OPINION: Clear and Present Danger. (The Ilorin Okada rider menace.) By Olatunji Moronfoye

Date: 2019-07-16

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, residents of Ilorin city and Kwara state as a whole. I know people who drive their cars or walk on the sidewalks will read my piece on the commercial motorcycle operators, (AKA Okada) menace and nod their heads in experienced agreement. We the Ilorin residents have had the misfortune of seeing reckless Okada riders take over our roads in a Gengis Khan horde type approach. I decided to put up this write up so that the concerned authority would do the needful to stem the tide of this nasty influx.

To start with, let's all look at the number of unions and meeting point that these Okada riders have in our areas, we would see that they are multiplying in an exponential manner, than dare I say, "Pentecostal" churches these days. On my residential street alone, which is about 400 meters long we have three separate unions and garages of Okada riders. The unions comprise of at least 70 riders each, you do the math. It a clear case of over-saturation on a road not longer than 400 meters.

Secondly, has anyone noticed the age bracket of a majority of the Okada riders in Ilorin? Most of them are in the age demographics of between 14 to 18 years old. These teenagers are completely impervious to danger. They do not have any responsibilities than to feed, use drugs and clothe themselves. I know you would tell me the economy is bad that is what leads to Okada riders. These teenage riders that should be in school, have no wives and children, mostly no aged family to cater for either. Try talking to them, mostly the really young ones don't understand any language spoken to them, sometimes they don't even understand Hausa which they claim they are. I suspect that some of them are not even from Nigeria.

If you get the opportunity to look into the face of any of them, if by chance they remove their dark glasses or crash helmet with tinted shades, you will see a codeine doped and drugged set of eyes, bloodshot most of the time. Their lips would be totally dark from smoking various smokables and they generally exhibit characters of a drug addict.

In addition to the above, take a gander at their official government-issued, blue reflective jackets. Most markings on them are faded and they have now designed their own jackets, most of the Okada riders have abandoned the official jackets for the fake cheap ones. You will never be able to read what numbers or markings they have on their jackets for later recognition, should a crime be perpetuated riding an Okada using that jacket.

In conclusion, do we really need to talk about their riding skills in traffic? Do they know road signs, do they know anything about traffic laws? Whichever way, they are on their right, driving against traffic, making a u-turn in front of an oncoming vehicle without looking back or using/having a rearview mirror and overtaking from the right-hand side is all typical of the Okada rider. Almost every car owner in Ilorin has had a "brush" with these Okada riders.

The immediate past administration, led by Alh. Abdulfatah Ahmed promulgated a law to curb the menace. However, the governor did not have the political will to go through with the law. I pray the new Governor takes it upon himself to help Ilorin out of this horrible menace.

However, I am aware of the huge role the Okada riders played in the "Otoge" movement. Let us hope his Excellency, Mal. Abdulrazak Abdulrahaman will have the political will to face this menace squarely. This is his Excellency's first year, this is the best time to do this cleanup. After the second year, he probably would have re-election on his mind, thus regulating such a huge voting block as the Okada riders then, would be a big no-go area.


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