Friday, November 27, 2015

NAIJA TOUR (4)

It must be the fact that we had crossed over into Kogi from Ondo that gave me so much rest of mind that I fell into what I can describe as a POWER NAP, and that was despite the uncomfortable atmosphere that the contraption that is the bus we were in provided. We were close to Lokoja when I came to, and I knew then that Abuja was just a matter of time, though it seemed that by the speed with which the driver was now going that he wasn't so keen at arriving Abuja before noon, a long shot from our ETA.

Lokoja, as beautiful as always had in its background intimidating mountains and hills, which in some areas, just like in Abeokuta, Ogun State, some less intimidated indigenes had taken the battle up to the mountain in erecting their abode in its belly, as far up as they figure they could go and yet be safe. The pictures they make is an interesting one to behold, so much so that I wonder if I could have something like that in the future, even though a beachside condo appears more appealing to me than the former.

You really have to witness the vastness of Nigeria when you travel by road to understand why foreigners come into Nigeria and make it. You can sell virtually anything here, and you'll find a market that asks very little questions, though like a mob they'll troop to patronize you when you don't disappoint, but will be quick to go the other way once their expectations aren't met. That is how fluid the market is, but they can also be very forgiving. It is painful that those in leadership position haven't been able to inspire among the people the much needed confidence to aspire to be the best they can be. The land surely is blessed and flows with milk and honey, of potentials. Unfortunately, the challenges are such that on all sides the country is pulled by centripetal forces aimed at dislodging it at it's centre, a painful sight to have to witness and live through.

Ok, enough of me waxing patriotic to noticing that Kogi might just be doing to me what Ondo has always done to me, but I will put that to anticipation or longing for the as yet elusive Abuja not necessarily because it is such a great distance to cover as such. I could see the many plans lined up for the time I was spending on the roads cancelling themselves out gradually, while others rescheduled themselves. Man as usual can only propose, as it is our inalienable right (amongst others) to so do, whether we get to carry out our propositions is another matter entirely, one which many times is beyond our control.

One of those plans was to put out online-real time everything, as I see them in my tour of some towns in Nigeria and there I was, barely into the first major city and Airtel Nigeria my phone's network for data knocks me off with more than 700MB to burn even after 24 hours I couldn't still be linked to the outside world besides the call I could make to my acquaintances. Anyway, before I knew that the situation would last that long, we managed to make it to Abuja but unlike my frequent visits, I elected to alight at Lupe before the bus made it into its terminal at the Utako area of Abuja, which going by the speed the driver was going in, could take another hour. From Lupe I boarded a cab to Area 1, from where I jumped into another to Mararaba but again alighted just before that ever busy part of the outskirts of Abuja for what looked like a newly developing park a few kilometers to Mararaba to board a cab to Keffi, in Nasarawa State where I had a deal to seal. With suicide bombers targeting notable parks to make their statements I intended to avoid major parks in Abuja as much as I could.

Something interesting happened though, when we approached the military checkpoint on the road to Keffi, just a few kilometers after we had passed Mararaba. I had gotten a call from Lagos over an issue I had to resolve with business there, and was doing so as we approached the checkpoint. That was when the Yoruba driver shouted in Hausa something I couldn't make out and couldn't care less because I was sure he wasn't talking about  or to me, until the boy sitting next to me snatched my phone from me and held tightly to it while we careered past the checkpoint, and I stilled myself from throwing up my custom "WTF" because of the end of the soldiers' AK-47 that was dangling close to my head by the window side of the back of the cab where I was seated.


ONE OF MANY MILITARY CHECKPOINTS IN NIGERIA.


Once we were out of hearing range of the soldiers, the boy apologized and returned my phone, explaining to me that we would've been made to alight, even punished (as "erring" passengers were sometimes asked to frog jump, I also learnt) had I been caught by the soldiers making a call. He had to do what he did when I didn't heed the drivers' rant to stop making the call on my phone as we passed by the checkpoint. My anger soon turned to a feeling of appreciation when the ramification of what had happened became clear to me, so I thanked him while wondering why the driver could've thought I could understand the Hausa language when I spoke the Yoruba, which he as well speaks fluently, but I put that to the terrain. When I narrated this event on Facebook much later, George said the ban on making calls at checkpoints was because suicide bombers used phones to detonate their baggage, and Robinson Onogu said I was lucky that my phone wasn't reduced to shreds while I got the pulp beaten outta me till I proved to the soldiers that I wasn't a member of Boko Haram (Islamic Fundamentalist group behind series of suicide bombings in Nigeria's north generally, and the Northeast in particular). I was left aghast!

'kovich

PHOTO CREDITS:
- http://beegeagle.wordpress.com

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