Trumpeta Editorial


just few days ago President Goodluck Jonathan announced to the joy of almost all Nigerians of the endorsement of the Federal Government for the convocation of a National Dialogue.
This announcement and subsequent selection of the members of the conference however, is greeted with both positive and negative reactions from a cross section of Nigerians.
Though, it is the thinking of many that it is over due for Nigerians to come together 53 years after Independence to fashion out the model and ways of their cohabitations.
As we commend President Jonathan on this October gift and opportunity to Nigerians, it is important to critically look at the issues and task ahead of the committee.
Granted that the National Assembly is kicking right, left and centre that the inauguration of such a committee by the President, is an indirect way of abdicating part of their constitutional function, this of course is subject to different opinions of the masses.
But analytically, there are some issues which are germane in ensuring the full realization of the aim and objective of the exercise. These include; do we need a sovereign National Conference, National Political Conference, Electoral reform or National dialogue at this auspicious time?
Therefore, there is the need to critically review the age limits in contesting elections in the country aswell as review and strengthen our Judiciary and court processes as it affects post elections in the country.
There should also be effort in correcting the grave omission of the youths in the ongoing Dialogue as should avoid anything that would jeopardize the corporate existence of Nigeria.
We make Bold to say that as the future leaders of this country, the exclusion of the youths in the ongoing National Dialogue is a great and dangerous omission that should be corrected immediately in the committee.
It is instructive & to that, in whatever guise that the discussion is coming up, we should atleast appreciate the fact that we have had an opportunity to discuss about our common interests and existence and therefore should ensure that it is thoroughly done.

ISTMA Suspension: Not Yet Uhuru
The suspension of the activities of the Imo State Traffic Management Agency, ISTMA, for one month, is very commendable. It clearly demonstrates that the government is sensitive to the goings-on in the polity and is prepared to respond accordingly.
ISTMA has notoriously represented Imo State as a sort of “front office” personnel to any new arrival into the State and a crude irritant to those who live in Owerri. Never mind the dramatic manner in which Governor Rochas Okoroacha announced his decision to suspend the activities of ISTMA, and the equally theatrical way the embarrassed General Manager of ISTMA walked out on the Governor thereafter at his meeting with heads of parastatals.
The important thing is the message itself which gave a relief to motorists in the state capital. The Governor should be told that one month away from the roads, and streets of Owerri by the vicious hounds that parade as operatives of ISTMA is not enough to straighten them up.
They need all of a half year of intensive education and orientation before they are allowed back into the streets to help in “traffic management.” To begin with, the head of ISTMA should appreciate that the agency is not necessarily there for revenue generation and mass employment of “graduates.” With that type of mindset, he cannot correctly lead the parastatal.
Owerri is growing everyday into a mega city with the attendant explosion in both human and vehicular traffic.
An agency created by a state government to help the Traffic Police regulate traffic should see itself as a complement to the Police. The government should let the employees of ISTMA be trained by both the Police and the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, on the various ramifications of traffic control. In fact, recruits of ISTMA ought also to be exposed to seminars and workshops on Civility and Public Relations.
What we have seen of the staff so far is a horde of uniformed thugs.
A bus-load of young men (so-called graduates) hiding at street corners waiting for motorists to go the wrong way and then emerge to block them and drag them to their den is not the real idea of traffic control.
That fierce quarrels rage every time there is an “arrest.,” followed by prolonged negotiations for both private pockets and official revenue is a proof that something is obviously not being correctly done. A motorist has a right to stop by a road shoulder to ask questions especially if he is a visitor. Taking a U-turn on a lonely road or on a street with very light traffic is not a criminal or even a traffic infraction. But the ISTMA “area boys” surface immediately to surround an embarrassed stranger from whom they demand N25,000 fine or threaten to pull him and his vehicle to their office.The situation is made more confounding as one does not know exactly which authority, beside ISTMA, that is officially permitted to impound offenders.
Many motorists have sad tales to tell about the operations of ISTMA and its associates. Imo citizens do travel to other states and towns and cities. A place like Obio-Okpor in Rivers State is the headquarters of impunity and savagery on visitors to Port-Harcourt. Or it used to be.
In the days of “Obi Okpo” brutality, a motorist from Aba or Owerri was sure to encounter thugs of the Council whose territory covers an arc that embraces all the entry points into the Garden City. ISTMA operatives obviously have experienced the activities of Obio-Okpor and want to imitate them in Imo State. No. No. Please. These are not the types of behaviour we should emulate. Imo should rather teach people arriving from such “kai-kai” zones how to be polite and civil to visitors. If the State government is convinced of the need to have ISTMA, then its operatives need adequate training and polishing. One is not necessarily overlooking the intransigence of some motorists and their dangerous driving around the city.
Such miscreants deserve to be disciplined by a disciplined team of either Traffic, FRSC or even ISTMA Operatives.But a motorist must be properly directed on where not to go or stop on the streets. An offender should be cautioned and if he becomes recalcitrant, then the full weight of the law should be visited on him. Secondly, the objective is not to “catch” the offender. ISTMA or any such traffic managers ought to position themselves strategically and visibly to direct traffic. They should not hide as they do now.
Areas of the City with “One Way” traffic should be clearly designated and, if possible, officials positioned there to direct motorists. People who stubbornly make things difficult for the men and women helping in the traffic flow, should be adequately punished.
There are individuals who are not amenable to even simple instructions because they lack home training. Such people should be helped to appreciate that they live among civilized people and ought to behave themselves.
ISTMA and FRSC should handle such difficult citizens in a manner aimed at knocking them into shape. But for them to do their job with “integrity,” such state operatives should themselves be properly equipped to do their job.
Once again, the Governor should be commended for his prompt reaction to the embarrassing acts of those in uniform who claim to work for the state. Imo cannot make much progress as a tourist destination if the first group of the people the tourist meets are savage-looking attack dogs lying in wait to catch road users for the flimsiest of excuses.

By Nnamdi Nwigwe, 08037024609, writes from Owerri