I shall remember my June 16, 2017, Uyo-Abuja road trip forever. The unforgettable leg opened at the Akwa Ibom-Abia interstate boundary military checkpoint, where a soldier said to me, “Boss, are you going to Abuja?” Next, pointing towards their makeshift accommodation, he pleaded “please help this corper” (sic). I turned to see two female corps members in full regalia. He motioned to one, who immediately went in and brought her bag.
He opened the front door, and she jumped in murmuring a greeting to the driver. The soldier half-forced her to greet “Boss at the back.” As the car crawled back to the road, I sensed her discomfort. I made to reassure her: “Corps Member, what’s your name?”
Gee (not real name) answered curtly. “You serve at the checkpoint, no?” “No, sir. My place of primary assignment is behind the checkpoint.” “Oh, I see. What did you study?” “Mass communication, sir.”
“Great,” I noted. Then, I introduced myself, my media brand and this column. She turned and smiled at me. I thought that relaxed her.
After she told me the university she attended, there was no further communication for a while except between the driver and me; all of which was in English. When we ran into another checkpoint on the fringes of Enugu, another soldier waved us down, gesticulating to the driver who got off the road and parked. It was one of the front tyres. Mr. Uko Uka and his tyres!
Thankfully, he was done in minutes. Our only next stop was Obollo Afor, where we bought banana, groundnut and water, which is all I always take during the 10-hour trip. The driver and I took turns to encourage Gee to eat some of the fruit. She grudgingly ate two, and thereafter held on to the peels.
I had to tell her to drop them in the car. It was easy to see that Gee was busy considering things. I engaged her in more discussions. By the way, she should be just a year or two older than my own daughter.
When we entered her state, she showed us her village; even the bush track to her grandmother’s house. I asked if she wanted to get off, she said no; explaining that she wanted to join her sister on the Abuja-Nasarawa outskirts. This being the first time she had visited my part of the country, coupled with stories she might have heard, I completely understood and empathised with her when she didn’t thank me for promising to get a cab to take her as we would arrive after nightfall.
6.35pm: We are deep inside Abaji, 45 minutes from Abuja. I ask to ease myself at the residential portion of the busy motorway. She says, “I also am pressed, sir.” I gestured her to move another way.
I could see people moving about or in their houses. The driver and I located somewhere convenient to do the roadside business. Forgive my bad. Nigeria doesn’t provide public toilets for land travellers.
Although totally lost in the sweetness of the ‘downloading’ then, I can recall now that the driver who stood several metres away from me kept muttering, “what’s wrong with this girl? Ah, is she mad? Oh God, the car almost hit her. What’s going on?”
With cars screeching to a halt all over the place, it was only after I had resumed my seat that it hit me. I saw Gee across the road hands in the air, screaming. I raised my voice from our own side of the road: “Madam, are you good?”
Still trembling, she said “I am scared, sir. My bag, my bag.”
(To be concluded next Monday)
Is 2019 the tomorrow our youths have been waiting for?
Penultimate week, selfishness climaxed in my home state of Akwa Ibom and completely redefined political correctness. Unfortunately, since it is my shame also, I cannot bare it all at this marketplace.
But, to pass the message, I can ‘afghanistanise.’ Imagine that President Muhammadu Buhari had a public spat on the eve of his second term election with his 2015 right hand man, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and elders of their party, rather than do everything backstage to ensure peace, took to the stage to call the latter names, asking him to go to hell.
Imagine also that the Asiwaju had been Buhari’s predecessor and had enjoyed absolute loyalty from these same elders who used to side with him on every issue against own predecessor. Finally, imagine a 360 degree volte-face by this same set of elders; doing for Buhari against Tinubu all that they used to do for Tinubu against others. Pray, what would you call juvenile delinquency that’s committed by grandfathers?
In the mix, we could think up two analogous matters arising: one, with supporters like these the President ought not to forget himself. They don’t mean well; now and after office.
Two, this knavery by elders opens the door for a class that’s been waiting on the leadership sidelines forever; 2019 must be the best chance yet for not-too-young-to-run stars to outshine the moon!
Our inhuman, criminal deafening silence on Benue
Since we were indifferent when they came for Enugu, Plateau and Benue, because we were not from there, who would raise a finger when they come for us?
Shame to the world, our government and indeed all of us, especially the seven governors who chose the mass burial week to beg the President to run again.
Wipe your tears, Benue: the world may not have cared about the gory senselessness you mass-buried the other day, but Heaven cares enough to never allow affliction arise a second time!