Accidents don’t just happen they are caused – by us! They happen because of what we do and/or fail to do. But in Nigeria, where we have a penchant for the absurd, you’re most likely to hear that they happen because God willed it. After all religion is our thing!
I believe in God but blaming Him so, to me, is taking things too far. It is as illogical as it is misplaced. Therefore, I submit I see no point in blaming anyone else but ourselves for the regular loss of life and property around the country. Mind you, some government officials do not help matters whenever they make light of these horrific events by simply laying them on God’s doorstep, whereas the public would in all likelihood feel a lot more reassured if they, agents of government, would step up and be more forthcoming on ways and means to stop the next one due from occurring. God’s ways may be mysterious but how he can so regularly will such massive deaths and destruction on his people should beat anyone’s religious imagination hollow.
It is safe to say at this point therefore that looking for who is to blame amounts to taking the path of least resistance – an unnecessary official cop out which may be due to ignorance or lack of capacity, or both. Going that route simply points at a system in denial when most of the incidents in question could have been PREVENTED with the deployment of the right competencies, knowledge, skills, training and other critical resources.
Citing the will of God for our failure to regularly act correctly to save lives, property and the environment is the height of irresponsible management or lack of understanding of the basic issues in accident causation chain. With the recent spate of particularly horrific accidents all over the country, I think it is clear to those who may care that the responsibility for finding a lasting way around this problem is collectively ours - from the President down to every last one of us in the chain. It’s no use looking elsewhere because it won’t do us any good now or in future. I believe we’ve the residual resources to tackle it anytime the government decides she is ready to start doing thing about it, and differently – to make a step change from what is currently the accepted norm – little or no structured management effort. Seriously, no progressive economy can sustain significant and sustained assault on its GDP by crippling accidents on a regular basis without paying heavy price.
There has to be a direction and structure as a minimum for the ‘can do’ spirit to pop up across board before things can begin to look up for that economy, people and country. If things are not pigeon holed correctly then apostles of ‘it’s beyond us’ shall always hold sway while the nation lurches from one nasty experience to another, bleeding profusely. No serious or budding economy should allow that to happen because it is not sustainable, most especially in these difficult times.
That they are caused by us should not be debatable. Let’s consider the following for a moment to see how God goes about willing death and destruction on our roads, highways, waterways, workplaces, etc, and sundry places, each time:
- A heavy goods truck driver is speeding insanely at over 100km/hr on the Ore-Benin highway on a pitch dark, rainy night at about 8pm, Monday 27th July, 2015 with headlights off. This is at a time when traction and visibility is severely reduced and breaking distances are unusually increased. Why look beyond this unbelievably dangerous truck driver when he eventually ends up in a catastrophic, preventable collision somewhere a few kilometers further down the highway, jettisoning his precious cargo, ruining the environment, blocking traffic flow behind, thereby causing untold hardship to innocent fellow road users and bystanders. And God’s Will, I hear you say?
- And where does God come into this one when an experienced crane operator and his rigger decide it’s time to defy gravity by attempting a lift of 85T cargo using a crane with a Safe Working Load (SWL) rating of 70T just because “it’s getting late and that that’s the last lift for the night anyway? And it’s TGIF, Happy Hour at the Club is just about 30 minutes away; there is no time to waste?” Was this error-enforcing condition as due to God’s will?
- When did God will the Kano overpass construction crew to let slip through sheer incompetent handling a concrete slab of several hundreds of tons in weight, causing it to fall through a considerable height, landing on an unfortunate taxi driver and six passengers below, instantly crushing them all to death? Why, did it have to happen? Was it God that should have instructed the crew not to close the road below to traffic? Or maybe he instructed the works chief not to assign a tested and competent crew to handle the works? What about the contractor selection and appraisal processes, did the state works ministry go for the best construction company on their books to do the job and they were somehow forbidden to do so? Or there was no point going for the best since they knew ahead of time what God had willed for the seven unfortunate seven people who were crushed to death underneath the weight of the falling concrete slab? Was there a project safety management plan for the job that was held back from implementation? Who was running the show to ensure whatever precautions necessary were in place prior to commencement of work or was he told to forego such a step by an unseen hand? And when the unplanned and unexpected did come to pass was there a structured step-by-step investigation to determine what went amiss just so we can learn from it and to guard against similar future mishaps or no, because the state had met their quota of ‘willed’ fatality count for the year in that single occurrence? Or maybe there was no need to bother since it is ok to be fatalistic in the name of religion.
- How about the road petroleum tanker that crashes into residential houses spilling thousands of litres of products, resulting in fires/explosions, massive deaths and destruction to property and the environment? And according to some state agency officials; “Due to dangerous overtaking in a bending corner” (sic)? Who could have willed this except the driver who probably understands little or cares next to nothing about safe driving, assuming he possesses the basic skills for such in the first place? Would there not be fewer drivers engaging in ‘dangerous overtaking’ if regulatory agencies paid more attention to serious public safety education instead of the misplaced emphasis on criminalizing nice-to-have requirements like motor vehicle fire certificates, interior lightings, C-Caution signs, particular types of extinguishers, etc, which in reality do precious little for collision prevention?
- What about a nasty fire outbreak in a federal office building complex that rages uncontrollably for hours simply because firefighters ran out of water as there are no fire hydrants in the complex by error commission in design? Have these people ever heard of a planned or routine building safety inspections plus who approved such a building complex as fit-for-purpose anyway? Surely God had nothing to do with all that routine or did he?
We can go on and on until we run out of useful space but nothing tangible will result until there’s a will to start thinking and acting differently. Until it dawns on the government, businesses and people that safety counts for saving lives, time and money. Just same way as accidents slice viciously into your safety and wellbeing, not to mention the capacity to permanently alter a victim’s life physically, financially and otherwise on the odd occasion. That accidents are caused by us is no longer the issue but what we can do to trim the numbers to a manageable size. God has nothing to do with it.