Yesterday evening, I had to take a taxi and the driver and one rather vocal passenger had very interesting views on the state of the nation.
The taxi pulled up to the bus-stop, it's driver's hand signalling his route and passengers heading in that direction plied in at once. I secured the seat directly behind him and heaved a sigh of relief at finally taking a load off after what felt like hours of standing at the curb. I mean I had only waited for a cab for 28 minutes... but who was counting right?
The driver was a rare breed; as he pulled into traffic, I enquired as to the price and he said N100. We all exchanged surprised glances knowing the route usually cost somewhat more than that.
Hesitantly, one overly-honest passenger -namely, me- apprised him of the usual price earning herself furious glares from other passengers.
The driver cheerfully informed me that he was aware; he just wanted to help out. Everyone heaved sighs of relief and stopped glaring at me.
"Kai, this our country sef, hardship just dey everywhere," the driver opined, blaring his horn as one crafty-looking old woman tried to speed across the road. She had apparently thought she was superhuman with Clark Kent-like skin that would survive been run down. At the loud horn, she hastily ran back to the curb.
The middle-aged man in front of the cab picked up the conversation, "Na APC naa. Shebi una want change?"
The driver scoffed derisively. "Nothing dey APC. I jus thank God say for my state nobody dey send APC. In short dead body go win election pass politician wey dey APC for my state."
I stifled a horrified laugh at that one.
The middle-aged man noted the PDP flag on the dashboard and he offered the driver a handshake, "You be correct man. You still dey fly PDP flag."
The driver nodded, "Even if dem defeat PDP one hundred times naa my party be that."
The middle-aged man grunted, "Naa so Nigerians no dey understand something. Dem turn turn us to entertainment industry. One week one story. Shee they say naa Sai baba? Baba don come."
"No mind them."
"Everybody say Goodluck no good. Our people say naa when you marry two wives you how know which one good," the loquacious passenger continued. His veins were bulging by now as he nodded his head to emphasize his point.
"People dey suffer now oo," the driver said. "But that one no be for me and my family."
"My brother you dey Abuja oo. Try enter states. I go Adamawa, all man dey suffer. At least for Abuja person fit dash you N500. For states who know you? See even rice wey poor man dey manage. Now, if you chop rice you be proper big man. See EVEN GARRI WEY BE POOR MAN FOOD. NOW RICH MAN GO PACKAGE AM WELL, DRINK AM THANK GOD!!!"
By this time I was almost on the floor of the taxi howling with laughter.
They both turned to give me questioning looks.
"My sister you dey laugh? Naa true ooo. Rich man now wey see Garri drink dey thank God talkless of poor man."
They had me in stitches and they weren'the even done. The conversation inevitably shifted to the infamous "Notice to Quit".
The passenger raised an angry fist, shaking it as he said, "Dem think say naa before wey person mumu; carry pickin dey run enter bush? Make them come."
The driver was just as furious, "People don develop their land for them finish; invest finish, naa im dem come dey get mouth. Yeye. No be only quit notice."
The passenger turned to glare at four of us seating innocently at the back, "I no care who dey this car oo. Nigeria don fail. This government many of im leaders go dey regret why dem join am. Naa me talk am. I no fear anybody."
Considering I was sandwiched between the door and a human being, I was much more concerned with getting off the taxi and saving my ribs. The other passengers were apparently eager to get home and not interested in who thought what.
As I stared at him, I could see that beneath the false bravado, he had become worried as to possible reprisals as a result of his views; some of which are too inflammatory to print. 😉
It all caused me to reflect. We are in a democracy; at least that what it says on paper. One of the tenets of a democracy is free speech. So where does all this fear come from?
Simple: people have been maimed, wounded and/or roughed up for far less. Coming at a time when the economy is struggling, the so-called 'quit notice' has only served to worsen things, grinding everything to a halt. People are scared to invest in properties or other such things because of the uncertainty. Who suffers when the economy is unpredictable? Northerners and Southerners alike!!!
Nigeria is not a nation on the brink of destruction: she is a mother to many talents and world changers; but until we learn not to cut off our nose to spite our face, it's uncertain how far we would go.
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