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Yusuf Buhari’s accident re-emphasises need for strict regulation on power bikes

Yusuf Buhari’s accident re-emphasises need for strict regulation on power bikes

The complaints of Abuja residents about the activities of power bikers in the nation’s capital resonated last week, following reports of a crash involving Yusuf, the only surviving son of President Muhammadu Buhari. Yusuf was said to have suffered a head injury and multiple fractures, occasioned by a power bike crash in the nation’s capital on Tuesday night around Gwarimpa while racing with a friend.

Residents have raised the alarm over the growing culture of power bikers in the nation’s capital and the menace they pose to commuters, travellers and passers-by. Findings by BD SUNDAY revealed that this act is mostly carried out by celebrities as well as young and middle-aged bikers who are mostly children of the super-rich and had resorted to biking as a favourite pastime.

Two prominent Nigerians that are synonymous with power bikes are the controversial senator and Chairman, Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Dino Melaye and popular musician, Charly Boy. Yusuf’s accident is not the first major power bike crash in the country. In 2012, Mohammed, the first son of ex-Minister of Power and Steel, Bashir Dalhatu, died in a power bike accident on his way to Abuja after participating at a bikers’ convention in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital. Mohammed was reported to have told his driver to drive along while he rode on his power bike.

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In the same vein, Lagos big boy, Fred Omame died in 2011 after he was involved in a ghastly power bike accident on Third Mainland Bridge, Lagos. The same year, another Lagos big boy, Tamunotonye Boma Claude-Wilcox died from a power bike crash. Also in 2014, a Consumer Protection Council (CPC) bike road show, led by Nigerian Consumer Ambassador, Charly Boy, claimed the life of one of the bikers in Abuja. There are also concerns that the FCT Administration is yet to affect the ban on the use of power bikes in the nation’s capital by former FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed. This followed revelations by security agents that one of the perpetrators of the 2014 EMAB plaza bomb attack in Wuse II, Abuja was seen on a power bike.

Speaking on the development, an Abuja-based legal practitioner, Blessing Omotsola, expressed the hope that the recent incident would serve as a clarion call to road safety officials, security agencies as well as FCT Transportation Secretariat to checkmate the activities of power bike riders in the city. While calling for enforcement of speed limits on roads, he, however, expressed fear that children of the high and mighty would flout such regulations with impunity.

“The crash will call the attention of all stakeholders to the menace of these power bike-riding oppressors. I say oppressors because whenever they are on the road, they tend to oppress other road users with the sound of their bikes and the neck-breaking speed at which they move. Oftentimes these bikes are accompanied by sleek muscle cars that also move at similar neck-breaking speed on roads that are used by other normal Nigerians including women and children.

“We should have speed limits on roads, even on express roads, but of course the limit does not apply to these children of the high and mighty, most of whose parents are part of the corrupt Nigerians we are trying to get rid of. When they ride, the interest of other road users does not concern them, when they overtake you with such speed and noise, if one is not careful one could be startled out of control. “Unfortunately, the agencies that should discipline these guys are usually incapacitated because the riders are children of the rich who are usually always above the law in Nigeria. “Given this, I say it is a good thing that Buhari’s son got involved. Maybe now he must have gotten the right attention with which we can handle this issue,” he told BDSUNDAY.

However, an Abuja-based journalist, Osaretin Osadebamwen, vehemently opposed any attempt to ban power bikes in the nation’s capital. According to him, it is a globally acceptable sporting activity. He, however, called for stiff punishment for those who refuse to be fully kitted and engage in the activity. Osadebamwen said: “The fall of an extant President’s son should not make us consider a global and acceptable sporting activity a danger. Every sport and passion comes with its hazards. The incident of Yusuf Buhari is one of many instances.

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“Recall that a former Editor of People’s Daily and present media aide to the Bauchi State Governor, Ali M. Ali suffered a similar fate. “Riding power bike does not offend any state law. The use of a power bike is not restricted to the Military or the Police or state. So, citizens who can afford it are free to buy, ride and have fun so long as they do not constitute a danger for others.

“Meanwhile, use of protective gears must be encouraged and stiff penalty meted out to whoever is not fully kitted yet riding the power bike”. Adding another dimension to the story, Omotsola alleged that most power bike riders are addicted to hard drugs. This, he pointed out, give them the courage to move at such dangerous speeds. “This may be a topic for another day, but if the FRSC were to subject all those caught on power bikes to drug tests, you may be surprised to find that many of them are abusers of drugs and/or alcohol”, he submitted. A civil servant, who spoke on condition of anonymity, explained that the incident has further revealed the life of luxury by children of public officials at the expense of taxpayers’ money.

He hinged his submission on the fact that in the buildup to the 2015 general election, Buhari, the then presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), had declared that he had only N1 million in his bank account and would need to obtain a bank loan to purchase the party’s nomination form. He, therefore, expressed surprise that three years after, the first family had so much money to purchase the latest edition of Harley Davidson Power Bike valued at $1 million (N365 million) for their son.

“Another issue that many seem to ignore is: the young Buhari crashed a Harley Davidson Power Bike, one of the world most expensive Power Bikes. I read that the bike that was crashed goes for $1 million. “That amount may not yet be verified, but I know for certain that the cheapest new edition of Harley Davidson Power Bike is over tens of millions of Naira. What does he do for a living to afford such an expensive ‘Toy’ apart from other cars which he owns?” he asked.

However, an observer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that it was wrong to assume that the power bike belonged to Yusuf or that President Buhari bought it for his son. “I don’t want to toe the path of some who have concluded that the bike cost $1million or that it belonged to Yusuf and must have been bought with tax payers’ money. We must be reasonable. The bike may even belong to a friend of his. We also tend to forget that at the level of being the president of a country, there’s a lot of goodwill from people. Someone can give the young man the bike just for being the President’s son. There’s nothing unusual about it. What we should be interested in is the need for a stricter regulation that would check excesses on our roads,” said the observer.

 

OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja