Since Alhaji Taofeek Oyekunle Oyerinde, a.k.a. Fele, the Chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Oyo State Council, took over the leadership of the once-troubled union, he has conducted the affairs of the transport union without employing violence. And the state has known peace until lately during a meeting of some Accord members in Ona-Ara which recorded a fracas leading to the death of 4 members of the party. In this interview with ADEOLA OLADELE and SHARON VINCENT, the NURTW chair speaks on his life as a driver, the activities of the union in recent times, the peace in the state in relation to the union and the union’s support for Governor Ajimobi…
I started commercial driving in 1978
I became a commercial driver in 1978. And before you can become a driver then, one must first be a bus conductor. To the glory of God I was a bus conductor before I became a professional driver.
Before, no parent will allow his child become a driver
The reason is that then, you can’t be a commercial driver without having the knowledge of a bus conductor unlike what obtained now. Then, there was nothing like a driving school. It’s your boss that will train you on how to drive.
Things were done properly then. Commercial drivers do adhere strictly to traffic rules. They had the fear of the VIO, because they knew if they were caught violating traffic rules, it’s a serious problem for them. Things were in order then.
I never expected I could become NURTW chairman
This union has been in existence for a long period of time and when it was founded in the state, it was for the progress of commercial drivers. It was not founded for any sinister motive.
When this union was inaugurated by the President Shagari’s government, it was Success Ogundare (may his soul rest in peace) that became the first national chairman and he administered the union well then.
At present, our current National President, Alhaji Najeem Usman Yasin, is a man of peace. He does not tolerate rancour in the state chapters of the union. And he is praying fervently for all members of the union. If you are following a good boss, there will not be rancour of any sort. It was due to the greediness of some elements within the union that is causing problem in some quarters. It’s only God that puts people in a position of authority.
I never expected I could become the chairman of this union. It was the least thing I expected. I was in my home when someone placed a call across, informing me that he heard it on the radio that I have been appointed chairman of the union without my knowledge.
Despite that, I did not pay attention to the news, until I was called from Abuja for swearing-in, that they have appointed me chairman of the union in the state. That was how God did it.
We are grateful to Ajimobi for returning peace to Oyo
Previous governments in the state are fond of engaging some members of this union in unholy activities to disrupt the peace of residents in the state. But we are very grateful to the present administration of Governor Abiola Ajimobi for his ability to return peace to the state. Gov. Ajimobi gave us a free hand to conduct our affairs without hindering our activities. He instructed us not to play partisan politics. The previous governments are of the opinion that members of NURTW can be used for thuggery and other vices in the state. If you are aware, no member of NURTW participated in the primaries of APC held in the state unlike what happened in 2011 where Lateef Salako known as “Eleweomo” was murdered during the PDP primaries. This union is in full support of the government of the day. But we are not supporting them to cause any problem. We are partners in progress.
Truly, when Eleweomo was the chairman, Tokyo’s tenure had not ended. Tokyo headed for court and he was vindicated. But in a twist of event, Akala did not allow the court ruling to prevail by proscribing the union. But God made things right. It was when his tenure fully expired that the national union constituted a caretaker committee to run the affairs of the union in the state till the election was conducted
Tokyo, Auxilliary have been expelled from NURTW
Alhaji Lateef Akinsola is no more a member of NURTW. He has been expelled by the national body in Abuja. Both he and Mukaila Lamidi, known as “Auxiliary,” have been expelled from the union. They were served with copies of the letters. So, you should not call them members of the NURTW. They are on their own. They are former members.
You cannot see any sign of being members of the union. When you visit any of our garages, you will see our members wearing their ID cards. But these people you are talking about, have no identities again, Alhaji Tokyo is no more a member of NURTW.
We have very cordial relationship with the present administration
As we all know, Gov. Ajimobi is an intellectual and a man of peace. He allows peace to reign in the state. Since his emergence, you cannot hear where people are being murdered at will unlike with the previous governments. He is a man of peace that is why we are supporting him for the continued progress of the state. We don’t want any form of violence in this state again. So we have a very good relationship with him and his administration.
We requested for buses and he made them available to us. We urge him to continue building new roads for us. I also want to thank my members for cooperating with me and advise them to support the government of the day in making the state to witness continued peace and progress. They should stay away from vices that can hinder the smooth running of the union.
The launch of Ajumose Shuttle Buses has not affected our income.
This has not in any way affected us and it has not affected our daily income. Not everybody can have the luxury of time, waiting for the Ajumose bus.
Police, FRSC don’t have right to inspect vehicle particulars
The body that has the right to inspect vehicle particulars is the VIO. They can distinguish between fake and genuine vehicle particulars. Police do not have the right to inspect vehicle particulars. They are meant to control and regulate traffic.
In our days, before the police conduct check on vehicles, they would have given a week’s notice to the union that they want to embark on general checking. This will afford members to put everything in order. Those who have not obtained their driving licences will have the opportunity of doing so within the time-frame of the notice. Ditto, FRSC is not saddled with the responsibility of inspecting vehicle particulars.
Very soon, we will start apprehending unregistered drivers
We have given an ultimatum to our members to start painting their commercial buses or cars with the state’s logo to differentiate them from those who are running the services privately. Our task forces are fully out now to apprehend them.