BAN ON THE USE OF MOTORCYCLE IN EDO STATE: A RASH DECISION?
“To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor man in the land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships” W.E.B. Dubois. Sadly, the harsh economic conditions which forced Dubois to utter such lamentations at a time when being black in America was a crime has gradually began to outplay itself in the 21stcentury Nigeria! This time, it is a crime to be poor in Nigeria.
The recent ban on commercial and private motorcycle operators in some parts of Edo states on the 17th June 2013 by the Comrade Governor; Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, could best be described as an act of misguided zeal. No need reminding us that motorcycles (okadas) have served as a useful means of transportation within the unassailable valleys called roads in the country in arriving at our destination. On what basis was the ban issued? According to the government, the recent spate of crimes and accidents in the state is attributable to the okada riders and as such the imposition of the ban would help reduce the tidal crime rate. In arriving at this decision, we can only wonder if fair hearing as provided by virtue of Section 36 CFRN 1999 was granted to the representatives of the okada union. The sections provides that in the determination of the whole right and obligation of any person, such persons should be entitled to fair hearing. As Jean J. Rousseau once stated; “Just as an architect who puts up a good building, first surveys and test the ground to see if it can bear the weight, so the wise law giver begins not by laying down good laws in themselves but by finding out whether the people whom the laws are intended are able to support them.” Certainly, this proposition is utopian to the Nigerian society. Some persons would want to argue that the state governor in arriving at his decision acted administratively, but we should bear in mind that when a public body acts administratively, he is expected to act reasonably to reach a decision. To the government, it is a right step to call the shots of crime, but this is rapidly the beginning of an explosive incursion or volley of crime in the state.
It has also been bruited too that the ban was also for security reasons owing to the alleged infiltration of the dreaded Islamic sect “Boko Haram” into the state. Is there anything reasonable in what the state governor has done? The immense price of hardship and penury amongst the people of the state will raise the ante if the governor’s meteoric and rash decision is not checked. John Locke had aptly declared “Salus populi Suprema lex” which means “Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law.” Oddly, the welfare of the people means no sausage than just lip service to the government. In Nigeria where majority of the populace grapple to live on bread line, okada riding is seen as a lucrative job. The governor’s rash decisions is an indirect guideline to increase the membership and make rookies of the Edo state branch of THE JOBLESS ONES SOCIETY OF NIGERIA (JOS) and the RESERVED ARMY OF THE UNEMPLOYED (R.A.U).
It is remarkably ironic that the state governor who instigated this embargo was the same person who said “where the poverty of the people of the state becomes so high and unassuming, it then becomes a security threat to the riches of the few.” The government gave a few days’ notice before the ban of the use of motorcycles, but it would not have been out of place if say three or six months’ notice was given to that effect. THE LEGAL WATCHMEN is saying that the government may have other axes to grind as regards the ban of motorcycle operators but revealing provisions and pro-active measures should be put in place to cushion the effect on the commercial motorcyclist.
The Edo state government cannot be blamed for its action. Certainly, they don’t know how the motorcycle has eased our heavy loads. Those in the corridors of power drive in exotic cars when they are not flying in exquisite jets, and even when they do; they don’t get snarled up in traffic. The bleak impact of this ban is that a journey of twenty minutes on a motorcycle would now take hours to hot foot it. People now have to wake up as early as 4am to start preparation for work so as not to be derelict in their duty.
The welfare of the people should be of paramount interest to any government. As Section 16 (1) (b) CRFN 1999 enunciates that “the state shall control the nation’s economy in such manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity.” It is apparent that the actions of some state governors should be checked. They should be made to understand that Section 14 (2) (b) CFRN 1999 provides that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”
The governor of Edo state must take into cognisance that for every decision taken is for a definitive purpose that will occasion a positive change or instigate negativity. The governor should note the dictum of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida that “History may forgive you for not making decisions but will certainly not forgive you for making a wrong decision that shall end the destiny and future of my people.”