24 October 2001

Nigeria: Charly Boy Pleads Okada Operators' Case

The Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has been called upon to intervene in the move reportedly being embarked upon by the Lagos State House of Assembly to ban the use of commercial motorcycles (a.k.a Okada) in the state.

Making the call in a statement was the renowned musician, Mr. Charles Oputa aka "Charly Boy" who said the move was against the greater interest of the poor people who earn their living by operating commercial motorcycles.

"I seize this opportunity to call on the Lagos State Governor, Senator Bola Tinubu, the peoples' governor, to intercede in this great injustice. All we need is a harmonisation and assistance in terms of social education, dignity of labour and the right to carry on with our business. This is our stand", he said.

Charly Boy contended that the move was "unconstitutional, insensitive and downright sadistic. This move is aimed at robbing the poor suffering Okada operators their source of livelihood. May I remind the Lagos House of Assembly that rights are for the people in the almighty democracy. We shall no longer hide under a certain non-challant indifference".

The showbizman, whose mode of transportation within the metropolis ismotorcycle, called on all Okada operators to rise as one against the move to drive them out of business, describing the plan as "anti-people policy".

He said the ban, if effected, would compound the transportation problem of the state, worsening the unemployment crisis and increasing the distribution of massive poverty and psychological frustration.

He said the intention of government to ban tokunbo refrigerators and vehicles above five years; the ban on satellite campuses as well as Okada were anti-people.

He asked what alternatives were being made to cushion the effects of the decision.

On the contrary, he said, government was interested in party and voters registration while the masses were suffering.

"However, we concede that the Okada phenomenon as all other facets of our society needs to be properly addressed for the protection of life and property. But the question is what have they done to address the contending problems that produced okada? How far have they gone in providing and protecting the okada rider, his okada, his passenger and other road users. Has okada been of any use and can it not be put to better use?.

"We shall henceforth no longer be ignored. We are the symbol of the frustrated masses, a determining variable in the index of a mangled social system. We are a major means of public transportation, the fastest, the easiest and cheapest. We have become a major participant in the transport sector, a strong market force. We shall not be taken for granted,", he warned.

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