"WR6_gUnUj-ztiW07KQcOCnTel9A"/> Notes From Atlanta: 02/09/13

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Re: The Transportational War on Nigeria’s Poor

As usual, I’ve decided to take a break this week and share with my readers a sample of the responses that my last week’s column generated. Enjoy!

The policy of the various governments on Okada leaves much to be desired. I call it rulership by impulse. Meaning, the government will wait until things get out of hand, and then come with hasty and not well articulated decisions. This has been the hallmark of our leaders at all levels of governance. It is as if the various state governments are at war with the masses that brought them to power. And you don’t blame them, as the way and manner they came to power are not only questionable but also crassly opportunistic. Little wonder they lack any iota of accountability to the Nigerian people. And, therefore, they feel they can do whatever they like. I believe the various governments should be held responsible for any social backlash that may arise as a result of this unpopular decision.
Ladan Waziri, Suleja

Mid-2012, Achaba was also abruptly banned in the 3 major towns of Adamawa State (Mubi, Numan and Yola) after gun-bearing bikers shot 3 people within a space of 1 week. Most of what you wrote is appropriately in the light of best practices in urban mass transit. Urbanities need systems that seamlessly and cheaply move mass numbers of people from point to point. In most modern cities, this is heavily subsidized by governments (urban transportation is hardly run for profit, but it is necessary for other sectors of the urban economy to flourish). That is where our governments have failed. There is the 3-wheeler, popularly called Keke-NAPEP, that governments need to support for the poor to own ...in addition to supporting more complex means like mono-rails and really large buses. "A developed society is not one where everyone has a car, it is one where the rich use public transportation", so said the mayor of Bogota in Columbia.
Philip Ikita, RTI International

A very good piece—and on time, too. I live in Kano and it has been hell of a time in the past week or so. Though I have a car but I pity others who don't. (Bloomberg should be a Mayor not major).
Collins Eze, Kano

It is true that there was never a comprehensive and well-articulated transport policy in Nigeria from either the federal authorities or the state governments. Where there is one hardly has it been sustained. Most often such initiatives are bedevilled by corruption or negligence. The plight of the poor is not taken into cognizance whenever there is going to be ban or policy on the transport system in the country. Come to think of it: how can the less privileged transport their wards to school or farms? These people rely solely on the motorcycles for their daily, routine activities. What of the roadside motorcycle mechanics, the engine oil vendors, the vulcaniser and many more that depended solely on motorcycle operators? The bulk of these group and their families would be thrown into perpetual hunger. This is going to translate into the resurgence of crime in the society.

A friend told me that while having a conversation with one commoner in respect of the motorcycle ban, he said the ban was and is a grand conspiracy by the United States government in order to stop the massive importation of Chinese motorcycles into Nigeria which amounts to a lot of foreign exchange in favour of the Chinese government. Almost all the motorcycles are imported from china. This may not be true, but as the Hausa adage goes: "Biri yayi kamada mutum". Loosely translated, it means "Monkey does resemble a human being." There is the need for the federal and state governments to come out with a roadmap on the transportation sector of the country as is practiced in most developing and developed countries. More power to your pen. Keep it up.
Alhassan Ibrahim, Gombe State Water Board,Pantami Road, Gombe

Nice piece as usual. The only omission is that Okada has since been banned in Port Harcourt since 2008 by the incumbent administration of Rotimi Amaechi.  In Enugu, it exists but is well regulated. It is also in Aba. 
Muhammad Bello, Port Harcourt

It is only in Nigeria where policy is formulated without considering alternatives and evaluations. Banning of Okada in some parts of the Northern Nigeria is totally unjust and unfair and could undermine the stability of the economy because a problem isn’t solved with another problem, but rather with a proper solution. Okada, being the easiest alternative means of earning income by the ordinary citizens, also plays a vital role in reducing unemployment ratio directly or indirectly. Certainly, the amount of crimes will now increase beyond expectations. Nigerian governments (particularly Northern governments and especially Kano state government) didn’t just kill Okada business; they also killed every business related to it one way or the other.
Hussayn Bin M. Inuwa, Kano

Policies in Nigeria are sand-witched by highhandedness, ego, and nepotism. How then do we expect results when it’s a self-serving venture?  Keep it up, Doc!   
Lanze Kasim, Zaria

I can foresee the danger ahead. In fact the security situation will be more dangerous and worse than it is now due to the expected increase in the number the teeming unemployed youth that will lose their means of earning livelihood due to the banning of Okada/Achaba business. Let the government of Nigeria find another alternative solution to this security problem. If they can't tackle this problem without banning Okada that means what we have no security agent but destruction agent. May Allah save my dear country.
Aliyu Abdullahi, Kano

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