All is not well with the decision of Oyo state government to establish a park management system using former officials of transport union allegedly notorious for their antecedents. Writes BAYO AGBOOLA
If the antecedents of men of the now proscribed National Union of Road Transport Workers Union (NURTW) in Oyo state are anything to go by, then the Governor Seyi Makinde-led government, no doubt, has a great task ahead of it towards maintaining and sustaining the peace of the state especially Ibadan, the state capital.
In most cases, the fear of NURTW men in Oyo is the beginning of wisdom as the union, its leaders often constitute ‘semi government’ on their own as witnessed in the state since the birth of this growing democracy in the country from May 29, 1999 to date.
In Oyo state, NURTW is more or less a political party on its own working and operating as an affiliate of the ruling political party in the state at a specific period of time.
No wonder that palpable fears gripped some residents of the state when almost eight months after proscribing the activities of this so-called ‘almighty’ NURTW in and across the state on Friday, on February 14, the state government came up with a new formula called Park Management System (PMS) for the administration of motor parks in and across the state.
This to many was a tactical way of returning NURTW leaders and members loyal to the ruling administration back into the fold using a different name. According to the state commissioner for public works, infrastructure and transport, Professor Raphael Afonja, while announcing the new development, he said the new park system would boost internally generated revenue (IGR) and that the management committees would be inaugurated on Monday, February 17 because the new PMS would include a team of park managers who will coordinate activities at the parks located in each of the 33 local governments as well as two disciplinary committees to coordinate motor parks and tippers/lorries parks.
Crisis arising from the policy
Apparently sensing the state government’s game plan, factional NURTW leaders in the state immediately kicked against the planned PMS formula, asking Governor Makinde not to go ahead with the planned inauguration of park managers in the interest of the reigning peace and stability in the state particularly at the motor parks. He stressed that the planned naming of a factional leader of the union in the new PMS would make a total mess of the whole arrangement; more so, threatened the reigning peace in the state. They called on the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi and other prominent traditional rulers across the state to prevail on Governor Makinde before plunging the state into another crisis as any attempt by the governor at appointing park managers to replace the union at motor parks across the state would be resisted by them. They said, “NURTW is an entity under the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) which is totally different from a government parastatal; hence, the motor park management system introduced by the government is illegal and uncalled for. We are appealing to the Olubadan of Ibadan, Alaafin of Oyo, Aseyin of Iseyin and other traditional rulers in the state to help us plead with the governor to jettison the idea of motor park management arrangement the government is putting in place.”
In the words of the immediate past NURTW chairman in the state, Alhaji Abideen Olajide Ejiogbe, “NURTW in Oyo state is not under the supervision of Governor Seyi Makinde or Oyo state and as such, the government should not unnecessarily dabble into its affairs. Let it also be noted that we are not under the supervision of the state government as we are a different entity from government parastatals and agencies. We want leaders in the state to please help beg Governor Seyi Makinde to allow NURTW to carry out its statutory functions.”
Upon the warning by the NURTW factional leaders and with the violent antecedents of NURTW in Oyo state especially in the past years, the state police command immediately responded to the position of the factional NURTW leaders warning them against carrying out the threats of violence issued in a video as the government of Makinde would bring the full weight of the law to bear on anyone caught disturbing peace and order in the state.
The command in a statement by the spokesperson (PPRO), SP Lawrence Fadeyi, warned that the police would not hesitate to bring down the full weight of the law on such individuals or groups who attempt to test the collective will of the security agencies in the state, saying, “The police as the lead agency in internal security, in synergy with all other sister security agencies, would continue to carry out its constitutional responsibilities of protecting lives and property amongst others and would therefore not fold its arms and allow any disgruntled individuals or groups to take the laws into their hands to cause chaos or mayhem.”
Gov’t inaugurated the team
However on Monday, February 17, the state government made good its plans with the inauguration of the park managers for the 33 local governments across the state with
two disciplinary committees to intervene whenever conflicts arise between the state government and park managers on the operations of the parks with the naming of a factional NURTW leader in the state, Alhaji Mukaila Lamidi as chairman of PMS disciplinary committee.
Speaking at the inauguration, Professor Afonja said that the new PMS would bring sanity in the management of motor parks in the state and that the managers would be coordinated by a consultant to ensure compliance with the terms of reference while the disciplinary committees would intervene where there are issues between the state government and park managers. According to him, “This is not a union matter at all as the PMs are basically employed by the state government. One of the things the governor is doing is to ensure that leakages are blocked and that there is an increase in the revenue of the state. So, that is why we have this management system in place, just to coordinate on behalf of the government.
“Another reason the governor is doing this is to avoid violence among the unionists because our people feel insecure whenever issues of NURTW come up in the state.
“If there is anyone who, in some ways, wants to threaten the peace of the state, such a person would face the wrath of the law. Governor Makinde is the number one citizen of this state and he has all rights to do what is good for the people of the state. We are asking the PMs and the committees to make sure that there is no traffic congestion in our state. They should coordinate parks and make sure that the revenues which the state is entitled to get into the state coffers. These are the things this government is concerned about.”
With the unfolding events in the state as far as observers are concerned, the PMS arrangement is a lofty idea, initiated by Governor Makinde with the good intention for the state at heart, but the ugly side of it all was the naming of a factional NURTW leader in person of Alhaji Mukaila Lamidi as chairman which to many rubbished and eventually messed up the whole arrangements.
To some, Governor Makinde ought to have opted for a neutral person and not the factional leader.
With all these on ground, there is no doubt there are palpable fears in and across the state about the coming on board of the PMS. A witness of any of the past NURTW rampage crisis in any part of the state, particularly in Ibadan, the state capital would easily realise that what is presently on ground can best be likened to graveyard peace with residents sleeping with one eye opened.
Governor Makinde and the present administration need to double up and firmly protect the reigning peace in the state.