By Luka Binnyat
Yesterday, the Vice President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Comrade Issa Aremu visited some of the severely injured victims of last Sunday Esther bomb blast that happened in Kaduna. The explosion killed an estimated 36 people and left 16 with grave injuries. Most affected were commercial motorcycle riders.
Aremu said the violence was a class war against the poor Said Aremu: “Rich individuals over the years have fed fat on ill-gotten wealth, a development whose resultant effect is nothing but the proliferation of poverty as we witness today in Nigeria.
“With these hidden calculated attempt at the back of these few rich men’s mind, they did not only succeed in impoverishing the masses but also increased the plight and frustration of the able body youths who see them plying our death traps called roads on daily basis with tinted tubeless bullet prove multi-million naira jeeps.
“Carried away by how these rich few squanders money on very insignificant things and pick interest in sending their wards to the ghettos to give monies to those that are already frustrated and have resorted into drinking and smoking, they automatically force these youths to be at their beck and call.
“Little wonder, one finds it difficult to believe that, somebody who is searching tirelessly for his daily bread would ever save the money to buy the weapons and armory used by this sect, not to talk of the exotic cars used in carrying out their bombing operations.
“Hence, God knows that their sponsors are from the rich class, they use their ill-gotten wealth to secure a recruitment ticket for these unwilling boys, a situation which could be seen as one of the reasons why the sect remain faceless. What we cannot doubt is that, we know the victims but we did not know those who are responsible for these carnages.
“You can see it from the victims; they are also ordinary people. Imagine this one is doing a daily job with his wheelbarrow and the other one an Okada ridder. What we are saying here is that if care is not taken, this terrorism is becoming another class war against the poor people. If you see the kind of cars used in carrying out these carnages, you will believe that the perpetrators and their sponsors are not working class people. They are the rich. Poor and innocent people have no voice and nobody to fight their cause.
“ Nevertheless, I pray that the government should wake up to make sure that ordinary working people do not become victims of the politics of big people. The government should try to create employment, because when these Textiles industries in Nigeria were working, most of these victims (Okada riders, wheelbarrow pushers etc) would all have been engaged in the industries.
“You see, is it not only bad enough that we could not create job for them but we are now killing them as if they are nobody? In addition, we pray that, our government should also sit up to make sure that, they stand up for the poorest of the poor in the society, because they are the victims and as we always say, an injury to one is an injury to all.
We are praying that, this insurgence does not become another class war against the poor because the victims so far not just in Kaduna, whether is in Mandalla, Jos, Kano, Borno etc, are poor people who are going to worship or going to work. They have been made the victims. The cars used for these bombings and even the bombs itself are not products of the poor masses. Now you use the instrument, which is only available to the rich to kill the poor masses”, he said.
He later visited the office of the Okada Taxi Union, in Kaduna for a condolence meeting, where he was received by the Chairman of the Union, Alh. Awal Mohammed and some of his officials.
The Public Relations Officer of the Union, Mallam Idris Mohamed spoke to Saturday Vanguard on the incident. He said it could have been averted had Kaduna State Government acted on a proposal containing vital security information and suggestions it had sent to the State Governor, Sir Patrick Yakowa some three months ago.
Said Idris: “I want to inform you that we are very disappointed with the way the state government is claiming to be fighting this security problems in the state. I say so because we have already given them a good clue on how to get these people, but no one seem to be interested. All you hear, “please don’t fight. Respect human lives etc”.
“We have a feeling that some people in government may be enjoying this violence, if not so why has the state government not responded to our proposal?
Under the Government Senator Ahmed Makarfi, and Arc Namadi Sambo, our members were given 100 taxis to augment our motor bikes. I want to tell you that since the bombings in Kaduna started in April last year, we have been privy to many important information based on the passengers we carry in our taxis and even some that we take to some places on Okada.
“At times, our members would carry some people, just to discover that they have left one or two weapons behind. We know where they entered, and we understand the areas.
“Even on Okada, our members have so many information about what is going on; about people and areas. But, we have to be careful how we handle the information. These are some of the things we put in that proposal. The State Governor has the proposal.
“We submitted that proposal over three months ago. It was received at the Office of the Principal Private Secretary (PPS) of the Governor signed and stamped. We have our copy with us. That is why we believe that the State Government is really not interested in stopping these things.
Now most of the affected people in this bombing are our members. If the government would listen to us, and take our information and suggestions, I can assure you that security would improve.
“We said about 100 of our members were affected. That is from the estimation we got from our boys on the field. Some said they were up to 200, some said they were 150. So we carried the average. But, we have now formed a committee that will actually take pains to find out how many are really killed, how many injured and the machines we lost. That should be ready very soon.
“We cannot tell you the actual number of Okada riders we have in this town or state. Because Kaduna is now attracting other people from Kano, Plateau, Borno, Bauchi and so on every day. But, we have about 130,00 registered members as at now.
“We pray that God would help our leaders to listen to us and really take this issue very serous. They say that commercial motor cycles must not be on road after 9pm. But, if you have a Police or military ID card you can ride to everywhere anytime of the night. I wonder if they understand the implication of this. Anyway, like I said, we have submitted to them our information and suggestions, it is left for government to act”