By Saheed Ibrahim
& Opeyemi Ologun
Contrary to popular expectation, many commercial motorcyclists popularly called okada are in full support of the proposed ban by the federal government of the business.
Investigations conducted by The Hope showed that those who ply the trade are unhappy doing it because it is risky and demeaning.
They contended that over 90 percent of graduates who have taken to the trade were forced to take up the job to survive due to the current harsh economy of the country.
They however conceded that the proposed ban will be counterproductive if there are no alternative job opportunities they could venture into as means of survival.
According to them, the ban if implemented without providing alternatives could worsen banditry, terrorism and other criminal activities ravaging the country.
The Federal Government some days ago proposed that Okada would be banned in view of the current insecurity in the country.
The government said investigations revealed that Okadas were used for terrorism, banditry while mining activities across the country provided sources of funds to terrorists and bandits.
Reacting, one of the riders, Akinsokan Diasi opined that banning Okada without alternative will lead to higher rate of unemployment as most Okada riders depend on it to feed themselves and their families.
He further stated that if the government insists on banning Okada, then there should be provision of job opportunities they could venture into as other means of survival.
“It’s not as if most of us are happy and comfortable riding Okadas, but we don’t have a choice because there is no job,” Daisi said.
Another okada rider, Mr Tunde Akindola revealed that over 90 percent of Okada riders are graduates but were forced to take the job to survive due to the current harsh economy.
He appealed to the government to come up with a better package for the youths who are into it, to eke out a living and think twice before taking the decision.
Other Okada riders maintained that the ban of Okada in the country would only encourage theft and other criminal activities if there is no provision of employment for youths replace Okada business.
Speaking with The Hope, the Head of Philosophy Department, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko (AAUA), Dr Layi Oladipupo said banning Okada in Nigeria would be disastrous, if there are no job alternatives provided for the riders.
“Not all Okada riders are miscreants, among them are graduates. If their only means of survival is stopped, it would only pave rooms for more criminals,” he explained.
Oladipupo revealed that if the government were to ban Okada just because of the way it is used to carry out criminal activities, it would only have a negative result.
“If there is adequate security in the country, how would just few unknown men on Okada be able to carry out their terrorism acts and they would go scot free without confrontation from the military,” he questioned.
A security expert, Mr Yemi Adeyemi applauded the proposed ban as a welcome idea, saying it would curb many criminal activities.
“Banning Okada is 100 percent okay. There are places where only okada can ply but with the situation of this country, I support that it should be banned.
“Another alternative is the use of Keke Marwa. Marwa can’t be used for robbery. Because of insecurity in Nigeria, Okada is very dangerous at this time. Bandits , armed robbers and others use okada.
“Look at the incident that happened in Owo , the white man that was kidnapped, they used Okada when the soldiers were killed to escape,” he explained.
An economist, Mr Joshua Ologun opined that it would affect the Internally Generated Revenue of state governments because the rate of income the government gets through registration and renewal of licenses, daily tickets are paid by Okada riders would stop.
Ologun further insisted that a lot of students will drop out of school as most of these Okada riders have children they send to school.
He added that it would affect market women who travel to farms and villages where cabs cannot get to and this would lead to increase in prices of food items.
Another economist, Mr Ilori Michael added that the rate of unemployment in the country would also increase.
He said, “This is the only source of income for most Okada riders. So if this one means of employment is taken away from them, it would throw them into abject poverty.”
“If the husband and father in a family who happens to be an Okada rider fails to carry out his responsibilities in providing for his family, it would lead to disagreement and lack of respect from both wife and children,” he explained.