A cross section of residents across the South-West zone of Nigeria have urged the Federal Government (FG) to rescind its proposed plan to ban commercial motorcyclists in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports on Monday that while the majority said the ban might add to the hardship of both riders and users of the commercial motorcycles, popularly called Okada, a handful, however, expressed their support for the plan.
The respondents, who expressed their views in Osogbo, Ibadan, Ado-Ekiti, Abeokuta, Akure and Ilorin, said that the ban might create more jobless youths, thereby increasing the rate of crime and criminality in the country.
NAN recalls that the federal government had, on July 21, through the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), announced the plan to ban motorcycles for commercial purposes across the nation.
An Osogbo-based economist, Tunde Adelakun, said that 70 per cent of people operating commercial motorcycles were making their livelihood and sustaining their families from the trade.
Adelakun said that the ban might add millions of Nigerians to the unemployment data in the country as well as increase crime rate.
He said that most youths in the business, especially in the southern part of the country, were graduates who could not secure corporate jobs with their certificates.
“Many of the youth are already into internet fraud, called yahoo. And for those who buried their pride to go legitimate with commercial motorcycling, the ban may push them into crime.
“The economy is hard and those earning their livelihood from the business will completely be crushed if the federal government should ban commercial motorcycles in the country.
“If motorcycles are used by bandits and terrorists in some areas, then government should focus the ban on those areas rather than generalising it,” he said.
Also, Mr Taiwo Jimoh, Chairman, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Motorcycle Vigilante Association, Ile-Ife, said that the proposed ban would increase crime in Nigeria, urging government to rescind the decision.
“As we are, we are all graduates; even some of us have master degrees, while others are PhD holders.
“After our graduation, we could not get jobs and since we have wives and children, the only alternative for us to cater for our families is to ride okada.
“If the federal government that does not know of our existence, not to talk of caring for us, is now proposing to ban okada, then they should know that the rate of crime will increase more than ever before,” he said.
Jimoh, however, appealed to government to shun the idea, stressing that “an idle hand is the devil’s workshop”.
He added that the public would also suffer if commercial motorcycles were taken off the streets, especially those with houses in distant settlements.
In Ibadan, the Amalgamated Commercial Motorcycle Riders Association of Nigeria (ACCOMORAN), Oyo State chapter, appealed to the federal government to regulate activities of commercial motorcycle rather than outright ban.
Secretary of the association, Mr Abimbola Oyediran, said that the ban was not the best solution to the current security challenge in the country.
“The planned ban is definitely not the solution to insecurity. Rather, government should regulate its activities.
“I see the ban on commercial motorcyclists increasing the suffering of the masses, as most of them use their motorcycles to fend for their families,” Oyediran said.
Another ACCOMORAN unit leader in Mokola area of Ibadan, Mr Aliu Ayodele, aligned his thoughts with the view that the planned ban might further worsen the unemployment rate in the country.
According to Ayodele, some graduates, who could not secure jobs, ride commercial motorcycles and ‘Keke Napep’ to survive and cater for their wives, children, parents and other dependants.
“Sadly, many able-bodied men, who ride these motorcycles for commercial purposes, are still looking impoverished, as they are unable to make ends meet,” he said.
Meanwhile, a security scholar at the University of Ibadan, Prof. Oyesoji Aremu, said that a nexus had been established between motorcyclists and insurgency, banditry and the likes in the northern part of Nigeria.
“This is also true for the southern part of the country, as many people have used commercial motorcycles to carry out terrorism and other criminal acts.
“Placing a ban on okada will, therefore, help to stem the tide of insecurity in Nigeria, especially in the northern part of the country.
“But the ban can also precipitate other crimes and this is my concern as a security scholar.
“If you plan to solve a problem, you shouldn’t create another problem. Okada is a means of livelihood for some people, although some criminals are unfortunately using it to their advantage.
“The ban will force many people to be out of jobs and take to crime and criminal activities. This will, no doubt, be counter-productive.
“It may also have great effect on Nigerians, particularly those on low cadre who use okada to ferry their goods and agricultural produce,” Aremu said.
The don, however, advised government to regulate the business and use their unions to enforce regulations.
“I know they are registered with National Union of Road and Transport Workers (NURTW), but beyond that, they should be made to register with an agency of government. The profiling of okada riders should be done to ascertain their identities.
“If the commercial motorcycles are used against what they are meant for, the union leaders should then be questioned. Whether we like it or not, they serve some good purpose in the country,” he said.
Mrs Yosoye Adedeji, a teacher, also said though the idea was good, it would affect the means of livelihood of many Nigerians.
“Those living far away or living in neighbourhoods with difficult terrains that are not motorable will suffer a great deal, as commercial motorcycles are what they rely on as means of transportation,” she said.
Similarly, Mrs Tomi Babatunde, a civil servant, said that the policy, if implemented, end bring untold hardship on the citizens.
“It should not be completely banned. Rather, there can be some form of regulation through a body that can monitor their activities.
“If the ban is placed, we won’t be able to handle them in their jobless state, unless the government is ready to provide jobs for them,” Babatunde said.
A student, Miss Olamide Abu, queued behind the view that social vices would increase should the ban be effected.
“Fear of insecurity will dominate the landscape. More atrocities will abound, as those without jobs will indulge in illegal means of livelihood,” Abu said.
Also, Mr Moshood Ibrahim, Chairman, Adeoyo branch of ACCOMORAN in Ibadan, reaffirmed that banning them would not solve the insecurity issue in the country, adding that it would increase crime rather than reducing it.
According to him, those using their motorcycles for kidnapping and perpetrating other crimes are not genuine commercial motorcycle riders.
“They are ones destroying the image of authentic commercial motorcycles riders.
“Recently, a few of them were apprehended and burnt to death by some angry youths in Ibadan,” he said.
He said that most commercial motorcyclists bought their motorcycles on higher purchase, ranging from N550,000 to N600,000, to pay back in installments, in order to feed themselves and families.
Ibrahim, therefore, called on governments at all levels to look for other ways of tightening up security in the country, rather than the planned ban.
A commercial motorcyclist, Mr Akeem Akindele, described his business as the last hope of the common man, owing to lack of good jobs.
Akindele said that he used to be a plank seller before venturing into okada business, as his previous job was not enough to take care of his family.
He stressed that riding motorcycles for commercial purpose was now his only means of livelihood.
“My advice is that government should not ban commercial motorcyclists, but look for other ways of dealing with those using okada to perpetrate crime,” he said.
Akindele, however, commended Oyo State government for commencing registration of commercial motorcyclists in the state to identify and separate authentic motorcyclists from crime perpetrators.
He urged the federal government to also look into the possibility of doing the same.
Prof. Lameed Gbolagade, former Head, Department of Wildlife and Ecotourism Management, Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources, University of Ibadan, estimated that 20 per cent of the total population operates okada as means of livelihood.
According to him, such individuals will be thrown into deep penury and dark poverty for simply using the same means of livelihood as those committing crimes of banditry and kidnapping.
“If the ban is effected, those using motorcycles for nefarious activities will device other means of carrying out crimes.
“Government should rather arrest, prosecute and judge the culprits accordingly to serve as deterrent to others.
“Alternatively, more jobs and alternative means of livelihood can be created by government; like mass-scaled employment to the teeming school leavers roaming the streets.
“Industries and artisans should also be encouraged, while soft loans can also be made available to job seekers as a form of engagement.
“If these and other means are put in place, many will not resort to commercial motorcycling as a job,” Gbolagade said.
Also, an Anglican cleric, Ven. Wole Ogunseyinde, described the proposed ban as a double-edged sword.
According to him, the riders meet the transportation needs of a sizeable proportion of the population, but are also sources of danger on the road.
Ogunseyinde noted that the rate of accidents involving motorcycles was alarming, often with severe or fatal casualties.
“They have also become tools for robberies on the roads, in estates and lately, for terrorism.
“They need to be phased out by providing alternative and affordable sources of transportation. If you ban them by fiat, you throw millions of able-bodied youths into labour market and undoubtedly, crime rate will soar,” he said.
To Pastor Francis Oghuma of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Jesus Place, Ibadan, the idea of banning okada is a welcome development and should be fast-tracked to reduce daily accidents and deaths.
Oghuma said with the ban, the roads would again be peaceful, while more communities would be reassured of the hope of being secured.
“The skyrocketing death rate will diminish; banning will in turn increase unemployment, but on the positive side, expanding the already existing access to tricycle transport business will be needed to take care of the disengaged motorcyclists.
“Tricycle is more secure, generates more revenue and has speed limits. Therefore, subsidising it will also help address our security challenges to a large extent.
“Our interior communities will be strengthened, security wise; major cities will be free of the menace of commercial motorcycles, while our roads will again enjoy cleanliness,” he said.
A community leader, Mr Tunde Kazeem, was, however, of the opinion that crime was increasing in Oyo State due to the influx of motorcycle riders banned in the neighbouring states.
“Motorcyclists, by the way they rob people, have created fear in the hearts of residents in my community, thus forcing us to set up a vigilance group, with members including women,” he said.
Kazeem, therefore, expressed support for the planned ban on commercial motorcycles, to reduce crime rate.
A trader, Mrs Rashida Talabi, said she started limping after being involved in motorcycle accident.
“Motorcycle accidents constitute about 60 per cent of cases of accidents and emergencies in most hospitals,” she said.
Stakeholders in Ogun have, however, called on the federal government to exercise caution over the proposed plan to ban okada.
In Abeokuta, Mr Ladipupo Adebutu, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate for the 2023 election, advised government against implementing the plan until adequate arrangements had been made to boost other means of transportation.
Adebutu, who acknowledged that motorcycles had become veritable tools for criminals to perpetrate their acts, said government should also consider the importance of the means of transportation to many Nigerians.
“Yes, there is the need to consider the implications of motorcycles in the security situation of the country.
“With documentary just recently shown on television, you only need two things to be a terrorist today: AK-47 gun and motorcycle.
“So, when the government considered the ban on motorcycles, it is quite understandable, because of the pressures they are facing.
“We must, however, remember that motorcycles serve great service to communities. So, provisions have to be made for alternative means of transportation, such as tricycles, before such action is taken.
“Before you take motorcycles off the streets, alternative provisions must be made to ensure that people don’t face the attendant hardship,” he said.
Mr Nurudeen Alowonle, Chairman, Articulate Motorcycle Owners and Riders Association of Nigeria (AMORAN), Ogun chapter, reiterated that motorcycle had become a major source of transportation in the country.
“Also, commercial motorcycle riders play major roles in the nation’s transportation sector, especially in transporting agricultural produce, economic goods and people, particularly in areas with bad roads,” he said.
Alowonle added that it remained the major source of income and livelihood for millions of Nigerians, particularly the youth.
He opined that if implemented, the proposed plan would have negative impacts on the nation’s economy with serious unemployment rate.
The AMORAN chairman, therefore, urged the federal government to reconsider the plan.
Similarly, Mr Razaq Shotayo, Chairman, Riders and Owners of Motorcycles Organisation of Nigeria (ROMO), warned that no fewer than 30,000 of its members in the state would be rendered jobless, should the plan scale through.
Stressing the importance of motorcycles in the country, he said that government might end up creating other problems in the process of solving one.
“There was a time in this state when market women or civil servants could not move early in the morning without being harassed or robbed by unemployed youths.
“That has been a thing of the past, with many of them either riding motorcycles to make a living or being part of the monitoring teams in various communities.
“Nobody prays for such terrible days to return in this state. So, government should reconsider the plan,” he said.
The chairman, who noted that security challenge had existed in the country before the present administration came to power, advised the federal government to seek other means of addressing the menace.
He urged the federal government to adopt the Ogun strategy of regulating the activities of commercial motorcyclists by registering and collating their data.
“Over the years, the state government, in conjunction with security agencies and various unions of commercial motorcyclists, has been fighting insecurity by regulating their activities.
“For example, all the unions set up a taskforce and with the help of the security agencies, have been arresting criminal elements hiding under the guise of commercial motorcyclists to perpetrate crime in the state,” he said.
Dr Samuel Nzekwe, former President, Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) appealed to government to put palliative measures to mitigate the effects of the planned ban.
Nzekwe also called for provision of employment opportunities for those who would be rendered jobless if the plan was eventually implemented.
“The action will surely lead to idleness and more suffering, and you know that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop,” he said.
The former ANAN boss stressed the need for strong monitoring of the nation’s borders, adding that some of the commercial motorcyclists engaging in crime in the country were from neighbouring countries.
He noted that they could easily commit crime at one place and escape to another location without any trace due to lack of sufficient data.
In Ado-Ekiti, a commercial rider, Mr Timothy Akada, said he graduated five years ago from the university, but could still not secure a gainful employment.
While finding it difficult to secure loans with low interest rate to start a business, he said the development resorted into him becoming a driver to an okada owner, as a source of income to feed his family.
“The rate of unemployment in the country has led some graduates into okada business to make ends meet, and cancelling it would only be suicidal,” he said.
Also, Mrs Bose Adeoti, a housewife, said that the ban would increase the rate of robbery, kidnapping and other crimes in the society.
She suggested that rather than outright ban, the activities of the commercial motorcyclists should be restricted in order to reduce the current rate of insecurity.
Mr Gbenga Adagun, a resident of Ikole-Ekiti, said the proposed plan was unfair to the numerous jobless Nigerian youth and could be disastrous.
One of the motorcyclists, Mr Bisi Oguntuase, said it was quite unfortunate that government could be thinking of banning their only means of survival, while many Nigerian youths could not get jobs.
Oguntuase explained that in spite of the lack of jobs, he had been able to build his own house from the motorcycle business and bought additional two motorcycles.
“If the ban should take place, many youths will be left with no alternative than to engage in crimes to survive, while some might resort to taking their lives,” he said.
Another motorcyclist, Mr Jacob Ojo, said motorcycle business had been his source of income since he graduated from the University of Ibadan 20 years ago without getting a job.
Ojo noted that he had also, through the business, built a house and sponsored two of his children to tertiary institutions.
He appealed to government to avoid invoking hardship and uncontrollable state of lawlessness in the country by banning okada.
Mr Joseph Ajayi, a civil servant, said the planned ban was an ill-advised, as commercial motorcycle had become one of the most businesses in the country.
A businessman, Mr Gbenga Awoniyi, said government should provide alternative means of survival for the teeming unemployed youth before thinking of banning okada.
“But for the commercial motorcycle business, the crime rate in Nigeria would have been higher than what we are currently witnessing.
“Although government’s decision to ban commercial motorcyclists can be seen as a good, it is, however, coming at a wrong time.
A community leader, Chief Benjamin Adeleye, said the development, if implemented, might bring the country to a halt.
“Banning commercial motorcyclists nationwide will not only increase the rate of youth unemployment, but also the level of crime and criminality in the society.”Instead of banning commercial motorcyclists, government should be more responsive to its obligations of protecting lives and property through improved intelligence gathering.
“They should beam their searchlight on the activities and operations of the commercial motorcyclists, while anyone found culpable should be made to face the wrath of the law,” he said.
In Ilorin, the Tricycle Owners Association of Nigeria in Kwara appealed to the federal government to regulate the practice of operators instead of the ban option.
Mallam Abdulkraheem Jimoh, Vice Chairman of the state chapter of the association, said that motorcycle operators had become an indispensable means of reducing unemployment in the country.
Jimoh observed that okada was an alternative means of transportation, contributing to the economic growth of the nation.
“If you look at the operators, you will see that there are graduates who operate okada because there are not enough jobs to cater for the growing number of graduates in the country.
“These graduates see the okada operations as alternative to being idle and thus earn some money,” he said.
According to him, unemployment breeds lots of evil in the society, adding that the only solution is to regulate the operations of okada riders.
He also advised governments at all levels to rehabilitate the roads across the country to minimise the rate of mishaps.
In his view, CC Fredrick Ogidan, Kwara Sector Commander of Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), tasked the government on alternative transport system in order to reduce the negative economic effects of banning okada riders.
Ogidan, however, welcomed the development, saying that untrained riders had been the major cause of accidents on the road.
The sector commander also advised private motorcycle owners to obtain rider’s licence.
“The menace of okada riders is unbecoming. They daily maim and kill people, and they are also being killed by motorists because of their carelessness on the road.
“It is high time government looked for alternative means of transportation for a fast growing population like Nigeria,” he said.
In Akure, Mr Mutiu Babajide, Secretary, Ondo State Commercial Motorcycle Association, Okitipupa chapter, said that the planned ban would only lead to more job loss, poverty and criminal activities in the country.
Babajide said that many graduates and artisans took to the business because of unemployment and unavailability of patronage due to lack of power.
He urged the federal government to rise up to its responsibility of tackling insecurity headlong, adding that banning okada would only lead to more criminal activities in the country.
“For instance, I am a welder, but lack of power in Ondo South for more than 14 years and the rising cost of diesel had led me to okada business to feed my family.
“Many graduates, who could not find jobs, also took to the same business in order to feed their families. What does the government want us to be doing if it bans our only source of livelihood?
“I am not saying there are no criminals among commercial motorcyclists, but we have registered our motorcycles with the state government and this has made it easy to fish out the criminals among us.
“Government needs to rise up to its responsibilities, especially on security of lives and property,” he said. (NAN)