Without mincing words, I personally consider the ‘unofficial’ proscription of Keke business in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as an afterthought. The ban directive itself, apparently orchestrated by the federal government, is ill-motivated, illogical and grossly absurd.
It would be recalled that many Abuja residents penultimate Tuesday woke up to the shocking news that commercial tricycle activities had been “abolished” in some parts of the city. One can safely conclude that with the FCTA authorities’ directive, the Keke ‘guys’ have been declared as persona non grata by those behind the prohibition. Already, FG which (though, openly has not) announced the suspension of Keke business, has maintained that their activities are constituting a nuisance to several parts of the nation’s capital.
It further noted that the wave of crimes has surged in Abuja (lately) no thanks to some ‘deviant’ and criminal-minded Keke riders. These Keke riders, the government believes, are the ones perpetrating all sorts of heinous activities: car theft, One-chance operation, robbery, ritual killing. So, the decision to outlaw their activities in major parts of the FCT is justifiable and not tyrannical.
But in a swift reaction, Austin Apeh, and Chairman, Welfare Enforcement in FCT, Thomas Danjuma, told journalists in Abuja during a recent protest that they are set to go to court. What for? To know whether FCTA got the legislation from the National Assembly before clamping down on their members. But in the meantime, they are asking the government to disband the FCT Ministerial Joint Taskforce on Keke in the interest of peace.
This is the time when FG should devise ways to alleviate the suffering, while also cushioning the hardship of Abuja residents, and other Nigerians. It should not be the time for introducing anti-masses policies, directives or programmes. Is it not the height of ‘cluelessness’ for FG to criminalize Keke business without providing a palliative for the affected youths?
Usman Aisha Shuaibu, Mass Comm Dept., Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, Niger State