October 20, (THEWILL) – The Federal Government on Thursday, said it was yet to take a concrete decision to outlaw the operation of motorcycles, popularly called Okada, as a form of commercial transportation in the country.
Minister of State for Transportation, Ademola Adegoroye, made the clarification in Abuja, while speaking at the Annual Strategic Stakeholders Summit of the Amalgamated Commercial Tricycle & Motorcycle Owners, Repairs & Riders Association of Nigeria (ACOMORAN).
The clarification followed reports of plans by the authorities to ban commercial motorcycle operations and mining activities to curb arm supply to terrorists.
Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, had given the indication in July saying: “Placing a ban on the use of motorcycles and mining activities will cut the supply of logistics to the terrorists. This will be done in the national interest.”
However, Adegoroye, at the event on Thursday, clarified that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has not taken any decision on the proposed ban.
“By the grace of God, I’ve been a member of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), the highest decision-making body in this country today, and I’ve been there now since July. I was appointed in June, I became a member and I attended my first FEC on the 6th of July this year.
“Let me assure you and assure ACOMORAN that there is no decision to ban Okada”, he said.
Congratulating the President of ACOMORAN, Prince Samsudeen Apelogun, on the successful organisation of the event, the Minister added: “There are a few issues I will like to make comments on.
“The Federal government under the leadership of our father and our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, is also desirous of putting in place a mass transit system that will not fail like those of the past.
“It is true that several governments in the past have done one or two things to promote mass transit and ensure that our people are able to move from one place to the other seamlessly and easily.
“But nobody is a repository of knowledge, nobody has a monopoly of wisdom. ACOMORAN also have a right and a duty to this country. So, we will put our heads together. ”
Earlier, Apelogun identified unemployment as one of the major factors that brought motorcycles and tricycles into the transportation system.
Many of the riders, he said, were graduates who take to the trade to eke a living and improve their fortunes owing to the dwindling economy.
“It is an open discussion that our operations in a few states in Nigeria are being restricted, and riders’ motorcycles are confiscated and destroyed which affects many innocent riders who took loans to buy their bikes.
“These include young graduates who have tried unsuccessfully to find gainful employment. The governments hinged their decisions fundamentally on two factors: Accidents and Insecurity.
“As an association, we have responded accordingly, presenting to the government the effects of that proposed policy. We shall have the train-the-trainers workshop where we educate our members as this is in fulfilment of one of my electoral promises as contained in my Action Plan.”
While acknowledging the sanctity of life, Apelogun also condoled the families of all those that lost their lives, at one time or another in a motorcycle-related crash.
He called on the government to pay adequate attention to details so that more problems are not created to solve the issue.
Apelogun, however, suggested steps including integration and regulation to encourage transportation security control databases such as NISPSAS with the ministry of interior and ACORIDE system.
According to him, “a formalisation that will enable the government to have more internal revenue generation and replace the current extortion by non-state actors which can be dedicated to road maintenance.
“We have and will continue to appeal to the government at all levels to consider the interest of the generality of Nigerians, especially those at the lowest part of the economic ladder when formulating and implementing these policies,” he said.
“One of the major factors that brought motorcycles and tricycles into our transportation system as you well know is unemployment whereas this sector of transportation is by far a large means of mass employment to teeming youths, we, therefore appeal to the government to adopt the concept of providing alternatives before enforcement of policies that might incur more hardship to the people.”