I have been in the village for the past couple of days. I was too busy to monitor the news and other extraneous matters. Na so I enter road today heading to Owerri. I kept cruising. The road was free. Then came this military check point. The soldier seemed quite uneasy to me. Firstly, he asked if I didn’t want to stop for them and I reminded him, with my trademark smile, that I slowed down considerably before getting to him and did not drive past him. He asked me to wind down my back glass and I told him that I’d rather open the door, if he didn’t mind and so I did. He said, as if afraid or suspicious still, “why you carry so many tools? Tool, tool, everywhere? What work do you do self?”
Ha! The matter come confuse me as I pointed out to him that besides the pair of pliers, there was my Bible and small bag, which he is free to open. There was no other tool. I explained that the pliers was an essential tool that any car owner should have in his kit. Of course it was not dark and all these were spread out on the seat. He asked where I was coming from, heading to, my village name, etc. All of which information I gladly and cheerfully gave him.
Then he signaled me to go but I hesitated, to be sure that I heard him well. This was close to the airport junction where the Germany based gentleman was gruesomely murdered by the Air Force personnel when the guy thought that he was asked to go but he was wrong. On his impatient repetition of the instruction that I should go, I moved.
Then came another checkpoint. I still can’t place the uniform worn by these guys wielding rifles tied with red cloth. The wind down your glass and door opening episode over, it came to where I was going from and to. Then he said, but today is sit at home. I was surprised and confused at the same time. Could he be a sit at home enforcer? When he saw my confusion and I asked, sit at home? How come? But today is Friday. He said, “yes, independence day. Your people said it’s sit at home.”
I was too far into the journey to turn back but I felt so unsafe. I now noticed how bare and lonely the road ahead of me was, had actually been but I didn’t notice due to my blissful ignorance. He flagged me on and said, “be careful as you go.” I wondered to myself, “how careful can one be in a situation like this?”
At this stage 3 things occurred to me.
- The power of the mind. Just imagine how peaceful and blissful my journey had been up to that time, then this information just messed it up for me. Indeed, “ignorance is bliss.” What kills us is really not the very things that threaten our peace and existence but our attitudes and reactions to them.
- Believe it or not, I thought of Kingsley Chukwuemeka Daniel, Aigg Giwa-Amu and other funny people on this platform. I thought to myself, should anything untoward happen to me on this journey today, these guys will remind me of my position that those who ply roads within any troubled locations where sit at home or any other conflict is declared are to blame for whatever misfortune befalls them for such indiscretion.
- I took solace in the fact that I prayed before setting out and pleaded for safety, even without knowing what lay ahead. I prayed again more specifically this time. Then I forged ahead.
After some time, a big woman flagged me down but I didn’t stop. Shortly afterward a man in what looked like a police vest flagged me down, I stopped, picked him, reversed to pick the woman who first waved, then two other gentlemen a young lady had to sit on the laps of a man at the back seat until the policeman dropped. Before I left there, two other men who could not fit in, I was already overloaded, protested that I carried only women, meanwhile, there were three men and two ladies. I understood their frustration because it happened that these people had been there for several hours without help and they had been told that the spot they were at was not safe. Then another drama. A young man appeared from the blues to demand that I “settle” him for carrying those people. The policeman took him on, asking him if this looked like a commercial vehicle, adding that, “somebody is trying to help people for free and you are asking him for money.”
After the altercation, we moved. Close to destination, we heard a hissing sound and I cleared, my front tire had picked a big nail. My male passengers, especially one of them came to the rescue. I was so glad I carried them.