Sunday 17 July 2011

Nigeria: Angels in road construction

Worldwide wrestling

I dare say that this borders on what I will call the superfluity of spirituality but it is probably par for the course in Nigeria where frustration, exasperation, delay, inertia, bureaucracy and corruption militates against getting things done.

With ease, when things are so muddled up, such man-made and man-caused circumstances can for those in the know be classified under categories that the Bible so clearly enunciates and is known by heart to many a praying Christian.

In Ephesians 6:12 - For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (KJV)

In 17th Century English, I might have lost my readers so maybe the Message in contemporary English might enlighten us “This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.” Ephesians 6:12 (The Message)

A road in ruin

I do not think I am any the wiser with this attempt but it serves as the lead in to an issue in Nigeria with regards to the first toll road called the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

It is 105 kilometres long and it opened to traffic in 1978, though I remember people bribing military officers who stood guard at the main toll areas of the road to use it in late 1977.

In any case, it has fallen into abject disrepair from usage and neglect that the federal government adopted a novel way [1] of getting it repaired. In what is a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) contract that will span 25 years, the concessionaire will repair the road, add two lanes on either side and install gas lighting – gas lighting? Well, Dusk to dawn gas lighting down the length of the expressway with the lien to levy tolls and seek other revenue through advertisements.

The concessionaire is the Bi-Courtney Group and the project will cost upwards of NGN 90 billion ($600 million) which is quite an outlay for a local company that hopes to recoup its cost over 25 years.

An Amen waiting for a prayer

The Chairman of Bi-Courtney Highways Services Limited paid a courtesy call [2] on the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God whose Redemption City religious meeting place and residential area is sited along the road where it became evident that the concessionaire might have bitten off more than it can chew because banking services in Nigeria do not as a matter of course provide loan terms of that kind of duration and this is hampering the necessary activity of the repairs of the road.

The widening of the road has created a whole series of legal challenges from those affected who might find their properties subject to compulsory purchase orders (Eminent Domain - US), all this from the foolishness of the concessionaire, through their hope of getting financing and the legal minefields of compulsory purchase will constitute the categories listed above as the weight of immovability might well be unearthly and beyond the work horse requirements of construction equipment put at full throttle.

It is in that context that one is left to holler the loudest Amen to the prayer of the General Overseer as the news headline indicates, “God will subdue forces against completion,” and I believe he means the completion of the project.

An unfathomable situation

Now, at face value, the Chairman, Dr Wale Babalakin (SAN) [3] is no doubt a smart lawyer having obtained both his LLM and PhD from the University of Cambridge and he has a commendable legal record, however, this project smacks of a level of Nigerian braggadocio that leaves you breathless; none of the well-heeled banks for all the legal sophistry he can muster in Nigeria seem to be ready to form a consortium to bankroll this project.

How the Bi-Courtney Group could not have had serious backers for this job before securing the concession is just beyond belief, then the 55 legal cases which all can drag on at snail’s pace in Nigeria’s sometimes soporific judicial system you begin to realise that you need the hand of God and angels in their thousands of thousands all with trumpets and heavenly strains of praise that would make the earth tremble and melt to get things done.

Impossible human doers

The Redemption City can host over 1 million adherents at monthly religious events which somewhat makes one wonder how they have endured the decrepit state of the road with equanimity, docility and possibly resignation except for their resort to the mountain moving power of prayer.

On a human level, with the resources we have on earth to observe, to agitate, to persuade, to protest, to require and to obtain; one would have expected a pressure group of the 1 million adherents and the other plaintiffs at risk of losing their land to set forth a court action to remove the concessionaire and have the concession renegotiated to necessitate the easier financing of this project on different terms and probably by another contractor.

A miracle like no other

I for one expect a miracle, one that definitely defies every human explanation that Redemption City had better be ready to host the billion, a road all paved in gold like we were told in Sunday School of heavenly paradise, this gold being so durable and perfect, it cannot be chipped or removed, yet will survive all weather and traffic putting the autobahns of Germany in the shade.

People may use the road, it will be safe no matter how careless the driver is and those who cannot ply the road for the gleaming sensation of the gold can just look at the road with every consumption of greed and frustration until they are exhausted at the foretaste of heaven that they move on there anyhow.

Since the road is a gift of God and the answer to the prayers of the faithful, the Redemption City could charge a nominal fee for its usage whilst extolling the greatness of their mission to earth.

Judgement so sweet

As for the concessionaire; an earthquake awaits any of its representatives that dare claim anything for that road, the earth will open up like a trapdoor and swallow them in Mosaic dread.

All forces subdued, prayers answer, congregation multiplied, souls saved and God praised – there can be no better place in the world than Nigeria where even for our tourist brochures we can safely say our streets are paved with gold.


[1] At Last, Work Begins On Lagos-Ibadan Expressway | P.M. NEWS Nigeria

[2] The Nation - Lagos-Ibadan Expressway: God will subdue forces against completion, says Adeboye

[3] Babalakin & Co. Legal Practitioners - People - Bolanle Olawale Babalakin SAN

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