Though there was an overhead monitor/screen in the bus, with him sitting in vantage position in second row by the window, it wasn’t put on. He figured it was better off, as he could bear a TV that was showing nothing, than one that will be streaming a NOLLYWOOD movie, from which he could possibly develop a migraine seeing that he would then have to be stuck with watching, or even if he takes his eyes off the screen, listen to the badly produced and directed movies that mostly come off the stables of some executive producers looking only to make quick bucks from Nigerian movie industry, than commuting their names to posterity. Not that all Nollywood movies are bad, but the chances that any of the few good ones will be screened on a luxury bus is most unlikely.
The journey was uneventful, once they were out of Lagos and Ogun States in Nigeria’s Southwest. He observed a bit of the nightlife in Ibadan which to him couldn’t rival that in Lagos. He considered that the NIGHT MARKETS that dot much of the landscape of the Southwest could be the launch pad of the much touted twenty-four hour economy, if they could be better organized than presently constituted. For one, they may not need to close the major markets and have traders sell outside of them as they do now at night, rather it will make better sense to move them off the roadsides, back into the markets, with adequate security and uninterrupted power supply, saving lives of traders and customers in the event of an accident when vehicles with failed brakes veer off the roads.
The homes in New Gbagi, Ibadan reminded him of those drawings in the Macmillan Primary English Course, appearing to him like nothing much has changed in that part of town since Nigeria’s independence in 1960. One could even see the living rooms in some of the homes from the outside. After that it was trees and shrubs and a few buildings. Gone were the days when thick forests extended even close to the road, all of that has given way to the scant vegetation that is seen today.
When it comes to traveling within Ondo State, there wasn’t much difference, in his experience, between going from the Southwest to the Southeast or from the Southwest to the North-Central, as with this journey to Abuja, as it seemed as if those who made the Trunk-A road within the state built a labyrinth to ensure that travelers spent the most time passing through the state, than with the other states as one heads to his/her destination. Once he found out that they were now traveling through Ondo State, he decided to take a power nap, knowing that whenever he wakes, they’d still be in Ondo, and of course he was right.
The fact that it was night didn’t allow him see much of Kogi, and it pleased him that they were sooner out of the state than within it, especially the Okenne axis that has in recent times been mentioned in the news for the recurrent cases of kidnappings, of expatriates such as an American nun, missionary and aid worker, and of even Nigerians which the kidnappers deem they could ransom handsomely for. Kogi also has the unenviable record of being the closest state to the Southwest, in the North-Central in which the dreaded Islamic Fundamentalist group, BOKO HARAM appear to have some foothold, having witnessed an attack from the group on the convoy of Nigeria’s armed forces who had just arrived from Sudan on a Peacekeeping mission, and the high profile arrest of a University lecturer at the states’ university for recruiting members for the dreaded group.
By the time he slept and woke again, this time aroused by the vibration of his phone to a call by a side chick he intended to “block” in Abuja, they were already in Gwagwalada. She had called to tell him that their meeting won’t be possible, and he didn’t feel bad because when he told her he was coming, she made some financial demands that he found ridiculous, and was glad that besides not losing his money just because of of his intention to pursue an indiscretion, he would also not have to explain why he couldn’t, had everything worked according to plan. Now, he could focus his attention to the business deal he had to close, and other legitimate “play” he could lay his hands and time on.
Thankfully, traffic was light at the time they made Abuja by 6am, interestingly the full light of dawn had been up and running for more than an hour before that. The last time he experienced such was when he served in Jigawa less than a decade ago, and he wondered whether the parts of Northern Nigeria where this phenomenon is experienced wouldn’t consider something in the likes of what is obtainable in Britain with DAYLIGHT SAVING and the likes, but he doubted that even mooting the idea will receive much support of Nigerians there, who even with the present condition find it difficult to make work early, and stay till closing time before leaving, especially in the chief of Nigeria’s behemoth that’s the very inefficient Federal Civil Service, in it’s capital Abuja.
He also found impressive the fact that car owners/motorists readily picked up pedestrians on the roads in their droves, which would’ve helped many of them seeing that there was fuel scarcity, and the few public transport buses and taxis were charging a premium to commute people from one place to the other. One of his friends once told him how he survived for the first three months before he began receiving salaries at the Ministry of Health, by lifting passengers to and from work for the going price with his car in Abuja, while another confirmed that he did same while working in Abuja, but never charged a fee. This impressed him because it wasn’t what you will routinely see in Lagos, from where he’d come, the reason chief of which been the lack of trust and high rate of crime.
When he told the same people that he informed at his departure from Lagos, that he was now in Abuja, they were shocked, but he put it to the fact that there weren’t much vehicles on the road because of the fuel scarcity, and to a large extent, much of the road traversed between Lagos and Abuja were in good condition, something that many Nigerians were unfortunately dissuaded from believing, in voting out President Goodluck Jonathan from office, owing to the huge propaganda machinery working for the opposition All People’s Congress, APC and its’ presidential candidate General Muhammadu Buhari, that countered the many truths with vigorously put out untruths, while the ruling party also shot itself in the foot, attacking personalities in the opposition rather than showcase it’s effort in bettering the lives of the ordinary Nigerian.
The bus finally stopped at its garage in the Utako district of Abuja, where many other transport companies also have their garage and offices, owing to the location and proximity to almost every important part of town. He called up his friend Jorge, who showed up minutes later to pick him up to his modest yet tastefully furnished home to be refreshed before going on to meet his business appointment.
When it appeared that the contacts on the other end wouldn’t be meeting with him till later in the day, he elected to while the time away by seeing through Jorge’s (whose wife had gone to work, and son off to school) typical day with him.