The ban on commercial motorcycling in Plateau will leave 30, 000 youths in the state jobless, idle and open to nefarious activities, the Amalgamated Commercial Motorcycle Riders Association of Nigeria (ACOMORAN) has said.
The National President of the association, Alhaji Babagida Maihula, said this on Wednesday in Jos while reacting to the decision of the Plateau Government to ban commercial motorcyclists popularly known as 'okada', in Jos and Bukuru metropolis.
He said that the 30,000 youths could become the “devil’s workshop” as a result of idleness resulting from the ban on ‘okada’.
``What we have been calling on the government to do is to provide an alternative, provide a palliative measure because you cannot lay off more than 30,000 able-bodied youth and you say you are trying to make peace within the city.
``You keep them and make them to be redundant, and an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”
``We are only calling on the government to look at our plight. We did not choose to be ``okada” riders, circumstances compelled us to be.
“If there is better alternative at any time, we are ready to quit that because there’s nobody that wants his son as an ``okada” rider.
``Therefore we are trying hard to see how we can make ends meet.”
He, however, said the palliative measure that the government would provide could go a long way to prevent the worsening of an already challenging security situation in the state.
He had this to say on the palliative:
``The alternatives are: Job opportunities, if it must be the transport sector, they can upgrade our status from two-wheel to three-wheel ride. These are things that change the face of ``okada”.
``I am privileged to be the National President, and I’ve been talking even at the villa (Presidency) on how they can come to the aid of ``okada” riders nationwide and there is a very positive response and something is in the offing.
``If they (Plateau Government) can even give us some times, they can only complement what the FG is trying to do for ``okada” riders in the country.”
He also denied suggestions that members of the association were involved in criminal activities particularly the crisis situation in the state, which the government advanced as reason for the ban.
``If you look at all these crises, which of them erupted as a result of the operations of ``okada” riders? None.
``We are only being victimised because by entering all the nooks and cranies of the towns and villages, we are the most vulnerable; but the people that perpetrate all sorts of atrocities are different from ``okada” riders.
``The Okada” rider wakes up in the morning, takes his bath, and goes out to look for his legitimate means of livelihood. What I will not dispute is the fact that we cannot rule out some bad eggs among us who we are trying hard to flush out.
“And you will agree that there is no one profession, in which there are no one or two bad eggs. Therefore the ``okada” business is not an exception.”
The Plateau government had, after an emergency State Executive Council meeting on May 4, banned commercial motorcycle operation in Jos and Bukuru metropolis, citing the security situation in the state capital as reason.
It also said the law enforcement agencies were ``expected to comply with the law banning motorcycle operations by checking activities of ``those who might want to disregard it in any way”.