The perennial okada palaver in Lagos State
Sir: It is inappropriate and smacks of double standard for the state government to create a conducive business environment for the manufacturers of motorcycle to go about their business activities, only for the same government to callously ban the use of the company products within the state. As if this contradictory disposition is not sufficient, in the chain of distribution, the sellers of the banned bikes are not making their sales in the air but on the ground within the state which imposes taxes and charges on them by the local government. Now, the government hypocritically looks away from these core bike dealers and decide to descend on the hapless husslers who are scampering for their daily sustenance to keep them from joining bad gangs. If the security objective for the enforcement of the security measures is proved to be unattainable, perhaps it is right time for review. I stood as the spokesperson for more than two thousand of the then Nigeria’s motorcycle professional hailing riders (aka Opay or Gokada) when they matched enmass to the Lagos State Assembly at government house Alausa on January 31st 2020 in protest of the ban on their operations effective February 1 2020. On the protest day, the disgruntled professional riders were unanimous in their demand, chanting ‘Don’t ban us, regulate us.’
My private investigation revealed that the whole scenario has everything to do with political vendetta. Or how else can you fully convince someone that a single private business that provides job opportunity for close to 4000 Lagosians of able bodied men, should be scrapped just like that? As the Ooni Of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunwusi noted recently, the lackadaisical attitude by Nigerian government to get our youths productively engaged is tantamount to sitting on the keg of gunpowder. It’s a disaster waiting to break out in a monumental dimension any time soon. To evade this from occurring, government must not just be objective but more importantly, open and committed enough towards assuaging the distressing conditions of the massess of which the youths are predominant.
Nigeria youths are hungry and therefore angry. The federal government of Nigeria cannot continue to shy away from their responsibility to supervise the ongoings in the states particularly when it touches the welfare of the populace.
Presently, in Lagos State, virtually all the formerly displaced professional riders of Opay/Gokada, owing to Nigeria resilience spirit, converted to privately owned logistics dispatch/delivery services. Even then, the Ministry of Transportation has remembered to persecute them with stringent operating licenses charges. While our President Buhari is seen assiduously soliciting for foreign investors and state governors follow suit, the reality is that running business in Nigeria is as difficult as having a horse pass through the eye of the needle. When this practice of frustrating business owners in Nigeria, Lagos State in particular is stopped, the same day we will experience a rapid economic growth and in fact the unemployment deficit will improve, drastically.
Steve Obum Orajiaku.