…Decries Okada riders’ lawlessness
From James Ojo, Abuja.
For 29-year-old Mohammed Abdulahi, a cripple, it is more honorable to risk a knock-down by rampaging commercial motorcyclists (okada riders) or impatient commercial drivers as a collector for the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) to eke a living than to beg for alms to survive.
“There is a risk factor in every profession, and what I am doing to feed my family is no exception; to me, it is more honorable than begging,” he told Abuja Metro.
Apart from the risk involved, Abdullahi said that he was very much proud of the job of mixing with drivers, okada riders and passengers. This is my office,
“I am a bonafide member of the NURTW. I am not ashamed to do this job. It is far better than begging for alms,” he said.
Although he claimed that he has a National Diploma from the Bida Polytechnic, Niger State, Abdulahi had to register with the NURTW, Kubwa, Abuja, branch to collect dues from drivers and to call passengers to the next available vehicle on the routes serviced by the motor park.
He carries out this duty in spte of the dangers as he meanders around the NNPC Bus Stop on the Kubwa-Zuba expressway on a roller, like a rattlesnake.
He told Abuja Metro that he was neither bothered about the dangers posed by okada riders and the hustle of commercial drivers, which he agreed were sometimes irritants.
Abdulahi is a victim of poliomyelitis attack, which crippled his legs at age three, but he surmounted the obstacle of losing his legs to polio by embracing Western education so as not to depend on alms to make a living.
“Right from the time I was young, I hated to beg. I disliked it with passion and my parents knew it; that was why I enrolled in primary school and later went to secondary school before I obtained an OND.
“With my disabilities, the best option for me was to resort to alms begging, but I decided against it and went to school, even when my parents were very poor.
“Only three of us from a family of 19 children had education; this is to show you that I never wanted to beg for alms, no, I dislike it,” he said.
Abdulahi has spent seven years in the motor park, but said he was yet to achieve his dream of getting a government job.
“It is my dream that, one day, I will make use of the certificate that I acquired under difficult conditions to secure a government job. I joined the union after many unsuccessful efforts to get government job and I didn’t want to roam the streets begging for alms.
“Honestly, I would like to work in government establishments,” he said.
The father of two boys and one girl said that his major problem on the job was the uncompromising attitude of okada riders and their penchant to flout traffic regulations, which he noted always brought clashes with law enforcement agents, particularly the VIO and police highway patrol team.
“Truth must be told, this job was not as risky as it is now. The entrance of okada riders has made the job a high-risk one. In fact, it has been by the grace of God that I have not been knocked down. They are a real menace. They are uncontrollable and they are abusive.
“It is easy to handle drivers because the union has rules and regulations. Whoever disobeys will be sanctioned, unlike the Okada riders, they are laws to themselves.”
Only few among them takes to instructions, they are very rough, what they are after is the passengers, and that is why they can stop anywhere to pick passengers and if you caution them, some obey but majority don’t obey,” he stated.
Abdulahi said that he goes home daily with between N1000 and N1,500 from loafing of vehicles and selling union tickets.
He confessed that even if nature had been cruel to him through polio, the people he always meet in the journey of life had been kind to him.
“In our unit, my boss is a gentle man, whatever he gives me is what I collect. With this uniform, drivers respect me and some passengers commend my determination not to beg for alms.
“During my school days, I enjoyed the support of my mates and teachers. My mates don’t laugh at my situation, sometimes, my teacher will not collect the school fees from me, so I enjoy people who accept me and try to make life easy for me by doing one or two things to assist me in terms of need,” he confessed.
Abdulahi has opened a retail shop for his wife to sell satchel water and beverages to support his earnings for the education of their children and payment of house rent.