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LAGOS OKADA BAN AND A GOLDEN VOICE OF WISDOM FROM A KANO CLERIC

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Some of these clerics, through their lectures, give some reassurances that all hope is not lost. We can still live together despite our mutual differences. Nigeria is indeed in a trying time. Not in civil war but seems to be worse than civil war. Lawlessness on the ascendancy and life becoming more difficult. Thus difficult policies are resorted to, in some cases, to address difficult issues.

The recent Okada ban in Lagos is one of such difficult policies. This is not the first time, some account says it is the fifth time. But it has never been successfully implemented because of the central role played by Okada in facilitating commercial activities and mobility in Lagos—the most congested city in Nigeria. Life becomes torturously unbearable in Lagos each time the Government bans Okada.

The point here is: thousands of Okada riders automatically lose their jobs. Thousands of these thousands are obviously from northern Nigeria. But because of this seeming incurable ethnic mutual suspicion that characterizes our existence, some are quick to interpret the ban from ethnic angle. It is not shocking to hear people saying it is targeted at the northerners because they are not wanted in Lagos or anywhere in the South.

However, it is soothing to hear, in the midst of these cacophony of senseless ethnic reactions, a golden voice of wisdom from a Kano cleric. He put aside the garb of religious bigotry and ethnic chauvinism to address the issue as it—against ethnic colouration. That is Sheikh Lawal Abubakar Shuaibu Triumph. During his Friday Khutba (sermon), he explained to his congregation that the ban on commercial Okada riders in Lagos is out of necessity, not out of hatred for northerners.

He explained that Okada ban has been the policy in northern states for years. He gave the example of Kano State where Okada (known as Acaba) has been (and still) banned except for private use. He emphasised that in some northern states, motorbike is generally banned irrespective of it being used commercially or privately—as a result of insecurity.

He said its ban in Lagos, could perhaps, be as a result of insecurity or other tenable reasons. He argued that many of our people in the north who go to the south major in Okada riding but that when southerners come to the north, they do not come as acaba riders. Yet it was banned in the north despite the fact that riders are indigenous people. Its ban in the north by northern governors, of course, cannot be due to hatred. He clarifies.

Having made this clarification, the Sheikh drew the attention of northern governments to the fact that these Okada riders of northern extraction in Lagos will soon return home. This coincides with the period of electioneering where they can easily become handy tools in the hands of politicians who will use them to cause mayhem.

He urged various governors in the north to rise up to the challenge to be posed by these returnees. Government should resuscitate moribund industries as majority of these returnees are unschooled in the modern sense. All they are exposed to is menial jobs which the presence of functioning industries can maximally provide. Building of skill acquisition centres and new commodity markets can also go a long way to take these jobless youths off street.

Since the government cannot do it alone, the Sheikh also called upon rich merchants to pump money into circulation. He admonished them to fear Allah to invest all the idle moneys which they keep in their custody just for the joy of it. These moneys, if prudently utilized, would go a long way to make many youths independence of means and pull them out of poverty forever.

If the governments and our merchants failed to productively engage these youths on arrival, the Sheikh gave a sound warning, they might end up as political thugs in the hands of politicians and drugs will be made amply available to them. This, the Sheikh cautioned, will compound the scourge of insecurity which is already engulfing. May Allah reward this Sheikh for his farsightedness and words of wisdom. His ability to skilfully douse tension of ethnic-induced conflagration which Okada ban in Lagos would have caused—if not for voices like his—is well appreciated.

If all clerics would use the pulpits to address social issues from balanced and rational perspective which Islam encourages rather than jaundiced perspective, things will not always get out of hands. Though I am not very familiar with this Sheikh and his lectures, his last Friday sermon should endear him to many reasonable Nigerians (particularly northerners) who long for peaceful co-existence.

Yet unfortunately, in the midst of large scale insecurity, kidnappings, killings, endemic lost of jobs, government’s half-heartedness to Nigerians’ sufferings, and rapid expansion of ungoverned space in the Country, we still have clerics who are busy defending the integrity of the so-called Mr Integrity.

Who could be more dangerous and mendacious than a cleric who said, out of concern for the masses, our President has not sewn a single new cloth since the last seven years? The cleric claimed the President’s furniture are being eaten up by rats due to his preoccupation with the problems of Nigerian poor and how to get them solved.

I don’t know bigotry, sycophancy, and covetousness can be this damaging to the thinking faculty. Even unthinking animals would definitely cringe at this. What is wrong with some of these clerics? They claim one cannot advice leaders in the public but they shamelessly choose to kowtow before these leaders in a slavish manner in the public and sycophantically shower upon them encomiums which they never deserved. God is watching!

In conclusion, those who, for whatever reason, took the lives of worshippers in a church in Ondo State should not think they can escape God’s judgement. Reading the breaking news, I was struck dumb. While the thought of standing before Allah on the Day of Judgement to account for all these deaths should devastate our President, he is busy scheming to impose a successor. In a democracy or in a monarchy? I am confused. May God help Nigeria.

Abdulkadir Salaudeen
Salahuddeenabdulkadir@gmail.com
@salahuddeenAbd

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