The recent ban on commercial motor-cyclists in some parts of Lagos by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration was not the first time, the state government has taken such action in response to some bizzare occurrences resulting from the actions of some criminally minded commercial motor-cyclists. Such ban dates back to Babatunde Fashola’s administration through Akinwumi Ambode to the present, depending on the target areas.
In all of these, one thing stands prominent and that is the fact that the ban has always been reactive. However, beyond the reactiveness of the ban at different times, lies the causal factors for the emergence of commercial motor-cyclists in the first place.
These factors have increasingly been ignored by the political class both in Lagos and elsewhere. Nigeria as a country has the misfortune of being governed by people many of whom lack integrity. A good number of our leaders who during electioneering campaigns in the past had made repeated promises of providing employment for their citizens.
Just as we are beginning to witness for the 2023 elections, many aspirants for the legislative and executive positions never lacked in words of promise of what they would do for the masses particularly youths employment if voted into power.
Because those elected have often reneged on their promise, particularly in establishing employment opportunities like industries or creating an enabling environment for individuals to engage in self employment, the number of jobless people keep increasing.
The emergence of commercial motor-cyclists in Lagos State in the last two decades like in some other states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)was as a result of their inability to be engaged in other areas.
Many of the cyclists are school dropouts who could not continue their education due to poverty while some school leavers among them chose to engage in commercial motor-cycling for want of what to do. They are left with no alternative as they could not secure employment any where.
The presence of many commercial motor-cyclists on Lagos roads in the past one decade was obviously necessitated by the increasing influx of migrants from the northern parts of Nigeria due to the high level of insecurity. The terror activities of Boko Haram insurgents, bandits, unknown gunmen have largely helped to necessitate migration to the Southern States particularly Lagos where there is relative peace.
Lagos as the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria has continued to play a liberal role in accommodating every manner of migrants from other states in line with the constitutional freedom of movement of every Nigerian.
Regrettably, many of the migrants who resort to commercial motor-cycling have abused their right to reside and earn some living in Lagos through their involvement in criminality like the Lekki incident where a sound engineer was lynched by some commercial motor-cyclists. It was that sordid incident that precipitated the June 1, 2022 ban on commercial motor-cycling by the Lagos State Government.
As at Friday 3rd June, 2022 authorities of the Lagos State Government with the assistance of the police had confiscated no fewer than 2000 commercial motor-cycles. The machines were eventually crushed to piece as a punitive measure.
Even though there may be some moral argument against such action of Lagos government, it is not the intention of this Editorial to indulge in the argument. Rather we hasten to condemn the irresponsible attitude of our leaders at all levels which gave room for the ugly scenario we witness today.
Both the Federal and State Governments have woefully failed Nigerians by not delivering the dividends of democracy as promised. Instead of using the available resources of the country to create employment opportunities, build good roads, provide electricity, water and other infrastructures needed to provide means of livelihood, the average political office holder panders more to primitive accumulation.
In the past years of the Fourth Republic alone, amounts running into trillions of naira have fraudulently been amassed by political office holders, the latest of which is the alleged N80Billion stolen by the Accountant General of the Federation.
Majority of Nigeria’s political leaders have shown themselves at various levels as people who are out to continuously share the nation’s commonwealth among themselves and never cared what the consequences would be as institutional faultlines readily provide easy escape from punishment for them.
The Lagos State Government may continue to confiscate and crush the commercial motor-cycles but we dare warn that such action will in the long run precipitate a more dangerous Lagos as the motor-cyclists would surely resort to more deadly criminal ventures in attempt to survive. The government must be more security conscious.
While we sympathise with the Sanwo-Olu administration in its effort to contend with the current situation, we wish to urge all Nigerians to wake up from their apathy and make their leaders to be accountable. As another general elections are coming up in 2023, let the citizens be wise to elect people who have the ability to deliver dividends of democracy in all ramifications and not those who would simply buy their votes with few thousands of naira, thereby mortgaging their future