At long last the frenetic activities associated with the Yuletide are coming to an end. As you read this piece, many of those who stormed the state from their various places abroad are gradually going back to their bases, leaving me and you here to continue as we have always done, alongside those who may never go back because of the economic crunch.
As in every such period of festivities, many things happen, either for good or for bad. I always make it a point of duty to capture all the moments in the best tradition of my calling as a journalist. It is what I observed over the Yuletide that I am going to share with you here.
Free Traffic Flow
For the first time during a festive period, road users had it good. I am not talking about the good roads because they have always been there. I'm talking about the organised way the traffic was managed. At every point one saw officers and men of the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, either controlling traffic or monitoring it. They were joined by their counterparts from the state government in the form of members of the Anambra State Traffic Agency, ASTA. This ensured that no matter the number of vehicles on any road, things went smoothly. The only places one encountered long queues in the traffic were at major junctions where it took a while longer for traffic to flow.
Before then too, patch work had been carried out on many potholes, making driving a lot easier and fun.
This is a good development and it's all thanks to the Anambra State government of Chief Willie Obiano who showed foresight in putting together such a wonderful effort.
For yet another end of year period, Anambra people had a peaceful celebration. The bad boys were kept at bay by the security apparatus put in place by the state government. Shortly before Christmas, the state government gave out patrol vehicles to the police and even hired the services of a police helicopter for air surveillance. All these added to ensure the peace we all had over the said period.
Thus there were no known cases of armed robbery or kidnapping. Again it's kudos to Akpokuodike and his team.
Just as we all enjoyed the good work of road traffic controllers and those saddled with the security of life and property, there were things that nearly spoilt the fun. Chief of them was our people's indiscipline. This was mainly played out on the roads. During traffic jams, some people would not hesitate to form double or even triple lines, thereby completely blocking the free flow of traffic. If it was in the night when the road safety people and co had left, one could stay on such a jam for three or more hours.
Whenever I saw this, I asked myself why on earth some people behaved like animals. It was always clear that a little patience would have made the traffic gridlock to clear faster but when these people formed many lines, everybody got stuck and everybody suffered. It was indeed a stupid act.
But the next act of stupidity makes this last one pale into insignificance. It is this practice of people hiring the services of the police to accompany them to funerals or some other public outing. On such occasions, these police men often release shots into the air without warning.
This act has cost people plenty in the past as a result of those being accidentally shot and killed. It played out one more time in Uruagu Nnewi on the 27th of December when a police man suddenly fired a bullet into the heart of a man preparing for his wedding in three days' time.
According to the report, the victim had attended a wedding of his in-laws when he encountered the police man who killed him.
According to the victim's father, Lazarus Dim, his son had reluctantly agreed to attend the said wedding after his friend had convinced him to do so.
At the event, as Sam was about to sit down under a canopy set up for guests, a mobile police sergeant pointed his gun towards Sam's direction and shot him dead, with the bullet piercing his heart and exiting through his back.
Now why on earth would anyone bring armed policemen to a thickly populated place? Sam's case isn't an isolated one. This is something that has been happening from time to time. And it is because of the tendency of our people to show off, to flaunt their connections to high places.
Sometimes during traditional weddings, shots are released by policemen when the bride offers a cup of wine to the groom. Apart from the possibility of raising the blood pressure of unsuspecting bystanders, the bullets are liable to hit an unintended victim.
Thus with these possibilities in mind, why should people still be endangering others? I call it stupidity. Stupidity of the highest order.
What could have been worse than ending the year as mourners rather than as celebrants? This was the case for families of victims of the Chikason gas plant explosion which claimed six lives and destroyed millions of property of both the plant and its immediate neighbours.
Watching the charred remains of the victims was sobering. Those were people who planned for Christmas like the rest of us. They had hopes. They looked forward of reuniting with their loved ones. But all those hopes perished with them.
Those were sad reminders of the nature of our existence.
High Cost of Fuel
Car owners paid through their noses to buy petrol during the Yuletide. Those who could not afford it spent hours queuing at NNPC stations. This was not the ideal way to celebrate Christmas and New Year but the people had no choice. They just had to have the commodity.
New Year, New Hopes
The New Year has come upon us and with it, we hope that the pains of 2015 have gone with it and that the mistakes we made last year will nor rear their ugly heads again this year. Naija go better.