By Dr. Abdulrasaq Shittu
In Lagos, about 85% of Danfos on the roads don’t have working headlights, brake lights, signal lights, functional seat belts or other safety devices.
You don’t have to believe me; just take a ride around the city and see for yourself.
Let us not even talk of valid driver’s license. Most danfo drivers don’t have one.
Meanwhile, as a private motorist in Lagos, you dare not lack any of these driving necessities. Otherwise, you stand the risk of getting your vehicle confiscated by overzealous LASTMA or VIO officials.
In addition, in Lagos, danfo drivers will run the red traffic light, take one-way, constitute all manner of traffic nuisance, yet they rarely are punished for these.
Simply, Lagos Danfo qualifies as one of the most dangerous means of public transportation in the world.
Now, have you ever wondered why danfo and other commercial vehicle drivers are allowed this impunity in a state that has LASTMA, traffic Police, VIO, and FRSC?
Well, it is simple. I will explain.
Danfos And Extortive Levies
In Lagos, as many Danfos are needed to be on the road. This way, they can contribute to a pool of levy collected by a vicious cartel that masquerades as the State road transport unions.
In other words, if every danfo that conflict with the law were to be arrested, it will leave very few danfos on the road. What that would translate to is less levies collected by the ‘agberos’.
I’m sure someone is now getting the picture.
This is the simple reason why Danfos are above the law in Lagos State.
Now, here is the thing; every road traffic law enforcer is complicit in this intricate scheme: LASTMA, Police, VIO, FRSC, etc.
In fact, if you are a frequent commuter that uses danfos, you’re probably already familiar with terms like “Owo LASTMA,” “Owo Olopa,” “Owo Chairman,” etc. These are some of the levies that danfo drivers are forced to pay to the agents of the cartel.
These monies are then paid to the traffic law enforcement agents for them to turn a blind eye to the shenanigans of Danfo drivers in the state.
Lagos State Government And The Agberos
The national body of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) recently suspended the Lagos State branch of the union, which is headed by the notorious MC Oluomo.
The suspension came as a surprise and generated a stir in one particular circle.
Now, guess what happened.
Almost immediately, the Lagos State government headed by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, hastily formed a new transport union. It was christened the Lagos State Parks And Garages Management.
Now, guess who was appointed to lead the new Union?
Yes. You guessed right. MC Oluomo.
By this action, the Lagos State government did in fact confirm that it is the main enabler of agberos and their mischiefs on Lagos roads.
Now, the big question is: Why was it necessary for the hurried formation of this new union by Sanwo-Olu?
Well, the answer is simple: 2023 is just by the corner, and funds need to be mobilized for the campaign season.
I hope I am getting somewhere?
- The Infamous Lagos Traffic: A Gold Mine*
The Lagos road transport cartel, which is made up of various Lagos road transport unions, is the biggest beneficiary of the notoriously chaotic road traffic in the State.
Additionally, there are irrefutable evidences that a prominent personality in the State and a former Governor is the chief supporter and shareholder of these unions.
According to a 2021 report by the International Centre for Investigative Report, the Lagos Chapter of NURTW generates a staggering N123.08billion ANNUALLY.
This amount exceeds the average annual IGR of most Nigerian states.
For better understanding, this amount is more than the annual budgets of Niger, Yobe and Nasarawa COMBINED!
It is also important to note that the Lagos transport unions add no value to the roads that generate so much for them:
They don’t build roads.
They don’t fix potholes.
They don’t clean drainage systems or gutters.
They do not clean even the bus stops and motor parks where they operate, etc.
An important question at this point is: Where do all these incredible sums of money that they collect go?
Lagos State IGR
Undoubtedly, N123.08billion per annum is not a small amount.
Why doesn’t the State Government collect these levies since they are the owners of the roads that generate these humongous amount for the agberos?
Indeed, Lagos state would boast of far higher IGR than they now do if this sum generated by the agberos goes to the state treasury as it is done in states like Edo and Rivers State.
Why then does the state government remain silent while some private terror organizations profit from money that ought to have gone to the state treasury?
Ambode And The Danfo Policy
In 2017, ex-Governor Akinwunmi Ambode announced that there was a plan by his government to phase out Danfos in Lagos state.
What the naive Ambode did not realize was that phasing out danfo is not part of the much talked about “Lagos state masterplan”.
That announcement would ultimately cost him his re-election as Governor.
Ambode And The Oshodi Bus Terminal
The popular Oshodi bus stop alone has over 24 different motor parks spread across the place.
Indeed, Oshodi bus stop is a major money-spinner for the Lagos state ‘agberos’.
In September 2017, Ambode started a project to modernize the Oshodi bus stop.
With the construction of the ultra-modern Oshodi bus terminal, most of these motor parks were to be eliminated.
That is, as if the plan to phase out danfo wasn’t bad enough, Ambode was also planning to eliminate the various money-raking motor-parks at Oshodi.
Again, this turned out to be another “wrong” move by Ambode.
As time has shown, this plan by Ambode was also not part of the fabled “Lagos State Masterplan” promoted by the cartel and their allies.
These were the main reasons the powerful forces and the cartel ensured that Ambode didn’t get the APC ticket to run for re-election as governor of Lagos State.
Danfo and Lagos Traffic
A former DG of LASTMA, Engr. Olajide Oduyoye, had consistently campaigned that Danfo is one of the chief causes of traffic snarls in Lagos. Indeed, he was a champion for the phasing out of danfo from Lagos roads.
Now, guess what.
Governor Sanwo-Olu sacked the man ostensibly for his opposition to the antics of the road transport cartel.
Clearly, the Lagos State government and the cartel were very determined to sustain danfo – an outdated means of mass transport on the road of the city that pride itself as a “megacity”.
Lagos traffic, Super Wealthy Agberos And The Yoruba Youths
Don’t be fooled. The horrific traffic situation in Lagos is deliberate. It is designed for the benefit of a small group of people.
The slower the traffic, the easier it is for the foot soldiers of the cartel to collect the various levies from the hapless commercial motorists.
Therefore, when next you are stuck in the horrific Lagos traffic, jut know that someone is smiling to the bank from your frustration.
Indeed, the traffic chaos in the state have made many agberos billionaires.
Sadly, this reprehensible system has also created employment for many Yoruba youths. Most of these Youths now dream and aspire to be the next “MC Oluomo”.
Why not? When they see the likes of MC Oluomo and his associates throwing extravagant “Owambes”, building mansions, hotels and petrol stations all over the place.
Little wonder why an average Lagos youth would tell you “school na scam”.
The Obafemi Awolowo Legacy And The Agbero Syndrome
The Yorubas were once-up-on-a-time famed as the most educated ethnic group in Nigeria. Thanks to the educational legacy of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
Sadly, all that legacy has been completely destroyed since 1999.
In the past 23 years, rather than continuing to create educational strategies to educate the South West region, there has been a remarkable recruitment of Yoruba youths as area-boys or agberos.
The poor ranking of South-West states in WAEC results are a clear indicator of how awful things have been for Yorubas since the start of the third republic.
Chief Obafemi Awolowo would be turning in his grave right now.
The 2023 General Election
The electioneering season has begun.
The Grand Patron of the Lagos Agberos is running to be the president of Nigeria.
Undoubtedly, the huge funds generated from the horrendous traffic in Lagos will be used to finance the campaign to enthrone him as the GCFR.
Let there be no misunderstanding: The sum of money involved is staggering!
This season, money will play an extremely important role:
Loyalty will be purchased.
There will be compromise of the moral standards of so many otherwise principled individuals.
Deals will be struck with appropriate and strategic institutions.
Overwhelming mass media and social media promotions will be undertaken.
Massive propaganda and campaigns of calumny will be sponsored.
Voters’ PVCs will be purchased.
Voters will be enticed with monies, etc.
All these will be done to ensure that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu becomes the next president of Nigeria.
Yes. The incredible amount of money to ensure that this happens is available.
Note: the use of danfo in this article refers to Danfo, “Korope”, Keke riders, Okadas, and others public vehicles that are subject to extortion by Lagos agberos.