Those Supporting Unregulated Okada Operation Should Visit Our Emergency Wards, Hospitals - Fashola
…As Governor holds interactive session with members of Metropolitan Club
Oct 23, 2012 - Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) was on Tuesday the guest of members of the Metropolitan Club in Victoria Island at a special session on Law and Order in the State, charging those supporting the unregulated operation of motorcyclists to take a trip to the various hospitals and medical emergency centres to see the havoc wreaked by their activities.
Governor Fashola who spoke at the Kofo Abayomi Road, Victoria Island location of the Club on the topic "Freedom from Fear" in relation to Law and Order in Lagos State said they should visit the hospitals and emergency wards and see those who have lost limbs, arms, those who have lost children or those who have become orphans by the recklessness of the okada riders.
Noting that a lot depend on the citizenry in ensuring an orderly society, the Governor said everyone must build a consensus that the idea behind the new traffic law is one that involves the quality of life of everyone, the protection of the assets of every resident of Lagos and their businesses.
Tracing the various well organized public transport systems that had existed in the past like the L.M.T.S and L.S.T.C, he said it should agitate the minds of citizens and members of the Club how the State arrived at its present state in terms of the unbridled operation of commercial motorcyclists.
According to the Governor, in less than two decades, the okadas have gained so much prominence that it has become a phenomenon which should not have been allowed in the first place, stressing that the elites also contributed as many encouraged their staff and employees to start taking okadas to run errands quickly.
"The only way to stop the business from flourishing is by not patronizing them. It is a business that if the income from it dwindles, the business proposition of those in it will change", he said.
Conducting an overview of various facets of life in the State, Governor Fashola explained that he had taken it upon himself to lead by example by shunning the use of siren to escape from the traffic, adding that as a Governor he has always taken it upon himself to fight against any attempt by Very Important Personalities to close roads and the people must be ready to fight against behaviours and conducts that are hazardous to healthy and secure existence.
The Governor who drew a comparative analysis of what happens in distant locations said the State Government established the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) to allow people dispose their refuse properly but that the people prefer to still patronize cart pushers who would dump the refuse in a canal by the corner thus causing flooding.
"Some people are saying that they will not obey the law that protects the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) dedicated lane because they say it is draconian for the government to insist on its enforcement".
"This is a law made by the State House of Assembly. A law that I swore on oath to defend and that is my duty. I make no apologies for doing it and I will continue to do it. If we continue like this, we are on the road to Bangkok in Thailand", the Governor stated.
The Governor said there should be concerted effort by everyone to ensure that Nigeria does not reach the notorious status of Bangkok in terms of traffic because Bangkok is a city that loses about one million dollars every year to traffic congestion and where the training of the average traffic police officer includes the delivery of babies from pregnant women who are trapped in traffic.
Urging business executives and corporate leaders to rethink the types of ventures being supported, the Governor said the tricycles known as Keke Marwa represents the sign of India's age of poverty which the country is striving hard to move away from as it is now busy manufacturing TATA buses and wondered why that is what Nigerians are now embracing wholeheartedly.
He added that the same applies to motorcycles which originated from China, saying currently the Chinese are making fast trains for their usage while Nigerians are helping their economy by patronizing their okadas.
Noting that those who break the law with impunity are often more than not, aliens with no respect for rules and regulation, Governor Fashola revealed that in the last 24 hours, over 100 people from Niger Republic have been escorted out of the State, stressing that there is no going back on the enforcement of the State Traffic Law.
The Governor while speaking on the topic of 'Freedom From Fear' explained that the presence or absence of law and order in any society is what determines whether the people will live in fear or without it.
He added that while the Nigerian Constitution guarantees many rights, there is no right classified as right to be free from fear in the Constitution because freedom from fear seems to have been the forgotten freedom.
He advocated that the responsibility to give the freedom that secures all freedom lies with every individual who must make it a point of duty to ensure that they secure themselves against fear.
The Governor who spoke on the caliber of members that make up the Metropolitan Club, said they are part of the elites that constitute the few who constitute the critical mass that drives change when ideas manifest.
Governor Fashola who also spoke on the last elections in Lagos State said a society does need a multitude to make a difference as the resolve of the elites contributed and brought life to the move to ensure the success of the one man one vote campaign.
Urging a resolution on the part of all at the interactive session to become a part of the much desired positive change, Governor Fashola declared: "If we are to prosper and develop our national economy, we must resolve to leave here today with a consensus to lead as champion of change. I am talking about changes in the way we react to issues, changes in the way we think and in the way we behave".
He recalled that when the administration decided to stop the illegal expansion of Makoko, it was called several unprintable names by different uninformed people, adding that what government stopped was a daily encroachment on the lagoon by the squatters who were daily reducing its size and invariably the outlets for water to drain from various parts of the State.
The Governor said if the administration had folded its arms and watched the excesses go on, the structures would have been built up to under the Third Mainland Bridge and someone could have just woken up one day and started displaying items on the Third Mainland Bridge.
He reiterated that traffic should not be viewed as a problem but rather a sign of of prosperity in any emerging megacity like Lagos because as more people move into the city there would be congestion.
The Governor, however, explained that the traffic being complained about is the rush hour traffic which is not peculiar to Lagos adding that in the United States of America, it is better to walk in Manhattan than to drive a car, admonishing that Nigerians should stop feeling sorry for themselves whenever they are in traffic.
Giving an insight into some of the proactive steps being taken to manage traffic, he said the State Government has gone a step further by introducing the Traffic Radio to give advanced information to members of the public on how they can plan their trips adequately.
He explained that the new road traffic law has made provision against drinking or driving behind the wheels because government believes that it is only split seconds that stand between the occurrence of fatal accidents as any momentary loss of concentration could have catastrophic consequences.
Underscoring the prime role of law and order in achieving a secured and stable society, he noted the fact that the Metropolitan Club has continued to be successful because of the strict observance of its rules and regulations by the members urging that they should do the same when they are outside the Club.
Governor Fashola said it is rather ironic that when members of the Metropolitan Club get into the club premises they feel safe, stressing however that the club premises did not make itself safe but was achieved by the members who toiled hard.
He said what is needed from the members as responsible members of the society is for them to transfer that same energy to the larger society.
Responding to some of the issues raised during the interactive session that followed his address, Governor Fashola said the government will continue to put measures in place to tackle street trading, but urged the people to also stop patronizing hawkers.
On the possibility of using the Bangkok traffic experience as a public enlightenment tool for people to learn from it, the Governor said a documentary drama titled 'Emi O laaro' has already been designed and released for the public while he has also taken the campaign for safe driving to various motor parks across the State.
On suggestions that the Highway Code should be a subject of study in schools for children to learn at formative stage, the Governor said Government was already working on how to develop a basic curriculum that would be developed from a book on same subject without encroaching on the basic school curriculum.
On the social impact of laws, the Governor said every law goes as far as those who conceived it can think of because given another scenario, a new set of people can bring up something different, he said government will always listen to genuine suggestions on how things could be done better.
While enumerating the efforts of the Government in enhancing food security and job creation through agriculture, the Governor said he is reaching out to sister states for land where unemployed people can be deployed to work on farms and produce food that would be brought back to the state to be sold to its teeming population.
He said this is in addition to the Agric YES programe through which graduates are trained and given entrepreneurial skills and provided with the wherewithal to practice and produce food.
Earlier in his address, the President of the Club, Chief Olu Akinkugbe commended the Governor for his efforts at transforming the State since he assumed office.
He said it was as a mark of respect for the late Chief Ola Vincent who was a former President of the Metropolitan Club that the Governor postponed his first date with the Club.
Prominent among State officials at the session with the Governor were the Commissioner for Transportation, Mr Kayode Opeifa, his Health counterpart, Dr Jide Idris and General Manager of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority , Mr Tunde Edu while among the members of the Club present were Chief Chris Ogunbanjo, Alhaji Femi Okunnu (SAN), Ambassador Dapo Fafowora and Chief Philip Asiodu.