Defend Lagos Coalition, DLC, an amalgamation of civil society, faith and community-based organisations, has declared its full support for the Lagos State Government on the total clampdown on commercial motorcycles, otherwise known as Okada.
The group expressed its readiness and determination to check the threat to the lives of residents of Lagos State, which the continued activities of commercial motorcycle operators portend.
National Coordinator/Spokesman, Activists for Good Governance, Declan Ihekaire, while addressing a press conference in Lagos on Wednesday on the ‘mmediate Need for a Total Clampdown on Commercial Motorcycles (Okada) Operations’, in Lagos State, urged Lagos residents to join in demanding from the Lagos State Government, a total clampdown on motorcycles.
Ihekaire said: “We have, therefore, come together today to ask Lagosians to join us in demanding from the Lagos State Government a total clampdown on motorcycles (okada) as a means of transportation in every nook and cranny of the state.”
He stated that a collective action, which requires the input of all true Lagosians, is needed to eradicate the menace of Okada in the state.
Commending Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for the bold step of announcing the ban on Okada operations in six local government council areas and LCDAs, Ihekaire added that the “Lagos Governor has shown without any doubt that he is a dutiful servant of the people, who is ever-ready to listen and carry out the people’s desires in line with his constitutional mandate.”
Ihekaire, who, however, said that “Lagosians have, on a daily basis, experienced several threats to lives and property, flagrant disobedience of the laws of the land, by the ‘army’ of undocumented commercial motorcycle operators, who have laid siege on Lagos State, added that “the sense of insecurity convened by these dare-devil riders should not be allowed to continue.”
He noted that the conference was called to address the very urgent and crucial issue that affects the collective existence of people living in Lagos State.
Lamenting that artisans and able-bodied Nigerian youths have abandoned their trained jobs to become emergency Okada riders, the group’s spokesman added that “Youths are no longer interested in vocational training to earn a decent and enduring living; rather, they have taken to riding Okada to make ‘quick’ money with the attendant risk to their lives.”
As grassroots-based organizations, Ihekaire said that the group had “in the past couple of months, conducted independent surveys, which revealed that not only are majority of these motorcycle riders foreigners from countries, such as Republic of Chad, Niger Republic and other neighboring countries, we were also able to establish that they constitute a very potent risk to lives and properties of Lagosians. They must be stopped before it is too late.
“In the past few months, we have recorded cases of violent crimes and civil disturbances directly linked to the motorcycle operators, with some leading to the destruction of assets, loss of lives of innocent citizens and security agents.”
He said: “It is worrisome and unfortunate that we, as a people, are responsible for the menace that okada has become in the land today due to our complicity.
“We no longer walk so as to enjoy the health benefits that come with it. At the slightest opportunity, we jump on Okada to get to our destinations.”
Ihekaire, therefore, called on the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu-led administration to immediately work towards the restoration of law and order in public transportation in order to ease the inconveniences that will likely arise, as a result of this inevitable demand.
He also urged all well-meaning Lagosians, who are concerned about the lawlessness and insecurity being perpetrated by these motorcycle operators in Lagos State to support the government on its decision, and join in prevailing on the government, to enforce a total clampdown on motorcycle activities in Lagos.
He stated that the operations of these undocumented immigrants mostly operating these motorcycles have been banned in Rivers State, Akwa Ibom, Kaduna, Kano, Nassarawa, Delta, and Abia, adding that the case of Lagos State should not be different.
While reminding the Governor Sanwo-Olu of his constitutional obligation to protect the lives and properties of Lagosians, Ihekaire added that “Any form of action, which seeks to make this impossible must be confronted, in the overall interest of the people.”