And whilst we are still on the subject of misbegotten federalism in Nigeria, it is meet to remember the saying that a people perish due to their leaders’ lack of vision. And how Nigerians have been perishing in droves, particularly on the Lagos-Ibadan Express! When this road was opened to public use in 1976, to great national applause, it is curious that nobody envisaged that given rising population and a rapidly expanding economy, we would be needing at least six of such thoroughfares forming a concentric hub to Lagos by 2020.
The first time yours sincerely traversed this road in December 1975, the entire journey took fifty five minutes and twenty seconds. For those of us accustomed to travelling to Lagos from the village at the back of overnight trailers, a journey necessitating a midnight stop at Ipara for stomach refurbishment, it was a dramatic revelation, brimful of hope and optimism.
But the chicks have all come home to roost. Last Sunday, snooper lay prostrate and powerless in bed suffering from a new ailment which can only be described as post-Express traumatic stress disorder having spent seven hours on the Express on Saturday. The symptoms include nausea, extreme exhaustion and a feeling of sheer weightlessness. If one is not to perish on this accursed road, a quick decision has to be taken which was to evacuate Mama Igosun to Lagos since she was the main reason for our toing and froing on the berserk autobahn.
And so on Monday, and after a six year absence, mama returned to the house and all hell was let loose. Although now frail and much advanced in years, the old girl had lost nothing of her boundless zest and feisty disdain for social conventions. Before the car could come to a full halt, she jumped out waving her ancient crutch in the air like a military swagger stick. As soon as Okon sighted the Amazon, he ran back to his room, murmuring that he thought it was her funeral that was held a few months’ back.
“Chei, dem don bring dem ogbologbo Yoruba wizard to finish man, kai, dis oga na satan”, the crazy boy was overheard rumbling in his room. Mama did not help matters as she immediately proceeded on what looked at first like an ancient war-dance but which she said was animated supplication to the almighty that delivered her safely from the Express demons.
“Akanbi e morin oo. After us, dem Sina boy say grammar no be success, abi no be so?”, the ancient relic began probing for a weak link as she mixed English with pidgin and Yoruba with cheerful indifference even as snooper spread out in full prostration.
“Well done Akanbi. You be good boy like your papa, but my sister na real fire pepper”, the old woman gurgled as she kept ancient feuds in full view. But before you could say Jack Robinson she opened another front as she began spreading her deadly protocol of domestic warfare on the floor from an old Ashanti scarf.
First to tumble out was her ancient carved pipe brimming with Shaki tobacco, followed by old herbs for arthritis, then by an array of prehistoric condiments for seasoning okro and vegetables and finally by an iconic mirror straight out of old Oyo Empire. But one vital item was conspicuously missing. Snooper ventured to ask. It was like opening a Pandora Box.
“Mama, where is your Dane gun?” yours sincerely asked.
“Ah kini? I don donate dat one to dem Amotekun”, the old woman replied with a fiendish grin.
“Mama, they have just proscribed Amotekun”, snooper replied calmly and casually.
“Proscribe gini? Mewa babanla baba won no fit. Na dem doctor dey proscribe medicine. Dem sigidi wan go bath be dat”, the old woman screamed and began chanting war songs.
“Mama, take it easy now”, snooper pleaded.
“Akanbi, let me tell you this. He get time like dat when I dey go village and dem tell me dem useless boys dey kidnap for Majeroku. So when dem danfo get to Wasinmi, I telled dem driver make him stop. I come remove my clothes and come tell dem make dem drive jeje after me. When dem foolish people see me, dem come run inside bush and I come dey pursue dem. When I reach dem danfo and come put my clothes everybody come gentle. Even dem driver no fit ask for money as I comot”, the old woman exploded.
“Kai, mama dat one na awamaridi, African magic”, snooper noted as he rolled on the floor.
Äkanbi mi. Na di same thin we use for Ogunmakin towards Egba Owode when dem Ijebu and Egba armed robbers dey trouble dem around 1960,” the old woman noted. It was at this point a fearful and mortally distressed Okon emerged from his room. He must have been listening in. He bowed curtly and saluted his old adversary with utmost respect.
“Mama good afternoon. You are welcome ma”, Okon greeted the matriarch putting on his best behaviour.
“Akanbi, you mean say dis kanakana still dey with you?” the old woman demanded with a girlish smile.
Haba, mama you can see that Okon is a good boy now”, snooper pleaded.
“He better be. I no dey take nonsense from kukuruku. Okunnu, abi wetin you call him name again?” the old woman sniggered.
“Mama as I been dey respect you, he good make you respect yourself”,Okon mumbled under his breath.
“Henhen, if I no respect myself nko? Abi which kind palapala be dis?” the old woman shouted as she aimed her all-purpose cane at Okon who ducked and quickly ran out.