Mixed Reactions Trail Okada Ban In Abia

Mixed Reactions Trail Okada Ban In Abia

7 mins read

News of the ban on the operations of commercial motorcyclists popularly known as okada in Umuahia and Aba in Abia State has drawn mixed reactions from people.

While some are saying that the ban is part of efforts to fight crime in the state, others criticized it, maintaining that the state government should have given a prior notice, and a subsequent reminder before finally enforcing it.

Prime Business Africa reported that the state governor, Dr Alex Otti, through a statement by his spokesperson, Kazie Uko, Sunday, August 13, ordered an immediate ban on okada operation in the commercial city of Aba and Umuahia the state capital with effect from Monday, August 14, 2023.

No justification for the ban was given in the statement, which also directed security agencies in the state to begin enforcement of the ban.

However, while addressing journalists on the outcome of the State Executive Council meeting on Monday, the Commissioner for Information and Culture, Okey Kanu, said the current government only re-enforced the ban on Okada movements in the Umuahia and Aba metropolis earlier done by the previous administration in the State.

Kanu went further to caution security agencies in the State against extorting innocent residents while enforcing the ban.

Commenting on the ban, a public affairs analyst, Dr Ambrose Igboke, said the state government might have a reason for enforcing the ban on okada movement but it should have been known to the public. Igboke said there should have been a form of consultation and provision of alternatives to mitigate the likely impact on residents, looking at the rising cost of transportation across the country due to the high cost of petrol.

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According to him, the manner in which the order was communicated seems like one issued by a military government even when it is a democratic government.

He said: “The state government might have a reason for the directive but this should be made known to the citizens. Democratically elected Governors should not behave like Military despots. How can you give a directive that will have a sweeping effect on the entire Umuahia, a state capital, and you want it to start with immediate effect?

“Was consultation done with the people? Was there a timeline to phase out commercial motorcycles? Are there alternatives put in place to enable people to move from one destination to the other? Civilian political officeholders must learn how to use civil language and enact orders with an empathic demeanor. The Governor rather acted like a dictator. We are not in a military era,” Igboke stated.

Some Nigerians took to social media to either condemn or support the ban.

Some said that banning okada as has also been done by various state governments in the past without providing alternative means of livelihood for the operators who depend solely on that does not speak well of a government that cares about the welfare of the citizens, especially the low income earners.

A political commentator, who goes by the name @Woye1, wrote on his Twitter handle saying Governor Otti should consider the interest of downtrodden people like okada riders and create alternative jobs for them.

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“Justice, Justice, Justice help me ooo, Justice for Okada riders Umuahia and Aba Metropolises in my Abia Rwanda state. Who will help them? Creating job losses. My man is now in Govt. He has forgotten A luta continua; Vitoria e certa. By the rivers of Babylon, then we sat down, then I remembered Uche Uchena my Okada River in Umuahia with 3 children, how will he survive? Renewed Hope is coming. Money for SMEs and locals are coming.”

Another Twitter user, Ahamba Ifeanyi wrote: “I condemn in total, the ban of commercial motorcycle (Okada) in Abia State, without an alternative of livelihood for the individuals whose only source of livelihood is through this. I think this is one of the wrong moves @alexottiofr is taking, especially at this tough time for the country. I pray his Excellency goes back to the drawing table to revisit this decision as it will cause more harm than good to his good start and to the state at large.”

Another Twitter user Alabo Roland said it is an act of “wickedness” for government to ban okada, which is an employer of labour without providing alternatives.

Some said substantial parts of the state do not have good road networks and that banning okada which helps people navigate bad terrains without addressing that will throw up more challenges in terms of movement.

“I hope there is superb infrastructure in Abia state that seamlessly moves people from point A to B before the ban on Okada in the state,” Opuba Brown wrote.

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One Twitter user, Ejike Nwankwo, who defended the government’s action, said the okada ban in Umuahia and Aba was imposed by ex-governor Okezie Ikpeazu in 2017 and that Governor Otti only reinforced the ban for similar reason it was done earlier because “the ban was not effectively enforced and okada riders continued to operate in many parts of the state.”

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