A Concerned Citizen’s View.
That Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has gone ahead to implement the restrictions or as some people call it, ban of the movement of commercial motorcycles (okada) and tricycles (Keke Marwa) is no news.
The decision was met with criticism and condemnation of the government by several residents of the state owing to what they perceive as the inconveniences the policy or the decision would cause.
But beyond the inconveniences and disadvantages of the policy, it is necessary to trace the genesis of the restrictions and what it portends to the residents of the metropolitan city on the long run.
It should be recalled that the restriction/ban of Okada operations as recently announced by the Lagos State Government is not a new policy.
The Policy predates the current government as it took off in 2012 during the tenure of former governor Babatunde Raji Fashola.
What the Sanwo-Olu Government did was just to effect the policy, which was neglected by the government of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode from 2015 to May, 2019.
Going down memory lane, in March 2012, about eight (8) years ago, Governor Fashola announced a total ban of Okada from all major bridges and the whole of Ikeja.
This ban was instigated by the Nigeria Police, who had been hapless from the incessant rise in crime in the highly populated state.
Three months later, it was extended to parts of Surulere and Lagos Island. Specifically the Business district, parts of Victoria Island and Falomo, Ikoyi.
For the other areas, government decided to regulate Okada riders and came up with a licensing scheme which stipulated that Okada riders needed to learn how to ride bikes and must obtain a riders licence (As is applicable in most countries).
This they did in partnership with the FRSC. This scheme was ignored totally.
As a matter of fact the two main Okada unions took the government to court over this.
The FRSC ended confiscating over 15,000 bikes for non-compliance. Still, riders were going about undocumented.
At that time, there were just about 50,000 Okada’s in Lagos. The government also introduced the use of crash helmets due to incessant casualties from accidents. This too was largely ignored.
Today, there are over 250,000 Okadas with 78% of the riders being indigenes of Chad, Niger and Mali.
The significant rise was within the last 18 months. The most significant development that jolted the Lagos State Government was the recent influx of over 40,000 Nigeriens and Malians under the guise of looking for a means of sustenance as Okada riders.
They were all undocumented, with no form of identification whatsoever.
The Lagos State Government quickly set up a committee to look into this.
Early January, in trying to enforce registration in Apapa, Iganmu Orile, where we have the largest concentration of Okada riders from Niger and Mali, government ended up seizing about 150 Okadas, whose owners did not have riders permit.
Within a few hours, irate Hausa/Fulani youths invaded Apapa- Iganmu LCDA headquarters at Marine Beach, chased all the workers away and set the office complex ablaze and also vandalised vehicles within the vicinity causing millions of Naira in damage. No serious government would watch and not take action, most especially with the insurgency in the North East.
What we should note here is that there is a total ban on Okada in Kano, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna, Kebbi and Niger State for security reasons.
Those, who did not study the situation properly have been condemning the government of Mr. Sanwo-Olu for its action.
However, they ought to know that Sanwo-olu’s government didn’t just wake up and effect the ban! It was as a result of a report presented by the Lagos State Security Council and they sought advise from the OPS as well.
The Corporate Okada companies were given ample time to implement government policy on the management of their riders but they simply just took the government for granted.
They felt that this is Nigeria, where people believe that anything goes.
In their own thinking government would not be that audacious with an outright ban.
With the millions of dollars raised at start-up, all the corporate Okada companies were interested in, was the revenue. They were interested in the N3,000 daily they were charging riders.
The companies became reckless after the Lagos State introduced N25M as annual licensing fees for 1000 riders and then N30,000 per bike thereafter.
This means that the companies would paying N295M if they had 10,000 Okada riders including tax and VAT on revenue generated.
Meanwhile the companies were earning over N1m per rider annually. They became very greedy and complacent and ceased to keep any verifiable database of the their riders with the required background checks. (This was largely done, to avoid charges).
The main concern of the owner of Gokada’ Bangladeshi was how to roll out Gokada in the thousands rather than making sure there was value added and compliance.
So most of this companies have themselves to blame. The Corporate Okadas market share in Lagos is less than 5%. TBC.
What the Lagos State Government is to sanitize the system and restore the lost glory of the state and make things work better in the centre of excellence.
The Sanwo-Olu Government means well for the residents of the state and this would be noticeable in its progressive programmes for the generality of the masses.
Residents of the state should commend the sensitivity of the Sanwo-Olu government to provide succour with the release of 65 buses and ordering additional 550 buses to ameliorate the challenge facing commuters.
The Governor knows the implications of the restrictions of the movement of okada and Keke Marwa and he is thinking outside the box on a daily basis to provide succour.
The major reason for the restrictions/ban should not be lost on the discerning residents of the state, it is meant to reduce crime and protect lives and properties as hoodlums have reportedly perfected the use of okada to commit crime with impunity.
Inclusive Foundation Mourns Veteran Actress, Rachael Oniga
Inclusive Social Welfare and Empowerment Foundation, a non-governmental organisation has expressed its heartfelt sympathy to family, friends and the entire movie industry over the loss of the veteran actress, Rachael Oniga who died at age 64.
The CEO of the foundation, Chief (Mrs.) Pat Eleto, in a condolence visit to the family, on Saturday, July 31st, said the news came as a rude shock to many, but she believes that the late actress has created a great impact with her career, and her legacy should never be forgotten.
In her statement, Chief (Mrs.)Eleto said:
“It is with a heavy heart that I grief with the family of a sister, friend and adviser of Inclusive Social Welfare and Empowerment Foundation.
“Mrs. Oniga, is one of our great ambassadors, and we were actually working on a project that is meant for the later part of this year when the sad news of her demise came.
“Death is inevitable, we pray for the repose of her soul, and may God comfort all the people she left behind. We also hope and pray that all her good legacies, be sustained because, she was indeed a pillar of support to our foundation, and also one of veterans that contributed immensely to the growth of Nollywood,” the statement reads.
A native of Delta State, Oniga was one of the ambassadors of Inclusive Social Welfare and Empowerment Foundation.
Alaafin Shuns Ooni-Backed Group Over Alleged Anti-Buhari Posture
The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, on Friday, at the last minute, allegedly cancelled an appointment he gave to a Yoruba group, Ooni’s Caucus, on the alleged complaint that members of the group are “notorious critics” of the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
The Ooni’s Caucus, which was inaugurated at the palace of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, on July 20, 2021, is made of many influential Yoruba persons and is being coordinated by a former Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria, Mr Akin Osuntokun.
PUNCH learnt that Osuntokun led about 14 members of the group to Alaafin’s palace for the alleged 11am appointment on Friday, but after waiting for about two and a half hours, the influential monarch sent words to them that he would not be seeing them.
According to a source, who spoke to PUNCH on condition of anonymity, some of the group’s members who went to Alaafin’s palace with Osuntokun were a monarch, the Olugbon of Orile-Igbon, Oba Francis Alao; a former presidential spokesman, Dr Doyin Okupe; a former commissioner in Osun State, Muyiwa Ige; a former Minister of Defence, Mrs Dupe Adelaja; a retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Taiwo Lakanu, Oye Oyewumi, Sola Lawal, among others.
A former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, is also said to be a member of Ooni’s Caucus, but he was not on the delegation to Alaafin’s palace on Friday.
The source, who is a member of the group, claimed that the group had through the Olugbon secured an appointment with Alaafin since Monday, and the same appointment was confirmed on Thursday, only for them to get to the palace and the Alaafin refused to see them on the claim that they were anti-Buhari and were also loyalists of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The source explained that the main purpose of the meeting was for the newly-inaugurated group to get Alaafin’s blessings and to possibly discuss the issue of the embattled Yoruba Nation agitator, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, alias Sunday Igboho, who is currently being held and tried in Cotonou, Benin Republic.
The source said, “The Olugbon, a member of the caucus, was the one who booked the appointment, but he said the Alaafin said he didn’t want to see us because we’re notorious critics of the Buhari government.
“He (Alaafin) confirmed the appointment yesterday (Thursday). But when we got there today, he kept us waiting; after a while, he asked to see the Olugbon. He (Alaafin) didn’t come to see us; we were told he said he wouldn’t see us because we are notorious critics of Buhari’s government and that some of us are close to Obasanjo, who is also critical of the government.
“We were made to wait for about two and a half hours; he gave us an appointment for 11am; we got there at 11am and at about 1.30pm, that was when it was obvious to us that he wasn’t coming (to see us). But he initially asked to see the Olugbon, who went to see him for about an hour. When the Olugbon eventually came back, he said Alaafin would not see us, saying we are a group that is critical of the Buhari government and some of us are loyalists of Obasanjo.”
On whether the group’s mission to Alaafin’s palace was to discuss Sunday Igboho’s matter, the source said, “Of course, the issue (of Igboho) would come up but that was not the purpose of the visit. The issue of Igboho concerns all the Yoruba people but that was not our reason for going to him.”
On whether the group would try and book another appointment, the source said, “I don’t know; we were all surprised that a Yoruba oba can refuse to see his children on account of not wanting to be on the bad side of Buhari’s government. I would have thought that an oba is supposed to take everybody as his children, whether they are supporters of Buhari the All progressives Congress or the Peoples Democratic Party or whatever party.”
But when contacted by PUNCH, the Media Director to the Alaafin, Bode Durojaye, said the reason his principal did not see the group was because they did not have any prior appointment with him.
Durojaye said the Alaafin would be willing to entertain the group if they booked an appointment.
He said, “Those who came are men of honour and kabiyesi did not say he did not want to see them. He did not say he would not see them because they are critical of President Buhari or they are former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s men. Obasanjo himself is a friend of Kabiyesi, so you can see that what you were told was not what happened.
“Kabiyesi said he could not see them because they did not give him prior notice that they were coming. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to see them again. They can notify him and he will give them an appointment. You cannot just come and say you want to see him, there are protocols to follow and due process is always adhered to at Alaafin’s Palace.
“There was no rancour, no ill-feeling even when they were going; I was there and I saw them off to their vehicles. If anybody told you that kabiyesi said he didn’t want to see them because they are critical of government or they are Obasanjo’s men, that is a lie.”
NMA Reacts As Bandits Break Into, Pick Nurse At Zamfara General Hospital
Suspected bandits invaded General Hospital, Dansadau, Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State on Friday, resulting in the abduction of a nurse and caregiver.
Residents said that immediately the men stormed the medical facility, the armed men headed to the outpatient ward in search of a doctor or nurse.
“When they couldn’t find anybody there, they started going from one ward to another. A nurse and a caregiver were abducted. They then moved to staff quarters looking for doctors and nurses but could not find any.”
“The armed criminals had earlier attempted to attack Maigoge, a community located six kilometres north of Dansadau town.
“But when they laid siege to the community, the vigilantes otherwise known as Yan Sakai firmly defended the village. The vigilante killed some of the bandits and injured several others.
“They then invaded the hospital to kidnap nurse and doctors that will treat their injured brothers in the forest.”
Maigoge is one of the few communities in Dansadau Emirate known to be firmly defending themselves against bandits.
“The staff of the facility are not carrying out night duties now. They only attend to patients at day time. They then move inside the town to spend night usually at undisclosed locations,” he added.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association in Zamfara state, Dr Mannir Bature, who confirmed the attack said the association is worried by the unfortunate incident.
He said they would hold an emergency state officers council meeting on Saturday.
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