In October 2015, I made the long trip from my house in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, Nigeria, to Osun, another South Western State in the country. Three-and-a-half to four long hours in different vehicles on the bumpy roads replete with potholes, separated my Ibadan house and my beloved alma mater, Redeemer’s University.
Sadly, I couldn’t accomplish what I went there for, and there was no pitying eye from any of the staff on duty, and after all said and done, I began my long journey back home the same day. This would be normal, if not that I began the journey late. As late as around 5:30 p.m. I guess.
In-between Osun Sate and my house lies the ancient city of Ibadan. When travelling from Osun, you need to go through Ibadan before you reach Ogun State, just as you need to go through Ibadan when going to Osun State from Ijebu Ode, Ogun State. That’s how the road network is.
By the time I reached the normal motor park in Ibadan, it was already quite late at night, and the last vehicle had moved to Ijebu Ode, leaving me stranded in Ibadan at night. At the advice of some of the men at the park, I stood at the roadside to get a taxi to transport me to another motor park far away, Amid the puffs of smoke issuing from exhaust of thousands of vehicles moving in all directions. Now, the busy road with thugs, beggars, pedestrians, spiritualists, et cetera, and a lot of noise was very unfriendly to me (I’m the countryside type), and the terrain was totally unfamiliar.
I managed to get a taxi for a fair price to drive me down several miles to the nearest motor park. We went past police officers, who demanded a bribe from the driver. The driver had no choice but to comply, lest they label him with an offence he knew nothing about. All my efforts in explaining to the driver that an innocent man has no need to fear policemen on duty, or pay them bribe, fell on deaf ears.
The park was even farther than I had imagined. Anyway, I got there in time to meet a vehicle headed for Ijebu Ode. I suspect that was the last for the night. I entered it and waited for it to get filled, while choking on the smoke of a ciogarette from some fellow smoking around. I had to endure till the vehicle moved, and even when the vehicle moved, some stuff from the vehicle which I don’t know, caused me eye pain till I got to Ijebu Ode.
However, the major highlight of the otherwise normal journey were the two guys seated next to me. The smaller one sat on the laps of the bigger one, so they will only occupy and pay for one seat, and cut costs. They could not even pay up their complete bus fare, and had to reach an understanding with the bus driver to accept what they paid–all they had (so they claimed).
Both boys were looking weary, discouraged, scared, and very starved. So starved that the bigger one asked me for some money to buy dinner for them both. I took pity on them and assured them that the moment the bus touched down, they will get food.
Then I got interested in their story. What were two young boys looking for in Ibadan of all places, in the dead of the night, without any chaperone watching over them? Worse still, they were still headed for Lagos that night, about another one-and-a-half hours after Ijebu Ode, if they were fortunate. Then they told me their pathetic story.
They happened to work for a “health” organisation that sells drugs and healthy supplements, and is affiliated with GNLD. Hmmm. GNLD. That got me interested. So what were the doing in Ibadan? They had taken the long trip all the way from Lagos to Ibadan to sell some of the drugs for their organisation. They had stayed there for a day, but were unable to sell even a pin. They had exhausted all the funds they had on them, and they could not make the return journey to Lagos. They told me with regret that their gamble to sell the products in order to realise a profit to eat and pay for their own transport back to their office, had failed.
Ibadan is the largest city in West Africa with a teeming population of people on its perennially busy roads. How surprised these boys were not to have sold a single drug. I was surprised as well, but I found myself believing their story after asking few other questions and they produced consistent answers which were consistent and not contradictory.
As a microbiologist, I became even more interested when drugs were