Okada Ban: Merit and Demerit of Kwankwaso’s Decision

BY JAAFAR JAAFAR

While working on the official data released last year by the police on the serial killings taking place in Kano State, which stated that between March and June 2012, a total number of 45 people were killed by bike-riding gunmen, another sad news filtered in.
Gunmen, the news report says, riding motorcycles, stormed Dakata area of Kano and shot dead five people. This January alone, a conservative estimate shows at least 21 people were killed by bike gunmen.
Apart from being antithetical to ideal city transport system, the environmental hazards and dangers the trade poses to the health of the rider and the passenger, the bike is now used by hoodlums — given its runaway pliability — to kill innocent people.
But Nigerians seem to be at home with the country’s underdevelopment. We loathe changes but love development. We seem so averse to progressive changes, yet we always yearn for changes. We are good at making comparison with advanced countries on issues of development or sanity, yet any attempt by leaders to bring sanity into the system is criticized by the same critics of underdevelopment.
Any leader who is not progressive in his approach in this age, he is, obviously, doomed for failure. Our social system is ailing. It is the responsibility of a leader to provide the antidote or required pills needed to relieve the indisposed system — however bitter the pills may taste.
While some people wrongly argue that Kano State government is alienating the people’s “rights to movement” (as if government has banned motorcycles completely) as ‘guaranteed’ by the constitution, they blink over the fact that the right to life is also guaranteed under section 33 (1) of the 1999 constitution. “Every person,” says the 1999 constitution, “has a right to life and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life save in the execution of a sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria”.
That aside, the responsibility of securing the life and welfare of the citizenry rests squarely on the government. This truism is boldly highlighted by section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 constitution which states: “The security and welfare of the people shall be the PRIMARY purpose of government”. (Emphasis mine). Now, how will you score a leader who makes no effort to discharge his PRIMARY purpose? In a serious clime, failure to do this can spark impeachment sessions in the legislative chambers.
Until the late 80s (some say early 90s), Nigerians never knew achaba/okada, and the transport system was less or not chaotic as it is today. We boarded taxis and buses in those days and nothing happened to us. Where, in any advanced society, is achaba/okada operating? It is a sign of chronic underdevelopment.
Statistics at the emergency units of our hospitals however shows that most of their patients are either the commercial motorcyclists or their passengers. In just Murtala Mohammed Hospital, a total of 8,428 cases of male accident victims related to motorcycles were recorded from January to December 2012. Within the same period, 2,367 female sustained injuries through motorcycle-related accidents. And now the sad story: a total of 2,018 people lost their lives last year through road accidents —90 percent related to motorcycles— in just one hospital!
Given this ugly record, any right-thinking person should applaud a leader who is making efforts to reverse the trend and discharge his PRIMARY constitutional responsibility.
I hear varied arguments from the sophistry commentariat, with some people arguing that government should have taken some palliative measures before taking the decision in order to forestall domino effect. Let us first look at what the present administration so far put in place. An abridged overview of government’s empowerment policies reveals not just mollifying measures but a solid empowerment bedrock.
As part of sanitizing the transport system and empowering the teeming youths, Kano State government established Kano Road Transport and Traffic Authority (KAROTTA). So far KAROTTA employs nearly 1,000 personnel, and soon it’s manpower strength would hit 1,500. A total of 4,004 people have been employed in the civil service. Government has procured 1,000 ordinary taxis, 1,000 luxury taxis (brand new Toyota Corollas for Graduate Drivers Scheme), about 700 buses in order to sanitize, ease and provide employment opportunities to people.
The present administration, in terms of providing micro credits is second to none. The CBN stated this when the governor of the bank pronounced Kano highest in terms of provision of micro credits last year. In terms of empowerment initiatives, Kano also tops the index as the administration received various local and international awards. Toward building a solid empowerment bedrock, the present administration has established 44 craft schools and 44 micro finance banks in each of the 44 local governments of the state. These craft schools are open for interested indigenes of Kano to enroll as no qualification criteria is emphasized. There are also 21 training institutes established by Governor Kwankwaso on assumption into office. In terms of education, one can boldly say Kano steals the limelight. Now, what better palliative than government’s commitment to education and vocational trainings?
A grotesque elevation of commercial bike business also gives government worries as findings show that most of them are coming from other states. Take a tour to our major motor parks and see how motorcycles and their owners are transported in trucks into Kano in the morning. Take a detour in the evening and see how they are transported back to their abodes. They come from neighboring states in trucks in the morning and return to their base at night. Ban on motorcycles in Jos, Abuja, Lagos and four other states, has brought about the influx of motorcycles into Kano State, further bringing chaos into the system.

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