti to see it...”, Jonathan went on and on as though he were on another planet.
I don’t know which Lagos and Abuja Jonathan was referring to in his speech, but if it is the Lagos in the Southwest and the Abuja that is the country’s administrative capital, then he’s got it all horribly twisted, you’ve got to admit.
First, it says a lot about governance in Nigeria when we still make a huge party out of a bridge or flyover in the 21st century. A governor decorates a footbridge and invites dignitaries and the press over!
One senator even commissioned a culvert in his constituency and had the photos splashed across social media! We have seen governors commission bridges and all kinds of funny projects with so much fanfare. Presidents have been invited to cut the tapes of gardens and city monoliths.
Fayose won’t be the first public official in Nigeria to invite as many governors, a former president and dignitaries to commission a flyover and he certainly won’t be the last. However, what we have succeeded in doing is reduce the serious business of governance to a few infrastructure projects.
The bar has been set so low that the inauguration of a bridge spanning a kilometer is broadcast live on international television. But that’s subject matter for another day.
Now, back to Jonathan. Has he ever visited Lagos where there are as many flyovers as there are bus-stops? Lagos Governor Ambode has also been erecting new flyovers from Ajah to Agege and Abule Egba. PortHarcourt has its fair share of flyovers as does Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital. Abuja, from where Jonathan presided over the affairs of Nigeria for five years, is swimming in flyovers as good, if not better than Fayose’s.
The point to be made here is that Fayose’s flyover isn’t novel or a first of its kind as Jonathan would have everyone believe. Yes, it’s laudable infrastructure to erect in a small Southwest State but it isn't exactly the same as putting a Nigerian on the moon, is it?
There was no need to compare Ekiti’s flyover with flyovers around the country. It was a needless point in Jonathan’s speech and that’s what happens when our political leaders resort to communicating extemporaneously.
You have to say that Jonathan’s speech, when stripped to the bare bones, was just highfalutin, hyperbolic drivel whose only goal was to impress an audience in order to score cheap political points.
However, a former president shouldn’t be so careless with his speech making just because he wants to impress his hosts and audience. A man of Jonathan's caliber should have his facts at his fingertips before mounting a rostrum at a televised event.
Jonathan wasn’t exactly spectacular at speech delivery as president. Last weekend, he reminded us all why he wasn’t a good president either.