By Emeka Obasi
Welcome back to colonial Nigeria when there was no oil and few, very few, owned motor vehicles. Bicycle was class, owning one gave as much respect as living in European Quarters. Now, we know that petrol economy produced a band of criminals that finished the country.
I wish Oloibiri did not exist. I wish politicians and irresponsible young officers did not kill the First Republic. May the day we discovered oil be cursed. May the Fourth Republic be expunged from our lives. We have advanced from there to the Bicycle Republic.
How does one explain that a country which made fortunes through oil has become so beggarly that its citizens cannot afford money to fuel their lives. It sounds crazy that leader after leader, promises were made to better the lives of the people. Finally the masses are battered.
Anyway, we must suffer this new fuel madness together, from top to bottom. That is the only way it will make sense. Let subsidy go but the masses must not suffer it without our leaders joining in the wailing. We are in suffering time, everyone must endure and enjoy it.
Let us us all look at this uncommon way out of the crisis. Between June 2023 to December 2023, all vehicles, with few exceptions, should stay off the road. All motorbikes, keke Marwa/ NAPEP and tractors are hereby banned until further notice.
To fill the gap, there should be massive importation of bicycles, two – wheel trucks ( the type used by Killwe Nwachukwu ) and carts. The good news is that no one will be bothered about the pump price of PMS anymore.
We will only be thinking of how to power generators, in our different industrial zones, offices, hospitals, markets and homes. Truck and cart pushers will be available to lift drums and jerry cans of petroleum products around the numerous towns and villages.
Heavy duty vehicles will still be needed to move petroleum products from one State or Geo Political Zone to another. These ones will be part of the exceptions. And movement must be strictly monitored to make sure tankers do not end up in the backyard of one big man.
The other exceptions will be the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, the Vice President, State governors and Service Chiefs. Emergency services like Ambulance and Fire Brigade trucks are not going to be held back by this new dispensation.
Within these six months, all the refineries in Nigeria will be brought back to life. Dangote refinery would have become operational. The import is that there will be rivalry in the market and petroleum products will be back to affordable pricing.
I know a little about bicycles so let me start marketing brands. As a kid, I saw Raleigh and Hercules. As a boy, we had Monark 76 in my home. It was sold by R. T. Briscoe. While parents loved Toyota and Volvo, farmers went for John Deere trucks and bachelors eyed Vespa scooter, the kids rode bicycles.
Now the bicycle market is large. Whatever brand you need, you will be satisfied. There are Santana, Opel and Peugeot. How about the Senate President going to work on Peugeot bicycle while the speaker powers a sleek Santana.
For those of us who love names, there is space in the showroom. Titus, Thomas, Vitus and Coker are available. If you need to impress your side chics, you may go for Stella, Victoria or even A-bike . Members of the National Assembly may fall in love with Robin Hood bicycles.
Our Religious Leaders love class too. I recommend Prophete, made in Germany or Genesis, manufactured in the United Kingdom. There is Spacelander too. Our Justices of the Supreme Court may find Kangaroo bicycles handy.
The world celebrated Bicycle Day recently. Lagos State University Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ibiyemi Olatunji- Bello was part of the activities. There is Ladies Raleigh. I will ride my Falcon from LASU to Alausa. From there, we shall form a convoy of Choppers, Bombers, Cyclone, Burners and Strika to Onikan.
Bicycle is safe. Col. David Ejoor rode it from Benin to Lagos in 1967. If you doubt me, go to court or better still, ask Google. Lt. Ibrahim Babangida was a passenger on Lt. Gado Nasko’s bicycle in Kaduna, in the First Republic.
The subalterns loved night life. One outing to remember was on their way back from Palace Hotel, they were arrested by a policeman for riding without light. As Nasko dragged the bicycle to the station, closely followed by the cop, Babangida released a hot slap that sent the policeman running away in a blue funk. He did not know they were soldiers.
You see why we should not complain about the bicycle. Babangida became President. Ejoor was a governor and Nasko rose to a ministerial position. Bicycle riders of today will eventually make it to the top. Let us all embrace the Bicycle Republic.
I think the Federal Government should adopt this my idea of palliatives. All ministers must ride bicycles to work. The masses will fall in line with ease. There will be no gridlock anywhere. Bandits will disappear from our roads because there will be no flashy cars to target.
Our environment will be cleaner. Our dress sense will improve. For six months, we will save enough money to kickstart the economy. There will be more parties no doubt. Just that before leaving Asokoro for Maitama on a Fuji bicycle, you will think twice.