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Yuletide travels and experiences

By Douglas Anele
The Yuletide celebrations have just ended, with the usual aftermaths, trailing them. Whether one is a Christian or nonchristian, Christmas is a period of frenetic activity and high expectations, great hopes and disappointments, increase in all manner of vices and road accidents.

Ironically, the season which is supposed to be a spiritual occasion marking the birth of Jesus of  Nazareth, a Jewish religious teacher, has gradually evolved into a period for the worst kind of debauchery of which the human genius is capable.

The situation is worst in deformed countries such as Nigeria where hard-nosed business people masquerading as “men and women of god” use all kinds of leger-demain to despoil the gullible, especially the poor. Analysing in details the terrible destraction which Christmas has become would require a full essay of its own. However, I use this opportunity to ask my readers, irrespective of religious affiliation to reflect deeply on their experiences during the Christmas and ask searching questions concerning the true meaning and purpose of Christmas, whether it has furthered the spiritual growth of humanity in general or whether it has continually debased the spiritual core of our species.

While we meditate on the above, I  wish to highlight some of my experiences and impressions of the Yuletide that has just passed. A  lot of Nigerians from the South East visit our towns and villages once in a year, especially during Christmas.

Hence, for most of us from that part of the country, travelling home for the Yuletide is almost like performing a yearly pilgrimage, except that in this instance the major motivation for travelling is more social than religious. We see face-to-face with our ageing parents, relations, friends and associates around the world at Christmas time.

Again, virtually all communities in  Igboland schedule meetings, festivities and assorted ceremonies during the period. Thus, despite the physical and financial stress of travelling to the village at Christmas, the sound and psychological factors involved compel people to brave the odds and fulfill their obligations to their loved ones.

The journey to  Igboland from Lagos is very difficult during Christmas. Apart from heavy traffic, the Lagos-Benin road is bad. The road has been dilapidated for years. To be candid, it is plainly wicked that the former president Olusegun Obasanjo did not ensure that the Lagos-Benin road was not repaired before he left office.

The same goes for the construction of the Onitsha by-pass and the Onitsha-Owerri road. I urge the federal government to expedite action on these important roads linking the south-west and south-south states to the south-east to save travellers the unnecessary trauma associated with travelling on those roads.

One of the most terrible experiences in travelling to the south-east at Yuletide is the unreasonable number of police check-points on the road. The checkpoints cause accidents and unnecessary delays for travellers. They have not helped to curtail the nefarious activities of armed robbers on our roads. Inded, the checkpoints were basically used by unscrupulous policemen and others in uniform to extort money from travellers.

Therefore, I  was pleasantly surprised that checkpoints were virtually nonexistent during the last Christmas. From Lagos to Benin by-pass we encountered only two of them, and the policemen were reasonable and friendly. The Inspector-general must be commended for saving Nigerians the humiliation and embarrassment of police checkpoints on our roads, and i urge him not to relent in his attempt to rid the police of “wolves in sheep’s clothing” so to speak.

The Upper Iweka section of Onitsha is a disgrace to Anambra State and Igboland. Upper Iweka must be one of the dirtiest places in Nigeria: it is notorious for the activities of robbers and hoodlums. We got to Upper Iweka around 6pm and one of the tyres of my car got punctured. The ever-present  efulefus there made sure that I spent more than one thousand percent what I ought to have spent just to replace the failed tyre with the spare. As we quickly drove off from the spot where the replacement was effected, we noticed that the spare tyre was making some noise.

We were forced to seek accommodation at the nearest hotel around. I booked two rooms at an hotel, close to Upper Iweka bridge. The place  is a total mess. The rooms are very untidy and mosquito infested. The entire complex is in complete disrepair. it is the worst place i had lodged in my life. The management of the are grossly incompetent and should be replaced immediately.

The place has potentials, but the people managing it right now do not have what it takes to translate those potentials to concrete realities. The few workers we met, like the management, are rustic and incompetent as well. I certainly do not recommend the place to anyone.


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