Posted by olakunlesoriyan
Beyond the #NOHORNDAY
October the 15th, 2014, was the declared as #NOHORNDAY by Lagos state government. According to them, the objectives of this initiative included the following:
- Reduce noise pollution on our roads.
- Cultivate respect for other road users.
- Maintain and encourage road discipline.
- Develop better road-user friendly (BRF) Lagosians.
And all these were to be achieved through avoiding the indiscriminate use of the horn/siren by road-users.
Horning whilst driving has fast become a grave nuisance on our roads; it has now become both an environmental and health issue. According to the World Health Organisation, the noise level in the transportation sector is about 90 decimal.
Mr Opeifa, the Lagos Commissioner for Transport has referred to the noise pollution caused by unnecessary horning on our roads as a public health issue. Hence, the idea behind the #NOHORNDAY was to try to solve a public health issue with a social intervention idea. According to him, “If you have a public health issue and you use social intervention to solve it, you get a better result.”
From eye witness reports and some first-hand experiences, we can conclude that the initiative was fairly a success as Lagosians actually ‘tried’ to bring their honking to a minimum. Of course, there were still thousands of motorists who chose not to adhere but majority did.
Now, let’s take this a step higher by addressing the principle behind ‘using a social intervention idea to solve a public health issue’. We should however begin by understanding the very idea behind social intervention itself. As the name implies, it is the intervention of a body, either the government or an organisation in a social matter/affair that is affecting the people. Basically, this means that the stepping up to solve or manage a social issue is not solely the job of the government. Individuals and private organisations can also identify a problem and ‘intervene’ in the attempt to solve or manage it.
As Africans, we are constantly plagued with problems and challenges that can be solved, managed or even avoided using a social intervention idea. We don’t have to wait for the government or the authorities to be the initiators of change. I do agree that governments have really embarrassed themselves and their people all over Africa. Most of the actions of governments across the continent communicate nothing but nuisance. But we are all still Africans and citizens of our great country, and we are still here in hope that things will be better. We must not in any way discount the duties and obligations of a government to its people, but neither should we in anyway discount the duties and obligations of the people to their nations. I have been attacked by armed robbers a few times; the robbers must be understood and forgiven. Their actions are nothing but an expression of the ignorance in them that is incapable of putting reality in perspective and identifying meaningful options to embrace. That’s true poverty. It is what makes a thief steal at any level; not the lack of money. In all my experiences of being robbed however, I have not accepted or defined a new commitment to begin to rob as the instrument of my justice. No! To do that is to empower the ignorance of those who understand not value, by pretending that I do not also understand it. If I act dishonourably simply because I was treated dishonourably, small-minded entities will be tempted to justify my dishonourable action on the premise that, at least I was dishonourably treated first. But in the world of the wise, that will be untrue. If I treat anyone dishonourably, it’s because dishonour is domiciled in me. It means I will not act insane simply because the people I know or those I trusted are acting insane. If I act insane, it means I am insane, regardless of what inspired my insanity. I have said all these to say that nothing in the actions of others should justify the foolishness or irresponsibility of our own actions. That’s wisdom…and that is truth. Even if governments misbehave, or economies fail and politics gives a foul odour, it will not be enough to install apathy, indolence or dishonour in people. Those who refuse to do the needful because of that which the government has not done or is yet to do, are small-minded entities looking for space. Government must show quality, no doubt; but so must citizens show quality in that which is their duty and obligations. If only in our knowing, we know only our rights, then we know not as we ought to, as long as we know not our privileges, obligations and duties.
So, social intervention has to be the duty of everyone. I call it Personal Social Responsibility (PSR). Truth is there are too many problems in our land needing intervention that anyone and everyone should be able to find something they can get involved with. We cannot continue to live in denial as though we are citizens of another country. It is obvious that crossing our hands and waiting for the government alone to do something about a problem has not worked for us for over five decades. Whilst not discounting the efforts our governments have made and is making towards alleviating/solving some of our existing problems, we know more can still be done and we must hold governments accountable. But even to do that, the onus lies on us. It’s like we are responsible for what the government must do, as well as what we must do. Our work is therefore far more than the governments’. We are the higher government—we govern the behaviour of governments and we govern ours as citizens. But we work for nature, for legacy and posterity. We work for history. We are responsible for the change we desire and seek in our Fatherland. Gone are the days where we can afford to just sit down and wait for others to solve our problems. If we want change, then we must create the change ourselves.
The Lagos state government have started something commendable with the #NOHORNDAY initiative. It should not end there. You too can begin an initiative that addresses another social issue, and together as a people we will begin to tackle the issues that have held us bound for too long.
God bless Africa! God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!