Sanwo-Olu’s action in the best interest of Lagos – Newsdiaryonline

Sanwo-Olu’s action in the best interest of Lagos – Newsdiaryonline

By
Gboyega Akosile

‘’If you
care about the security of Lagos State, support your Governor on the
restriction of Okada and Keke.’’ This was the submission of the former Governor
of Lagos State and current Minister of Works, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola at a
recent interaction with newsmen in Lagos.

I have
followed news reports, commentaries, opinion articles and street reactions for
and against the restriction on the commercial operations of Okada and Keke by
my principal, Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu in some parts of Lagos State.
While some appear as balanced argument, especially along the economic line,
which can’t stand as good reasons for policy reversal, several others were pure
sentiment and emotional outbursts, mostly lacking in logical reasoning. A
careful analysis of the subject matter has shown that there is a consensus
among the protagonists and the antagonists that commercial motorcyclists and
tricyclists have become a danger in Lagos; everybody knows and agrees to this
red flag! In fact many of those against the Okada restriction, whether knowingly
or unknowingly have called for total eradication of bicycles and tricycles in
the city of Lagos.

A
columnist, Bimbo Adelakun in the back page of the Punch newspaper on Thursday
February 6th wrote:

‘’In
principle, I am not against the ban on those vehicles themselves, but the
timing and the execution of Sanwo-Olu’s decision. I believe that okadas and
kekes have to go at some point. They are an urban nuisance, an ungainly sight,
a blight, and an ugly blotch on Nigeria’s botched landscape. Those vehicles desecrate
spaces and painfully highlight the un-citiness of our cities.”

Same with
Bashorun Dele Momodu in his pendulum column at the back page of ThisDay
newspaper submitted that:

”Apart
from the population explosion and the stupendous traffic jams, Lagos is
bedevilled by a major security conflagration. This arises from its metropolitan
nature and its willingness to welcome and absorb all those who genuinely want
to be a part of its miracle. The flip side of this welcoming attitude is that
Lagos will also attract shady characters and nefarious elements. The recent
influx of unidentifiable immigrants into Lagos is just a sample of this major
headache and has further compounded the bad situation.”

There are
several other writers who have taken a position either for or against this
restriction. Many of them have offered what they, in their opinion think should
be the best solution to the Okada menace. I see this as a good development for
our fledgling democracy. However, one must remind these opinion writers that
most of what they offered in their write ups were at one time or another, part
of several suggestions placed before Government. One must also educate them
that Government didn’t wake up to place restrictions on the commercial
activities of bicycles and tricycles in parts of the city.

Deaths
were being recorded on a daily basis as a result of the reckless nature of
Okada riders. Security of lives was threatened, as Okada became the easiest
form of mobility for criminals. Recklessness, disorderliness and total
disregard to the traffic rules reigned supreme among the Okada and Keke riders.

Their
behaviour has taken a toll on the social and environmental well-being of the
people.

Government
has a responsibility to protect the lives and property of its citizens. As
Governor Sanwo-Olu said during the flag off of the commercial operations of
Lagos Ferry services, his administration deemed it necessary to restrict the
operation of commercial motorcycles and tricycles in some parts of the State,
especially in six Local Governments, nine Local Council Development Areas
(LCDA), 16 major highways and 41 bridges, where there have been records of
security breaches, disobedience to traffic rules, accidents and untimely deaths
caused by motorcycle and tricycle riders. The decision of the government is
definitely in line with what he promised over 22 million Lagosians during his
inauguration on May 29, 2019.

“We
intend to make history by making for ourselves and our children a better
future…Let us vow to ourselves, and to posterity that we shall not just dream
of a Greater Lagos. Let us agree this day that we shall collectively rise up to
build the Lagos of our dreams.

“My
administration will ensure that we walk the talk as far as transparency, the
rule of law and fiscal discipline are concerned. We will make sure that we
create the right environment in which security and safety of lives and property
are guaranteed…On this day, I vow as your Governor that I will serve the public
cause with my utmost ability and commitment,” Governor Sanwo promised while
delivering his inaugural address titled ‘Awakening a Greater Lagos’ on May 29,
2019 at Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos.

Therefore,
as a man who is passionate about pursuing his dream of a Greater Lagos, it is
expected of him to do the needful in protecting the citizens of the state who
trooped out en masse during the March 9, 2019 governorship poll to elect him as
the Chief Executive of the commercial capital of Nigeria.

There is
also a need to remind these commentators that one of the rare qualities of a
leader is his ability to make tough decisions especially in the best interest
of the people. As a great leader, Governor Sanwo-Olu believes in the greatest
good for the greatest number. On the strength of this, Mr. Governor has said
his decision to restrict the movements of Okada and Keke in the publicized
locations is irreversible because it was made in the best interest of the
residents.

Governor
Sanwo-Olu, while launching eight locally manufactured speedboats of the Lagos
State Ferry Services, LAGFERRY held at Badore Ferry Terminal, Ajah, reiterated
that the decision was for security and safety reasons.

His said:
“We will sustain the restriction on Okada and tricycles, mainly because of
security and safety reasons. The security and safety of citizens are paramount
to any government. As a responsible government, we will not fold our arms and
allow any security breach in the state.

“We will
continue to ensure the safety of our people on all fronts. There have been
reports of serious security breaches and safety concerns in areas where these
operators ply. We had to respond to these concerns because lives and safety
matter to this government.”

Reports
from different quarters have shown clearly that more people, including opposition
parties in the state are fully in support of the step taken by the Government.
None has outrightly disagreed with the restriction policy but many of them have
raised concerns about provision of alternative for commuters and riders who
were affected by the order.

In
answering the above question, less than 24 hours after the enforcement of the
restriction, Governor Sanwo-Olu ordered the release of 65 buses to immediately
begin operations. There are plans for additional 550 buses for the feeder roads.
This is to ameliorate the challenge being faced by the residents. Also, the
continuation of massive rehabilitation of roads across the state is part of
efforts by the government to give the residents a great lease of life. 

Corroborating
the Governor’s position, the National Publicity Secretary of the Action
Democratic Party (ADP), Mr. Adejare Adeoye, in a press statement he signed and
issued on Monday said: “Sanitising Lagos State and getting rid of these
lawless miscreants that have been invading Lagos in droves for many years is a
welcome development and good step in the right direction. Many of them hide
under the pretense of riding Okada and Keke during the day, while they
strategically distribute themselves in inner and exterior parts of Lagos State
committing all manners of crimes and untold hardship on residents.

“Security
of lives and properties in any part of Nigeria is a business of all citizens of
Nigeria, so, undocumented invaders, should not be allowed in any part of the
country, as there is serious need for vigilance due to the growing rate of
terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, thuggery, mindless killings and other criminal
activities.

“Many
of these guys are invaders, who must be checked and be sent back to wherever
they came from. At least, on two occasions, they have shown their true colors,
when they went to attack Ejigbo Police Station in Oshodi-Isolo, around 11pm at
night, which caused panic in the area. At another time, they went to attack a
local government, because a task force official of the local council demanded
for the normal levy, which they refused to pay, hence their bike got
confiscated, instead of following lawful ways to get the issue resolved, they
resulted to lawless act by setting the local government council on fire. This
is brutal, crude, mindless, and must be stopped.

“We
cannot afford to open our eyes, while these aliens take over the entire Lagos,
because if not quickly arrested, we won’t all be able to sleep, as another type
of insurgents might spring up, and will be troubling everyone of us in the
State. When our lives is threatened by invaders, we must learn to eschew
politics of bitterness and stand by the truth.”

Also
speaking on the issue, a security expert and President of Association of
Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria, Dr. Ona Ekhomu, said the
restriction was necessary to bring sanity back to Lagos roads.

He
disclosed this during an interview published on Saturday, February 1 edition of
The Punch Newspaper.

Ekhomu
said, “The ban on okada and keke on some routes in Lagos has some advantages. I
think the government has done well in a civil manner by listing the roads where
they are to stop plying. Any commercial motorcycle or tricycle rider that is
affected should simply look for other routes to ply because it is good to have
sanity on the road.

“Those
that used to ply Ikorodu road around the Ketu and Mile 12 axis had hitherto
constituted nuisance. A society without rules and regulations is a lawless
society, so, I think that they should abide by it.”

 A
governorship candidate in the 2019 governorship election in Lagos State, Mr.
Babatunde Gbadamosi, without any iota of doubt is a passionate Lagosian who
wants the best for Lagos State and this is the reason he contested to govern
the State on three occasions. Despite the political differences between him and
Governor Sanwo-Olu, Gbadamosi hailed Lagos State government for taking a bold
step to restrict the operation of the commercial motorcycles.

“There is
no doubt in my mind that something needed to be done about the clear and
present danger that many Okada & Keke operators had come to constitute to
the lives and limbs of Lagosians, as well as their safety and security, with
the invasion of Ajeromi-Ifelodun LGA HQ still fresh in our minds, as well as
several recently reported incidents of attempted lynchings by mobs of Okada
riders over traffic incidents. To that extent, one must commend the government
for making some kind of decision,” he stated in a Facebook post titled
“Transport for Lagos PT 2” on Tuesday, February 4.

The icing
on the cake is the support by the ruling political party, the All Progressives
Congress. Commenting on the restriction, the State Publicity Secretary of the
party, Hon. Seye Oladejo, said people remained the focal point of Governor
Sanwo-Olu’s administration.

His
words: “Let me recall that the law being implemented has been in place for over
six years after painstaking efforts by the Lagos State house of assembly to
incorporate in-puts from all stakeholders. The gradual implementation of the
law is a reflection of the thoughtfulness of the government not to create a
shock in the polity.

“While he
noted the reasons for the partial ban, it was convenient not to acknowledge the
measures put in place by government to stem the impact. May I use this medium
to acknowledge and appreciate the voluntary compliance of some operators in
line with the laws of the state. We also wish to encourage the riders to take
advantage of opportunities offered by the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund,
the Lagos State Vocational Training Institutes, the ministry of women affairs
and poverty alleviation, civic engagement etc. The people remain the focal
point of the Sanwo-Olu administration while not losing sight of its onerous
responsibility to ensure the safety of lives and property of the
citizenry.” 

Reading
through the views of many people, it is clear to me that this action taken by
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration is in the best interest of Lagos
State and all the residents.

It should
however be noted that this is not the first time that Lagos State government
will be restricting the operation of commercial motorcycles in the State.
Former Governor Babatunde Fashola’s administration in 2012 banned Okada in some
parts of Lagos due to increase in crimes and high records of accident victims
in government hospitals, a move that saw a drastic reduction in crime rate and
Okada-related hospital enrolments.

* Akosile
is the Chief Press Secretary to Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

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