“Oh. You’re a Corper. Where are you serving?” My co-passenger on the bike asked me.
“Imilike-Agu” I answered.
“Ah! That place is far o and inside bush” She exclaimed, and went on to ask what state I’m from, if I was based there and schooled there. I’m quite used to the line of questioning, so I answered every one of them.
As a corps member, everyone you interact with is curious and want to know a little about who you are and where you’re from.
She told me she had served in Kogi state in 2010, and I was slightly taken aback cos it didn’t sound like she had.
I stopped myself from wondering why a graduate who had served since 2010 was hoping bikes in a place like this. Instead, I listened as she told me about her PPA, how much money she got at the end of the month and how much respect was accorded her.
“If it were to be in Kogi, this bike ride will be free.” She said.
I imagined the face of the bike man would be contorted in irritation.
“Everywhere and anywhere we wanted to go we got free rides.” she continued. “Even the students brought foodstuff for us.”
I sighed and told her that my experience in Enugu have not been particularly enjoyable, and it was practically the opposite of her experience.
“Yes yes. Our people here don’t respect Corpers at all. Instead, they try to exploit them.” She concurred profusely, her tone almost apologetic.
We fell into companionable silence as the bike sped through Igbo-Eze, heading for Nsukka. I registered the slight dip in the weather almost immediately and soon enough my teeth started to chatter from the cold. I wished for a moment that I had brought my NYSC jacket along, and hoped it wouldn’t rain.
Ten minutes or so later we arrive at Nsukka and as we rode past the main gates of UNN, I stared in puzzlement.
“This is the UNN? Choi” I can’t describe how exactly it looked, but I know it wasn’t the elegance I expected.
“Maybe what the lions and lionesses bragged about was inside the school.” I said to myself.
Nsukka town was just up ahead, and within minutes we had arrived. I looked around, at the bikes, taxis and buses as they all hurried by, at the women hawking groundnuts and bananas that look so much like plantains, and at the buildings with their white washed colors.
It wasn’t what I expected.
I had expected a mini city, tarred road, efficient drainage system, and beautifully painted houses. As per, the town is featured in every story/book set in the east. In the literary world, it was the capital city of Nigerian. Instead, the Nsukka I visited had bad roads that were muddy, and 2 hours later, after the rain that started just after I alighted from the bike stopped, Nsukka also became swampy. Pools and pools of erosion water was everywhere and it was almost impossible to step out of diamond bank without wading in the pool of chocolate water. It was so muddy and swampy, I could not walk the short distance from Diamond to UBA.
Uhm. Well, at least I had good customer service at both banks. Those guys at UBA? CUTE!