By Jude Idada
”Some sanity returns.
Today the Taxify prices return to near normal.
And even as we groaned yesterday.
Some cashed out.
Like the Taxify driver who drove me this morning.
The smile on his face shone.
As he spoke.
“… there was permanent surge all through yesterday. One ride after the other. I didn’t even rest, because I knew it won’t be like that every day, so as a hustler, it was work until quench. The money I made eh, normally it will take me four or five days to make that same amount of money.”
I asked him.
“So you didn’t feel sad seeing all the crowds that were trekking or the huge amount of money people were spending to get from place to place?”
“Why should I feel sad? Do they feel sad for me when I get only four or five rides a day after driving for over 12 hours? Am I the app? Did I cause the surge? There is no sadness o. It is business. Demand and supply. Too many orders, too few drivers, prices go up. See today the prices have come down, is anyone coming to say – sorry o, I know you are not making plenty money – no one sends you at all, at all. This is Lagos, the cause of one man’s suffering, is the source of another man’s enjoyment.”
“What of all the okada and keke marwa drivers, how will they earn a living?”
“The same way they were earning a living before they started riding okada and Keke marwa. Bros, don’t pity those people o. Most of them are animals. Don’t you see how they drive? Like madmen. Traffic light they won’t obey. They will be stopping anyhow and anywhere to pick passengers and causing traffic. See me that normally will spend 1 hour thirty minutes or so to drop my wife at work in the morning, yesterday and today, forty five minutes it took me. Ask me, what changed? Answer is, no okada and Keke Marwa blocking the road and causing traffic. Didn’t Fashola ban them? Did they die? It is that bastard Ambo that they swore for from his village that caused it na. If he let Fashola’s policy stay, by now we will have even advanced to other forms of transportation. Nice Hiace buses that can take up to 25 people at a time, will be plying those roads, but no o, he was looking for cheap popularity and bad belle didn’t help him see road. Please it is a good thing what Pointus’olu has done o.”
“But there should be something put in place to fill the vacuum. You can’t just kick people out of a job like that. All the monies spent buying the motorcyles and Kekes, gone down the drain. All the other businesses that service that industry, will disappear. Think about the O’Pay and Gokada, what will happen to the massive infrastructure and connecting businesses? The staff behind the scenes? The cost of putting up the app? It is madness. Couldn’t the government just regulate the industry? Insist on helmets and safety measures. Enforce traffic laws. Give them unique numbers, so that they are trackable and punitive measures can be taken against the offending driver and not the whole industry. Even buses can be bought and sold to the drivers on a lease to own agreement. Like what you guys do with Uber and Taxify.”
“You want to do lease to own with aboki? Aboki that does not know anything but to put head for road and drive like somebody that wants to commit suicide. Bros, haba, you have to think it well. Most of those Keke and Okada riders are from Niger, Mali, Chad, all those far places. They are not Nigerians.”
Then he whispered.
“In fact, I can tell you a big secret. Confidential.”
Then took on a dignified pose.
When he spoke.
His voice was authoritative.
“You see all those Okada and Keke Marwa riders, who is giving them money to buy their Okada and Keke Marwa? Do they look like people who can ever find money to buy it themselves? They arrive in Lagos in trailers. The next day they have brand new Okada and Keke Marwa. Before you know anything, they spend one week learning how to ride and like that, they are on the road. Where do they sleep? How do they live? No one knows. There is something happening that we are not seeing.”
He went silent again.
“The government does not want to say it in public to cause panic, but the truth is that, based on intelligence report, the Government knows that Boko Haram is sending its members into Lagos.”
“Come on, that is not provable. Did you see the intelligence report with your own eyes?”
“Bros, don’t look at me like an ordinary person because I am driving Taxify o. As you look at me like this, I know people in high places in government. I hear things. If it is not that I don’t want to be staying on my farms and staring at my workers, I would not be here on the road doing Taxify. Take it from me, it is confirmed, the ban on Okada and Keke Marwa is not just because they are a nuisance, it is basically a security issue.”
He kept quiet to let it sink in.
Then he continued.
With a hint of urgency.
“Those people are like 85% aboki. There are just some Yoruba, Igbo and South South, amongst them. These aboki know everywhere. Every corner of Lagos. The mai guardi all over Lagos, also know the movement of people. The aboki and mai guardi are all working hand in hand. Monitoring all of us as they wait for their signal. Bros, the day that signal will come, Lagos will burn. There will be nowhere to hide from these abokis. They will chase you and kill you. You see what I am saying? You see why the government had to act? All those stories about Pontius’olu going to Igbobi and seeing Okada accident victims and feeling sad, and then deciding to ban Okada and Keke Marwa is just story. Those who know, know.”
A moment passed.
I thought about what he had said.
Then I asked him.
“So if they are a security threat, why not ban them across the entire state? Why leave them in some places and ban them in others?”
“It is strategy. Government knows that they cannot get rid of them all at once. They know that there are some areas that need transportation, since they don’t have enough buses and the population is high. So banning them there, will cause riots and Boko Haram can even hijack riots to cause more disaster. So what Government has done is push them out to the suburbs, box them in places that can be monitored, controlled and if anything wants to happen, they can immediately surround those areas with army and police and deal with all of them. It is big time security operation you are seeing o. In fact this ban is just the first leg. Soon you will start to see other moves.”
“So why is it only in Lagos?”
“Lagos is the main prize na. If Boko Haram can scatter Lagos, they have scattered Nigeria. They have destroyed our economy. Don’t you know what will happen to Nigeria, if Lagos does not function for just one week? If businesses are destroyed? People are killed? Fear is everywhere? Ahhhh, May God not let us see bad thing.”
“Hmmmm, but there are okadas and Keke in other states too, are they also…”
“There are states that Boko Haram is interested in, there are states that they do not care about, and there are states that they did not born them well to enter. Like South South states. The militants are ready for them. So they are focused on Lagos. Slowly they have been pushing their fighters here, planting them, waiting for the time to strike. Those people are very smart, but Pontious’olu will show them that he is smarter than them.”
Then he laughed.
“You think Bourdillon is sleeping? It has more hands than octopus, centipede, millipede joined together. The more you will be looking, the less you will be seeing.”
“I hear what you are saying, but it is all conspiracy theories. Fake news. People just cook up these things to divide the country, put fear into us, turn us against each other, just to achieve their selfish purposes.”
He stopped laughing.
“Okay o, think what you like. But it is with your two eyes you will see something. There is fire on the mountain. Everywhere is burning. Blood is flowing. North, South, West, East. It is not by chance. Too many enemies are circling about. They have sworn that if they cannot take the country as their own, they will instead destroy it. Even in destroying it, they will be making money. Guns, bullets, bombs, armoured cars are all money they use to buy them. If people know what is happening, I swear they will not sleep. In fact they will have run away to Ghana.”
Then he sighed.
Before he continued.
“As I said, thank God Bourdillon is not sleeping. Even the East and the South South are watching his hand. So that they will know what to copy.”
“What to copy?”
“Hmmmm, first you heard Amotekun, then you heard Okada and Keke ban, and you think anyone can do this, if Bourdillon did not give the signal?”
“Ask yourself, what happened to the one that lifted the ban on Okada and Keke? Did they not barber his head and show him the road to his village? Let Pointus’olu lift the ban on Okada and Keke or let him say Lagos is not part of Amotekun, it is then you will know that the father who rolls in sand as he plays with his child, should not be mistaken for a child himself.”
He looked at me.
With a tone of finality.
“These days are the kind of days when you sleep with one eye open, you stay on alert as you move about, you trust no one. The clouds are dark, rain will soon start falling, all these things you are seeing now, are just the rumbling of thunder. If you know what is good for you, you will make sure your gutter is not clogged and your roof has no holes in it…”
(This piece was first published on Facebook)
▪ Idada is a Nigerian writer, actor, and playwright.
(Opinion from the Social Media) Okada ban and the conspiracy theorist
By Jude Idada