I travelled again?… Yes oh, I guess it’s my tourism month. Another friend is getting hitched and she’s not the kind of friend you’d tell “I wish I could come but the distance is too much”. So I prepared my things and made plans for the trip.
“Lagos to Abuja by road?” I heard that question plenty times, with incredulous looks like I’d sprouted an extra head or two. I always wanted to reply “Please buy the tickets for me” but I’m trying to be more effective at curbing my tongue. I love road trips though, for me they are an opportunity to see the beauty God bestowed on this country besides I’m a road trip veteran, been travelling since I was three months old. Anyway I’m a corper still so I’m penny pinching.
I booked my ticket on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning had me waking up at 4am and by 6am I was at Chisco park at Jibowu. The bus left the park at 7am, we were on our way. The journey was rather uneventful (thank God! The last time I went to Abuja we had drama on the to and fro journeys). We went through the Benin-Ore expressway, I smiled when I saw that the driver used that route instead of Ibadan-Ogbomosho or the Ekiti route. I used to ply that route at least eight times a year between my first and fifth year in Uniben, it was only in final year that I plied the route a meagre five times.
The driver had decided to use the Auchi route, I’m glad he did because it afforded me an opportunity to see new parts of Edo state. I’d spent six years there but I didn’t get to see much of the state, I was too busy studying. Funny thing is my cousin is studying pharmacy (same course I studied, right down to the same Doctor of Pharmacy degree) in the USA and she went on a tour of Europe last summer, she also holds a part time job yet she’s at the top of her class and she’s maintaining her scholarships. Our education system here leaves a lot to be desired.
Using the same Benin Bypass that is favoured by people travelling to the east, we connected to the Auchi-Okene expressway although to be fair, it shouldn’t be called an expressway. It’s not even a dual carriageway way, in most places its two lanes wide. When we hit Ekpoma I was astounded, apart from the Ambrose Alli university there’s little difference between Ekpoma and my village in the hinterlands of Mbaise in Imo state. Ekpoma is supposed to be the flagship city of the Esan (pronounced “Ishan”) people. Sadly Edo state is an oil producing state and their monthly allocation is not child’s play yet the state looks like an Orphan State.
Auchi which is the hometown of the governor wasn’t any better, I think the main problem we have here is that we fail to hold our leaders accountable to their actions especially in terms of monetary allocation and what is done with it.
Soon we found ourselves out of Edo state, I knew we were close to Kogi when I saw the hills in Okpella, the North Central region of Nigeria is riddled with hills, Okpella is one of the border towns between Edo and Kogi states. We entered Kogi and soon came upon Okene, this time I felt the sting of tears. With all our resources, all the money this nation has, how come our cities and towns look like pre-World War 2 film sets. The last time I passed through Okene was April 2010, the town even looked better then. The major stores were closed, people wore hopelessness like a toga. Our next president has work cut out for him, he has to ensure that money disbursed to states are used for projects that will infuse life to the local economies.
We stopped at Lokoja to eat and stretch our legs, fifteen minutes later we continued our journey. We passed the confluence point but it wasn’t really impressive because the rains haven’t come yet and the rivers Niger and Benue are still at low levels. We got to Lokoja by 6 pm, after we passed the confluence point, I dosed off (body no be wood) and slept until we got to Gwarimpa.
I followed the bus to the Chisco park at Utako, my cousin was waiting for me- the same cousin I wrote about here. After the hugs and all she put me in a cab to Karu, she stays in town while her parents stay in Karu and I was going to stay with them.
The cab ride took me through the central business district of Abuja and I must confess that Abuja at night is beautiful- more beautiful than Lagos… Yes… I said it. I’d seen squalor and poverty on my way here and I wasn’t impressed by the grandiose opulence of Abuja, I was a little sickened to be candid.
My friend who’s wedding (Henrietta) is Esan and I was present at the traditional wedding, maybe I’ll write about that next. Have a beautiful week, everyone.