Obasanjo misses flight but identifies with ‘Okada’ riders
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has been decorated as the grand patron of the National Commercial Tricycle and Motorcycle Owners and Riders Association (NACTOMORAS) in Abeokuta, Ogun state capital, according to Sun.
Speaking while receiving members of the association, the elder statesman said he was able to attend to them because he missed his flight to Sweden.
Obasanjo, who said God did not want him to travel, described the existence of ‘Okada’and ‘Keke’ in Nigeria’s transportation system as an economic necessity, which had come to stay.
“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,” he said.
“Before the existence of your organisation, what we knew in Nigeria were 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.
“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.”
He advised the transporters to live in unity, and not allow politicians use them to achieve their aims.
“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,” he said.
“Don’t let anyone misuse you as an organisation as a stepping stone to become candidate 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 organisation, 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.”
Obasanjo also condemned the harsh environment in which some of them operate, saying some state governments were making “criminals out of innocent people”.
“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,” he said.
“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.”