Sanwo-Olu, Díe Díe (Small, Small)

By Igboeli Arinze 

The governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, must surely find himself overstretched in his attempt to govern the Centre of Excellence. Of a truth, governing a cosmopolitan state with a vast economy like Lagos requires a lot of will power and energy, it requires a firm hand and a mind that understands the workings of government.

Give it to Sanwo-Olu, he looks like someone billed perfectly for the job. He talks tough, walks the talk and seems to have an understanding of what a state like Lagos needs to move up the development meter.

It is not as if he has a choice in the matter, he doesn’t! The factors and forces which brought him in to replace a performing but out of touch Ambode are very much ready to move him out of office should he break the tempo that governing Lagos is used to. He should also be wary of the opposition, because even though it has failed to unseat the APC in five elections, it is still a force to reckon with and with the changing dynamics of electioneering, Lagosians can still vote the APC out.

However, the governor must thread softly, I have used the Yoruba representation for word small, small, díẹ̀.díẹ̀, in tautology to emphasise this message to him as regards his ban on motorcycles and tricycles in six local government areas and nine local council development areas. The ban, which commenced two weeks ago, swept all these means of transport away from these areas causing unmitigated suffering for Lagosians and putting a number of bread winners out of work!

Trust the Sanwo-Olu government, they came out with a number of germane reasons why the ban was necessary. Sticking out were reasons such as safety and security. The Lagos State government believes that such means of transport have cost Lagosians in terms of their limbs and lives. It also asserted that there was a security impasse with the presence of these means of transportation in these areas.

True to these reasons, the Sanwo-Olu administration obviously means well for its citizens. I mean its arguments are plausible.

Yes, Lagos needs a better and safer means of transport, this is true, however, the arterial setup of infrastructure in Lagos largely frustrates the option of banning the bikes and tricycles. I had earlier accepted the ban as necessary and compared it with el Rufus’s ban on bikes in 2005, but further research created a dissonance in my thinking, owing to the fact that the state of infrastructure within the Federal Capital Territory is superior to that in Lagos, thus nullifying any comparison between both cities.

Let me ask, what measures did the Lagos State government take to ameliorate the sufferings of the people who have had to suffer unnecessarily due to the ban? Lagos, for now, does not have a viable railway system and still suffers from an infrastructural gap, despite the humongous advancement in the delivery of infrastructure since 1999.

At the BBC World Questions Programme held in Lagos, a Joe Igbokwe defended the policy by stating that the state had made a provision of 65 buses to ameliorate the suffering of the people. Sadly, these number of buses we know will never be enough to meet the transportation needs of the people of the state in these areas. One would have expected the Sanwo-Olu administration to have at least, seen to the completion of the Blue Line, the railway project that spans all the way from Badagry to Iganmu as well as the provision of more means of transport or new openings in these areas to ease the flow of transport before carrying out such a ban.

Again, let me fault the ban on the on-demand bike services. Firstly, facts availed to me by a friend about the rate of accidents suffered by these services such as Gokada, Max and Oride, showed that they suffered very low accident and mortality rates compared to what obtained with the ordinary bikes, tricycles and funny enough, even motor vehicles. Thus, showing that there was really no justification for such ban.

Even the talk of the fight against crime still has a number of land mines. Now, if the government says that okadas and keke are used to stage crimes and thus must be taken off the streets, then what will now happen now that we have thrown the baby with the bath water? The idle mind becomes the devil’s workshop, who will now win the bread taken off the table of these okada and tricycle operators? What ever happened to tinkering with the state’s security measures? Improved policing and all that? More so, are crimes not also committed with motor vehicles, are we not inundated with stories of one chance, kidnappings, murders and robberies carried out by criminals using vehicles? We should also ban the use of motor vehicles then!

Governor Sanwo-Olu should understand that governance seeks to strike a balance between necessary evils, everybody wants a Lagos that we can be proud of, but definitely not with huge costs to the well-being of the citizenry! He should take it díe díe (small, small).

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