BY EBELE ORAKPO
‘I don’t even know which one is the safest anymore, whether air, land or sea; they are all dangerous in Nigeria,” noted Phina, a commuter in the Wuse, Abuja-bound bus as the vehicle passed a car accident scene.
“I think air travel is still the safest means,” said Jude. “Please, don’t even go there. Road for me, is still the safest means,” protested Amos. Said Jude: “Let me land first… haba! Allow me to die before you bury me now . You have not heard my reasons yet.”
“So what are your reasons?” Amos asked.
Chipped in Ken in response to Jude: “May be you have phobia for heights (Acrophobia) just as some people have phobia for water.
Replied Amos: ”I am not, but I still maintain that road is the safest.”
“Why I insist that air is the safest is that there are fewer accidents and fewer dangers in the air than on land. How many road accidents do we have in a year and how many air accidents? Again, think of Boko Haram guys, armed robbers, kidnappers stopping vehicles on the roads, robbing, kidnapping or killing them,” said Jude.
“Yes, but air accident when it occurs, is always fatal … almost always, there are no survivors unlike road accidents. If a driver is over-speeding, you can tell him to stop and you get down but can you try that in the air?” asked Amos, with an air of triumph.
Number of vehicles
“I don’t think the entire aircraft that goes through Nigerian air space is one quarter of the number of vehicles on our roads, so, of course, the frequency of road accidents will be higher.”
“I believe water is safer than both air and land,” said Audu.
“Hmmm, water! I have to comment my reserve,” said,” said Ken.
“Comment your reserve? asked Phina confused.”
“Yes, I had wanted to keep quiet but I cannot because of an experience I had. I had gone to Nasarawa State with some people for a programme which ended a bit late and going by road was going to take us a long time. So we were advised to take a canoe and cross over River Benue and from there, take a motorcycle to our destination. I was afraid but I did not know that my colleague was aquaphobic, he is terribly afraid of water. As we approached the middle of the river, you know, when you are neither in heaven nor on earth, the canoe man began to tell us the story of how a canoe capsized at that exact spot the previous week and almost all the occupants drowned.
My co-traveller snapped: ‘Enough of this trash my friend! What’s the matter with you? Will you face what you are doing?’ I was taken aback by the vehemence in his voice,” said Ken.
“But the canoe man kolo sha (mentally ill)! How can you start a story of drowning in the middle of the river?” noted Jude.
“What about the Niger Delta canoe guys who will tell passengers to pay clearly exorbitant fares and anyone who argues with them is told to get down,” said Phina.
“Ehn, I will get down and wait for another one. Wetin,” said Audu.
“In the middle of the ocean? You no fit except you wan commit suicide,” replied Phina.