Few weeks ago, I went with a friend to carry out some maintenance works on his car. We left Willoughby Street, Oyingbo, Lagos, late in the evening and in order not to aggravate the fatigue of the day with the road rage that is most likely to happen on a typical Lagos road, we decided to cool off at one of the bars in the National Stadium (pity that is what this national monument has become). After cooling off (I won’t mention my brand so that Okupe through his retinue of assassins will not poison me), we hit the road. Just at the exit of the stadium, we heard a funny sound in the engine compartment of the car, and when we checked, we confirmed that the fan belt that was bought few hours ago had given way (Standard Organization of Nigeria is obviously sleeping). Perplexed, the fatigue increased even though the traffic on the road had cleared.
My friend decided to sleep at his friend’s place in Surulere to ease his taking the car back to Oyingbo the next day while I HAD TO GO HOME to my wife and son that night. The cab man saw a kill but I have always been a Lagos boy. Even though it‘s been a very long time that I used public transport last, I still can find my way round Lagos without my car, even at the oddest hours. Then I joined a Danfo.
I was the second person to join the bus at Stadium bus stop and my Lagos-boy-sense told me to sit by the driver as I can easily wrestle the steer wheel in case I discover any funny move. As I jumped into the front seat, the driver welcomed me with a better-than-Patience-Jonathan’s English. I settled in and I responded to him in Yoruba but he kept speaking to me in English, so I code switched to match him, though with a superior fervidness.
Benjamin sounded like a Ghanaian but he confirmed his Nigerianness with great pride (I did not bother to know his state of origin as I am learning to see every Nigerian as a Nigerian regardless of class, creed, sect, religion and education). He is an interesting guy. The few minutes I rode with him made me draw that conclusion.
I introduced myself to him at Obanikoro, though we have been chatting all along as we drove towards Maryland late that evening. I love to call people that I’m engaged in conversation with by their names in order to draw affinity with them.
Expectedly, we talked about the state-of-the-nation. He told me Fashola is a greedy man and I inquired how?
He said BRF had gone to read all the books in the world and has come back to implement what he has learnt in a way that has made life difficult for people like himself. He did not stop there. He mentioned many other things and many other leaders. In his conclusion, they are all greedy.
“Let them steal all the millions, let them do whatever they like but let them do for the masses as the masses ought to be treated fairly.” He said.
I have never met Fashola though I have seen him on just an occasion when he came to UNILAG in 2007 during his campaign. I handed a proposal to him while he was responding to the cheering of the students on the roof of his Land Cruiser Jeep; the proposal never got any response. But I must confess, if Fashola would ask to marry my mother (God bless her soul), I would have wooed her for him gladly; though there will be commotion if he comes near my wife….LOL. That is how much I have come to love this performer.
I stood in defense of Fashola in sync with the objectivity around us. I mentioned how Benjamin himself must be feeling as he drives through Lagos roads; I mentioned how he has been saved the hassle of having to battle on the road with some Okada riders which could in anyway lead to fisticuffs exchange or a temporary abode at The Orthopedic Hospital; how he could easily drive round Lagos without having to be harassed by the “agberos” or having to meander through heavy traffic caused by his fellow danfo drivers while “loading and offloading” on the express lane; how he can easily walk through Oshodi even in the night without fear of being harassed by anyone. I can go on and on. Visible transformation!
Benjamin made me realize he is not willing to be a millionaire nor is he looking for anything extravagant. He just wants a simple quality life. The same modest desire so many of us have. He hinted me he would have “dropped” all his passengers at General Hospital end of Ikeja but because of me he would get to Ikeja under bridge. He saved me a long walk before I could join another bus to continue my journey.
Several weeks after my meeting with Benjamin, I read about the imbroglio between LASG and LASU students due to hike in fees and my mind went back to Benjamin, that he and the likes of him may not be able to send their wards to a university like LASU because his PCI can’t sustain such an expense.
The politics being played by Kayode Opeifa, the Chairman Ad-hoc Committee on LASU Fees is quite interesting. As I listened to him talk on ChannelsTV, he said students should trust the LASG by going ahead to pay the exorbitant fees as they MAY be reimbursed when the government decides on what to do with the hike, made me doubt the sincerity of the fees being reduced. Sir, I can’t trust a government like that. If anything needs to be done let it be before students go on that portal to register. The IGR of Lagos and the little allocation from the FG, if properly managed, should be enough to sustain free education in Lagos amongst other things.
Lagos state should be progressive in everything. Why can’t government trust me to pay less than what is being charged, then when I graduate from the university, get a job and I can start paying up the Student Loan as it is being done in saner climes. Finland is tuition free even to International students.