A first look at this title would send many thoughts racing through your mind. While you may argue on the basis of the cultural upbringing (or society) in which both classes of drivers are situated, allow me to introduce to a concept that could shed some more light – Panopticism.
If you understand how a CCTV works then you already have a basic idea of what Panopticism means.
The idea of the Panopticon came to existence via the work of Jeremy Bentham around the mid-18th century. But, Michael Foucault revived this discuss in his book published in 1975 titled “Discipline and Punish”.
Towards a definition of a Panopticon
If you did a Google search on the word it would bring out this: “a circular prison with cells arranged around a central well, from which prisoners could at all times be observed”
In Thomas McMullan’s article published in the Guardian (2015); he explains the set-up of a Panopticon this way “…there is a central tower surrounded by cells. In the central tower is the watchman. In the cells are prisoners – or workers, or children, depending on the use of the building. The tower shines bright light so that the watchman is able to see everyone in the cells. The people in the cells, however, aren’t able to see the watchman, and therefore have to assume that they are always under observation.” (emphasis mine)
Please, stay with me, we are going somewhere
Now, how does the CCTV work? – creates a platform for surveillance (digital)
A look-through Tech-FAQ reveals that “CCTV (Closed Circuit TV) uses one or more video cameras to transmit video and sometimes audio images to a monitor, set of monitors, or video recorder…” But my emphasis here is that you know you are being watched but cannot ‘watch’ the person watching you.
Michel Foucault (1975) as cited in the Guardian puts it this way “He is seen, but he does not see; he is an object of information, never a subject in communication.”
Narrowing our focus to a contrast between the UK (where I study) and Nigeria (where I grew up). It is easy for me to spot differences between them, one of such is the title of the post today.
“UK has 1% of world’s population but 20% of its CCTV cameras…” said by a respondent,
In 2013, David Barrett of The Telegraph reports that “One surveillance camera for every 11 people in Britain, says CCTV survey”.
So, before you go on banging about the ‘fact’ that the civilisation, cultural upbringing, educational background etc of the drivers in the UK is what makes them more polite or courteous than the Nigerian Drivers, I like to put forward another data point for argument which is SURVEILLANCE (as aspect of Panopticism).
In 2010, Fergus Kelly reported that one of the reasons why CCTVs are so common in the UK is as a result of an incidence that took place in 1993, where the murder of a two-year-old (Jamie Bulger) was caught on CCTV. Hence, it hasn’t always been like this from the beginning; a lot of things led to it.
My submission today is that if we want our Nigerian ‘Danfo’ Drivers to be more civilised, respectful, courteous or whatever adjective you might think of…let our Government implement the concept of Panopticism which can be through CCTV or any other advanced surveillance technology. One reason why Panopticism works is that it reduces cost of hiring law-enforcement personnel. Because the subjects being watched don’t know the times when they might not be watched. Hence, they live in that fear all through.
An argument against panopticism is that it could be used as a tool for oppression. While that is true, I still believe implementing a type of panopticism can be beneficial to restoring order in Nigeria. Also, on the flip side, we can implement the anti-panopticism that Bentham talks about for our Politicians & lawmakers, “…where a minister sits in an exposed room and is surrounded by members of the public who listen and ask questions.” This way, everyone gets a chance to be an observer and a subject.
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