“Na devil go punish am. In fact no, na God go punish de yeye man because if devil punish am, God fit have mercy on am, but if God punish am, e don be be dat.”
I do not like chatty transporters. Usually, I plug my ears with earphones and either listen to music, or pretend to do so. Otherwise, I lift my phone to my face and punch away; anything to keep the driver at bay and his chatting to a minimum. But that day, I had witnessed a brutality that forced me to speak first, and I could not pretend not to hear what this Okada rider had to say.
I had just got on a bike on my way to see Mama when there was a commotion behind us. I turned around in time to see another bike hit a hole in the road, rise a few inches off the ground, hover for a second or two before ending up in the gutter, taking the rider with it. While the bike was still in the air, a white truck rounded the bend and out of it jumped three men dressed in black and carrying guns. The sight of these men and their guns angered me, but their next actions sickened me.
They reached in the gutter, gun butts first, and pounded the okada rider a few times before stowing their guns and pulling out the bike. All the okada riders around fled then, and as the bike I was on veered this way and that in some gut heaving stunts, my eyes stayed on the blood, battered body and mangled bike behind me as they receded.
“How can they? How could they?” I spluttered, shocked by wha I had just witnessed.
“Oga no mind them, na work wey Oga Fashola send dem be dat o. E hate okada I nor sabi why..”
“I tink say na only express e say make una no pass,” I was wearing my confusion on my sleeves shamelessly.
“Ahhh! Oga no be so o! Na everywhere dem see us dem dey pursue us. Na God go save person from dia hand.”
“Amen,” I muttered.
“Na devil go punish am. In fact no, na God go punish de yeye man…”
I kept quiet in hopes of discontinuing further talks about deities punishing our leaders.
We rode on for a bit in companionable silence, and then he looked over his shoulder and said to me in a conspiratorial whisper. “Me, I no get time for rubbish. See, I dey carry lighter waka everyday now,” he reached in his pocket and pulled out a blue plastic gas lighter. “De day wey dem go stop me, na to draw the fuel hose and light am fire.” He sounded like he meant every word of what he said.
This happened about three months ago.
Last week I was at a bank waiting in line to pay some Lagos state charge that was taking forever when a man walked in and joined the fast moving queue next to me.
“Oga, you work with Lagos state government, abi?” I asked having spotted a brooch he wore. “Oya come and join this queue behind me o, na una tax process make us dey delay here.” I told him; we had been discussing Lagos state and Fahola’s projects and policies before he walked in.
“Why should I?” He asked in a querulous tone.
“Relax, I was just ribbing you.” I said holding up both hands.
“We were just judging your employer before you came in,” an elderly man said to him with a smile.
“Baba, I am employed by Lagos state o, I was there before he came.”
“In other words,” I said with an impish smile, “You have seen his likes come and go, abi?”
“Yes o.” He answered.
“What is your take on this okada business though?” I asked him, a huge fan and major patron of okadas myself.
“It doesn’t make any sense my brother, the police people pursuing these okada people, own the most okadas in this town. But the okada one is small, he wants to outlaw keke Marwa too, but because of that name ‘Marwa’, he cannot do it easily. Now, they are not registering any new keke again, and if you go and register it in Ogun state, they will tell you to go and operate it there. My brother ehn, it’s not a small something o.”
“So, what transport do we have then?” I asked him. I remembered something a Doctor friend of mine once said, so I asked him. “I heard there are plans to import power bikes and…”
“Plans?” He cut me short. “They are here already! Haven’t you seen them? Black and yellow and red or something like that.”
“Oti o!” I exclaimed. “So, the man who is struggling to buy Jackie Chan bike for 80k on hire purchase will find money for power bike of 250k where? And more than the money, the person who is judged reckless on an 80cc bike will now be trusted with a 200cc bike? Olorun, I don’t even get this government at all,” I said touching index finger to tongue before pointing it skywards.
“My brother, we will watch and see.” The state employee said.
We all got served by the tellers and went our different ways, but that conversation stayed with me.
I was given to believe that democracy is a government of the people for the people by the people, now though, I am not so sure anymore.