A couple of weeks ago, Lagosians were struck by the the startling news that the Lagos state government had banned Okada (Motorcycle) and Keke Marwa (Tricycle) from many major highways, and local governments in Lagos.
Taking effect from February 1st, 2020, the Okada and Keke ban has affected 6 major local governments, 9 LCDAs and 10 major highways. The Okada and Keke were also banned from plying 40 bridges and fly overs across Lagos. And the governor gave reasons for this action.
Chief of these reasons is the recklessness of these Okada and Keke operators which has resulted into fatal accidents leading to avoidable deaths on our highways. The other major reason is the incessant use of these Okadas and Kekes by robbers as their getaway after robbing innocent victims on the highways and during heavy traffic situations.
The reasons given by the governor for the ban on these two popular means of transportation resonate well with majority of Lagosians. Their flagrant disregard for the Lagos traffic Laws has resulted in thousands of preventable deaths and unnecessary traffic gridlock. Nearly everyone has one sad tale or the other to tell about then Okada riders. Many have been robbed of their valuables and hard earned cash by thieves operating Okada or Keke, while thousands have either lost their lives or left to nurse fatal injuries following ghastly accidents while riding on Okada.
The threat they pose to the lives of Lagosians is quite scary and perhaps this explains why majority of people were excited at the news of the ban. Thousands of Lagosians applauded the action of the government while many others, naturally, did not think there was any wisdom in the ban. But however you want to look at it, the reasons given by the governor and his team for the ban were quite sensible and timely too.
But here is the big news! The real reason for the ban is much more serious than what the governor and his team told Lagosians. We have since discovered that the real reason the Governor banned Okada and Keke was the series of frightening security reports which the Lagos governor got within a spate of a week which suggested that there was a plan by Boko Haram to bomb Lagos and wreak havoc through most of the Okada riders who are pre-dominantly non-indigenes.
This is because over the last 200 days a lot of Okada riders who are from the North and outside Nigeria had relocated to Lagos to take part in the Okada business. And the reports showed that the continued existence of Okada & Keke Marwa in the state was fast becoming a threat to the peace currently being enjoyed in the state.
According to a reliable source from the seat of government in Lagos, the real reasons given for the ban are much more critical than the government told the public. “Forget the talk about the threat these okada riders pose to human lives and the traffic nuisance they constitute. There is more to it. The real reason is that these guys have become security threats going by the findings of the various intelligence agencies. Have you noticed that majority of Okada and Keke riders in Lagos are from the North, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and they can’t speak English? Everywhere you turn to in Lagos, whether it’s on the Mainland or the Island, it’s these Hausa boys that you’ll find riding Okadas and Keke. They come into Lagos daily in their hundreds, loaded in lorries, trailers & trucks, along with their Okadas from the north. And now, they have taken over every nook and cranny of Lagos. In fact, their number has increased to a point that they are close to matching the number of Yorubas in Lagos, which is something to be really worried about.”
“More worrisome is the fact that many of these people are not even northerners like we assume. A lot of them are actually from Chad and Niger Republic, two deadly areas where Insurgency is rife. If you do not listen carefully enough you’d think they speak the same Hausa language like our northern brothers, but they don’t. Their language is different. Only their mentality and physical outlook appear the same. That is the real problem. Security reports reaching the state government is that, majority of these ‘Northerners’ flooding into Lagos on a daily basis are most likely to be used as future recruits for terrorism by some of the terrorist groups sponsoring them. These are the future Boko Haram fighters who will be promptly recruited, trained and used to unleash havoc on Lagosians when the insurgents are ready to strike in Lagos.
In fact, going by the rate they’re loaded into Lagos in trailers with their motor bikes, they could overrun Lagos if they choose to. And with the cold war brewing between the cattle hearders and Amotekun, you cannot put it beyond these people. Don’t forget too that Boko Haram fighters have been trying to penetrate Lagos without luck. The government doesn’t want to leave anything to chance. This is for our own safety. If these people continue to grow in number, they will overrun us one day and that won’t be funny at all. The government doesn’t want them building terrorist camps and groups in Lagos, it is better to stop them in their tracks right from this moment before things get out of hand,” he’d concluded.
When City People interviewed the Lagos Information Commissioner, 3 weeks back he admitted that the fact that a lot of people keep trooping into Lagos on a daily basis has jeopardised the security situation in Lagos. Truly so. The latest figures has it that about 6,000 people come in to Lagos everyday without any plans of going back. The only thing they are carrying is Hope, an intangible phenomenon that they feel they have and with which they will make it in Lagos.
“All of these has brought pressure on Infrastructure & the security architecture” he explained. “So government has rapidly expanded the Security Architecture.” City People gathered that as shanties are springing up daily and they are being smashed up.