Motorcycles dealers and traders in spare parts across the nation have threatened to cast protest votes during the elections because of the ban on commercial motorcycles popularly known as Okada in some states.
Chairman of Nnewi Importers Association, Pastor L.O.Chukwuma, dropped the hint yesterday in Nnewi, Anambra State, after a brief meeting of the association to discuss its stake in the forthcoming elections.
Pastor Chukwuma said the decision to cast protest votes during the elections was taken in Nnewi, where the bulk of the major importers and dealers operate, adding that it would be circulated to other parts of the country.
He said the importers observed that politicians had continued to use motorcycles as campaign gifts to Okada operators and other voters only to ban the business after being voted into power.
“Politicians give their gifts with one hand and use another hand to collect it back from you after the campaign. They give out motorcycles to Okada people in the name of poverty alleviation and once they are elected as governors, the next thing is to ban Okada riding and throw thousands of people out of job. That is wickedness.
“We remember that one of the governors in the South West even gathered the motorcycles he seized and crushed them with grinding machines. He destroyed over 6,000 motorcycles,” Pastor Chukwuma said. He accused Governor Raji Fashola of Lagos State of maltreating Okada riders and vowed that stakeholders in motorcycle business all over the country would cast protest votes against the political party such governors identify with.
He pointed out that criminals used motorcycles and motor vehicles as well as other means to carry out their operations.
He said: “Come to Anambra State today, there are motorcycles everywhere but it is the safest state in Nigeria. Everyone feels free and crime is controlled. Banning Okada business at all is counter-productive and it is not the best way to control crime. If you ban Okada business, you throw the importers, thousands of dealers, spare parts dealers out of business; roadside motorcycle mechanics, vulcanizers, food vendors, and other people along with the dependents of these people are affected.”