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ACE raises hope of Okada, Keke riders in Abuja

By Wale Odunsi

Despite different notions and gross misconception about the operations of Commercial motorcycles (Okada) and tricycle (Keke NAPEP) in Nigeria, all is now set for the first ever Okada/ Keke festival scheduled to hold in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

A group known as Alliance for Credible Election, ACE, in partnership with the Charlyboy Foundation has commenced what could be termed a social rehabilitation of Okada and Keke operators in the country, starting from the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

The event tagged “Rebranding Okada/ Keke riders as nation builders” which aims to emphasize on the economic importance of Okada and keke to the nation will be holding in five area Councils of the FCT from April 15 – 20, 2013. The event is to encourage Okada and Keke riders by giving them a new hope through sensitization and empowerment.

Speaking at a press conference, Executive Secretary of the ACE, Mr. Emma Ezeazu, stated that the event is targeted at creating a positive image of the Nigerian Okada and Keke operators, and at the same time, placing emphasis on the economic importance of the business to the entire nation.

He disclosed that at least five brand new motorcycles and tricycles must be won, adding that the raffle for the prizes is open to all Okada and Keke riders free of charge. Ezeazu also said that forms are already out for the initial registration for those who are willing to participate in the week-long programme.

“My organization has decided to empower Okada and Keke riders because of their economic importance to the nation. These people have families; they have people to carter for, and have been able to meet up with their financial challenges through this business. Who says Okada business is not lucrative? We are out this time to support them, because we know that all they need is a general orientation on their job, so they can obey traffic rules, and stay alive to continue to take care of their loved ones. If we don't place value on the job they do, we will all have our share of the blame if we fail to provide other means for them to survive.”

The ACE boss had stated that even as the event aims at promoting the Okada/Keke business, it will equally sensitize them on the need to be law abiding and patriotic.

On his part, Charlyboy said that he was part of the campaign because it was meant to empower the voiceless in the society.

According to him, “When you stop a man from doing a particular job, there should be palliatives. On unemployment, government must find possible ways to cater for the multitude of young and energetic youth who crave to be self-employed.”

“Whenever I find a little bit of goodness, I'm always willing to collaborate. For me, it's always giving hope to the hopeless that matters even in a rotten system like ours. Everybody on this table is guilty of keeping quiet. They just butchered my friend and his son in Onitsha after he was kidnapped few days ago. You all know how my cousin was recently killed. Security is deteriorating, yet no solution is at sight. People kill; get away with it, and the next thing you hear is amnesty. Very soon, armed robbers Association of Nigeria will begin to demand for Amnesty. Hope is not completely lost yet, as we still have a number of good people in this country.”

Also speaking, an official of the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Sulieman Labu, cautioned riders to stop the use of hard drugs saying it not only poses danger to their lives but also to their commuters.

Chairman of Keke Riders in Abuja, Alhaji Gazo and his Motorcycle Operators counterpart, Mr. Obi Nwogu, thanked the ACE for its interest in their plight, while appealing to the federal government to assist their members in the area of employment instead of regular raids and ban threats.

They noted that the palliative measures which was promised to their over 130, 000 registered riders since the tenure of Nasir El-rufai as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory has not been fulfilled.