Friday, December 4, 2015

NAIJA TOUR (6)

I left Keffi without bothering to check on my friend who brought me back from "Zimbabwe" in the wee hours of the morning. I knew he'd need a few more hours to gather himself together before starting his day. He could afford to do so because of his blue collar working status. If we had travelled back to Keffi in daylight, with as much motorists back on the road than we met on our way back, I might have to be writing this on an emergency room bed, and that is if we had survived. I should've known better not to allow a drunk drive us to Keffi from Zimbabwe, and it is now a scenario I would never like to repeat.

The journey to Lafia was gladly uneventful, and in fact looked shorter than I had ever been on the road to Lafia from Keffi. I could see no immediate reason to adduce that to, because the driver of the cab I boarded didn't seem to move at an incredibly extraordinary speed, and we still passed by military, police, Federal Road Safety Corp, FRSC and Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO) checkpoints (while flouting regulations like having two passengers seated in the front, on a seat meant for one, with the driver without seatbelts on) with passengers alighting at intervals and new ones been picked. I really didn't have deadlines for Lafia, as it was just a fun visit to relish my first love in Nasarawa State. It looked like I closed my eyes and by the time I opened it, we were at Akwanga, then I blinked again and we were in Lafia.

Nothing much had changed since I last visited less than seven months ago. However, the atmosphere was more relaxed because the tension after the elections and before inauguration appeared to have largely dissipated, and everyone seemed to be going about their business without a care. I went about seeing familiar faces once I arrived, ate as much as was presented me till I couldn't take no more. In one place, I was entertained with a Nollywood movie titled "Skeleton, Season 4", and barely managed to watch just ten minutes of the movie that was meant to be a horror movie in shrubland by day, before a massive headache hit me. I begged to watch cable TV and once I was obliged (of which the alternative was to walk away) the headache stopped.

Unlike in Keffi, many of the residents and businesses in Lafia run on Power Generating Sets. There's just no stable electricity anywhere in Lafia from the national grid, and I think even the governors' residence and office also run on generators. Even when power is restored it lasts only a few minutes or at most a little over an hour, and can be said to be the most epileptic in Nigeria (and I stand to be corrected). One would've expected better from a state capital but in that respect Lafia is heavily lacking, amongst other amenities like water and even healthcare. Many of the residents prefer to use local concoctions rather than "go to die" in the government General  Hospital there (Lafia isn't as fortunate like Keffi, where there's a Federal Medical Centre). A resident even confided in me, that at the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital there, there's religious and ethnic discrimination in favour of Muslims and natives/indigenes over people of other religions and settlers. Had it not been for the activities of International Donor Agency activities in most of the Primary Health Care facilities in the state, I doubt there'd be anywhere to go by the indigenes. The lack of reach of regulatory bodies like the National Agency for  Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC into Nasarawa State means that the drug stores are saturated with substandard drugs not from proprietary companies but from the East of Nigeria, where places like Onitsha have been notorious in the past for harboring fake drug manufacturing companies, more like shops, of which Nasarawa State is a major destination.


ALONG JOS ROAD, LAFIA, NASARAWA STATE.


Later that night I trekked from Bukan Sidi where you have the Investment House to town, to what is popularly called Jos Road to see how far things have changed, but was largely disappointed with the fact that only a few change is noticeable from the last time I was there, like the government was still recuperating from an election victory and also victory at the election tribunals for which there'd be no time to do anything new. The paved road in the centre of town was still in good shape, but much of the changes made by government has been such glorifying the incumbent Governor Tanko Al-Makura (aka Ta'Al), with Ta'Al this, Ta'Al that dotting the landscape of town, and though you may find this with schools, libraries and other things he'd built elsewhere, they weren't as preponderant as they were in Lafia, where even the blue tricycles taxis with doors (unlike those in Lagos and elsewhere) carry the tag KEKE TA'AL. There is even a TA'AL CONFERENCE HOTEL in the heart of Lafia, that left me wondering if that belonged to the state governor or to the government. If it didn't belong to the state government, why would Ta'Al build such while in power, and if for the state, what guarantees are there that it won't be transferred to the private citizen that the governor will become when he relinquishes power seeing that this is his last term in office.

I used to think differently about Ta'Al, from how I consider other Nigerian governors, but after that incident in which his convoy assaulted a female driver and her passengers, I began to take a second look at him. He was on TV hours earlier decrying the pitiable situation in government secondary schools in Nasarawa State and promising to do something to remedy the situation, and I wondered how he didn't see all of that in his first term, as well as what it was that he prioritized back for all of those four years? I hope now that he can see the challenge as he publicly admitted on TV, he will do something as soon as possible to alleviate the plight of students in Nasarawa State's public secondary schools, as well as with other levels of education, not just with physical infrastructure, but human capital development of teaching and non teaching staff of the institutions concerned.

I noticed while trekking that policemen where strategically positioned along the road into and within town, and that signaled to me that there might have been incidences that warranted such. Lafia (which means peace) needs to live up to it's name if it must ensure its survival, and its place in the comity of state capitals. It is already overshadowed in terms of infrastructure by Keffi, and I understand the sense (by the military, years back) in making Lafia a state capital following the creation of Nasarawa State, especially if we are serious in Nigeria about spreading developments, but the state governor has to wake up, in making Lafia a state capital outside of a single road. The efforts so far, besides self glorifying legacies, are commendable but more still needs to be done.

I lost my way back from trekking once I was off the main road, and was inside the off-road settlements for the place I was to pass the night, because it was pitch black by the time I returned, with power out as usual. I had entered Lafia even later than the time I got lost this time around and wasn't afraid because of the nature of the town, and so as then I simply rigmaroled until I found myself back on the street where my destination was, though not without making a fool of myself by calling my host for direction while she was behind me, laughing at my stupidity.  The next morning, without ceremony and much ado, I picked all of mine into my backpack and headed out for the next cab heading for Abuja to continue my NAIJA TOUR.

'kovich

PHOTO CREDIT:
- jujufilms.tv

2 comments:

  1. Very interesting story from this Naija tour of yours. It's been really worth your time and quite exposing.

    Earlier today, I made a post on Facebook on the worrisome problem of substandard/fake drugs taking over Nig markets. Coincidentally, you addressed same matter here. I hope we can be delivered from this menace.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yea, I saw the post on Facebook.

      The scourge of Fake Drugs in Nigerian is a menace that is unrelenting.

      The purveyors of such have come back with a vengeance since the late Professor Dora Akunyili left NAFDAC. Smh!

      Delete

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