By Uzoma Ahamefule
How can Nigerians be governed with this high level of cruelty by means of obnoxious laws here and there? Why is it that laws are executed with the speed like that of an angry hunting lion when it has to do with the poor in this country but when it concerns the bigger criminals in the name of political leaders and elites every government begins to form committees that never find them guilty? Why this impunity of recklessness?
Why is it that Nigerian leaders at various levels are very insensitive to the cry of the people, but yet expect to win the war against crime and social vices? Objectively speaking, how can Nigeria’s “vision 2020” policy of being one of the world’s leading political and economical powers in 2020 be realized when average Nigerian citizens still live under $1 per day and their leaders do not see them as partners but rather treat issues concerning them like masters and slaves?
What have we Nigerians done wrong to our leaders?
Who is advising Governor Fashola with this heinous law to ban commercial motorcyclists popularly known as ’okadas’ in Lagos State without first of all honestly providing an alternative? This law is nasty and has got no human face. I was shocked and felt sick when I saw thousands destroyed motorcycles proudly displayed to news men/women as an achievement by the agents of Governor Fashola as ’okadas’ of those that failed the traffic laws. Oh, my heart bleeds! I do not know if Governor Fashola is aware that as his agents destroyed those thousands of ‘okadas’ that they also destroyed many homes, shattered many dreams, jeopardized the future of many children and created more hooligans and criminals.
By Nigerian standards of governance and development, Governor Fashola is one of the very few governors in Nigeria that I still respect and that is why I am making my stand known. Can somebody please tell Governor Fashola that he has at this juncture woefully failed the people because the reason of banning ‘okadas’ is shallow and laughable? If part of the reasons of banning commercial ‘okada’ operators was because many of the riders were engaged in nefarious activities with their ‘okadas’, can we now say because of some people that may be thieving politicians in Lagos State that we should stop having a government in the state?
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo said that there are rogues and thieves at the National Assemblies. Can we now ban law making in Nigeria because of many of these merciless Nigerian law makers in the National Assemblies whose primary interests as evidence has shown have always been to increase their salaries without recourse to its effect on the nation and without plans to make laws that could rehabilitate the shameful health system in Nigeria or to build railways or undergrounds in order to make the everyday agony of life for poor Nigerians easier that ignited the ‘okada’ business? Can we say because there are too many air crashes in Nigeria due to the fact that a few individuals assigned with the responsibility to certify that planes are in very good conditions before they are put in use have collected bribes in order to allow coffins to airlift Nigerians ban the use of aircrafts? Or can we because of numerous motor accidents in Nigeria as a result of the failures of government at various levels ban the use of motors?
Governor Fashola said that it was because of many ‘okada’ accidents that made him ban commercial motorcyclists. What did he do to reduce the number of accidents before this unfounded action? Is it not the responsibility of every government to find out the causes of problems? Did Governor Fashola’s government try to find out why there were many ‘okada’ accident cases? Do the agents of the governor, ‘LASMA’ who is the body of the executioners of this unfriendly law have the ordinary alcohol testing instruments in order to examine and know who is driving under the influence of alcohol on Lagos roads especially when an accident occurs? Did the government of Governor Fashola provide standard traffic signs and speed limits on all the roads where he has banned ‘okadas’? Can Governor Fashola scientifically prove how many of these ’okada’ riders are qualified riders or that are mentally stable to use motorcycles?
Take sentiments and emotions away from the fact that there have been ‘okada’ accidents and ’okada’ related robberies and look at the issue critically. If Governor Fashola did not carry out all these vital elementary assignments, how sound would it be for him to stand up one morning and ban ‘okada’ operators? If Governor Fashola cannot comfortably provide answers to the aforementioned questions; can he now see that the people did not fail but rather the inability of the Lagos State government not to have thoroughly viewed the issue and come up with an impeccable solution that failed the masses? The social implication of this decision is devastating on the people and can never address the issue of accidents he raised until his government takes a very reasonable measure to control and discipline many Lagosians whom out of ignorance or stupidity have formed the habits of navigating bicycles, tricycles, motorcycles or motors under the heavy influence of alcohol, hard drugs or without licences.
What Lagos State government or other states where they have banned ’okadas’ should have done in this situation should have been to research first and then look for a fair and logical method of arriving at a resolution that should not be more harmful to the society than the problem/s they were trying to avoid after also due consideration that it was unemployment that led to the ’okada’ business in the first place. Because even up to the late 80s we did not have commercial ’okadas’, therefore, government agents should have figured out carefully on how a few miscreants in their midst should have been identified and dealt with accordingly without raising tension instead of this indiscriminate ban.
If Governor Fashola continues to refuse to reverse this anti-masses law, the governor may have indirectly advocated that Nigerian banks should be closed because there are some bank managers who cooperate with fraudsters to steal millions or some workers of some banks who work with criminals by informing them when, where and how to break their banks and steal monies. If this obnoxious law is allowed to stand, Governor Fashola has equally advocated that the Nigeria police should be closed because there are many criminals and bribe takers in their midst whose work also has been to gather false evidences against helpless poor Nigerians. Some Nigerian military men/women have been dismissed from service, charged to court and found guilty as criminals. Consequently, the military should also be scraped in Nigeria because they are equally a failure since some of them supply sophisticated arms to armed robbers to kill and wreak havoc on Nigerians in the night in return for money while some of them have been accused to be sponsors, informants and trainers of Boko Haram.
I feel pained to see that Governor Fashola has quickly started to play over our collective intelligence with a massive campaign that since the ban of commercial ‘okadas’ that the number of accidents has reduced in Lagos State, but decided to remain silent whether crime reduced or increased.
Governor Fashola, do not forget that directly or indirectly you used the same ’okada’ people during your election campaign for votes. Why did you not ban ‘okadas’ before the 2011 election? Contrarily you made a law for all ‘okada’ riders and their passengers to be within certain safety standards before they could operate in Lagos State? Could that law have been a mistake on the side of your government or a calculated attempt to deceptively win the confidence and the vote of the ‘okada’ riders? Most of the ‘okada’ riders who bought their motorcycles under credit or ‘higher purchase’ borrowed money to comply to your order and now that you are comfortably sitting as the executive governor of Lagos State not only that you have stopped their source of daily bread but have also destroyed their production companies (‘okadas’) leaving them to gnash their teeth in pains and agony without anybody to turn to.
Because in Nigeria everything is possible, therefore, dear Governor Fashola, could it be that the idea of safety gadgets was not well thought of when you came up with the policy or that some people in your cabinet could have imported helmets without your knowledge and had mounted pressure for the implementation of the helmet law through advice so that their business could flourish? And now, perhaps the business of helmets seems no longer lucrative they have again channeled their deceptive policy somewhere and ‘okada’ operators and their families can go to hell.
Dear Governor Fashola, this is a message from your fellow governor who also happens to be in the same party “ACN” like you, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State , “I think it’s, for me, a class issue and I belong to the working class, so I cannot ban ‘okada’. First, I believe that ‘okada’ is a response to certain deficit in our intra-urban transportation system. From the 60s to the 70s to the 80s, we never had ‘okada’. If you ask a lady to take a ride on a motorbike it was like a taboo. Now it has became fashionable to have a woman and two children on top of a bike. It is not a culture choice. It is as a result of deficit in our intra-city transportation system.”
Dear Governor Fashola, I appeal to you like many others to please reverse this policy because a good leader must have good listening ears. Do not allow us to begin to compare you with the worst governor in Nigeria , Dr. T. A. Orji of Abia State who has unnecessarily channeled all his energy in social attacks against Dr. Orji Uzo Kalu instead of working for Abians.
A governor that one of his best achievements so far was the sacking of all non indigene workers from other eastern states because of bad advisers should not be the kind of governor we should compare Governor Fashola with. One hopes that Governor Fashola is not taking this direction and is listening to the voice of reason.
The ban of ‘okadas’ from Delta State to Lagos State or anywhere in Nigeria under any guise is an economic murder on the part of the poor masses. However, if Governor Fashola insists not to heed to the plea of the people, well, we will grudgingly and helplessly succumb to his wish, but he should understand that he has only used his position and might against us but has not won our respect and that a day shall come when Lagosians will remind him this issue like the way Nigerians have kept on reminding IBB the annulment of June 12 that has irredeemably murdered his political return to ‘Aso Rock’.
May God bless Governor Fashola, bless Lagos State and bless Nigeria!
A patriotic concerned citizen writes from Vienna, Austria
A patriotic concerned citizen writes from Vienna, Austria