Insecurity and Okada Ban: Curing Headache with Decapitation By Vivian Abomann
The Daily Trust editorial of Tuesday, 9th August 2022, has this headline: “Okada ban will not resolve security challenges,” which can be found on its page 13.
In the editorial, the newspaper highlighted vital points as to why the banning of commercial motorcycles popularly known as Okada, is not the solution to terrorism, banditry and kidnapping in the northern part of the country particularly, and Nigeria generally.
Rather, the policy, according to Daily Trust, will only render millions of Nigerians jobless and subsequently aggravate crime rate.
I find the editorial quite interesting and intriguing, which prompted me to explore the issue further.
Indisputably, the use of commercial motorcycles aid armed terrorists, bandits, and kidnappers in carrying out their nefarious activities.
Nevertheless, how could it be excused that a mob of bike-riding bandits travel several kilometers to ambush victims, abduct them, and vanish into thin air?
The banning of motorcycles without providing an alternative means of livelihood for Okada riders will only render millions of Nigerians unemployed and subsequently aggravate crime rate.
Motorcycles create employment opportunities for millions of people through a value chain. There are manufacturers; factories located in some parts of Nigeria where motorcycles are assembled after they are imported in completely knocked down (CKD) mode.
Some plastic ware factories also locally produce the rubber and plastic parts of the motorcycles, using local rubber loaves from Cross River, Delta and Edo states. They employ as many as 12,300 Nigerians.
There are over 500 Nigerians nationwide that import motorcycles with so many distributors. Between Nnewi, Lagos and Kano, there are at least 45,000 dealers or sellers of the spare parts, with each of them employing an average of 10 persons. They also employ not less than 760,000 Nigerians.
Repairers and spare parts dealers in Okada motorcycles are all over Nigeria, and their population is not less than 1,000,000.
Cumulatively, the motorbike value chain provides jobs for more than 20.2 million Nigerians directly and indirectly, with a fair amount of investment and gross value of over N200 billion, inclusive of individuals who use it for courier dispatch services.
Banning commercial bikes nationwide would have a great effect on the economy and the larger Nigerian society.
An economic body, the Nigeria Economic Security Agenda, NESA, already has cautioned against the ban. According to NESA convener, Mr. Ikenna Emewu, “With the volume of businesses thriving in the motorcycle sub-sector, there is a huge pool of revenue that accrues to the government in duties and taxes through importation and company taxes.
“More than 20 million Nigerians in the motorcycle value chain will be out of job and the country will lose investments worth over N200 billion. These investments are not what the government should jettison overnight.”
Furthermore, and perhaps most disappointingly, there are few states in the country where motorcycles have been totally banned. Yet, terrorists and bandits, most especially, are still striking.
That means, despite the fact that banning of Okada brought some sanity to our highways, while assisting to tackle some brutal crimes Okada business aids, it failed to do the most fundamental: put food on some Nigerians’ table.
The decision by FG to permanently ban Okada nationwide is one that is attempting to take away the food on some Nigerian youths’ breakfast, lunch and dinner tables.
I think the resort to simply banning Okada and just going to sleep cannot be be a solution to insecurity. The quality of thinking that goes into decision making in the country has to be better than that. Government has to find a more robust, long lasting solution to security challenges, not Okada ban.
Trying to solve insecurity and causing massive social and economic problems is counter productive.
Vivian is a Mass Communication student of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria.
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