Okada riders in Lagos are a special breed. We have different types of cabals in Nigeria. Many of them have their headquarters in Lagos and the way they are run, amazing!
It’s almost like secret cult meets the Swiss bank treasury system meets the Isreali Mossad but local. Soaked in dry gin and generously sprinkled with garri. From the notorious agberos to the many people in uniforms demanding money from motorists and Keke riders down to Okada (bike) riders doing as they like everywhere, I think it is safe to say that we don’t know who governs Lagos State anymore.
Because who gives Okada men the morale to do whatever they want without fear of repercussions? It’s not just that they don’t fear criminal penalties.
They don’t care for their lives or anybody else’s for that matter. It’s like owning and riding a bike in Lagos induces immortality.
Around May last year, an Okada rider crashed into a truck along Oshodi-Abeokuta Express. How it happened, I can’t say. But the accident resulted in the death of the rider and his passenger.
Of course, the outrage was instant. The government galvanized itself, as always, into action. That was the time that even hawkers were banned from operating on main roads and the expressways.
During that period, Okada riders were reminded again to use proper helmets, for them and their passengers. Helmets ke? When the creativity
of Facebook and WhatsApp BCs flying around changed gears? After reading stories of people disappearing after wearing said helmets, nobody wanted to even touch the things.
There was a mass protest too. Okada riders seriously blocked roads in protest of the ban. Freedom of speech must be upheld even when you are not making much sense. Their plan didn’t work because the ban is still in place.
But guess who went back to the highways barely weeks after the whole ban drama? The same people! You can see them in their hundreds along that same Oshodi-Abeokuta Express.
Apapa is even worse. That one is Okada hub now. At this point though, they might be the only saviour the commuters in that area have. The kind of traffic
along that road is hellish so avoid them as you may, those stubborn Okada riders have become the last resort of anybody with someplace important to go.
Saviour from traffic jams or not, Okada men need spiritual deliverance. Last week, a lady was knocked down by an Okada man along Idimu Expressway. While she cried, sitting on the floor and being attended to by concerned market women, the policemen on patrol attempted to seize the Okada from the offending rider.
I said attempted because what followed made me extremely sad. The policemen had taken possession of the bike and were rolling it away with the bike man and some of his colleagues trailing closely behind. While they were moving away, the bike man was on the phone with an unknown person.
Before long, I heard roars of celebration. The bike man had gotten the man on the phone to get the police to release the bike and let him go without any penalty. He drove past me, revving his engine and bragging loudly.
He called the police “useless” and dared them to “try him” again. Meanwhile, the injured lady was forgotten. Operations returned to normal.
Somebody is fuelling these people’s madness. When will that person have sense? We can’t be shouting at Okada riders when one oga is sitting in his house encouraging them to be unruly.
We have serious problems in this Lagos o. Nobody is safe.
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