The Delta State Government planned ban on commercial okada in major cities of the State is against the economic rights of the riders, deprivation of their means of livelihood and against the interest of the masses who patronise such okada as a means of transportation. One of the primary responsibilities of any government whether at state or federal level, is the welfare of the people. This is a government that has failed in its more than five years of existence, to provide the basic infrastructures for the ordinary people in the state and engage the youths in meaningful employment and yet, wants to deprive some of these same youths their means of livelihood.
It is appalling that the Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan in planning to ban okada, hinged his reasons on security amongst others. Are Okada Riders a major threat to security in the state? Has the Governor ever taken it upon himself to find out the ratio / percentage of those that use okada to perpetuate crime and those who genuinely use it to make a living for themselves and their families? Is banning okada the solution to the state of insecurity in the State? Has the Governor thought of the consequential effects such ban would cause in the State in terms of rise in unemployment and crime rates? What plans has the Governor to curb and / or to wither down the consequences that would arise as a result of his planned action? Is this not another way to justify more monies as security votes?
This is a Governor who has till date, refused to assent to the Bills on Kidnapping and the establishment of Vigilante Groups in Communities in the State which had long been passed by the State House of Assembly and, which refusal is contrary to section 100(4) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, which gives him 30 days to signify his intent to assent or withholds assent. These Bills if assented to would go a long way to cushion and / or reduce the rates of crime which may arise as a result of the ban on okada.
What is even more disturbing and worrisome is the government’s plan to provide tricycles as an alternative to motorcycles (okada) to the Okada Riders at the rate of N200,000 each. Where on earth does the Governor expect the average Okada Rider to have such monies to purchase a tricycle? Is this another means to reap off the indigent okada riders in the state in-addition to the massive looting of state funds that legitimately belong to the people of Delta state? Is the Governor trying to emulate states like Akwa Ibom, Rivers, etc where commercial okada has been banned? If yes, then he should go a step further to find out what the Governors in those states have done for the people of the state in terms of employment and provision of basic infrastructural facilities.
The Governor and his cronies should concentrate on meaningful and developmental projects in the state. They should propose, formulate and implement policies that are masses oriented. Banning of commercial okada is the least of problems the ordinary man is facing in the state. I therefore call on the people of Delta state including the Okada Riders to vehemently resist the proposed ban on okada come October 1, 2012.
—Cyril Ojiemen, Lawyer and Human Rights Activist writes from the UK.