By Ebele Orakpo
“Are you preaching ethnicity again?” asked Gbenga as the debate in the Obalende-bound commercial bus raged on.
Replied Austin: “Hell, no! We are proffering solutions to the congestion in some states. Lagos is already over-congested while some towns in the South-East (SE) are sparsely populated and others congested. A youth corps member from the South-West was posted to a town in the SE. She said she was surprised at what she saw – beautiful, gigantic modern buildings, some more beautiful than you find in so-called mega cities, but many of them unoccupied! Meanwhile, the owners may be somewhere in Lagos living in a room and parlour apartment and paying through their nose. It doesn’t make sense,” said Kaycee.
“Well, it perfectly makes sense because that is where his business thrives, courtesy of the high population density and civil servants, bankers, oil industry and telecom workers who have the means to patronise them. If he relocates to his state, he will lose most of his customers. Lagos is overpopulated and public infrastructure seem to be overwhelmed right now because it was a former federal capital with heavy Federal Government presence so federal civil servants moved to Lagos. Naturally, contractors, banks and other businesses had to move if they must survive,” replied Gbenga.
“To be honest, the Federal Government has not been fair to the SE. No seaport, only recently did they get an international airport. So all this while, if someone wants to travel outside the country, he must either go to Lagos or Abuja, and since Lagos is closer, most of them go to Lagos and these people travel a lot. So I think what Lagos and other over-congested states should be calling for is decentralisation of government presence. I believe that if the SE has a seaport and a functional standard international airport, I don’t see someone from Onitsha or Aba or Owerri travelling all the way to Lagos or Abuja to get a visa or board a flight or going all the way to Lagos to clear his goods.
“So for now, all that movement is a necessary evil. Reminds me of a man that was always at logger-heads with his wife. A friend of his advised him that instead of the woman sending him to an early grave, he should send her packing and he replied that the woman was a very necessary evil. So until there’s an alternative, these cities will continue to be congested, period!” stated Iyke.
“Some people say that Igbos are very unfriendly and an Igbo man will never sell his land to another person,” quipped Bayo.
Said Austin: “You and I know that is not true. If you are bold enough to go there and find a piece of land that is for sale and you want to buy, once you can pay the price, they will sell. As for Igbos being unfriendly, I totally disagree with you. An average Igbo person will treat a stranger better than a fellow Igbo. An Igbo man will rather help a non-Igbo in his domain than help his brother. They have this thing in them that makes them feel protective over a stranger because they see the stranger as being all alone so they do everything to make him comfortable. Since he knows you don’t understand the language, he speaks the one you understand so you are not left out. This is unlike most tribes in Nigeria. Anyway, there are bad people everywhere. The average African is accommodating, friendly, loving and kind but there are a few exceptions.”