THE traffic was
everywhere sounds of sirens appeared to come from every direction. Politicians ran amock in their jeeps and you could tell from their party stickers pasted on the windscreens, bumpers and bonnets. If the glasses are not tinted and wound up, you could peep in to see the ‘Oga at the middle,’ either passing information on phone to the ‘Oga at the top’ or the ‘boys on the road’ to ascertain the position of things. I saw one or two on traffic shouting their voices hoarse and demanding for explanation.
I also saw one ‘Oga at the middle’ leafing over newspapers and smiling happily as he was chauffer-driven.
The ‘boys on the road’ were everywhere too. They were enjoying their own moments in the ‘peak’ of their career as errand boys to politicians, ferrying money, gifts and running all kinds of errands for their masters. They also drove tinted glass, air-conditioned jeeps and made phone calls. They were not ready to take nonsense on the road and they drove mad and hard to deliver.
I saw an accident along Ekenwan road in Benin involving one of those boys and the master’s jeep. When the head on collision with a taxi-coloured car happened, he simply alighted, checked the magnitude of the accident, took his phone and made a call. While we were there in the traffic, a car maneuvered its way on the other side of the road, the driver alighted and a little conversation took place between the new entrant, the boy on the road and the angry taxi driver and the new entrant quickly counted some money and handed it to the driver with a pat on the back and promptly, the taxi driver’s face lit up in a smile as he went back to his cab. Meanwhile the boy on the road took the ‘consignments’ in the jeep and transferred them to the new sleek car that had just arrived. The bags bore tags and party stickers and the content could be ‘dough’ for election purposes. The jeep was neatly pushed to aside of the road and momentarily abandoned. Life has to go on! The job has to be done!
The traffic management guys, the police and traffic wardens were at their best, looking spick and span, and diligently discharging their duties. They knew that ‘Ogas at the top’ and other rank and file were on the road and ensuring there was peace and orderliness, so everyone else had to maintain.
Road users, both pedestrians and commuters were also at their best. If a pedestrian wanted to cross to the other side of the road, they stopped and looked left, right and left again as they were taught in primary school before they crossed. No one wanted to be hit by the anxious politicians ‘moving train’ or by Hilux Van of security operatives.
The commuters also imbibed momentary discipline since uniformed security personnel were everywhere, but for private vehicles, you could stop anywhere and buy oranges, wait for them to be peeled and enjoy the juice because traffic management guys had to ensure they didn’t do anything that would put them in the news as anti-people and therefore make their ‘masters’ lose some vital votes on election day. So I saw cars parked even at king’s Square at spots you dared not park on a normal day. I also used the opportunity to stop and price some goods while ‘Oshiomhole Police’ smiled at me knowingly. Hmm… government of the people!
The banks were another hurly-burly spots to visit! The queues were long at the ATMs and those in the banking halls were something else. People were withdrawing cash like no man business and the ATMs were not helping matters. Cards were held back and debits were made, alerts sent to phones but the cash never came through. Several people were frustrated, but those who succeeded either smiled to the market to shop like crazy or went to the fuel stations to queue for fuel!
On their part, the markets were like they were during the festive period. I recall asking one woman: “Is it Christmas tomorrow or Idel Kabir?” and she laughed and replied, “my sister, I tire o!” and continued to pile foodstuff upon another. Buying and selling was like it was end times and the frenzy to ensure there was food at home gave a general impression that the outcome of the election would justify the need for that stock piling. If the outcome was good as the wind of change now portends, the food stock piled would be deplored in the partying that would follow, but if the outcome wasn’t accepted and something snapped in the minds of the youth, the food would sustain ‘inmates’ in their own home ‘camps’ till the unrest lasted.
Well, we have piles and piles of food at home; we have water, fuel, generating set, hiccupping electricity, television set, a well-made bed, roof over our heads, but we are still praying, earnestly asking God for a peaceful outcome, days after. We pray Oh Lord!

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