BY HASSAN MOHAMMED
“The Easiest Person To Fool Is Yourself”. – Richard P. Feynman
When Richard Fireman made the comment above he was probably thinking of Nigerians. We are probably the only people who lie to ourselves and believe in the lies, or knowingly believe what we know very well to be lies. We are been lied to everyday. We know they are lying to us, yet we believe. What could be worst that! In one of drama series, Chief Zebrudaya Okoroigwe Nwogwe, alias 4:30, (Chika Okpala) once said something to the effect that, “he who lie to himself and believe his own lies has gone mad”. By the same token, if some people lie to us and we believe the lies, knowing fully that they are lying, and believe their lies, then in deed we lie to ourselves. And like Chief Zebrudaya, I believe we have gone mad. And we have done nothing fooled ourselves.
My state has just joined the rank of states in the country that banned the use of commercial motorcycles. Starting today, Wednesday, May 21st, 2014, no commercial motorcycles will be allowed to ply any route in Kaduna state. Chief reason given is security. I don’t by that. I think it is a lie. No! I scratch that! I believe it is a lie. But my frustration is not just with the state. It is also with the poor who should know better, and who will be greatly affected and injured by this elitist policy. They are the ones hailing it. It is not about security. It has never been. It is about the rich and well positioned people in our society telling the poor what they can wear, eat, ride and relate with. They should give us some other reason like recklessness of the commercial bikes or some other excuse like it is not legal, but not security. Saying it is security is nothing but a cover up to put the poor in place. If they want to protect us, they should protect us from any and everything, including cars, donkeys, bicycles and camels. No death is good or better.
We have had over 20 car bomb attacks in the last 2 years, and not one with motorcycle. Yeah, a motorcycle can be used as means to transport terrorists as we witnessed in Kaduna where the guys ferrying the bomb had a “pre-mature detonation” and died – thank God for that. But cars are used almost on a daily basis as a component of or housing for bombs. Yet no one is asking for cars to be banned. I’ve not heard anyone saying let’s ban cars or even Toyota Siena, which seems to be their most preferred weapon of choice. It is time to ban Hilux trucks. It is the preferred transportation equipment for Boko Haram. No private person should own one. Only the police, military and other government agencies. They are dangerous to me, to you reading me and to all of us. Let the banning be equal and fair. If we ban commercial motorcycles for security reasons, cans that are used to ferry and as parts for bombs should go to, especially Sienna and Hilux.
How did we even come about the large army of motorcycles in our states? The answer is simple. Government is absent in our lives. First, jobless young men with bikes started using their bikes as “achaba”. When the small amount of money they brag to their friends that “na chaba”, meaning I made it today. Then civil servants and others saw the opportunity too. They started using their bikes for commercial purposes to add a buck or to to their income. And so it goes. I have seen students move out of campuses after lectures, pack by the gates and pick up ‘customers’. They must sustain life. But the whole business of commercial motorcycling “boomed” when, for political campaign purposes and as “poverty alleviation program”, about 10,000 motor cycles were shared by Makarfi and Sambo to civil servants and other indigines in the state between 2001 to 2007 alone. Some of the civil servants were given the motorcycles to pay back through deductions from their pays, others were given soft loans to purchase the motorcycles.
We have also seen truck loads of these machines brought into the state days before the 2011 presidential elections. So to think and say that all the owners and riders of these commercial motorcycles are non indigenes or even criminal is to be foolish. A great number of them are military and police personnel who use the motorcycles to augment their meager official income. You only need to be on one of these bikes as they approach one of the checkpoints to know that they are part of our security personnel. Some of them are usually greeted with “military salutes”. You take away their right to make money legally with their motorcycles, you invite some of the desperate ones into our homes to rob us later. Yes, the next time someone rob you, know that he may be one of those who was denied his only or complimentary source of livelihood, especially those with access to deadly weapons.
What is really frustrating is for the poor who are the targets of this elitist policy to buy into the bull-crap that banning commercial motorcycles is for their own interest. No it is NOT! You, the poor are nothing but a nuisance to the rich, you dolts. They don’t want to see you around their GRAs or on the roads they ply. You are an eyesore. We all are. And anyone with the intellectual and moral fortitude will know, and will equally want to ask, to what extent and for whose benefit? The new ‘Yakowa bridge’ linking Sabo/Barnawa and Unguwan Rimi was stalled for years because it cuts through GRA, and the poor will disturb the rich residents. A great number of residents have tried or now considering selling their homes on the Kalamazo-Gobarau-Rimi road because they have now been “exposed to the dangers of miscreants”. Just that the properties cost stupid.
I know of many communities in Zaria and Kano where car owners park and take commercial bikes to their homes because their are no access to their homes in “lungu”. How is that woman with a baby and possibly pregnant to move from Narayi, Afaka, Unguwar gado, Abakwa, Tirkaniya, Down Unguwan Gwari, Sabon gari to the market, hospital or Church. How do you expect that elderly person to move from Takau in Kafanchan to the center of the town. Or from Dogon Bauchi or Jushin-Waje in Zaria to Lagos street before she gets a bus. They must trek about 3 – 4 kilometers to get to where buses are, because there is either no road linking her chanty/slum home to the main road or that the road is so terribly and ‘unmotorable’. What did she do to deserve that? She and her husband are not rich enough to afford a car. How about that student staying off campus in Down Gyallesu river or Banzazzau where most of ABU’s off campus in students live as they attend the largest Campus in ABU (Kongo), which is about 3 kilometers away? What about the civil servant who uses his bike to drop off his children at school, proceed to work, use same bike to pick them up later and drop them at home, return to work, and after closing use same bike to earn some money? He can develop means of stealing from public whenever the chance come his way, or he can simply go to hell. Just imagine the number of kids that will be trekking kilometers to school this morning!
Yes, some of them are reckless, but then so are the commercial car drivers. I’ve not heard anyone saying let’s ban drivers from Kasuwan Barci who are know to make the 220 kilometers from Kaduna to Kano in 1 hour 30 minutes, and that is the reason why some equally crazy people use them because “you can leave Kaduna by 5:30 am, get to Kano, buy what you want to buy and be in Kaduna city by 10:30 or 11:00am”. They have deadly accidents almost on a daily basis. Same as those for those going to Abuja from Command.
And what is the government doing to cushion the effects of their actions? They are giving out cartons of noodles, packets of sugar! Are to sit on the carton of indomie noodle and travel like some kind of “winch”. What will that even do? OK, to be fair, they have distributed hundreds of thousands of wheelbarrows. Yes, time to turn to youths to ‘yan dako or alaaru. If you are a poor man, you should be outraged, even if you can’t do anything about it now, you can send them the message, February, 2015. If you are not, you deserve the kind of government you have. The irony of it all, if you were frequenting Bida road just 8 years ago, the Oga at the top was always on a bike on that road. As for those that pass the law banning motorcycles, most of them were commercial cycle customers, until your votes elevated the House of assembly to strip the people of their dignity.
Hassan Mohammed, a lecturer, writes from Kaduna Polytechnic.