Friday, November 27, 2015


There's usually nothing to see while traveling at night, just to mark time and find out where one is at every point, or at stops for which to stretch the legs when such opportunities present, so I simply let my mind roam. My recent visits to Ogun State in recent times have shown me how really small Lagos is, making me wonder how smaller still it would've been before part of this same Ogun State was carved into it to become what it today is. I have raised this issue because of another state that is a travel determinant for many (or maybe just me) who travel cross country especially from the west to and from other parts of Nigeria.

It is from my frequent travels from and to the southwest (Lagos in particular) that the hugeness of Ondo State became quite apparent to me. When we had our initial delay, the only thing I could think about was Ondo and many times I had wondered as to how journey times by road could greatly reduce if Ondo was excised from journey paths to and from the west to other parts of Nigeria. Interestingly, for travelers at night, there's hardly any traffic, so its just that going-and-going feeling that's there that gnaws at one's innards. It's disappointing to find after travelling for so long that one is still within Ondo State, and had I not known better I would've surmised that the contractors that handled the federal roads through Ondo incorporated into that stretch of road, a labyrinth. 

Not a few of us passengers were highly disappointed to find that by 5am, after leaving the outskirts of Lagos by past 11pm last night we were just at Òwò in Ondo State. I took it in my stride remembering how getting to Òrè (also within Ondo State) when traveling to the east from the west does that too. I don't know if it will help the psyche if Ondo State is split into two or three states, which I doubt will shorten the journey, but at least one will be glad that one doesn't feel s/he stuck within just one state for what seems like unending hours.

I allowed all of Bob Marley's more than a hundred and twenty offerings on my phone stream into my ears in alphabetical order while watching time and space waltz by. He is one of the few musicians (dead or alive) that I could listen to tracks and albums on end without replay, but seamlessly move from one track to the other. They don't make them like that anymore sadly, but this here is what I will use to counter what Ondo State does to me when I travel. I am sure there's no way passing through Ondo will be longer than my array of Bob Marley songs. I win anyhow.

Lokoja in Kogi State is usually another landmark spot. It was one of the reasons I almost considered putting off the journey to Abuja, or deciding in favour of going to the South-south from Lagos, before the east then northward than the other way round.  After the death of Prince Abubakar Audu (the late APC guber candidate who died last Sunday, while results of an election he was forerunner in was being collated), pundits had predicted chaos in that axis, but till now not much in terms of violence have been noted, making it unnecessary to alter my itinerary. The way Ondo conspired to hold us within its claws made me wonder if we would ever reach Lokoja. I wasn't surprised when by 6am we were still in Southwestern Akoko area of Ondo State, and my heart sank further, only to receive strength from the Bob Marley music in my head. 

It did turn out for good much later that we had to make the latter part of Ondo State in daylight, at least for me because then I could size up those huge rocks and hills that part of Nigeria is very famous for. Many of those sites are visited by tourists outside of Nigeria while those under whose noses these nature's beauty sprang up could give no hoot about them. It was getting increasingly cold now and I wondered if it was due to the elevation of that part of town or the harmattan from the north had already landed in that part of the Southwest. It occurred to me then, that I hadn't come with any form of warm clothing in my backpack, but even that thought was overtaken by the view I was enjoying. Not much appears to have changed with the settlements in the Akoko area of Ondo State, there were signs of electricity but there were more mud houses than the modern block houses, but I know now that that situation is not so much due to poverty than it is because the people in such places see buildings made with mud as more a temperature moderator especially in times of extreme temperatures. 

Over the years, I have only associated military roadblocks with the roads in the north, but this time around we have encountered several since we made it into Ondo State and I guess going further we will encounter them more frequently. Only on one occasion though did we come across a police patrol team. The current security situation in Nigeria could be blamed for this state of affairs, and even the misstep by President Muhammadu Buhari days after assumption of office, in which he ordered a dismantling of roadblocks, led to his having to swallow his vomit, when the terrorists struck almost immediately in response, as if in some kind of celebration at the lifting of obstacles that had hampered their operations in recent times.

Nothing gave me greater joy, when we eventually navigated our way out of Ondo into Okenne, Kogi State, for me that milestone is always worth celebrating so I let my innards jump for joy, the best they could do in the limited space allowed them.


At this time, school children were already out and on their way to school. Interestingly, all the passengers blowing hot as to how last nights' delay will cost them their appointment this morning were silent, some even still asleep, except maybe like me they have surrendered themselves to fate. Like I always thought, things could've been worse.


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