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ideas have consequences

You are here:Home>>Strategic Research & Analysis>>Is Fashola still working?
Saturday, 18 August 2012 18:48

Is Fashola still working?

Written by Kunle Oderemi
Gov. Fashola Gov. Fashola


Travelling on Nigerian highways these days can be suicidal. It is not just because of the deplorable condition of the inter-state highways. The problem is more about the madness of commercial vehicle operators, lurking bandits and other bands of criminals. The horrible condition of the vehicles also makes them contraptions that had seen better days and only fit for junkyards. Yet, the drivers flout traffic rules and regulations with impunity and speed as if on a race track and even while driving against traffic, since their belief that committing crimes in Nigeria is about cash and carry.


The madness is not limited to our roads. There is confusion everywhere, as social vices of unequal proportions have taken over. Indeed, the state, its agencies and hired hands have become what some have referred to as attack dogs to the citizens. Persons with questionable characters, donning on all manner of uniforms, harassing, molesting and physically assaulting millions of innocent and law-abiding citizens, lurk around nooks and crannies of our major cities. In some cases, the terror gang members are known faces within the neighbourhoods as hardened criminals and deviants, but who have beat all rules and regulations to be enlisted and hired by politicians, government agencies and mushroom organisations to foment trouble and further disorganise the society.


I have chosen the Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) as a metaphor in this piece to illustrate my deep concern on the ugly activities of anti-social elements across the country. I doff my hat for him [Fashola] for the appreciable strides he has been able to record so far. As a human being, he cannot claim to be perfect because a couple of his policies have been more injurious than helpful to the vast human Lagos population. But generally, he has played his part and one can only hope that his successor would consolidate on those gains.


But I am being compelled to ask, if Lagos metaphorically speaking is still working? Before now, the joke in many quarters was that Lagos was working, while other states are sleeping. Inasmuch as the joke is still valid, he and many of his colleagues in power need to take a look at one area I find quite horrifying and disturbing, which many of the governors, especially in the South-West must take a firm, decisive and courageous step before it is too late. It is the activities of the ubiquitous okada riders in the cities.


I was among those, who initially opposed the decision of some states to ban the activities of commercial motorcyclists by some governors, because of the high rate of unemployment in the country. I had also expressed reservation when the Fashola decided to restrict their movement to certain routes and parts of Lagos metropolis. My position then was that we needed to fix basic infrastructure, create more job opportunities and guarantee conducive environment for economic growth and development before taking some tougher measures. This was because most of the okada riders were artisans who have had to suspend their original trade because of the collapsed power sector. Others, including graduates from our higher institutions of learning, also had to resort to it after fruitless search for white collar jobs.


Whereas some of these challenges still exist now, we cannot continue to mortgage the peace, safety and security of the larger population because of the interest of the negligible population of okada riders in our midst. An outright ban on commercial cyclists from operating in our cities is necessary because of the havoc they wreak on the people. They are causing more harm to the psyche and body of the nation almost akin to the mental torture currently occasioned by the insurgency in the Northern part of the country. Their operations should be restricted to rural communities and properly regulated by the authorities as they intensify efforts at revitalising and reorganising the other critical sectors of transportation. It is obvious that incidents involving okada riders are being under reported going by the huge number of human casualties being recorded in public hospitals. Many people have gory tales to tell on their encounter with bandits posing genuine commercial cyclists.


Another menace on our roads in particularly Lagos and Ibadan, two strategic cities in the South-West is the swarm of motorpark touts at most bus stops and streets. Brandishing canes and horse whips, the touts harass and often engage drivers and passengers in bloody brawls even in the presence of regular policemen and anti-crime patrol personnel. While the sale and purchase of marijuana and alcohol is at their call and beckon at parks, their sources of lethal weapons during minor family disputes are a cause for worry.


It is difficult to ascertain the number of deaths resulting from the activities of Okada riders, but suffice to say that they have been more responsible for many avoidable crashes and killings in the country. Just last week, the editor of Daily Sun, Mr. Steve Nwosu, escaped death by a hair’s breadth when robbers operating on an okada attacked him as hot lead narrowly missed his skull. Just on Sunday in Lagos, the editor of the Nigerian Compass, Gabriel Akinadewo, was held hostage by bandits, who later made away with his invaluable.


Today, okada riders, motorpark touts, miscreants claiming to be agents of local councils and state government have swooped on the roads of Lagos, Ibadan and other towns in the South-West. Touts dictate fares to drivers and passengers, front for policemen by collecting money from commercial vehicles for ‘security,’ colonise bus stops, while okada riders rob with ease. In all these instances, these miscreants have succeeded in turning the Center of Execellence to heartache for the country. And one of the reasons is that we have continued to legislate even armed robbers to lionize themselves through all forms of amorphous s and associations. Now, we have associations for pepper seller, onion dealers, agberos, okirika [bend-down-select-boutique or tokunbo clothes] association, ewedu sellers, fura du nunu sellers association and name it, with each of them holding the rest of the population to ransom in their homes and sometimes committing gruesome murders!


Oderemi, 08023501874 (sms only)


Last modified on Saturday, 18 August 2012 18:55

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