• Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

BAN ON OKADA AND THE TRAVAIL OF THE COMMON MAN

Jun 23, 2024

DELTA: BAN ON OKADA AND THE TRAVAIL OF THE COMMON MAN

By Chucks Dominic Morsi

It was a lovely Friday 14th June, 2024, before midday. I was somewhere along Old Lagos-Asaba Road to repair the malfunctioning charging port of my phone– precisely at a building adjacent to Okoh Street in Agbor. At first, not knowing what was wrong; I became apprehensive when I heard rough and disorderly noise coming from different directions.

Then I saw people gathered here and there, but little or nothing did I get out from their discussion because everyone standing there seemed to be talking at the same time and no one was listening to each other in particular. I stood there for a few anxious moments, but I couldn’t ask anybody for an explanation – except for this curiosity that clued me to a spot speechless.

Suddenly, from a distance when I looked further, I saw young boys panting under breath and on their faces stood beads of sweat. Actually, they were busy chasing this handsome young Hausa boy. By age he should be in his early twenties. Eventually he was caught. Clenching to his clothes and pulling him from Ediken market junction area where he was trying to escape what would have been a jungle justice – he was dejected and despair from the sound in his voice and the sober look on his face – he felt guilty and now remorseful.

All this happened just before you could get to Orogodo river towards the bridge, the glaring eyes of onlookers, the angry mob that were escorting him to where the actual crime was committed kept increasing in numbers.

SEE ALSO: IS IT TRULY A WOMAN’S WORLD? By Dominic Morsi

Finally, they succeeded in pulling him to the crime scene where he attempted stealing a generator set. But because he could not get away with the generator, instead, he started cutting the cables around and stuffed them in a bag. That was when luck ran against him as someone nearby saw him and raised the alarm. Trust Agbor boys! In seconds, a hot chase began.

Shortly after, he was brought to the scene where he committed the crime; I watched the angry owners of the shops around flogged him mercilessly, turn by turn, he cried for mercy. Mercy, he could not get as his plea, of course, fell on deaf ears. I particularly pleaded they should let him go; but on a second thought, he was asked what prompted him into stealing? Then again, he replied with a quaked voice and even at random, crying for mercy, “oga abeg, I no go do m again, I no go steal again, lai lai…” were few words he repeatedly muttered. Still, he cried out at every stroke of the cane amidst consistent sobbing and finally confessed that it was “hunger” that pushed him into stealing. Hearing that statement, one of the young men flogging him paused and said, he was ready to lash out more strokes of the cane on him and afterwards, he will buy him some food!

At that point, many thoughts whirled through my mind. And I realized that indeed there’s hunger in the land. On that premise, there have been several reports from different quarters in Agbor where stealing, ranging from bikes to scavengers stealing people’s iron rods to breaking of shops to generators or phones, the list is endless. Just imagine if government decided to ban bike in places like Agbor, with all the besetting scenarios, then we should be ready for worse crimes ever. Even our streets in broad daylight might not be safe anymore. What a tragedy that will be!

However, now that Delta State Government have gone ahead to ban motorcycle in Asaba and maybe in other parts of the state, what next? Have they provided industries or infrastructures where the laid off okada riders can now find solace? The answer is no. Sometimes, one wonders how our policy makers and political leaders think. During electoral campaigns they will make bogus promises just to have the masses votes and afterwards, they renege.

At this point of harsh economic reality, banning okada shouldn’t be a priority. Joblessness is everywhere, hunger and starvation is common in the country and that is a threat that undermines security. For example, anyone that decided to keep the people poor or jobless maybe doing so at the peril of peace and tranquility.

Talking about voting our leaders into power, what the people get in return as a thank you gift is bad governance and a condition that is difficult to endure; suffering; deprivation and oppression. Nowadays, life of hardship that is almost impossible to bear forms a part of government’s policy agenda just to frustrate the masses. For instance, everywhere in the country there’s untold hardship, hunger and unemployment is on the rise.

So, banning of Okada is not what the people are in dire need of. Recently, over 300 companies have shut down, 380,000 jobs lost within three months according to Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN). Those figures are adding up day by day with no hope of survival for many families. For lack of employment, rather than waiting for white collar job that is not there, many graduates have resorted to riding motorcycle just to put food on the table; since the government of the day could not provide. I am aware that Governor Sheriff in good fate wants to fight crime and most importantly transform the state to have semblance or the aesthetics of Lagos State and yet they are not making the provision that Lagos State has in place in terms of massive provision of public transport system to help alleviate the suffering of commuters and enabling the ease of doing business. So sad, not long ago,

I saw on social media trucks fully loaded with motorcycles from Asaba and Okpanam axis heading towards somewhere only heaven knows. Agreed, bike riders can be reckless and no doubt, a few of them engage in nefarious activities and eventually using bikes as an escape route. Talking about recklessness, you will recall how Mrs. Eboka, a retired teacher and her son, Chibuzor Eboka were both crushed to death in a fatal accident involving bike and a Mercedes car that happened around college junction, Agbor on Thursday, 16th May 2024. The point here is, that untimely death could have been averted if overhead bridge as the people have been advocating for is built. College Junction Agbor is desperately in dire need of overhead Bridge. If Okowa couldn’t do it, I am optimistic, Governor Sheriff will.

Back to the issue at hand, let us please understand that, you cannot be fighting one crime and at the same time creating room where crime and criminal tendencies becomes unavoidable. Already, Delta State is a flashpoint when it comes to certain criminal prospects. And the only ways we can solve the problem of criminality is not by banning (okada) the people’s source of income but the government should do well by creating more jobs and keep the youths (in particular) fully engaged. Taken away bike from the rider, you have made him jobless and idle. And it is said that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.

What are the likely implications of an idle man? He may end up engaging in crime. Crime not only affects economic productivity when victims miss work (because there have no means to pull through the day) but communities are most affected through loss of security and peace of mind.

Other social consequences may include but not limited to drug abuse, gambling, armed robbery, kidnapping, drunkenness, broken homes and marriages as a result of the man not been able to provide basic necessities that the family daily needs.

Or what do you think is the main cause of crime we see going on across the country – joblessness. I can assure you that a time will come in this country when mass revolution will be inevitable. The people must stand up for their right against grave oppression by insensitive government with draconian laws and policies just to gag or stiffen the already impoverished peasant Nigerians and by extension the people of Delta State. The question is who will bell the cat!