Between Makinde’s Park Managers And NURTW | Tobi Idowu
Each time I see Governor Seyi Makinde’s park managers in action in parts of Oyo State, they always remind me of the suspended National Union of Road Transport Workers in the state.
When Makinde placed a ban on the NURTW in Oyo, many residents were reasonably puzzled as to the consequences of such an unexpected move. While the majority of the residents would probably have openly welcomed any move to phase out the union, a not too insignificant number of people feared how its members and leadership might react to the governor’s action.
It should be recalled that before the ban, there was a plan by a rival group to seize the motor parks (invariably take up the leadership of the union) from another. In fact, the plan was openly flaunted because the group angling to take over the union had thrown its weight behind the current government in the state. Although it was rumoured that Makinde would do something drastic about the union, nobody had expected an outright ban.
A few weeks ago, the new park managers were inaugurated by the Oyo State Government. Of course, a lot of has been said about the establishment of the outfit, the irony of which was unfortunately lost on the government and the helmsman. It turned out that the state government was initially confused and hardly knew how to replace the other group that was in charge of the NURTW with the group loyal to Makinde. Having won the hearts of the people with a message announcing a new dawn in the state, it must have realised how embarrassing it would be at that point to try out the old method of using state support mechanisms to aid a forceful take-over of the motor parks.
Or is there any other plausible explanation for the six and half a dozen that the NURTW and the park managers have become? You only need to hail a cab bound for Dugbe in front of the University of Ibadan gates and watch the park managers brazenly extort the driver. That is just a flash of what they are capable of doing. What about the experiences of commercial motorcycle operators, also known as Okada riders? Most of them have complained of being forced by the so-called park managers to pay multiple fees (beyond the N100 officially approved by the state government) every day. It doesn’t matter if they have a ticket to show for their payment or not.
Strangely enough, these ‘government boys’ derive much pleasure from physically assaulting Okada riders, even going as far as putting them in danger, in their bid to extort them. And what makes them to act with so much impunity? ‘He who collects taxes for the government is never at fault.’
It is definitely not wide of the mark to surmise that the state government has merely used the nomenclature ‘park managers’ as an excuse to ease out those who were initially at the helm of the NURTW and inaugurate its favoured group. Nothing in the thieving activities and the unsavoury behaviour of the so-called park managers distinguishes them from the banned union. Nothing whatsoever; not even in the way they endanger the lives of commuters or disrupt the traffic flow in a bid to extort motorists.
One can only hope that Governor Makinde would do something urgent to protect the image of his administration and that of the state from the embarrassing activities of members of the new transport outfit. A stitch in time, they say, still saves nine.
TOBI IDOWU WROTE IN FROM IBADAN, OYO STATE