Travelling especially over long distances has never been my strong point. While some derive pleasure from the thrill of being on the road, others like myself dread the thought of spending hours in a vehicle especially with the nature of the roads we have in Nigeria. My longest commute thus far from my home base have been to Kaduna and Enugu States in Northern and Eastern Nigeria respectively while collecting samples for my M.Sc Thesis. The experiences I had on both trips were indeed memorable.
My first journey to Eastern Nigeria was to Anambra State during my one year of National Youth Service. It was the first time I crossed the famous Niger bridge which is the major albeit only link way between Delta and Anambra States in Nigeria. Although the bridge appears old, it is still a sight to behold. The trip to Anambra State was the first time I had ventured into Igbo land after hearing lots of stories about the region.
It was an opportunity to see the popular Onitsha town for myself after reading about it in textbooks while in primary school. The trip to the NYSC Orientation camp at Umunya went fairly smoothly until we were close to the orientation camp itself where the roads were in a bad state as at then.
At the end of the orientation exercise it was time to deploy to our places of primary assignment for the next one year. Vehicles were provided to convey corps members to their respective local government areas. The vehicle that was to convey me and other corps members to our local government area reminded me of the 'molue' buses in Lagos because of their size and their internal configuration. This leg of my sojourn also went fairly smoothly as the major roads in the L.G.A I was posted to were asphalted or 'tarred' as we popularly term it over here.
The final leg of the journey to my place of primary assignment was not so comfortable. I had been posted to an Integrated agriculture farm being a grduate of Animal Science and by the nature of farms particularly livestock farms they are usually somewhat isolated from the hustle and bustle of township life. The road to the farm was barely motorable and for those persons like us who didn't own cars the easiest way to access the farm was via commercial motorbike.
The terrain was a hilly one with the farm located down slope. During the period of my service most times trekking was the only option especially when we had to go to the main town for shopping or weekly community development service meetings. Luckily I wasn't the only corps member posted to the facility as I had two brothers and one sister in arms.
I remember a tale which one of my brothers in arms who schooled at East narrated to us. He told us that once they had visited one of the parks in one of the Eastern towns. There was a vehicle that was parked and being 'loaded'. Loaded here locally refers to the act of wooing prospective commuters to board one's bus. The fellow who was loading the vehicle was also collecting fares from the commuters as they boarded which is rather strange in hind sight.
At some point the loader cunningly went for a walk and subsequently disappeared. Not too long after his disappearance another fellow came by the vehicle to inform the passengers that the vehicle in which they were seated was faulty and had been parked there for some time. Eventually all the passengers had to disembark and find their way as the loader was nowhere in sight.
My second journey to the East was for sample collection for my M.Sc project as previously stated. The trip was to Enugu State. I was impressed with the quality of the major roads in the State which I plied in the course of my journey. It was a confirmation of what my younger brother had told me about the roads in the State as he was deployed to serve in the State. I arrived at my destination in Enugu State late in the afternoon and was met by my friend with whom I had served. He was my host for the duration of my stay.
I will be ever grateful to him and another Igbo guy who shared the same building with him for their hospitality and assistance. Those were the positive sides of the trip to Enugu. I however saw some things which disheartened me at my friend's University. I had accompanied him to a post graduate presentation and to my greatest surprise instead of using power point for the presentation, the students were using cardboard papers instead. This was both shocking and disappointing as at my undergraduate level Power point was the standard for presentation.
The next shocker came at the time for refreshments after the presentations. Lo and behold instead of soft drinks , alcohol was being distributed which I declined. For me it was the most inappropriate thing to do within an academic environment and left me highly disappointed. But for this latter experience my second trip to the East was an experience that will continue to linger in my memory.
Btw, how old are you? Are you really from Nigeria since young?