If this is how NYSC is, then I do not want to stop serving. I saw the capital of Nigeria (Abuja) today for the first time in my life, thanks to Oga Chris who made this possible.
I didn’t know Benue state has a vast land mass; as we sojourned to Abuja it seemed we will not get pass it. We stopped by a fruit vendor on the road side to buy some mangoes. On seeing us, a little boy of about five years old from his looks rushed to attend to us. I was astonished by his poise of salesmanship; although he spoke in Benue vernacular he seemed to know his mangoes very well. I heard him call one of the mangoes Peter, insisting he would sell for one thousand five hundred naira.
Traveling is a good form of education, it gives one the actual feel of the knowledge been acquired. We traveled through Nassarawa state, ‘the home of solid mineral’ as the slogan reads. Have lots of beautiful landmarks as we drove pass, but the satellite towns like Keffi and others close to Abuja seemed more urbanized than Lafia which is the state capital. We dropped by a local joint, where we enjoyed delicious dried meat and palm wine to put the spirit and body together.
I use to think myself a city dude, but city scenes in Abuja got me wide-mouth open in awe, like a poor child who had never left his rural settlement. Words cannot adequately describe the beauty my eyes sees in Abuja, if I call it ‘magnificent;’ then I have done a poor aesthetic assessment of a city that God by himself did its architectural layout. The beautiful mountains, the gigantic structures and the balmy weather condition are just indescribable. “Corper, do you want to go back to Portharcourt after service? Oga Chris asked me. I have not really given a deep thought about life after service, I mean in an unpredictable country like Nigeria, what is the need of having a plan. Only the rich can actually make plans and bring it to reality. For people like me who lives on God’s good humor, we just sail as the wind blows. Although to keep the conversation going, I said “I would love to stay in Abuja sir, for the job opportunities. I took pictures of the Egusi and vegetable soup well decorated with fish head that oga Chris bought for me and posted the picture on my family house group chat with a caption “Free from family house food” and the responses were so hilarious that I didn’t stop laughing. I ended the night with a barbecued fish and a chilled bottle of beer.
It a beautiful morning in oga Chris family apartment, as I watched ‘my wife’ as oga Chris called her, get little pinky, candy and Kelly ready for school. ‘Baby is your food in the car’ she said to oga Chris who is taking them to school. The drive to school was quite far but it is worth it. ‘Daddy I made jollof rice in my home economics class yesterday’ Kelly smiles as she tell oga Chris when he enquired of their school work. My primary school days are at contrast with theirs; I never did any fun stuff, and the thought of waking up to go to school made me cry, but these little ones are very excited about school. Even candy can read very well, and pronounces words I do not know how to spell. Little pinky is a wonder, she is very sound academically and very fun to be with. She calls herself ‘pinky the rock star celebrity, with over a million followers on face book in America and London’. Education is indeed a vital tool of human and societal development; I wish my brothers in some northern part of Nigeria will think along this line. Maybe they will stop this charade of madness that has been going on with school children. It started with the abduction of Chibok girls, then 344 school boys from Katsina, today it is government science college Niger state. Haba, the state of education in this country is below average, we cannot continually watch it deteriorate.
Oga Chris’ new house in Abuja is simple but sophisticatedly beautiful; it’s been seven years now since he began building the house, so we came daily to supervise its finishing touches. The construction workers are queer, always bringing up funny acts, although they spoke in a language I do not understand, yet they are fun to be with. Today one of them brought a portable music player, which he played traditional Tiv song. So it was dancing all the way for these folks, even oga Chris joined them to dance.
Leaving Abuja is the saddest thing I have done recently, I have not been at home as I am here in oga Chris family house. He would always ask me ‘copper are you hungry, what will you eat?’ I know that man shall not live by bread alone. But I am very excited and grateful for these questions, because there are times in my life when I had nothing to eat, and no one to ask me what I want to eat. I tried to psych myself not to get too attached to all the love in oga’s family, knowing that my stay was temporary; but as the vehicle reversed to head back to Makurdi my hands were too heavy to wave goodbye and my heart bleed. ”Daddy you are a super star” little pinky called out to oga Chris who was only waving, I looked at his face, I could tell he wasn’t happy leaving; but a man has to be a man right? And must give up his comfort to make sure that those he loves are comforted.