As the ban placed on the operation of motorcycles, otherwise known as Okada, on public highways in Lagos takes effect today (Saturday), leaders of the National Association of Nigerian Students have risen in support of the Okada operators, as it serves the government a 10-day ultimatum to rescind the decision or "risk the wrath of youths across the country." The ban also affects operators of tricycles popularly known as Keke NAPEP. Reacting at a news conference in Abeokuta, Ogun State yesterday, NANS Zone "D" Coordinator, Mr. Odunayo Amos, in concert with his colleagues, threatened to mobilise the union's members en masse, to occupy Lagos and cause discomforts for government, should it fail to backpedal on the Okada ban.
The NANS leaders particularly criticised criticised Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for arbitrarily depriving the Okada riders their means of livelihood without corresponding alternative job provision "for the teeming Nigerian youths whose lives depend largely on proceeds from the Okada business.".The NANS described the Lagos State Government's action as "irresponsible, cruel and ill-conceived", noting that "a greater number of Nigerian graduates of higher institutions of learning have taken to riding Okada as means of livelihood in the absence of government paid jobs".They claimed that the ban on Okada and Keke NAPEP will create joblessness and aggravate crimes in the society, rather than reduce the rate of crimes as postulated by the Sanwo-Olu administration. "It is pure irresponsibility for a government to ban peoples' means of livelihood without creating a replacement. What has Governor Sanwo-Olu done as policy to replace the Okada? If government cannot provide jobs, is it not politically insane to ban people's means of livelihood? "The reality is that, one is more likely to be kidnapped with a car than with a bike, and armed robbers are more likely to use a car than a bike.
"We need to ask the Lagos State Government; how many jobs has it created in the past two years? We need to also ask Governor Sanwo-Olu; why has Lagos State, since 1999, never had any new higher institution? The worst record in the South West. Not even a new Technical College.
"Instead of Governor Sanwo-Olu to face the real issues causing crimes, all he does is to follow, like others before him, that cruel ritual of blaming the victims for the woes inflicted from the top. Nigerian students have had enough," Amos averred, for the NANS. He, however, urged Governor Sanwo-Olu to "forthwith lift the ban on Okada and Keke NAPEP, negotiate with their unions and also apologise to Lagosians for the inconveniences caused them; because not all the roads in Lagos state have commercial buses or cars plying them".Three days ago, the Lagos State government had proscribed the operations of commercial motorcycles and tricycles in six local government areas, nine Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) and 10 major highways across the state, with effect from today.
Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, who made the announcement at the State House in Alausa, said the measures were taken in response to "scary figures" of fatal accidents recorded from operations of Okada and tricycles in the state between 2016 and 2019.
The state government directed security operatives to embark on a total enforcement of the State's Transport Sector Reform Law of 2018 to immediately address the chaos and disorderliness created by illegal operations of Okada and tricycle riders in restricted areas. In addition, the government banned Okada and tricycles from plying 40 bridges and flyovers across the state.