CAN THE COURT STOP THIS EMPEROR?
'Tis a common proof, That lowliness is young ambition's ladder, Whereto the climber-upward turns his face; But when he once attains the upmost round, He then unto the ladder turns his back, Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees By which he did ascend - Williams Shakespeare
Growing up in the military era has made my hearts thick like ‘’kpomo’’ and thus has developed thick skin for commands and orders, but not when I also grew up in that era when activism deluged the political space. As such I was left between autocratic orders and activist resistance, but I chose to go with the latter; donning the khaki and marching the streets of Nigeria to demonstrate against the military government of the day. Don’t ask me questions of the anti-government march I participated in; just know that I resisted it in my own little ways. I have never supported activist going into government rather I advocate for them being in the opposition since Nigeria in my own estimation has no opposition government. But with Comrade Adams Oshiomhole throwing his hat in the ring for the gubernatorial seat of Edo State, I turned 360 degrees from my earlier position, knowing or rather believing that it was the beginning of an era where democracy will firmly take its root, even if not 100 percent, but 90 percent. Alas I was wrong!
Observers of Nigerian political sphere including me have observed with dismay that Oshiomhole has failed the dictates of democracy and freedom of association that he once preached and practiced. The self-acclaimed comrade governor has betrayed the populace who stood by him during his days of political battles, fighting to get back his mandate from the People Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Prof. Osariemen Osunbor, using the instruments of the law. Who can forget the thousands of okada men in their motorbikes forming a motorcade and showing solidarity to the erstwhile Nigerian Labor Congress national president? Who can forget the okada men who refused to go to work each time there was a court session in Oshiomhole’s struggle to be made governor, following him to the detriment of their families who they have to feed? Oh yes, who can forget in a hurry that these okada men closed down the entire Edo State jubilating when Oshiomhole was eventually declared the winner of the April 16th 2011 gubernatorial election.? Who will forget that the slogan and appellation of ‘’oshio baba’’ was coined by these okada men? WHO CAN FORGET?
Like Brutus to Julius Caesar, Oshiomhole has turned round to stab these noble men who stood by him in his trying moments in the back. He has not only stabbed them in the back but has personally pulled the dagger out in ways that the pains may never heal. The comrade governor has colluded with the oppressors to oppress the very people he once fraternized with. This power drunk governor has removed food from the mouth of his friends by placing a ban on motor bike. Like an emperor which he has gradually become, he has ordered the ban on bike in three major local government areas of Edo State. This he has done without consultation with the okada association, rather in his dictatorial style; he gave an ultimatum of one week for the okada riders to relocate to other local government areas. In a simple language, he has simply ordered them to stop living in in their place of work, but should go rent a house, move their properties, change their children schools; succinctly put, he has commanded them to begin life afresh.
Many questions beg for answer from Oshiomhole on his inner motives for placing a ban on motorbike in Benin Kingdom, when he has deliberately turned deaf ears to the criminal activities happening in his ancestral domain of Auchi. The governor may have forgotten that the places he banned okada from driving are villages of many Edo indigenes including the popular ring road. Stopping them from their source of livelihood is denying them freedom of movement in their ancestral land. The binis I know are watching, waiting till when he will come down from his high horse, and then he can be rest assured that the least of them will point a finger in his eyes, saying, “How dare you place an order over the Oba domain?”
As a graduate of the communication and theatre asts, I’m always tempted to flashback. This writer vividly remember that Governot Oshiomhole during an interview session was asked if he would ban motorbikes in Edo State the way his emperor counterpart in Delta State, Emmanuel Ewetan Uduaghan has done, to which he replied “I think it’s, for me, a class issue and I belong to the working class, so I cannot ban Okada. First, I believe that okada is a response to certain deficit in our intra-urban transportation system. From the 60s to the 70s to the 80s, we never had okada. If you ask a lady to take a ride on a motorbike it was like a taboo. Now it has became fashionable to have a woman and two children on top of a bike. It is not a culture choice. It is as a result of deficit in our intra-city transportation system.
If I must get rid of them, I should provide an alternative first. For me, the way to deal with it is to deal with the supply side. By this I mean, provide good city transportation, then people would have to choose among a taxi that is available, a comfortable and clean bus that is available, and an Okada. People would now choose what will offer them more comfort. So, it is the result of certain weaknesses in our transportation system, and I think it can only be solved by dealing with those weaknesses. I cannot use state power to prohibit Okada. I am not sure of the legal status of doing that.
Number two, in Edo State, we probably have up to three to four thousand people who are riding bikes on commercial basis. If I must get rid of them, I must provide 4,000 jobs for those people. Therefore in Edo State, we will not ban Okada. People have argued that they use motorbikes to commit crime, like armed robbery and kidnapping. Yes, there is evidence that people have used motobikes for kidnapping, armed robbery, and even assassination, but is it not also true that others have used four-wheel drive vehicles and SUVs to kidnap and rob? There is no evidence that this is a function of the number of four-wheel drive or SUV vehicles. People have used luxury cars, motorbikes, to commit crime. Some have committed crimes even walking on bare foot.
Again, I do not believe that if you abolish Okada, crime will disappear. I think the issues are far more complicated.
I see it as a class issue. If you don't have the experience, you wouldn't understand what I am talking about. . I cannot blame the victims of a system. These guys are victims. On a good day if the world was perfect, nobody will opt for a motorbike. Go to the hospitals, a lot of our bike people are there, both the bike riders and some of their passengers. Too bad.”:
When did Oshiomhole suddenly realize that he has the legal powers to now place a ban on ‘okada’ riders as well as private motor bike owners? When did it dawn on him that bikes are the only means of criminality in the state? When did it occur to him that bikes should no longer use the same roads with their oppressors? When did he become the law maker and executor? An activist and journalist colleague of mine had once told me that the rich men in Edo State had complained to the governor on how the ‘okada’ riders have always obstructed their movement in town and thus persuaded him to ban the bikes, an advice he heeded to. It sounds jcular but it cannot be dismissed, at least not in a country like ours. The comrade governor according to reliable sources has purposed in his heart to carry out this action by April but had waited patiently till the conclusion of the charade he called a local government election to take place first, knowing fully well that taking such actions before the local government elections would have seen his party losing woefully to the opposition. Can someone tell this former activist that over 45 percent of these bike riders are graduates whom the government couldn’t provide jobs for and stopping them from their legitimate work is pushing them to crimes? Is the comrade governor aware that his friend and principal secretary, Oyerinde was murdered by men driving in a car? Is the comrade governor aware that 99 percent of high robbery and kidnapping incidents are done by men driving on four wheels?
Is the comrade governor aware that the everyday accidents in the Benin-ore road are caused by vehicles and not bikes? Is the comrade governor aware that most accidents patients in hospital wards are vehicles victims? Perhaps he can ask doctors of physiotherapy or orthopedic doctors the medical details of each accident cases. Is the governor aware that governors Idris Wada of kogi state and Rochas Anayo Okorocha of Imo State who were hospitalized due to accident were caused by vehicles? Is the governor aware that the Sosoliso, Bellview and the recent Dana air crash that claimed over 400 lives in a minute were not caused by ‘okada’? Can someone remind this emperor governor that his colleague from Taraba State, Mr. Danbaba Suntai who is in a critical condition and may not be able to govern again was not hospitalized due to an okada man rough driving from Jalingo, but an air crash? Can someone wake this governor who spoke like a dictator on TV warning bike men of the consequences of disobeying his okada ban order that 93 percent of kidnapping that has taken place in his state were perpetrated by men driving on high powered jeep and not the helpless okada men?.
This banning of bike by comrade Adams Oshiomhole is an acceptance of his inability to secure and protect the citizens he swore to protect and vetting his anger, frustration and incompetence on these bike men is an indictment of his administration and a vote of no confidence. When the governors of Delta and Akwa Ibom state banned motorbike ( though not a good action), they put in place palliatives to cushion the effects on both the bike riders and commuters by making available ‘Keke Napep’. Emperor Oshiomhole has not only placed a ban on bike but stopped ‘keke’ from moving on the major roads. Where do we go from here? Methinks there is an unwritten agreement by Nigerian Governors to unleash hardship on Nigerians during their second tenure, or how else do one explain the actions of Governors Babatunde Fashola, Godswill Akpabio, Emmanuel Uduaghan, Theodore Orji and now Oshiomhole who has become Rehoboam in their second coming. He has not only placed a ban on their bikes but has stopped them from carrying out public protest, yet this was his stock in trade during his NLC days as a president, actions that propelled him to his current status.
The law against tinted glasses for cars has been in existence with the Nigerian leadership dilly dallying about it, making no meaningful arrest of users. Unauthorized government officials have used cars in tinted glasses to torment innocent road users, yet the answer has been mum. A drive around the metropolis with Oshiomhole’s own Edo State reveal the use of these dark glasses vehicles plying the road, yet Oshiomhole who has constantly insulted his elders and political enemies have not deem it fit to get them arrested, despite their flouting the orders. Where lies the so called democrat in ‘Oshio baba’? It is a public knowledge that the tinted vehicles glasses have been used to commit heinous crimes. The laws against the poor are quickly enforced like lightening, but that against the rich takes a journey to the wilderness to be carried out. Therein lies the hypocrisy of Oshiomhole and his co-horts in power.
The immediate prime minister of Italy,Silva Bellusconi was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for sleeping with an underage while in office, though the judgment appealed, yet Senator Yerima, former governor of Zamfara state strut the nation like a colossus after committing same act.
Now that the governor has been dragged to the Federal high court in Benin City by well-meaning Nigerians led by Osbert Agho and the undercover reporters, secretsreporters giving it boost, it is hope that the presiding Judge will be fair enough to ask the emperor governor to revert back to the status quo pending the determination of the suit.
Make no doubt about it, a time is coming when the masses will revolt and there will be no stopping them and undoubtedly the massacre will begin from the door steps of former activists who turned out to be oppressors of the masses they once led and convinced. As he nurses his inordinate senatorial ambition, he can be sure that he just may have shot himself in the foot and would be left to bleed alone to political death. Oshiomhole arguably may not know what he has done by instilling fears in the minds of Edo indigenes, but let it be on records that he has started a regime of autocracy, for it is when the government fears the people that we have democracy, but when the people fear the government, we have autocracy.
It is never too late to stop this naked macabre dance in the market square by Comrade Governor Adams Aliu Oshiomhole, but who will stop this emperor?
These little things matter…
Written By Fejiro Oliver