Motorists and commuters plying the Abuja-Keffi expressway were faced with “the mother of all traffic gridlocks” on Wednesday and Thursday after the Nigerian Army barricaded a section of the highway, citing intelligence of alleged plot by bandits to attack the city. Our correspondent, Williams ABAH, spoke with some residents who were caught in the traffic situation. Excerpts:
SYLVESTER UDU: As you can see me in this traffic, that is how all of us have been suffocating for over three hours between check point and Nyanya bridge. No movement! I learnt the army got an intelligence of possible attack on Abuja by bandits. Nobody can stop security operatives from carrying out their legitimate duties, but the truth is that the authorities did not consider the interest of Nigerians when taking such decisions.
Look at what we have been going through. Yesterday, I was not able to make it to the office because of this gridlock. Today being Friday, we are still experiencing it. For how long are we going to continue in this mess? I agreed that what they are doing is for the safety of all Nigerians, but authorities would have put measures in place to ensure that motorists are not subjected to this kind of suffering.
So many persons are counting their losses because of this gridlock. I do not think it makes sense, for whatever reason, to subject people to this kind of suffering. The army has been maintaining civility, saying they are acting upon directives from the higher authority. Does that solve the problem? Why is it that the security operatives are not proactive to sensitive security issues? They wait until 11th hour before carrying out fire brigade approach.
I can tell you that there was no other intelligence apart from the recent bandit attack and kidnap of lecturers at University of Abuja quarters. Security operatives should be proactive in dealing with the issue of insecurity. This type of approach will always interfere with the interest of ordinary people on the road.
VICTOR EMMANUEL: I am concerned that less-privileged Nigerians can only survive in this country by the saving grace of God. How do you explain to them that government is thinking about their own welfare and safety? Ordinary Nigerians continue to wallow in abject suffering with no end in sight. I overheard some people saying that the military blocked all entry points leading to Abuja city because of the threat by IPOB to disrupt Anambra election.
As we speak, over ten thousand senior policemen and other security operatives have been deployed to Anambra for the conduct of the governorship election on Saturday. The question now is how many policemen were deployed to other parts of the country especially the epicenter of Boko Haram, armed bandits and other insurgents terrorizing the country? Our authorities are only interested in what affects them.
They don’t care about what less-privileged Nigerians are going through to survive the hardship in this country. It is so annoying that government that is supposed to address issues of national importance is only concerned about its own business. Where is the selfless service they pledged to Nigerians?
Apart from this recent roadblock mounted by the military, what people are passing through along the Nyanya/Keffi express road on daily basis is as a result of continuous neglect by the government to put the road in order. Sixty-five per cent of people plying that road are either working in the private sector or doing their personal business in the city. No amount of explanation can justify this action taken by authorities in the name of intelligence gathering.
CHIGOZE OGBU: I am a taxi driver. What we are hearing from the military authority is that they took the initiative to mount the checkpoint based on intelligence. We assembled ourselves at Karu bridge and the army came and addressed us telling us all tales of what actually led to this roadblock. According to them, when things happen in a place, they may also happen in other places too.
They said they had information and that is why the checkpoint was put in place. But motorists and passengers are the ones suffering. They however told us there is nothing to worry about, and that they know what they are looking for and once what they are looking for is addressed, the check point will be lifted.
When I heard this, I summoned courage and asked him, how about us that live in Nasarawa that ply this road on daily basis? The Army authority said they are doing it for overall interest of all Nigerians.