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How To Enter Sapele And Warri From Benin Now (2). By Tony Afejuku

The bad state of the Benin-Sapele-Warri road

"No government, of course, except the irresponsible regimes we have found ourselves in rejecting, yet forcing themselves on us, would want an immaculate writer, critic and columnist like you, to travel on our roads, our death-trap roads." Afejuku.

"Responsible governments don’t allow roads get battered this much to take you to Sapele and Warri. O Tony Afejuku, the restless blessed bullet of a writer!

I had four assignments to accomplish in Warri. I completed three and decided to leave after reaching the conviction that what I achieved was much. The state of the Koko junction and the crushing Ologbo stretch largely influenced my decision. 

The road is ever unpredictable; is ever cruelly unpredictable. Anything could happen any time. So it would be better to make my leap away from my dear city earlier than my home consciousness could allow. What this also meant was that I would unexpectedly jettison the thought of hanging out for a while in Sapele with my fellow grand friends, bright and benevolent chaps, and, to boot, strong-faced and strong-hearted geniuses when any occasion wants an evidence of it; and who, like my fellow Wafarians, were and are ever ready to give me breathless attention – if you know what I mean. Wafarians and Safarians never ever forget that they belong to one huge family in the manner of Jewish Synagogue members. Bafarians also possess this consciousness underscored over their great centuries by kindred instincts. 

Wafarians, Safarians and Bafarians are Wafarians, Safarians and Bafarians anytime every time, all the time anywhere. 

They develop a passionate zeal for Wafarianism, Safarianism and Bafarianism without blind sentiments. Their ism is the ism of progress, of education to the highest level, of keen and acute human-rights consciousness and togetherness in diversity. Wafarians, Safarians and Bafarians are beautiful, fundamental and devout brothers and sisters who always will resist oppression, exploitation and devastation of their land. 

But why has this collective family, the pride of the Niger Delta silently mum on the Ologbo infantilism, the Ouagadougou infantile disease that has become the measles not only of the Niger Delta but of the country and mankind as a whole?

In my Warri and as I hopped a Bolt taxi to the park where I hopped a hired vehicle to Koko Junction where I again hopped an Okada to Ouagadougou, where I finally hopped another vehicle to Benin, this thought did not depart from my radical consciousness. What has compelled us to be too eager to sacrifice our profound faith in our peculiar mannerism not devoid of our positive ism (Wafarism/Safarism/Bafarism) in order to conform? The civil war years calmly penetrated my memory. How we barely thirteen year olds with stones and sticks and bottles and nails led by Empire, our commander, confronted our tormentors. Nietzsche would certainly applaud us for not being satisfied with ourselves as we were not satisfied with the rest of things at all in the Nigerian civil war years. 

In my next trip to Wafi or Safi I would remind the living mates of that era of this and table before the ones of the current times our conscious attitude that is entirely different from the un-earnest and seemingly thwarted impulse and dwarfed propensities of now. 

holiday. Three of us would disembark at Koko Junction. We bonded very well. Everything was at a standstill at the Koko Junction. I could see the despair, shooting from the stout frame of the northerner from Kano City. I cheered him up as we – the Burutu boy professionally diving in Bayelsa and I - took our leave to hop on our respective motor-bikes to Ologbo, the Ouagadougou of travellers’ joyless pains. The hell-hole was still the hell-hole with several broken down trucks, tankers and buses and some assorted brands of cars. 

What can or must be done? I must not pretend to appear or to state here that I have the answers. Yet let me argue that. Engineer David Umahi, our new Federal Works Minister, must concede that, for a start, we deserve to hop to Sapele and Warri (and other places in the Niger Delta) from Benin through modern roads that are modern roads, through modern highways that are modern highways. This minister who made his well moneyed monies that flew him highly successfully to Ebonyi and national politics from the Niger Delta should compel himself immediately to do this and set machinery in motion accordingly. 

Besides, Benin to Sapele and Warri deserves a railway now. The cities similarly deserve air-ports that can enable us to enter them with ease. Warri and Benin have air-ports but as at now passengers don’t enter the cities straight from either air-port. Sapele deserves an air-port or an air-base of sufficiently sufficient quality to support a modern road, an efficiently efficient railway of durable durability to link Benin, Sapele and Warri. The money to do so which is our money, is very much available so no one, nobody not from our geo-political region should burden themselves with catastrophic envy and jealousy and tragic bitterness. Our region’s political lords and sweet and smooth talkers should now employ the application of their erudition to a form which will be the proper vehicle for the minds which have amassed the erudition for the labour of judicious politics akin to developmental and progressive politics. 

Now I must quote scintillatingly scintillating Owojecho Omoha, Benue State-born University of Abuja don, one of my well possessed readers, in full: 

“No government, of course, except the irresponsible regimes we have found ourselves in rejecting, yet forcing themselves on us, would want an immaculate writer, critic and columnist like you, to travel on our roads, our death-trap roads. Even if you fly, they would want that you sleep throughout and if by chance you arrive safely, you forget the high fares, and adulterated aviation fuel used to fly you on the air. Responsible governments don’t allow roads get battered this much to take you to Sapele and Warri. You will go, you will write, you will let the world know how you feel for yourself, and the people. And I saw what I wanted to see, the “dame” corner of your travelogue, and the old stories on Warri to Sapele, are completely complete. When next you want to go through the roads, don’t engage drivers or Okada, they mess up critics and poets. Go by air, I mean, traditionally, by air, so that governments will get less attack and less high fever when you return, O Tony Afejuku, the restless blessed bullet of a writer!”

What do I say to Professor Owojecho Omoha as a response to him for his concern as a poet and humanist who bears the pain of Safarians, Wafarians and Bafarians? I must invoke Nietzsche for him: “He who cannot bless shall learn to curse.” You will never ever curse us.

Now let me sign off abruptly. The colours of the late morning and the sky when I was hopping out of Warri were delicious grey and dreamlike charm of whiteness. At the Warri Park there were no passengers ready to board any Benin-by-air vehicle. There were several ones waiting to convey journeyers to Koko Junction. I wanted to obliterate any despair, any delay and any misadventure on the way. I wanted, in short, a faultless execution of my return journey to check at least the very troubling tooth-ache Ouagadougou caused me before I entered Warri. Thus the traveller hired a cab. Two chaps begged to enter my vehicle. I agreed without demanding a kobo from them. The first one, who could not be outside the thirty-something years mark, I learnt on the way was a northern truck driver whose truck had been at Ouagadougou for well above fourteen days. He left his motor-boy behind to come cool down and relieve his raging elevated tension in Warri with a cherished new love of his life. His assistant was to alert him once there was the slightest hope of a stupendous movement towards Benin. He was answering his boy’s call. The second, a very young-looking chap, was an Ijaw and a professional diver of an oil company in Bayelsa. He was going to Benin to spend his two weeks off-shore 

I was not in no way surprised when the news of the recent fire disaster cold-heartedly climbed to the handsome sky brimming with our tears. I hope my Kano journeying companion and his motor-boy were spared. Or am I enormously selfish to think only of them? Let me answer by sighing and gazing into the distance. The battered road cannot batter and hammer our humanity out of us.


Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.

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