BEING THE TEXT OF A PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE DEFEND LAGOS COALITION ON THE IMMEDIATE NEED FOR A TOTAL CLAMPDOWN ON COMMERCIAL MOTORCYCLE (OKADA) OPERATIONS IN LAGOS STATE.
Gentlemen of the Press,
Comrades and Compatriots,
Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen.
We formally welcome you to this important Press Conference by our group to address a very urgent and crucial issue that affects our collective existence as a people living in Lagos State.
For the avoidance of doubt, our group, Defend Lagos Coalition, is an amalgamation of Civil Society Organizations, Faith and Community based organizations, which exist to collectively engage critical stakeholders in our state and advance causes that seek to better the lives of Lagosians.
We begin by commending Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu for the bold step of announcing the ban on Okada operations in six local government council areas and LCDAs. Once again, Mr. 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.
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 commerical motorcycle operators, who have laid siege Lagos State. The sense of insecurity convened by these dare-devil riders should not be allowed to continue.
As grassroots based organizations, we have 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 establishthat 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.
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. Our artisans and able-bodied youths have abandoned their trained jobs to become emergency okada riders. Our 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. In fact, over 45% of the 767 Okada accidents that have happened this year involved people whose ages range between 36 and 39 years. This is incredible, yet it happened right before our eyes. This is too much a price to pay for whatever advantage Okada may have.
Therefore, as responsible citizens, we can no longer continue to feign ignorance of the threat to our existence, which the continued activities of commerical motorcycle operators portends.
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.
There is no doubt, that as often said in the past, that there will be some discomfort created by the clampdown, as being demanded by us, the security implication of not enforcing the clampdown will be a major threat to peace, public safety and continued survival of law abiding citizens of Lagos State.
We have gotten to a stage, as citizens of Lagos State, where we should know that motorcycles could not be the preferred choice of transportation in a Centre of Excellence.
Furthermore, available records have shown, that motorcycles operations have been identified as the favorite of criminals, who torment our people in traffic and their various communities.
As it stands today, a collective action, which requires the input of all true Lagosians, is needed to eradicate the menace of Okada in Lagos.
We are ,therefore, calling 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.
We urge 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 us in prevailing on the government, to enforce a TOTAL CLAMPDOWN on motorcycle activities in Lagos.
We remain conscious of the concerns that are going to be raised on the other side, but a price must be paid. It’s a trade-off between our inconvenience and our existence.
Once again, let us ask ourselves the question, that in a centre of excellence, are motorcycles (okada) elevated and acceptable mode of transportation? We insist that motorcycles cannot be our preferred choice of transportation.
It is important to let you know, that as at today, the operations of these undocumented immigrants mostly operating these motorcycles have been banned in Rivers State, Akwa Ibom, Kaduna, Kano, Nassarawa, Delta, and Abia. The case of Lagos State should not be different.
Again, let us remind the Governor of Lagos State, that he has a constitutional obligation to protect the lives and properties of Lagosians, and any form of action, which seeks to make this impossible must be confronted, in the overall interest of the people.
Finally and very important, our independent survey has revealed that the actions of transportation unions, Local governments, some community development Association encourage the commercial motorcycle operations . They issue tickets to these operators for money. This should be checkmated by the State government with all the seriousness it deserves.
Besides, law enforcement agents are expected to join forces with the government in implementing this ban without any compromise.
Thank you all.
1 Declan Ihekaire,
Activists for Good Governance
2 Gbenga Soloki, Center Against Injustice and Domestic Violence
3 Nelson Ekujumi, Center for Social and Economic Rights
4 Rasaq Oladosu, Grassroots Democratic Initiatives, GDI
5 Jubril Ogundimu, Oodua People’s Congress
6 Dayo Ogunlana, Coalition of Oodua Self Determination Groups
7 Elijah Ajanu-Ojo, Ideal Society Movement
8 Femi Lawson, Centre for Public Accountability
9 Raji Oyewumi, Movement for democratic change
10 Efe Brume, Renaissance Group
11 Oyinlola Akande T., Community Rights and Child Upliftment
12 Kudu Abubakar, Northern Youth coalition
13 Funmi Ajayi, community women initiative
14 Akintunde Adedeji, Access to Advocacy and rights of the people
15 Gbenga Ganzalo, Transparency and good governance group