THE BEATIFICATION OF AREA BOYS AND THE NEW OYO STATE GOVERNMENT REVENUE DRIVE

On Monday February 17, 2020, the government of Oyo State under the leadership of Seyi Makinde made a bold step to soar up the revenue of the state with the inauguration of Park Managers across the 33 Local Government Areas of the State. It should be part of the economic agenda of any responsible government not only to plug leakages but to find a legal way of raising its Revenue figures for the benefit of the masses. Given this background, the Makinde-led government swung into action to bring this into reality with the concept of Park Managers.

This move followed an almost 9-month suspension of the age-long extortion of innocent and hardworking commercial drivers in the state by a clique of lazy fellas who would daily send their errand boys after these drivers to collect ‘toll fee’ three times a day. Only the affected drivers can properly narrate their unsavoury daily experiences in the course of doing their legit business. It is instructive to note that this is the currency in all Southwestern states – I do not know exactly how it is done in other regions of the country. So having the corrupt practices stopped (or suspended indefinitely) was such good news that it was welcomed with ecstatic jubilation, not only by motorists, but also by residents – whose many trips must have been momentarily disrupted on a number of occasions by the errand boys of these lazy brats while trying to collect their ‘dues.’

Secondly, an objective observer would acknowledge that these men are taking much more than their dues – if they ever have any due at all. You would marvel at the royal life they live, not by dint of hardwork, but through the proceeds of sheer extortion. So, it is simply no surprise that the government has rightly ventured to take what ordinarily should belong to the state but misappropriated to serve the personal interests, and line the pockets of a very few hands at diffent Motorparks across the state.

However, as laudable as this step seems, the manner of execution is suspect. In my view, it is a reincarnation of the brigandage of yesteryears with choise the old guards, who actively supervised terrors against the innocent people of the state in the years best forgotten, to lead the charge in the new Revenue Collection drive of the government. Without mincing words, this is at best condemnable. I would be happier to see the guards changed – even if to appease the general indignation against this latest move.

Even though, I am tempted to think that the governor is only trying to apply some native intelligence by choosing Alhaji Mukaila Lamidi popularly known as Auxiliary, this appointment is akin to empowering a gang of touts in a new way – a sort of resuscitation of old rivalry. As much as I do not expect Auxiliary ‘boys’ to enjoy so much freedom as to exact vengeance on rival groups, it is not out of place to think that the proxy killing as was witnessed some years ago might be reignited. How the government plans to avert this still remains to be seen. Similarly, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Security Matters is a retired police officer – a distinguished police officer for that matter. I had thought that the governor would inaugurate a Task Force to be headed by Security Expert since keeping sanity in the parks requires the experience of people like this. This is why I see this appointment as the beatification of area boys (apology to Wole Soyinka).

This government is already doing well to the general applause of the masses, one hopes this would not erode its goodwill. Makinde should remember that it was a succession of wrong choices that set Buhari against most of his erstwhile admirers and supporters. It is my view that the government would do well to review this choice and make amends as necessary. It is disingenuous to think that everyone that speaks against a government policy is a wounded beneficiary of corruption. Many people genuinely speak their minds, not to slight the achievements of the government but rather to help it achieve more.

God bless Oyo State!
God bless FRN!!

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