The throttle of the stationary molue stuck out like the heel of a prostitute’s stiletto. Abere, the bus driver, pedalled hard on the throttle while exhaust fumes drifted through the slits in the floorboard, smarting passengers’ eyes and noses. Coughs and curses followed.
The driver gulped the herbal alcoholic content in a green bottle labelled Oshaprapra and let out a belch.
A policeman, OC, walked to the side of the driver and held out his left hand, a baton under his right armpit. Abere thrust the small bottle at the cop, who grabbed and downed the liquor, grimacing as he let out a belch that sounded like a distant ocean roar. OC uncrumpled the N100 Abere squeezed into his hand and walked to the next bus.
Though Abere’s bus was filled to capacity, the conductor, Ororo, still shouted at the top of his voice, “Oshodi straaaight! Enter wit your N350 change o! I no get change o. I dey talk my own before we comot Obalende now o! Your house no go collapse o!”
The voice of the radio host came on air: “It’s easier for the camel to pass through the eye of the needle than for a day to pass in Nigeria without the occurrence of teeth-gnashing woes like terrorism, killings, kidnapping, banditry and Boko Haram.
“The latest in the list of nightmares afflicting the country is the worrisome manner in which buildings have been falling like packs of cards.
“A report by BBC says between 2005 and 2020, 152 buildings fell down in Lagos, adding that a six-storey church building collapsed in 2014 during a service by Pastor TB Joshua, killing 116 people.
“According to the BBC report, unqualified builders were used with substandard building materials…”
“Switch off that stupid radio! I say switch off that radio immediately or I’ll get you arrested for abetting hate news!,” a voice boomed from the back of the bus.
“Why you wan make I off the radio, sir o,” the driver asked, peering into his rearview mirror to see an old man sporting an agbada and a green fez, adding: “Na una dey spoil dis country with una lie-lie, Oga Lie.”
Oga Lie: We should be supporting our government. Nigerians are never appreciative…
Passengers (in unison): Which yeye government? Dis one na government or gutterment? Dis government wey specialise in condolence message? Dis government wey Boko Haram, bandits, kidnappers dey yeye anyhow?
Oga Lie: If people die, shouldn’t the government condole the families of the deceased?
Conductor: Nigeria no need wailing government, oga; make government prevent how Nigerians dey die like cockroach everyday, biko!
Young Man: Government should provide adequate security, stop financial and ethical corruption.
Oga Lie: Nigerians should be grateful that people were not living in the whole building when it crashed. That would’ve been more disastrous.
Driver: Dis oga dey talk as if say life mata for dis country. Country wey bandits go burgle House-o-Rock, shey dat one na country? Country wey terrorists attack NDA, kill and kidnap soldiers? Which kain yeye country bi dat? And we say we get goofment? Abeg, oga talk anoda tin, jare.
Conductor: All di houses wey don dey fall since in dis country, who dem punish? Many innocent people just die like dat for dat Ikoyi building. Na family wey lose members go sabi wetin hit dem. Na so dem go shout, shout, shout, small time di tin go die down when anoda bigger calamity happen. Dis country, calamity dey swallow calamity every day ni o. Blood dey drink blood. You build 21-storey building, di tin just collapse like say na sugarcane. Which government agency supervise di building? Some people come talk say na bomb dem bomb am, bomb ko, rocket ni. Dem give you approval to build 15 storey, you mount am go 21. Wetin government dey look when dem add six storeys join am? Anti-corruption government.
Fine Girl: Di angel wey create me for Nigeria no do well at all. Una say una dey run government, but una no fit send una pikin go di public school wey una dey run, una no fit attend Nigerian hospital wey una dey run, una no fit use Made-in-Nigeria things, dat means na wicked and fake government una dey run bi day nah. If you no fit chop wetin you dey sell, dat mean say na poison you dey sell bi dat nah.
Oga Lie: You think it’s easy to govern 200 million people?
Young Man: China’s population is 1.40bn while that of India is 1.38bn. All we need is honest and visionary leadership, not ethnic bigots and rogues parading as messiahs.
Driver: Where you go get honest leadership when all di people wey dem accuse of stealing for yesterday government don CHANGE to di ruling government, no bi for dia wey case close? And dem say dem dey fight corruption. Abeg, dis country never ready to develop. If I see visa now now, I go japa, I no go even pack any bag. Abeg make we hear news, jare.
In the ensuing silence, the voice of the radio host became audible again: “The representative of Kogi-West senatorial district in the National Assembly, Senator Smart Adeyemi, has lamented the injudicious budgeting of the retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government.
“Speaking after Ministries Departments and Agencies defended their respective budgets before the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mine, Steel Development and Metallurgy, Adeyemi questioned the competence and patriotism of Buhari’s economic team.
He said, “How on earth would a minister propose N82bn for procurement of mosquito nets and a sector as important as solid minerals gets N10bn? A good budget must not be just for expenditures, a good budget must be targeted towards wealth creation so that you can provide jobs for people.
“The Ajaokuta Steel Complex can provide about 60,000 jobs, about 20,000 engineers and technicians. You (need to) ask a question; the Economic Team of Mr President, are they Nigerians? If they’re Nigerians, it means they’re not in tune with the realities of today. Today, we have a large army of unemployed people, and you’re bringing a budgeting system that is so annoying, so questionable, so dubious…N82bn is more than enough to kick-start or, at least, give appreciable improvement to the Iron and Steel Complex.
“You’re not looking at how you’re going to improve your foreign exchange earnings, you’re asking us to come and approve N82bn, those ministers should be sent to jail…Let the mosquito kill us, if we’re going to put N82bn to stop mosquitos…Nigeria is capable of paying off and kick-starting the (Ajaokuta) Iron and Steel Complex.
“The problem of Nigeria is that you have some people who don’t want this country to move forward. And these are the elite. They’re people who are wicked capitalists, bourgeoisie who don’t want to move this country forward. We know those who want to tie this country down. Why would the country continue to import steel from India when you have your own steel company? Is that not wickedness…?”
Radio Host: We’ve come to the end of today’s news talk. I’m Babatunde Ayekooto. Thanks for listening.
Driver: (Looking into his rearview mirror): Wey Oga Lie?
Conductor: E don jump down teh-teh!