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Okada, Tricycle Ban: For The Good Of All, Stakeholders

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That Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has gone ahead to implement the restrictions or as some people call it, ban of the movement of commercial motorcycles (okada) and tricycles (Keke Marwa) is no news.

Okada

The decision was met with criticism and condemnation of the government by several residents of the state owing to what they perceive as the inconveniences the policy or the decision would cause.

But beyond the inconveniences and disadvantages of the policy, it is necessary to trace the genesis of the restrictions and what it portends to the residents of the metropolitan city on the long run.

It should be recalled that the restriction/ban of Okada operations as recently announced by the Lagos State Government is not a new policy.

The Policy predates the current government as it took off in 2012 during the tenure of former governor Babatunde Raji Fashola.

What the Sanwo-Olu Government did was just to effect the policy, which was neglected by the government of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode from 2015 to May, 2019.

Going down memory lane, in March 2012, about eight (8) years ago, Governor Fashola announced a total ban of Okada from all major bridges and the whole of Ikeja.

This ban was instigated by the Nigeria Police, who had been hapless from the incessant rise in crime in the highly populated state.

Three months later, it was extended to parts of Surulere and Lagos Island. Specifically the Business district, parts of Victoria Island and Falomo, Ikoyi.

For the other areas, government decided to regulate Okada riders and came up with a licensing scheme which stipulated that Okada riders needed to learn how to ride bikes and must obtain a riders licence (As is applicable in most countries).

This they did in partnership with the FRSC. This scheme was ignored totally.

As a matter of fact the two main Okada unions took the government to court over this.

The FRSC ended confiscating over 15,000 bikes for non-compliance. Still, riders were going about undocumented.

At that time, there were just about 50,000 Okada’s in Lagos. The government also introduced the use of crash helmets due to incessant casualties from accidents. This too was largely ignored.

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Today, there are over 250,000 Okadas with 78% of the riders being indigenes of Chad, Niger and Mali.

The significant rise was within the last 18 months. The most significant development that jolted the Lagos State Government was the recent influx of over 40,000 Nigeriens and Malians under the guise of looking for a means of sustenance as Okada riders.

They were all undocumented, with no form of identification whatsoever.

The Lagos State Government quickly set up a committee to look into this.

Early January, in trying to enforce registration in Apapa, Iganmu Orile, where we have the largest concentration of Okada riders from Niger and Mali, government ended up seizing about 150 Okadas, whose owners did not have riders permit.

Within a few hours, irate Hausa/Fulani youths invaded Apapa- Iganmu LCDA headquarters at Marine Beach, chased all the workers away and set the office complex ablaze and also vandalised vehicles within the vicinity causing millions of Naira in damage. No serious government would watch and not take action, most especially with the insurgency in the North East.

What we should note here is that there is a total ban on Okada in Kano, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna, Kebbi and Niger State for security reasons.

Those, who did not study the situation properly have been condemning the government of Mr. Sanwo-Olu for its action.

However, they ought to know that Sanwo-olu’s government didn’t just wake up and effect the ban! It was as a result of a report presented by the Lagos State Security Council and they sought advise from the OPS as well.

The Corporate Okada companies were given ample time to implement government policy on the management of their riders but they simply just took the government for granted.

They felt that this is Nigeria, where people believe that anything goes.

In their own thinking government would not be that audacious with an outright ban.

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With the millions of dollars raised at start-up, all the corporate Okada companies were interested in, was the revenue. They were interested in the N3,000 daily they were charging riders.

The companies became reckless after the Lagos State introduced N25M as annual licensing fees for 1000 riders and then N30,000 per bike thereafter.

This means that the companies would paying N295M if they had 10,000 Okada riders including tax and VAT on revenue generated.

Meanwhile the companies were earning over N1m per rider annually. They became very greedy and complacent and ceased to keep any verifiable database of the their riders with the required background checks. (This was largely done, to avoid charges).

The main concern of the owner of Gokada’ Bangladeshi was how to roll out Gokada in the thousands rather than making sure there was value added and compliance.

So most of this companies have themselves to blame. The Corporate Okadas market share in Lagos is less than 5%. TBC.

What the Lagos State Government is to sanitize the system and restore the lost glory of the state and make things work better in the centre of excellence.

The Sanwo-Olu Government means well for the residents of the state and this would be noticeable in its progressive programmes for the generality of the masses.

Residents of the state should commend the sensitivity of the Sanwo-Olu government to provide succour with the release of 65 buses and ordering additional 550 buses to ameliorate the challenge facing commuters.

The Governor knows the implications of the restrictions of the movement of okada and Keke Marwa and he is thinking outside the box on a daily basis to provide succour.

The major reason for the restrictions/ban should not be lost on the discerning residents of the state, it is meant to reduce crime and protect lives and properties as hoodlums have reportedly perfected the use of okada to commit crime with impunity.

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Opinion

Those Whose Prayers God May Not Answer 

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Olusegun Fafore

 

 

Olusegun Fafore

 

 

With the public outrage following the flouting of government’s directives by some religious institutions last weekend over the number of worshippers that could attend mosques and churches for prayers in the face of the deadly pandemic ravaging the world, God may have nullified some supplications for putting His creations in danger.

 

The contribution of a South Korean Church to the Coronavirus spread, which represents about 60% of the country’s confirmed cases of over 4,000, motivated restrictions on the number of people who can congregate at places of worship at this time.

 

The restriction terms, which allowed 50 worshippers, was further revised to 20 people, with ample space between seats and individuals who must be at worship centres for their supplications to be heard by God or Allah.

 

As attendance at religious gatherings were monitored for compliance, social gatherings did not go off the sight of governments. This is because governors will be labelled as failures and ineffective if the ruthlessness of the virus overruns our communities.

 

At a speed matching the invasive tendencies of the deadly Coronavirus, governments across the globe made pronouncements and took decisions targeted at protecting their citizens, limiting the spread of the virus and managing the level of fatality.

 

In the city of Rome, the capital of Italy, a country that lost about 743 people to the Coronavirus outbreak in just one day, the lockdown forced churches to suspend Mass.

 

Meanwhile, before this outbreak, Rome was the downtown of Catholic worship. The Pope resides in the Vatican City, a sovereign City-State enclaved within Rome, which has been a center of Christian Pilgrimage for centuries.

 

With death in the air, excursion to the holy city stopped. Priests in the Vatican found other ways to reach their congregations since science has established that Coronavirus thrives amidst multitudes.

 

Perhaps this was why Saudi Arabia’s King Salman locked-down the country’s capital, Riyadh, and the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Beyond this action, the country, which hosts millions of pilgrims annually, suspended all educational and Qur’anic activities at all Mosques, closed malls, restaurants, cafes and parks, and banned Muslim pilgrims from coming for Umrah this year.

 

These decisions, are not only unusual, but are far-reaching, and genuinely reflective of the value placed on citizens lives by the government of the county.  And the impacts of these decisions are evident in the containment effort of the State, which has limited casualty of the dreaded virus to only 1, out of the 767 reported cases, since the country confirmed its first case on March 2, 2020.

 

Public safety sentiment echoes across the globe. It is a critical index for measuring purposeful leadership at this unnerving period in human existence. So that you know, the time has gotten direr in Israel and the country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to implement a total lockdown.

 

The number of sick Israelis infected by novel Coronavirus has climbed to 2, 369. And it is the responsibility of the State to cater for them and prevent them from adding to the number of deaths attributed to the pandemic.

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“These steps we have taken here in Israel are being taken all of the world; however, they are not enough because the number of patients is doubling every three days” said the Prime Minister who added that “in two weeks we are liable to find ourselves with thousands of patients many of whom will be in danger of death”.

 

If this statement does not provide hint of the despair in the Prime Minister’s voice, it is reflective of the fact that he is under enormous pressure to protect his people from the scourging death and save his land from the spate of Coronavirus.

 

Netanyahu’s predicament reflects what every leader all over the world is going through at this period. Even, his case should be different because Israelis have an unending covenant with God, and they can afford to ignore the roving signs of over the world.

 

Leadership is a huge responsibility. People occupying such positions are wearing thorny crowns at this moment.  Whether they are calm or spirited, their minds are in crisis. They are thinking about the safety of everyone, and the purity of their territories, which could be a sovereign or sub-national.

 

Forget the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s calm demeanor. Every additional case of Coronavirus in the State unsettles him. Since when the first case, which later turned negative was announced in Lagos State, the Governor’s determination to contain the pestilence has increased. Every update, he wished had included the announcement of a vaccine, or drugs that can permanently wiped-out the deadly Coronavirus from our World.

 

“There are about 22 million people in my care and everyone is only an arm’s length away from the other. This pandemic is highly transmissible and travels in the air from one person to the other. Aside from my domain being the most populous in the country, with an incredible density, it is also the major entry point into Nigeria. Daily, thousands of travelers come into Lagos from different parts of the world, even from Coronavirus worse-hit countries”, captures the minute-by-minute thoughts on Governor Sanwo-Olu’s mind.

 

So, his mind cannot idle away from the conjectures coming in gushes. Even, complicating the situation is the centrality of Lagos to managing the containment of the deadly virus in Nigeria. The level of the State’s preparedness and quality of facilities make it a destination for case management and patient treatment.

 

As the facilities get stretched by cases imported from outside Lagos, his mind skips; because of the ever-present imbalance between needs and available resources in life. If not for our recklessness, may be the number of cases in Nigeria would still have been as low as five, and Lagos will be zero with the index case turning negative. And this would have perhaps contributed to reduction in his anxieties.

 

But we are strange and very funny people, with immeasurable capacity for disobedience. It is ridiculous that government needed to enforce compliance with directives to stem the tide of a lethal microbe that has claimed 21,367 lives from the 475,879 cases in 198 countries.

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We sneered at instructions as basic as restricting the number of congregations to 20 if there must worship in our Churches or Mosques and self-isolate for 14 days, if we just returned from overseas trip, to abate the spread of Coronavirus amongst us.

Even, the call to avoid public places and social gatherings at this perilous time is pointlessly ignored just as much as the need for personal hygiene is discounted.

 

Excuse me, why are the doctrines of “wash your hands regularly with soap” and “observe the principles of social distancing” to protect yourself from a deadly infection difficult to obey? Are we just being suicidal, or deliberately inclined to committing large scale murder?

 

Don’t we understand that our disobedience endangers other people’s lives and diminishes government efforts at protecting the land against pandemic? If we assemble somewhere in the name of prayer or worship, and enable coronavirus fly at a geometric progression through community spread, we have not only disobeyed civil authorities, but also committed evil in the sight of God. Good citizenship is one of the conditions precedent to Godliness. For Christians, Apostle Paul espoused this in his homily on civil obedience in Roman 13: 1-1.

 

The holy Quran does not defer on civil obedience and respect for constituted authority. In verse 59 of Surah An-Nisa in the Quran, which is known as Uli al-Amr verse, Believers are ordered to obey Allah, obey the prophet and those vested with authority (Uli al-Amr).

 

So, where did the disobedience come from? If your recalcitrance increases the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria and results in loss of several lives, you are a murderer! If you fail to self-isolate when you return from overseas or are exposed an infected person, you are killer because your indiscretion will infect people with the novel coronavirus.

 

We need to comply with the social distancing and personal hygiene precepts. No one should commit suicide by disregarding these principles. God holds human life sacred. That is why the 6th commandment, Exodus 20;13 “Thou shalt not kill” is a clear directive to preserve human life.

 

More importantly, suicide is a grave sin before our creator.  It is true that in times of pestilence, prayer is a means of privileged communication with the Almighty God. No one is in doubt about the power of prayer as a source of strength in moment of crisis, but like Peter cautioned Christians to conduct their lives properly;  so that their “prayers be not hindered” (1 Pet. 3:7).

 

If your actions or activities cause self-death or death of others, or endanger the society, God may not answer your prayers.

 

Stay safe. Wisdom is profitable to direct.

 

Fafore is Executive Assistant on Public Relations and New Media to Lagos State Governor

 

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Opinion

EFCC Attempts to Balance Action with Fairness as it Sanitizes Nigeria’s Corporate Sector

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Fraud

 

By Adedayo Samson

While fighting corruption at all levels is a laudable effort, balancing action with fairness in the prosecution of justice remains pertinent in the operations of a law enforcement agency. Faced with such moral dilemma, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has ramped up its efforts to sanitize Nigeria’s corporate sector.

The Commission’s attempt to rid the country’s private sector of criminals and criminality through checks and balances has led to the investigation of some businesses across several industries and the imposition of fines on some. While top shots found culpable of economic malpractices are undergoing prosecution, companies and their executives hitherto scrutinized are being acquitted. In particular, the EFCC has scaled up its scrutiny of the telecoms and lottery industries.

One of the notable cases is EFCC’s investigation of telecoms giant, MTN in 2019 over alleged irregularities in the process of its listing on the bourse of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). In May 2019, the firm had listed by introduction, 20.4 billion ordinary shares at N90 on the NSE. In less than a week, the share price had risen to N131 as scarcity drives up its value. Many believed the company did not follow due process and had given insider information to some of its major shareholders, a move that led to artificial scarcity of the company’s shares following the announcement of the IPO. However, while acknowledging that it was under investigation by the EFCC, MTN reiterated that it had not been accused of any wrongdoing by the anti-graft agency. After further explanations from the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), MTN was let off the hook.

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Similarly, in January 2020, Premier lotto, Nigeria’s foremost and perhaps, oldest lottery firm became the subject of a routine EFCC inquest to investigate alleged tax evasion based on unsubstantiated accusations from a competitor. An Executive Director of the company and son of the founder, Segun Adebutu, who was incidentally at the Premier Lotto office on the day, was invited to the anti-graft agent’s office for questioning without detainment. After due investigations, and further clarifications from the company, the EFCC found no malpractices in the affairs of Premier Lotto and Segun Adebutu.  The matter was thereafter summarily dismissed, and the petition was closed.

In its bid to sanitize the lottery industry, the EFCC went into a partnership with the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) in July 2019. The deal involves agreement for support in the areas of information sharing, intelligence gathering, enforcement and prosecution. With the new agreement, it became easier for the anti-graft agency to detect cases of foul play in the hitherto opaque Nigerian lottery industry, which is reportedly worth about $70 billion. The partnership with the NLRC is already yielding some results as the EFCC recently announced the discovery of 35 illegal lottery business operators in the country.

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EFCC’s scrutiny of the telecoms sector revealed a boost early in the years, when the House of Representatives Committee on ICT revealed that commission will join the committee to investigate telecom providers, over alleged non-remittance of the one per cent annual turnover to the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). According to the Reps committee, the telecom companies are owing up to N200 billion in pending remittance to NITDA for infrastructure provided.

While some people see the EFCC’s intervention in the affairs of the business world as being overbearing, others see it as a means of reining in some of the excesses of the businesses and protecting the consumers who are serviced by these businesses. Nevertheless, these moves have yielded some benefits. They have checked the excesses of the telecoms operators and brought in more revenue for government in form of fines.

Lastly, thanks to the cooperation of some key lottery operators, the EFCC has made the industry more transparent and accountable.

Samson writes from Lagos

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Opinion

Making Sense Of Oshiomhole’s Reprieve

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Reprieve

By

abiodun KOMOLAFE

 

Once upon a sociopolitical space, there was an unknown ‘Edo Boy’, who came into limelight through the Textiles Industry, where he was a paid secretary of its Union. (Conventionally, paid secretaries are never made political heads. But Adams Oshiomhole became the political head of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, which, in itself, was an anomaly). The emergence of the Iyamho, Edo State-born politician as a leader in Nigeria was aided by the society’s sociopolitical milieu. Why? A quick look should suffice.

 

First and foremost, the society’s worldview was laissez-faire and regrettably assuming. The ruling paradigm, then, was that man was created noble, and his inner nature was inherently good. Not only that, the uncertainty in the country’s political firmament, and the little or no skepticism as a political virtue on the part of the masses, all met at the table to foist the former governor on the hapless citizens of Nigeria. Besides, the complacency as well as the faith of the majority in a benevolent God who cares for all, thereby lessening the burden of responsibilities of good governance on governments, and the pliability of the government, under which Oshiomhole served as Labour’s first citizen, also aided his emergence as a force to be reckoned with. In other words, though regarded as NLC president, somewhere along the line, ‘Comrade’ became a tool in the hands of the government; and ‘the rest is history.’

 

But, how did the situation between Oshimhole and Godwin Obaseki become so messy that the latter is now calling for the former’s head? That the situation between the godfather, who practically installed the godson as his successor, to have so worsened means that something fundamental must be wrong. Again, for Obaseki’s camp to have confessed that it was only following in the footsteps of Oshiomhole clearly spoke to how he who lives in glass house must not throw stones. But, if we may ask: what gives our former governors this impression that they must continue to have a hold on the states where they have once served, if not for the reason of corruption? Why can’t they emulate Kashim Shettima, who is now at peace with himself as a former governor? Nonetheless, the feud in Edo is good for the masses, because such will always bring out the best in a democracy.

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After Jimmy Carter left office as the 39th President of the United States of America, he confessed to a stunned world that, for the first time, he understood what ‘African leaders always feel when they want to leave office.’ Well, this statement might seem innocuous or harmless; but it was thought-provoking! The good thing about Carter was that he knew that he had no choice because that’s the Constitution; and Americans have a lot of respect for their Constitution! But, as far as the Africanness in us is concerned, the Constitution can go to blazes! That’s why former President Olusegun Obasanjo has the temerity to attempt a shameful 3rd Term ambition that adoringly placed a dent on what would, at least, have been an alluring legacy.

 

Let’s come back to the apparent lack of cohesion in the national All Progressives Congress(APC) and the notorious little foxes, such as Oshiomhole’sface-off with his state governor. Without doubt, these can spell doom for the continued success and sustenance of the ruling party, if not quickly and efficiently addressed. Yes, some forces may succeed in muscling Obaseki out of the 2nd Term race. But then, as long as Obaseki’s problem remains unsolved, Oshiomhole’s case will also remain precarious. Why? The governor is most likely to raise dust; and, if he does, that will be bad news for the party; no longer for President Muhammadu Buhari, but the party. After all, Buhari is already negotiating his way out of Aso Rock! The more reason the president must genuinely intervene now, even, when the waning nature of party supremacy in Nigeria dictates otherwise.

 

That’s not all! There is also an effect on the political participation profile of the masses. For instance, lack of cohesion in a political party is an indication that the party is disorganized. And, if it is, it will also yield itself to ineffective government. After all, nobody will want to put his or her faith in a party that lacks cohesion or effective organization. Not only that, discipline will become watered down, as nobody will be answerable to anybody. Talking about development, the masses are definitely going to be at the receiving end of this needless power tussle. Since needless marginalization in politics leads to economic insecurity, feeling safe, either at home or at work, will also become very difficult. Not even in a country where growing insecurity has manifestly become a diet.

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This also takes us back to the issue of party formation. Though political non-participation is just the resultant effect of the disarray that we now notice in the party system, party system becomes disarrayed as a result of the faulty foundation of the party in question. In other words, if we get it wrong at the level of party formation, the likelihood of such wrongness posing perennial problems is palpably high.

All things being equal, the brawl between Oshiomhole and Obaseki could never have been in good faith! Nonetheless, a virus that tarries for too long in a man’s life has the capacity to mutate and transform into aberrant, more hostile and vicious types. What we are saying here is: as an amazing Labour leader and politician, the APC National Chairman should realize that it is time to rethink his strategy and the endgame of his political ambition. Glaringly, the reprieve granted by the appellate court remains temporary until all pending cases might have been dispensed with. We also need to note that the aggrieved and the disgruntled have the option of ‘acting nPDP’, or going back to their vomit. This may be dangerous for APC!

 

Well, controversy or not; provable or improvable, Oshiomhole has done his bit! Won’t his Achilles heels be the inability to leave the beat when the ovation is still ascending? On the other hand, ‘power’, they say, ‘corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ Will Obaseki learn how to ‘give honour to whom honour is due’, especially, those who once fed him? Lastly, who’s right on the Edo story and who will write the last chapter of the national APC conundrum?

 

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!

 

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk))

 

 

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