I decided to take a road trip from Abuja to Iragbiji (State of Osun) and then to Lagos by public transport.
I travel within the country mostly by air eg to the East, Lagos, Ibadan etc ; Infact roughly 95 percent of my trips are by air. A trip to Iragbiji usually goes thus, – I fly to Ibadan and take an airport cab to Iragbiji or fly direct to Lagos and hire a car to Iragbiji, on rare occasions I put my car on the road and get a private driver for the trip.
My journey of Tuesday November 15, 2016 and Thursday November 17, 2016 is the experience – My Experience is what I am about to share and my journey via public transport (PT) is what I term undercover.
My darling wife dropped me of at Jabi Motor Park in Abuja at 7 am prompt from where I took a bus, I was the 7th and last passenger to be seated. I had to seat at the back and parted with a paltry sum of N4,600 to Osogbo, State of Osun a journey of about 6 hours.
My outfit was a simple pair of jeans, a T shirt with palm sandals; this was to remove the aura of being an executive and become like one of the other passengers. A good decision, because there was no AC in the bus as I was accustomed to. I was literally sandwiched at the back, where I humbly sat sweating it out profusely.
One thing I discovered was all the occupants were very friendly; we had students, civil servants and a young man searching for employment all being transported by a fairly old driver. I bought kuli kuli on the way, a childhood snack i had not indulged in for awhile for obvious reasons. Of course, the dryness of the snack sent me on a coughing spasm I wasn’t prepared for, the woman beside me readily offered her water from which I hurriedly gulped; The only bottle of water she had. We rarely experience such genuine gestures as an Executive; at this point i remembered a quote i had seen about random acts of kindness, and i decided to make this a part of my daily life.
The Discussion in the bus ranged from Politics, to the bad roads, to bad Governance, its subsequent failure and leadership angst. We had a stop over in Kabba for food, drinks and toilet break; I was not perturbed at the environment, but ate the food willingly at a paltry sum of N 300. It was equally another opportunity for the unfinished discussions to reach an argument.
Our journey resumed, but We were delayed by Policemen and other road enforcement officers severally and heard the word ‘Drop Sacrifice’ not bribe oh!, a new vocabulary in my Road-wise Dictionary.
Not long after we set out from Kabba, our Bus entered a ditch, due to the extremely bad road conditions and the bus’s rear tyre burst. We had to all come down from the bus to have it changed.
That’s where I discovered that all occupants (excluding me) were on MMM- the popular Ponzo scheme that had taken over the minds of Nigerians , including helping hands and some others i cant remember off heart . I have often heard about MMM, but I was definitely not a part of it. They are Not in it because of poverty, but for the un-justifiable high benefits, even though the risk is high and there is a huge possibility of losing their money. As a financial Consultant, I could not convince them otherwise, they were not ready to pull out. MMM is not for the lazy as well, you need to be actively monitoring your funds, with available data and good network. How I wish our banks can be creative in Product development and deployment. I was still not convinced to join the MMM band wagon.
We got to the entrance of Osogbo and there was an urgent nature call for a female passenger, the driver stopped at a house, and willingly she was allowed to use their washroom. Such good citizens still exist? Amazing, Another random act of kindness by a citizen!.
I was exhausted as we got to Osogbo, I had to take a cab to my final destination, it was equally a learning hour. i was grateful to God to reach my destination in Iragbiji in one peice.
There was a journey I had to take on a motorbike from Iragbiji to Osogbo for a bank transaction and condolence visit to an old school mate. I have never been as afraid as I was, the journey was over 30 km on bike.
I now have a new respect for bike riders on the expressway especially when they perceive you are bullying them unjustly, I understand better what they are experiencing. I was torn with cost and time and the bike option was the best at that point. Would I do it again if such constraints presented itself? NO!!!
The journey to Lagos was another experience.
The bus ride was something else; In the bus we had passengers with a child on their laps, the heavily endowed ones that occupy more space, the ones that must travel with their noisy chicken (and even goats). I had the best of listening, complaining and bad roads. The information you would not read in newspapers or on social media, I heard on this commute.
On getting to Lagos, I was on my own, I had said, no cabs, no Uber to call, it was to be strictly PT -public transport, so I could have a feel of what Nigerians are really going though in this period of recession.
Touts milled around me, those that were thinking of how to snatch what wasn’t theirs, or to run away with bags etc.i was daunted but, I quickly looked around for a way out of Berger Bus-stop. i didnt understand how i was to get a PT to Ikeja , so i looked around for a Keke marwa, but none were ready to go towards Ikeja, they were only going to nearby Grammar School and Ogba which was off my route. I decided to take a bike once again; on getting to Alausa- the Central area of the State Government housing its Secretariat and Offices, I saw signage’s with “No entry to Motorcycles”. I immediately asked the guy to stop and allow me drop off, he told me not to worry,but I simply felt safer dropping off. I decided to take a cab to Allen avenue from that point. I was exhausted, tired and totally drained.
Our leaders, need to have a feel of what the populace are going through. You need to take a tour of the state or country for a period before contesting, this will enable you to provide the services that are actually needed.
I bought an air ticket for my return trip to Abuja and as usual, everybody is a ‘big man’ and not bothered with what is going on with the next person, no sharing, no discussions, no interactions, & no random acts of kindness, We were all straight faced. I said to myself, up the ladder, we have pretenders, lonely and bigoted people but we have realist and a whole bunch of happy people down the ladder and what they need is just a little recognition.
My phobia for roads have been removed, the need for grass-root interactions to learn has improved, leading others have exposed newer things and a fresh perspective as to how the low class are reasoning. This piece was written on November 15, 2016. This was even before MMM was suspended and subsequently crashed in January 2017.
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