Onitsha Has Gone Mad Again
Pardon my choice of personalizing the title of this post with the name of the city where I was raised. Onitsha meant a lot to me as it is a city I’m yet to discover completely. Onitsha has offered me a lot of beautiful feelings and experiences that made my boyhood days and teenage age something to savour with every sense of nostalgia whenever the opportunity presented itself. The setting of my novel Boys On Rampage is Onitsha. Now you know my fixation on Onitsha.
I remember the number of times I would take a walk from our Fegge flat and get to the steel bridge of the famous Onitsha Niger Bridge and took out time staring into the trumping dirty water of this big river geography couldn’t teach us enough about at schools.
Oh my Onitsha! What happened to you!
It was 2007 and I needed to pick up my certificate at the unique University of Port Harcourt where I graduated from in 1999 – ayaf old ni. Everybody warned me to wake up on time and leave for Onitsha with the first bus from Mazamaza – Lagos. See me see sleep! I slept like a king and woke up in such fright when I realized it was past seven in the morning. Jeeze! I rushed through my morning ablutions and jumped into a pre-selected casual stuff and hit the road.
The Lagos-Benin Expressway was a horror of itself in those woe-begone days. A journey of six hours stretched into ten and we were still at Ore. Even with the detours made to help quicken our journey to Onitsha, my palpable fear for Onitsha reared its ugly head when at 6.30 p.m., we were approaching Okadaland. Most of my co-passengers were in a fret while a few didn’t betray such fear as they would stop at Asaba – a safer capital city. Our bus’ destination being Port Harcourt, we were advised to pass the night at the park. Lord have mercy!
The fear of night marauders and all sorts of nerve-wrecking crimes was the beginning of our wisdom. As the driver insisted that their company’s park is safer than some of us suggesting passing the night in a hotel and the fact that he would not wait for us to come back from our hotel before hitting the road for the continuation of our so-long-a-journey on Nigeria’s killer-roads, we accepted his superior wisdom or so it seemed. We crawled up to Upper Iweka at around 10.00 p.m.
We were exposed to mosquito bites and I couldn’t even sleep until we hit the road at 6.30 a.m., seeing that by this time, the roads would have become busy and we would not be easy pickings from the hard boiled characters that steal, kill and injure their victims. Most of us ended up having our night rest in the bus while the journey continued.
Upper Iweka then was known for the worst of crimes on surface earth.
Now, today, Upper Iweka is back in business. Handset snatching, armed robbery, stabbing, one-chance are among the major crimes that have found their way back to this popular joint in Onitsha after the cleansing effect of the state governor’s 1st term touch some years back.
Someone is telling me that the governor has been bitten by the second term mentality which makes Nigerian leaders under-perform after their pretenses put up for the charade that the second term is. But I know that Governor Willie Obiano is not like that and this is urging him to do wave his magic wand once again and save visitors to our dear state Anambra state and inhabitants from going through such mean experiences in the hands of Onitsha’ social rejects.