THE Joint Association of Motorcycle and Spare Parts Dealers of Nigeria, Nnewi and Motorcycle Transport Union of Nigeria, Anambra State branch, yesterday staged a peaceful protest in Awka, the Anambra state capital, against Governor Willie Obiano’s pronouncement to ban commercial motorcycle business in Awka capital territory and Onitsha commercial city.The association in Nnewi comprising Fairly Used Motorcycle Importers Association of Nigeria, Fairly Used Motorcycle Dealers Association, Automobile Manufacturers and Importers Association and Board of Trustees, New Auto Spare Parts Association came down heavily on the State government to reverse itself in its intention to ban Okada riders in the major towns of Awka and Onitsha with effect from July 1, 2018.
The protesters who barricaded the entrance to Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka displaying placards with various inscriptions like “banning Okada will deprive our citizens their means of livelihood, injustice against the poor is injustice against God, banning Okada will throw over 500,000 people out of job, if you ban Okada expect to rise in criminal activities in Anambra, save our souls, Obiano, APGA is no longer our own”, among others insisted that the Governor’s decision to ban Okada business in any part of Anambra, not to talk of the whole of the State was a bad one.
They reminded the Governor that stakeholders in motorcycle related business did not vote for him to do his second tenure only to throw thousands of them out of job.
But the State Commissioner for Transport, Hon Uchenna Okafor who addressed the protesters told them that government’s decision to ban Okada in Awka and Onitsha on July 1 was irreversible, that it was taken in good faith. He said that government noticed that criminals still attacked their victims in a gorilla style in some of the cities in the State which he said informed the decision of the State government to act “because the State has zero tolerance to criminality as a responsible government.”
“That is done for the overriding interest of our people. It is just in Awka and Onitsha alone not the entire Anambra State. July 1 will still stand, there is no going back. But we can still be discussing while the entire thing goes on. We are not closing our doors for discussions.
President of the Automobile Manufacturers and Importers Association of Nigeria, Mr Austin Manuel while fielding questions from the press at the venue said the Commissioner had said all he could say.
“What we understand is that he does not have the power to reverse the pronouncement because it is the Governor who has the full power to reverse the decision. But they have heard the complaints of the protesters, they have heard their cry. People have cried unto them that they needed time to organize themselves before they can wind up their means of livelihood.
“The importers have cried over the issue of dealing with their shippers, bank money, the warehouse they pack their goods and all that. All these things are tabled before the Honourable Commissioner,” Mr Emmanuel articulated.
Mr Manuel gave a quick reminder that criminals never operated with Okada motorcycles, saying that government should consider the thousands of people who would suffer the policy is implemented.
Chief Demian Ogene-Okeke, the President Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Anambra State Chapter in his reaction on the development, applauded the decision of the state government, saying is for the interest of the defenceless.