Former president Olusegun Obasanjo has described the existence of two-wheel (“Okada”) and three-wheel (“Keke NAPEP”) motorcycles in Nigeria’s transportation system as an economic necessity, which has come to stay.
He was recently decorated as the grand patron of the National Commercial Tricycle and Motorcycle Owners & Riders Association (NACTOMORAS), in Abeokuta, Ogun State:
“Before the existence of your organization, what we knew in Nigeria are taxi drivers. But because of hard economic situation in the military government days, Keke NAPEP came in. I even mandated and made provision for Keke NAPEP all over the country, because where ever we may be, we need a means of transportation.
“As our population increases, so much more efforts will be needed to move people from one place to the other as our urban areas multiply so much do we need to move people from urban and sub-urban areas. What can we do in the absence of taxis, we can only do so with two-wheeler and tricycle wheelers.
“Let me tell you that the two and the three wheelers means of transportation will continue to be relevant in the country because of the situation we find ourselves
“That is where your organization becomes relevant and useful. Make your organization strong. You must also have solidarity if you lack solidarity, you will be reduced to piece meals. I am happy that the two and the three wheelers have come together under one umbrella.
“The idea of seizing and burning motor cycles in some states is absolutely unacceptable. Some of our laws in Nigeria deliberately create criminals out of innocent people.
“You can’t make a law and should not make a law that deliberately disengages people from engaging in lawful pursuit daily living and make them into criminals without finding an alternative. You can restrict them, but total ban is inimical to their earning livelihood.”
Obasanjo said he had been a victim of Okada riders’ reckless driving: “If you want me to always be proud of you as members, you must always be organized, decent and disciplined among other members of the society as well as be law abiding.
“Don’t let anyone misuse you as an organization as a stepping stone to become candidtate of this party and the other. I am not saying you can’t join any political party of your choice as an individual, but not as a group
“If you do as an organization, I will cease to be your patron. As for me now, I don’t belong to any political party and I will not belong to any political party. The only thing that is of concern to me is the greatness of Nigeria. But let me tell you that I am always available to you for pieces of advice just I promise to talk to you the way I would talk to my own children”.
“You should be rest assured that I will advise you honestly and sincerely. You know that I am not usually afraid to tell anyone off, you know I am not afraid to do so. Let me also advise you against drunkenness and drug. Don’t get involved in them, because most of the accidents on our roads have been traced to abuse of drug and drunkenness among drivers.
“I am happy to be your grand patron. Let me also say that I am here by a bit of luck, because day before yesterday I was to supposed to have travelled to Sweden, but at the airport, after I was checked in with boarding pass, the plane decided to leave without taking me along. God did not want me to go and I did not go, hence I am here with you”
NACTOMORAS national president, Alhaji Sanni Hassan, said Nigerians will never forget his role in the country: “We members of NACTOMORAS are here today to appreciate your past and current efforts at making Nigeria a better place to all Nigerians. We will continue to pray for your good health, wisdom, wise counselling and genuine advice, which mark you out among other notable Nigerians.”
Other members of the executive of the association present included its national secretary, Williams Pamola, host state chairman, Lateef Yekinni and its public relations officer, Godwin Ikola.