IT was a gathering of who is who in Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, recently, when the Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences and former Lagos State Commissioner of Transportation, Professor Bamidele Badejo, delivered the 65th Inaugural Lecture titled: Transporting the Future Today: Portrait of Nigeria.
At the well attended event, Badejo, in his lecture, said bad leadership was a major factor affecting national transport policy, which he said forms the cardinal challenge facing the countryâ€™s transport sector in the last 100 years of her existence.
Badejo noted that the sector had witnessed missed opportunities.
â€œTransport is potentially engine of growth and development that can add stimulus to the Nigerian economy. Nigeria has not innovated nor invented the right approach towards tapping the full benefits of the transport sector,â€ he maintained.
According to him, there is a nexus between a visionary leadership and comprehensive national transport policy as the roadmap to salvaging Nigeria from the current dysfunction of the transport sector. Nigeria cannot make progress without improved transportation system. Also, the sector cannot advance without a well-planned public transportation system.
Badejo explained that â€œin the last 25 years, the warning has insistently been given of the dilemma Nigeria is likely to face if mobility and accessibility questions are not sincerely, constructively and pragmatically addressed.â€
The lecturer pointed out that between 40 and 80 per cent wages â€œare currently spent on transportation of which the road mode is the dominant. Again, 50-60 per cent cost of freight is consumed by transportation.â€
He said as Nigeria would be deciding political leadership in 2015, transport â€œmust be one of the key issues of the electoratesâ€™ demand. The paradigm must change to accord it with the national aspiration demanding a better country.
Badejo continued: â€œWe canvassed that transport-and in this context, efficient and effective national transportation agenda must become one of the issues that the electorate should demand from the countryâ€™s political leadership in the next election.â€
He explained that Nigeriaâ€™s transport and mobility quagmire â€œmust be effectively settled. At macro or micro societal level and even not excluding individual family existence, mobility has truly become a great need.â€
Given the deplorable state of public transportation system in the country, the don said: â€œTo what extent can we say that those bestowed with leadership and governance have evolved credible mechanisms -enduring policy, programmes and projects â€“ to resolve the multifarious challenges?â€
As a result, Badejo reeled out some recommendations, which he said, were critical to resolving crises of public transportation in the country. He cited the compelling need for Nigerian governments â€œto conduct an inventory or survey of all existing constituent parts of the public transport system along with the evaluation of the potentials.â€
He explained that such an evaluation â€œis to determine what is available, establish the areas of their weakness and strengths, their potentials and prospects in designing a coherent, coordinated and comprehensive strategic development plan.â€
Badejo, therefore, advocated the need to determine the investment and financial needs of the transport sector by the governments in order to have a functional and sustainable public transport system in Nigeria.
â€œThis calls for government becoming better informed on the nature, characteristics and methodologies of running public transport business,â€ he said.