From Chuks Collins, Awka
The anticipated plan by the Anambra and other state governments in the country to join in the ban of the use of motor bikes for commercial purposes otherwise called okada, has sent jitters down the spine of key operators in the sector in the state, especially the importers and the riders.
This has therefore prompted the stakeholders comprising the okada owners, riders, the importers and other interest/human rights groups in the industry to send a passionate appeal to all state Assemblies and governors through Gov Peter Obi and the Anambra State House of Assembly respectively.
The stakeholders, comprised of the motor cycle/spare parts importers Association, Motor cycle Transport Union of Nigeria (MTUN), as well as motor cycle spare parts dealers association in a press briefing yesterday urged all those in authority both at the state and federal levels to reconsider the spate of banning and its social effects on the polity.
The chairman of the Motor cycle Spare Parts Importers Association of Nigeria, Chief Longinus Chukwuma in a media briefing organized by the stakeholders at Nnewi yesterday, while appealing to the state governors to have a rethink on the proposed ban pointed out what his members saw as “a calculated war against the poor”.
According to him, “this is because its only the poor that ride and use the services of Okada. More so, concluding that okada riders are criminals is very unfortunate. “After all there are other instruments with which criminal acts are carried out apart from okada. The GSM telephones and cars were directly linked to kidnap and variously used in criminal operations, yet none has been banned in any part of the country.
Chief Chukwuma urged the governments and their agencies to step up their security dragnets to frustrate all anti-social tendencies and nip the criminal acts in the bud and provide more jobs and avenues for job creation for the youth.
He feared that if the ban was not reversed would throw more citizens into the job market and encourage rape, hardship, thuggery, prostitution, hooliganism, murder, kidnap, armed robbery, etc.
The importers’ boss pointed the continuous mass exodus of high net worth businessmen form the state to other states due to social unrest, insecurity and rampant kidnap that has apparently defied solution.
The National Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the MTUN, Comrade Elvis Okolie said before now the union has adopted measures to progressive sanitization of the operators and members. That its reason why they wear specially numbered aprons to check infiltrators and had severally been commended by security agencies including the state Police Commissioner for gallantry in foiling criminal plots by passengers.
Okolie noted that okada riders were law abiding citizens out to eke out a living to take care of their families, pay rents, children’s school fees.
He observed that Boko Haram bombs have continued to land in parts of the country without any serious moves or even words from the governors but the chose to outlaw the use of okada in some states but were now eager to witch hunt poor okada riders and users.
He therefore appealed to the governors through Obi and the various state Assemblies to have a second thought on the grave social implications of their unilateral moves.
The Anambra state chairman of MTUN, Chief Bartho Igwedibia said the MTUN was a well organized and structured organization with registered membership and executives from units to zones, council areas, state chapters and the federation. “Each member is daily monitored and supervised as we know all our members and they know themselves. What remains is for the government to synergize with us and attach security operatives to us for the streamlining of our efforts and operations, not to ban our services outright.
He confirmed having visited and written letters to Gov Obi and the state Assembly that response were deferred to when the House resumes from recess in October.