Bitter Pill

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By Denrele Animashaun

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favour freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without ploughing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning.”- Frederick Douglass

The knives are out as Lagosians cannot reach  a consensus if, the esteemed Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola is  combative, obstructive, indignant  or all of the above, about curbing the activities of Okada  riders on the streets of Lagos.

Conspiratory theorists are on  overdrive,as they  argue vociferously, when they attempt to give meaning to what  they do not understand. Some are of the view that the  governor is scoring a own goal for his party and  that since he is leaving, come  2015,that he  really does not care .

The other camp tends  to agree with Fashola’s move. They see it as pragmatic,objective and progressive for the long term development of Lagos State.

Here’s  my  disclaimer: to the  sceptics, no, I have  no  political aspirations in Lagos or Nigeria for  that  matter and  have no vested interest in  any politician or political  party but I support the governor’s stance. Yes,things are hard and unbearable for many Lagosians. It  is  true  the wheel of progress is slow and  arduous and we,as people, are not used to dealing with long term goals and we are more agreeable with instant results,  fleeting promises that fail to materialise.

Lagos State Governor, Fashola

This is a matter of principle over politics.I believe that Fashola is a principled man and he wants to do the best for Lagos even if it  is to the  incandescence of his party grandees. Now, that is a man of value, history  will  show  that Fashola has the best intentions  for Lagos  and  its  people. Lagos deserves better and the people should strive to look further than the life  of one  administration.

The   facts are  there  for  all  to  see;  Lagos  has  had  many  years of  stagnation structurally, developmentally, so  it takes  a lot  of hard work and courage to get the state working again  and properly. Deaths and  serious injuries by Okada is quite high and the  hospital beds are  littered with victims of  this mode of transport. And yes, it  is the favoured means  of  snatch and  grab robbers, or criminals evading capture and the list  goes  on.

Fashola reeled out statistics to illustrate the alarming rise in accident rates, resulting in injuries and deaths, from the unrestricted operations of commercial motorcyclists, it  is  quite  shocking.

I have heard  of  the  arguments; that Okada riders are serving  the needs of the community and its people, those that cannot afford to  pay high fares, that  the  Okada riders were  betrayed by  Fashola as they supported his re-election and  political  aspirations, so, he owes them!  And  the   riders also, if their  threats are to be believed, that if  the  riders are not allowed to ply  the  roads,they  may  resort  to  thieving! So they want to hold the people to ransom then?

No one owes anyone  anything. When will  we  learn that we cannot sell our votes or loyalty for  favours?  Can we  see the real issue here: We  need  safe  and regulated mode of transport and what happens to Okada riders out of work? Fashola  has  admitted  that it  will  be hard and that Lagosians should endure the inconveniences accompanying the implementation of the traffic law, especially the restriction of Okada riders. Fashola said,“There will be no gain without pain.You should be ready to sacrifice if you want reward”. He said the difficulties currently being experienced by commuters in the state were characteristics of the introductory stage of every life-changing policy.That’s true.

He added that the law would be of benefit to residents on the long-run.  And “The road traffic law is meant to keep you safe and alive. Okada will not be our transportation model in this state. Our state will not be a dumping ground for motorcycles”.

He remonstrated  with  Lagosians “What we want from residents is some sacrifice. When we were building BRT corridors a few years ago, people complained; but now the BRT has been accepted by everybody”. You see, the governor  has a point and he  seems  reasonable, when he said   that the state would continue to explore ways to improve its transportation sector and tackle present challenges.

The plan is well planned and that the completion of the state’s light rail project would also boost the transport system. That   is  a  man of honour, a leader, who  despite,  taking  an unpopular move and  stands   by  it, that  is  no  mean feat.  People of Lagos  be  patient, we   will   get  a better  state  that  will  be  a  standard  bearer for  the rest  of  the  country.

Best man won

Do something. Either lead, follow, or get out of the way.”– Ted Turner

So the best man won. Barak Obama faced history squarely in  the  face  and  whatever  happens ,  his  win  definitely rewrote  the  political  history of America.The  political  pundits who,are a seasoned lot, did  not  know what  to  make of the  win.

They did  not  see it  coming. In fact some of  them were honest to  say  that  they had  called  it  wrong. The Republican overplayed the them  and us  card that they  failed to realise that  the country  had  moved  on  without them.

Obama won the minority votes; black, women, Hispanic  and  the  young  people’s votes.The Republican party itself is being pushed into the political wilderness as they represent a  party of old white men who  are  stuck  in  the  bygone  years of  divide and  rule.

Obama’s victory was built on a superior and pragmatic ground game, which turned out  in  droves. The right wing commentators  even say Obama only beat Romney by the  Republican  party disunity  amongst the  ranks , and that   the  only thing   Republicans  agreed  was  they wanted  to   get   rid  of  Obama. They  had  money, they  wanted  to  protect  their   way  of  life despite the  general population  groaning under the  pressing   economic  recession.

They   took  people’s  votes for granted, they  offered  nothing  in  return  and  the  old propaganda, keeping voters  ignorant  and  distracted, does  not  wash,  at  least not  for   intelligent young voters, or the  middle class and  hard working  people.

Obama’s winning formula was the way it included an effective coalition of minorities, younger women,first  time  voters and urban educated people.

This world is for the next generation and it was right that Obama won.  When  politicians marginalized themselves and  excludes  themselves from  the  ordinary  people , they  will   get  a master class thumping at the  polls. So it  will pay   our  politicians to  learn  from this result. The  young  are   learning  so  fast and  they  will  use  their  votes with the information  at  their   finger tips.

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