By Ebele Orakpo
At the Otto Waff Bus-stop along the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway last Wednesday evening, a commercial bus popularly called Danfo, was parked with the driver on the driver’s seat while the conductor was hanging by the door, calling passengers.
Suddenly, two young men on two motorcycles, popularly called Okada, came on top speed, passed the commercial bus and came to an abrupt halt just behind the bus. The two cyclists alighted and the first one rushed to the bus conductor and before one could say okokobioko, started pummelling the conductor. Passers-by and those waiting to board a bus to their various destinations, were stunned by the unfolding drama. At this point, the second okada rider had joined in the fight and the bus driver came down to find out what was going on.
Within seconds, there were tens of okada riders who had come to help their ‘brother.’ A few of the passersby came to intervene when they saw that the bus conductor and his driver could be killed as they were already outnumbered. After much pleas, the first okada man started going back to his bike while still cursing the bus conductor and others that had nothing to do with the quarrel.
Some of his people then began to ask him what happened between him and the bus conductor. He explained to them in Hausa, that the conductor had called him Boko Haram.
“Why didn’t you stab him?” asked one of his friends to which he replied thus: “He is very lucky. If I were Boko Haram, will he have the guts to talk to me anyhow? We have tolerated them enough.”
“Wallahi, he is lucky. He has escaped today but he will not be lucky next time,” said another rider.
“We will begin to deal with them. This insult f must stop,” said one of the okada riders.
“Kwarai da gaskiya (very true). It is high time we began to teach them the lesson of their lives. They behave as if we are not Nigerians,” said another.
Aggrieved okada riders
“I don’t blame them. We are receiving this insult from these infidels because of Jonathan. He is very lucky that he did not say that in the night. He would have been a dead man, I swear!” one of the aggrieved okada riders chipped in.
“ We will make sure we remove their infidel brother in the next election. We are tired of tolerating them. Who do they think they are?”
Mr. A, a passerby who witnessed the whole thing, said: “These guys are unbelievable! They are on the wrong side of the road, speeding as if they have an appointment with hell, and yet they had the guts to attack someone who was on his right lane.”
“Oh, you haven’t seen anything yet. Sometimes they park their bikes right in the middle of the road, obstructing the flow of traffic and if you as much as complain, they will almost lynch you ,” said Mr. B, another passerby.
“But make I ask, why should the conductor call him Boko Haram? It’s a curse as far as they are concerned,” said another passer-by.
“And where are the Police, LASTMA and Road Safety guys? I thought okada riders were banned from major roads and expressways? Not only do we see them on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, but they go against traffic, constantly knocking people down,” said Mr. A.
“I wonder oo. They will go into the streets pursuing law-abiding okada riders and seizing their motorcycles. Meanwhile, they leave the law breakers to have a field day. Everything is just upside down in this country, especially Lagos,” said Mr. B.
“We need the system to be sanitised. Most of these boys learn to ride on the job, so they are a risk to other road users. People call them Boko Haram because of the way they ride their okada on the highway. They practically terrorise road users,” said Mr. A.
“These tankers are not helping matters. They have taken over the entire road. Just look at the traffic? It’s a nightmare,” said Ms. D to which Mr. A replied thus: “Oh, yesterday was the wake-keep, today is the funeral. It is more than a nightmare!”