When on May 18, 2022, Lagos State governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu announced the ban on ‘Okada transportation’ in Eti-Osa, Ikeja, Surulere, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, Apapa, and all LCDAs under the listed councils as well as all major roads, highways and bridges, many residents in the state laughed it off.
This is because that was not the first time the Lagos State government will make such a pronouncement of banning Okada in the state. The state government had several times announced a ban on this means of transportation without success. In fact, it will be the fifth time the government banned ‘Okada’ in Lagos State.
Ban of motorcyclists in Lagos has always been a contentious issue reoccurring from time to time.
In 2007, former Lagos State governor Bola Tinubu banned commercial motorcyclists from operating in the state. His successor, Babatunde Fashola, also banned them in March 2012.
Also, Akinwunmi Ambode, who succeeded Fashola, ban commercial motorcyclists from operating in the state in 2017.
Despite these bans by Tinubu and Fashola and Ambode Okada riders still ply Lagos roads freely.
Meanwhile, Sanwo-Olu, the incumbent governor of Lagos State, had earlier banned commercial bike operators in the state- first in Feb. 2020, then in May 2022.
In 2019, he also stopped bike-hailing services like Opay, Gokada, and Max operations. At the time, independently-owned and unregulated commercial motorcycles were not affected.
Antics Of Okada Riders
Over the years, their antics had remained the same. Like they have again run to court to urge a Federal High Court in Lagos to declare that the ban on their activities by the state government is illegal, unlawful, and unconstitutional under the umbrella of the Motorcycle Transport Union of Nigeria (MTUN), the same Okada operators had in the time past fought back through the All Auto-bike Commercial Owners and Workers Association (ANACOWA) by suing the state government at the Federal High Court, Ikeja, Lagos.
Their counsel then, the late erudite lawyer, Bamidele Aturu prayed the court to restrain the government from harassing them while carrying out their businesses.
Before the gruesome killing of a sound engineer, David Imoh by the commercial motorcyclists which triggered the new pronouncement, residents have been asking the government to ban this mode of transportation for safety and security reasons.
It was so glaring that the riders became lawless. They disrespect traffic laws and regulations, get violent at the slightest provocation, incite mob actions and execute jungle justice in which many innocent people have been killed.
With a population of over 14 million persons, coupled with the problem of traffic congestion in the state, they had good patronage in the state. Most times motorcycles are used as a means to reach many places faster at the risk of the rider’s life.
As a way out of the insanity, the Lagos State government had since June 1st commenced the enforcement of the ban in some parts of the state.
Lagosians React To The Ban
Commenting on the ban the president Lekki Estate Residents and Stakeholders Association (LERSA) president, Mr James Emadoye urged Lagos State government to sustain the ban on the activities of commercial motorcycles in some parts of the state.
Emadoye stated that though many might have to trek a few kilometers due to the ban, the exercise would be beneficial to the overall health and wellness of the people.
“The roads were so free today and this ban is something that the government should sustain given the pluses that the scheme had recorded so far.
“I also laud the motorcyclists for their understanding so far the areas were free from demonstrations and the likes,’’ he said.
A resident of Ikeja, Lagos, Tajudeen Dayo, said ‘’I am in support of the ban of Okada because of the security threats. Since the government can no longer regulate their activities, they have to ban them. The other day they killed one policeman. They are just too many, they have associations to fight people.
‘’If you are driving on Lagos roads, the fear of Okada is the beginning of wisdom. They will occupy both sides of the road. Before you know it they have pulled off your side mirror and run away. If you are not careful and mistakenly hit them, you are doomed.
‘’If they can be plying inner streets where motors are tricycles which cannot be easily accessed, that will be alright. But their atrocities are just too much. They have pushed their luck too far. We will not die trekking to some places. That is better than the attacks and carnage on Okada. ‘’
LEADERSHIP Weekend checks shows that many of the Okada riders relocate to neighbouring towns between Lagos and Ogun state to continue their trade.
A rider who gave his name as Musa said “We have gone to Akute and Lambe where we will continue our business. From there we convey passengers to the Berger area of Lagos. I hail from Nasarawa State. I am not a criminal, I am not one of those using motorcycles to rob people. I am using the bike to feed myself and my family.
“The business is good but since the government said we should go instead of putting my life under threat that can make me lose my motorcycle and live, it is better to relocate from Lagos to Ogun State.”
Meanwhile, the state’s commissioner for Information and Strategy Gbenga Omotosho has urged Lagosians to use alternative means of transportation provided by the government, reiterating that the ban was taken to ensure the security and safety of Lagosians.
Omotosho said: “During the first quarter of this year, the record shows that over 1,712 accidents were recorded, with okada constituting 767 or 45 percent of them. Of all the victims, 54 percent are between 30 and 39 years old; our young people.”
He reiterated that during the meeting with DPOs, Area Commanders and the Commissioner of Police, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu handed down the explicit instruction of ensuring effective enforcement of the ban.
Harping on alternative means of transportation in the state, the Commissioner said the state government launched over 500 First and Last Mile buses.
He said 200 have been rolled out in the last week to serve as an alternative to Okada.
Omotosho said: “The state government is doing a lot in transportation, which is the first pillar of the administration’s T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda. Fifteen jetties are under construction and some of them are at 90 percent completion stage. Some in areas like Apapa, Liverpool, Ijede, Ilashe, Ajido, Ebute-Ero, Mile Two, and others are being completed.
‘’In the last three years, LAGFERRY has been operating with no single record of accidents; so, Lagosians are encouraged to use these alternatives to ensure the safety of all.”
The head, Public Affairs, LAGFERRY, Mr Akeem Odusina confirmed that ferry services has deployed more boats for operations to cushion the effects of ban on commercial motorcyclists
He explained that the firm had also increased its daily operational trips at terminals/jetties located within the affected areas.
Odusina added that some of the terminals/jetties include: Badore Terminal, Ajah; Ipakodo Terminal, Ikorodu; Five Cowries Terminal, Ikoyi; CMS/Victoria Island Terminal, Liverpool Terminal, Apapa and Ilaje Bariga Terminal in Bariga.
According to him, travelling by water was 100 per cent traffic-free, adding that “there were first-mile, last-mile buses available at the Terminal/Jetty Parks to take passengers to their final destination.”
He assured the commuting public of a safe, fast, reliable, and convenient experience on the waterways. He noted that the terminals had secured ample car park spaces.
He said, “LAGFERRY boats are state-of-the-art built, equipped with modern technology like free Wi-fi, onboard entertainment, and they are monitored in real-time to ensure passengers’ safety.
“All Passengers on all trips have insurance covers provided by a consortium of reputable Insurance Companies led by the Lagos State Assurance Company Ltd.
“The agency adheres strictly to all safety regulations, including the compulsory wearing of life jackets and operating within regulated hours.”
On the enforcement of the ban in the state, the chairman of the Lagos State Taskforce Shola Jejeloye, a Chief Superintendent of Police stated that the laws are very clear for the Okada operators to see that their actions are in complete violation of the transport reform laws of the state.
He said the provision of the law stipulated that “No two persons shall ride, drive or propel a motorcycle or the tricycle on a major Highway within the state, and any person in contravention of this provision commits an offence and will be prosecuted.’’
Jejeloye added that the agency’s efforts had been doubled since the June 1st ban even though the compliance rate is very high and encouraging.
He noted that the okada operators are not to be trusted, pointing out that,’’ their style of operation is synonymous to a guerrilla -warfare when we retreat, they advance, and when we advance, they retreat, but enforcement on the ban has come to stay.
‘’We will ensure not a single offender operating his Okada on the Highways will be spared. We will keep watch and continue patrolling the affected parts of the state to ensure they do not get back on our roads.”
The belief that Lagos is a freeman’s land is gradually changing, the government of the day is currently laying demands on residents in the state, on how to live by the rules to survive or be consumed by the system.
Cultural Display As Kwara Community Installs New ‘Prime Minister’
By Abdullahi Olesin, Ilorin
The ancient Igbomina town of Omu-Aran in Kwara State was agog with another festivity penultimate Friday, as Chief Adekunle AbdulRazaq Oyinloye was installed the 7th Eesa (Prime Minister) of the town.
It was a day the town literarily stood still to honour an illustrous son whom it considered a worthy ambassador and with the immense wisdom to lead the community to the much desired greater heights.
The Friday programme at the palace of the Olomu of Omu-Aran, Oba AbduRaheem Oladele Adeoti, which was witnessed by mamoth crowd and dignitaries from far and near was to formalised the installation with royal blessings and prayers.
The formal traditional rite of ascension as the 7th Easa was earlier performed on Chief Oyinloye at the same palace on March 31, by Chief Samuel Atolagbe, the Edemo-Omu of Omu-Aran.
The coronation ceremony had earlier kicked off on Thursday morning with religious prayers at the family residence of the Eesa at Ora Quarters, Ihaye ward. The prayer session which illustrated the height of religious tolerance, unity and peaceful co-existence as a whole was done in both Christian and Muslim ways.
The palace of Olomu of Omu-Aran was filled to the brim on the day of the installation as well-wishers trooped in as early as 8am to grace the ceremony.
Inside his ancestral home, the Eesa was surrounded by highly reverred traditional rulers, notably among them is the Olofa of Offa,Oba Muftau Gbadamosi, Esuwoye, chiefs and friends as he sat regally with all the glamour befitting the Prime Minister.
The highly excited friends, relatives and admirers were seen freely interacting with the celebrant and showing their gratitude to God for making the day a reality.
At 10:29am when it was time for the Eesa and his entourage to proceed to the palace of the Olomu of Omu-Aran for the installation, women of Ora Quarters were already on hand to receive the Eesa at the entrance to the palace hall singing and dancing.
The Eesa emerged flanked by his wife, Folake stepped into the waiting arms of women and traditional drummers who eulogised him as he was ushered into the venue of the programme.
The palace of the Olomu of Omu-Aran had already wore a new look as gaily dressed men and women in Aso-Ebi and traditional outfits trooped into the vast compound.
The frontage of the palace was decked in bright colours of posters of the new Eesa felicitating with him and wishing him a fruitful reign.
While guests awaited the commencement of the installation ceremony, the ‘wives of Eesa’ which comprised of young women from his Ora quarters all in white clothes and adorning their hair, wrists, necks and ankles with red colourful beads danced around the compound greeting people and felicitating with the Eesa.
Chief Ganiyu Popoola, the Elemo-Aran of Omu-Aran, who presided over the programme, immediately after the opening prayer called on the family of the Eesa to come forward to formally request the Olomu-in-Council for the title of Eesa for their son, Oyinloye.
With permission granted, the family showed their appreciation with monetary gifts while each segment of the community also supported them. Imediately after the show of appreciation, the Eesa was brought forward amidst a crowd of family, friends and well-wishers.
Chief Oyinloye was presented to the Olomu-in-Council and he was accepted with each of the chiefs praying for him and wishing him a fruitful reign.
At 1:15 p.m. he was formally installed as the seventh Eesa of Omu-Aran and was accompanied by his family to receive his title certificate as well as the royal blessings and prayers from the Olomu.
The Olomu in his remarks, described the new Eesa as an illustrous son of the community who had contributed greatly to it’s socio-economic development.
He urged the new Eesa to continue to be a good ambassador of the Olomu-in-Council and the Omu-Aran community in particular.
Oba Adeoti also charged him to imbibe the virtue of humility, transparency, diligence and trustworthiness in the discharge of his traditional duties.
The Olomu thanked the Omu-Aran Council of Chiefs for exhibiting high level of transparency and honesty in selecting a new Eesa for the community.
He thanked the traditional rulers, dignitaries, personalities and other well wishers who graced the occasion and wished them safe journey back to their different destinations.
In his acceptance speech, the new Eesa expressed gratitude to God and the people of Omu-Aran for the opportunity given him to serve.
He pledged his allegiance to the Olomu of Omu-Aran, the Olomu-in-Council and Omu-Aran community in general. He promised to work with all segments of the community and appealed for the support and cooperation of the people to make his reign a smooth and successful one.
Immediately after his acceptance speech, local hunters added their voices to the ceremony with gunshots at intervals.
The Eesa was later led away by boisterous masquerades, traditional drummers and women singers from the Olomu’s palace to his residence in the metropolis, accompanied by a mammoth crowd of family, friends and well-wishers.
The climax of the coronation and installation took place on Saturday with another traditional rites (Ibeye) at the Ora quarters of the Eesa where his family and friends appreciated the entire members of Omu-Aran traditional council for making the installation a resounding success.
Eesa is not an honorary title but one of the three highest chieftaincy titles in Omu-Aran community. There are three ward heads in Omu-Aran of which Eesa who heads Ihahe ward is one of them. Asanlu is head of Ifaja ward while Odofin is head of the Aran ward.