They came for his motorcycle. The task force was made up of police, civil defence, army, navy and some members of the environmental protection agency.
As they hauled his motorcycle into the back of a truck, he fled to evade arrest. Then he flung himself on the ground and began to wail as if he had lost a family member in death. Later we got to know that he had just bought the motorcycle with borrowed funds.
Everyday in cities across Nigeria, okada riders have become easy targets for task force operators. Hundreds of bikes are seized daily and “taken into custody”.
There is no remedial measure, no process to retrieve seized bikes. They are simply taken away to dump somewhere. I am not sure what happens thereafter. Are they sold off? Are they crushed?
Anyway, what happens to the bikes is not the issue here. Every state or city makes laws and enforces them. Task force operators are doing their work according to their mandates.
However, there is a storm brewing at the side. It is already hitting us with the unprecedented spate of all manners of crimes going on in the country. The worst is yet to come as more people are thrown into the labour market.
As at the last quarter of 2018, about 21 million Nigerians were unemployed. Given the current situation, the unemployment rate is likely to keep escalating on its own with thousands graduating every year while economic activities remain stagnant or even declining.
Therefore, whatever government does that throws more people into unemployment only worsens the situation and constitutes further threat.
These folks whose motorcycles are seized based on existing legal regulations are humans with needs that must be met one way or the other. Taking away their means of livelihood without providing them with meaningful alternatives is a recipe for disaster. A disaster that will hunt us, everyone of us.
There is so much anger boiling inside these young men. When they let go in full blast there will be no hiding place for anyone. Already those who think that they can secure their safety by moving around with a detachment of police men have witnessed the brutal killings of high profile individuals, including army Generals. Once a country becomes unstable, everyone, irrespective of status becomes a target.
Creating jobs directly and indirectly through sensible economic policies is the responsibility of government that should not be toyed with due to the attendant grave consequences.
One area that government needs to pay a lot of attention to urgently is the atmosphere in the small scale business sector. There is just too much harassment going on there. Here we have millions of Nigerians who are doing little things on their own to survive, barely doing so. Yet they are chased from one end to the other by those who claim to be enforcing all kinds of legislations which may not be reflective of the increasingly constricting economic reality.
Government needs to find a way to be friendly to these begeaonstruggling people who are in millions otherwise we would have a situation so violent that not even by the army who are already over stretched will be able to help.
A word, they say, is enough for the wise.