… where sa-tyres never go flat

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Nigeria as a dilapidated Micra cab

Nigeria as a dilapidated Micra cab

By: Okwuasaba Flourish

This development crisis situation that still confronts many African countries today has four dimensions: bad driver, bad vehicle, bad road conditions, bad strategy —and angry passengers. Fixing one without the others would make little difference to the development journey.

Applied Economics for Africa by George B.N. Ayittey.

The story you’re about to read is an absurd metaphorical one. If you hope to read a happily-ever-after story, it’s not here. Maybe elsewhere when you japa. However, if you’re interested in stories about corruption overload, poverty cases, hungry and angry Nigerians and one irrelevant bill, then go on.

I am Kuru and it is my sad duty to narrate this ridiculous story as a fellow passenger and participant in the shege.

The Nigeria of today is an accumulation of various events and tragedies that have made it what it is. The country can be likened to a dilapidated Micra cab. The type that Ibadan drivers lord over and is riddled with faults. The driver of this beat-up car calls himself Jagaban, and his number plate reads “8-point agenda”. His passengers call him “Man of the Pee Poo”. His fellow friends in the business call him “Asiwaju”. Others simply refer to him as “City Boy”. The driver is our beloved leader.

Our leader–Man of the Pee Poo pulls out the car manual, but it’s written in Chinese, a language he can’t comprehend except for the “one-year warranty” part. So he begins the journey with the words, “We go run am.” But not long after, a stench reaches the noses of the passengers. With concern, they suggest he hand over to Obi, a more qualified driver, as the journey is too far. However, he dismisses their worries with a nonchalant, “Just get me quality diapers.”

The heat makes the stench unbearable and to make matters worse, the air conditioning system is malfunctioning. Man of the Pee Poo tries to balance the wheel but fails at it. The headlights are epileptic and dim throughout the dark night (epileptic power supply). The driver increases the fare in a bid to get more fuel and adjust the electric panel (fuel subsidy and electricity tariffs). The brakes are not functioning, and the shock absorbers are down (checks and balances). The horn produces a shrill sound (Nigerian press), and the mirror is riddled with cracks, but this is just the beginning.

The bumper is disfigured, the windscreen is fogged up, the wipers are useless, the radiator fan is defunct, and the cooling system is leaking profusely. The smoke-belching junker pushes forward a coffin filled with old naira notes that a former driver, Abacha, had left there. The passengers are oblivious to its existence.

As Africans are wont to lament, we struggle very hard to remove one cockroach from power and the next rat comes to do the same thing! Haba!

Applied Economics for Africa by George B.N. Ayittey.

This ride leaves a trail of recurring problems revolving around fuel subsidies, electricity tariffs, a suspended cyber security levy, a pending minimum wage bill, tribalism, foreign debt, a crumbling educational system, a devalued naira, and a weak passport.

The battery begins to touch, and Man of the Pee Poo attempts to flag down a passing vehicle for assistance, but the road is quiet.

It is customary for two passengers to sit in the front seat so the driver can profit more, even though it is at the expense of the passengers’ comfort. So one of the passengers in the front seat complains, “Mallam, shift, this place is too tight.”

“Why I go shift? I dey sit on top brake,” the mallam responds.

Another passenger from the back supports the Mallam and says, “Ngbati wan ya sef, no one here is comfortable.”

Ngbati, frustrated, disembarks to join another British vehicle but is met with disdainful looks and the words, “Aren’t you from that tattered vehicle? Please scoot over; I don’t want any of your colour on me”, said in a beautiful British accent.

Another Ngbati, still in the rugged vehicle, pleads, “Please, I can only pay half of the exorbitant fare.”

Man of the Pee Poo has a listening ear, so he responds that it’s all part of the austerity measures and nothing can be done since his debts need to be paid.

A street vendor advertises a flying broom that will “carry you to the abroad”. The Mallam attempts to say, “Aba boys at work,” but is abruptly interrupted by the car stereo blaring, “Nigeria, we hail thee!” Ironically, it seems the only thing functioning perfectly in this dilapidated vehicle is the stereo system.

Okwuasaba Flourish is a freelance writer and blogger. You can follow her on IG @flourishokwu and subscribe to her blog flowscorn.substack.com to read more of her articles.

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