TO THE EAST

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This is the first time I’d travel by public interstate bus and no pastor came in to pray, or the passengers themselves taking the gauntlet to lead prayers.

I guess most passengers this time or in this bus are realist not given to such foibles. I’m not against praying in a public bus, I just feel it’s a personal thing and people shouldn’t lord their beliefs and prayers over others.

Most times when I travel and take to other things while other passengers prayed or get prayerful some of them look at me like I am the devil or his incarnate.

There is the tendency to pray or not to be averse to prayer when travelling during peak periods because of the high rates of accidents associated with those periods like Christmas, New Year or any of the Muslim festivals.

What the journey lacked in prayers, it gained in the myriad of cool gospel music with which the driver serenaded us for the better part of the initial journey.

The passengers didn’t seem perturbed, some even appeared to like it, singing along while for a few others it was the much needed tonic to go somnolent.

The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway has become a construction site. Finally, the Federal Government has decided to take the Bull by the horn. Not only is repair work (patch-patch) going on, there’s also expansion work to increase the number of lanes on both sides. I hope they’ll put to good use the larger part of the =N=300 Billion sourced for that project.

In Nigeria, roads include one of the major items with which a government is measured, and building or maintaining one in major areas serve as veritable campaign tool and seeing that general elections are about a year from now, the decision to embark on this project couldn’t have been better timed.

This journey from Lagos TO THE EAST is coming just a month after the last one I made in the same direction. I had thought that my next journey will be to the North after my last visit here, until the unfortunate incident that necessitated this journey occurred.

The journey to the North remains and by YAHWEH’s grace, and all things being equal will be made soon despite recent happenings in the Northeast, where Islamic insurgents continue to play ten-ten with the lives of hapless Nigerians, while appearing to the security agents a tough nut to crack.

I loved the North, I had some of the best and memorable moments of my life there, hence it tears at the seams of my heart when I learn of things going on there. I long to be there again, even if it’s just for a very short time.

For now my thoughts remain with the East and my personal business here. So after the initial calls to loved ones during and immediately after departure from Lagos, sundry calls were made and recieved. Interestingly, I found that most of the men made business calls, even sealed a few deals with their calls while most of the women made calls bothering on relationships, breaking up for some and making up for others, while others kept things in the cooler till they got to their destinations or returned from their journey.

I like sitting window side. Infact I’ve had to decline leaving with a bus on it’s way out because I didn’t get it. It affords me the opportunity to see and note events first hand on my side of the bus. I doubt those sitting away from the window saw, like I just did, the Fulani herdsman grazing his cattle in the bush just adjacent to the road. I’ve always wondered how it came to be that those cows never considered killing their masters and dashing away to their freedom, seeing that one single kick from the hoof of the weakest cow could kill the nomad if they could just take the chance.

This is about the time you’d see the fulani and their cattle grazing pasture in the South, seeing that their bases in the North are witnessing little/no rainfall with less to scant vegetation to feast upon.

These Fulani are the only tribe that travel the length and breadth of Nigeria fully armed. They are a law unto themselves and though many of them may be innocent, some of them have been found to be complicit in behaviour tending towards the criminal and even homicidal, especially against people of the community where they come to settle.

Unfortunately, when the issue was brought before the National Assembly, many legislators especially from the North spoke in favour of allowing the fulani retain their way of life, even when modern ranching provides a better option, advocating however that grazing sites be provided them on their path from the North to the South, and I ask, ‘on whose land?’

Back to my journey TO THE EAST, due to the fact that this was off season, passengers were hard to come by in the morning, the situation couldn’t be remedied by including destinations farther than that normally careered. We eventually left six passengers short of the normal and proceeded at later than the expected time which is usually in the wee hours of the morning.

This situation proved to be the saving grace for passengers of a bus which had earlier left but had become stranded off Ore in Ondo State, after the bus conveying them developed a fault, in the classic case of ”Better Late Than Never”.

The Benin-Ore Road has been wearing a new look for sometime now, but each time I passed by, it looks as if something new had been done to the road.

Minister of Works, Mike Onolemenmen is towing the path far different from that which his Godfather ignominiously took several years back, for which his lame defence was, ‘funds allocated isn’t the same as funds disbursed’ (or something in the likes of that), in regard to the lack of impact on roads despite huge funds pumped into the ministry of works while he (Chief Tony Anenih) held sway.

Knowing how things work in this clime, only a political nymph will fail to connect the dots as regards Onolemenmen’s efforts at road construction, reconstruction and maintenance, especially the roads passing through his immediate constituency.

The PDP-led government at the centre still wants Edo state which they lost to Adams Oshiomhole’s APC after 8 years of gross misrule by one of their own as Governor and another as Minister of Works.

So as Oshiomhole is busy building State infrastructure to keep his party in the good books of the people, Onolemenmen is doing same on Federal Government infrastructure, especially the Benin-Ore road in an attempt to woo the same people back to support PDP in the next Edo State guber elections, where feelers from the grapevine postulate that he may be nursing gubernatorial ambitions.

This kind of rivalry will benefit the people and I hope for this reason that something of this nature be replicated nationwide.

For three and half hours the driver had serenaded us with Nigerian gospel songs without let, and it’s beginning to look like that’s how things will remain for the duration of the journey.

For me the atmosphere couldn’t have been better to stimulate my grey matter, but I find that long limbed passengers were finding the space uncomfortable especially after we added passengers at Ore who’d been stranded.

We all tended to make, or recieve calls or text messages at about the same time, because of telecoms network service fluctuations. This reality is why I support the present initiative of Telco’s to outsource their ‘BASE STATIONS’ to an independent company(-ies) to manage on their behalf. This will definitely lead to some job losses in the Nigerian telecoms sector, but a few jobs will also created on the sidelines by these new outsourcing companies, and ultimately will lead to a reduction in fluctuations in telecoms service currently experienced because of inadequate or improperly maintained base stations.

Our driver was business-like. He didn’t stop at those small kiosks and joints along the Benin-Ore Road where you could have yourself a bottle of any drink that tickles your fancy and can then go have a quickie in a shack behind the contraption with any of the sales girls, usually not a feature of day journeys but quite a feature of night journeys especially while waiting for the heat generated by men of the underworld to blow over before continuing the journey when they strike in positions way ahead of the travelling convoys of luxury buses.

With that at the back of my mind I resolved to travel next time by night bus. I used to enjoy night journeys since I wouldn’t have to waste any hour of the day, but following the rise in the spate of armed robberies along interstate routes (which I could deal with) and associated killings of passengers (that I couldn’t wrap my head around). I put a stop to travelling at night when my status…..TO BE CONTINUED.

‘kovich

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