- The Storried Platform
THE EDUCATION MAN………COMES TO SALEM – By Victor Vanharicon Nwawube
“The roads were outrageously cloaked with hills.”
Greetings from Lokoja, the land of the scorching sun and what a journey it was, with the wide potholed road causing our bus to constantly propel rapidly upward such that the momentum causes our body to gravitate achewise. There were many times when we saw no house at all and no other vehicle, just nomads and at times a few cows would divert to the main road causing our driver to halt precipitously leaving visible tyre scratches on the already hideous surface of the road. The road was particularly unfriendly and rough when we entered Illah village and the shimmering town of Ubiaja, but the worst experience we ever had was when we entered the ancient town of Okene, Kogi state. The roads were outrageously cloaked with hills that we barely saw the opposite end of the road. The sky was illuminating hotness that was legendary even to the habitual conveyors. Mind you, this was the only time I succumbed to road sickness.
“Federal government pikin.”
En-route, I made friends with two fellow Corpers, Basil Onuigbo from Owerri and Dennis Acho from Asaba. The three of us were pleasantly accommodated by the conveyors and co-passengers who baptized us “Federal government pikin”. A young man in his mid-forties, Mr. Udeanya Ogugua from Ikem Nando who runs a drugstore in Okene on realizing that I am from Nando bought a rich meal for me at Iya Miracle cafeteria when we stopped at Uromi in Edo State. Sadly Basil and Dennis were not Lokoja bound, but we have exchanged contacts and in this way remained in touch. The vehicle made several stops along the way at Uromi, Okene, Obajana, where my eyes beheld the imposing Obajana Cement Factory owned by Dangote and once in Adankolo lokoja, they tugged us into the park from where I travelled up to Salem University where I am now in my comfortable but indifferent room.
“The Education Man.”
My first two weeks at Salem have been busy and filled with registration and validation of all sorts. Yesterday, I had a chat with the Deputy Registrar, Elder Georgewill Vincent, a man who I think is so imperious and is at war with smiles, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Onugba Abraham (a Professor of Geo–Sciences), a man whose welcoming gestures was quite angelic, he had already baptized me, “The Education Man”. Today, I officially went to my designated office “Registry”, where I familiarized myself with Rev. Tim Attah the Registrar, Mrs. Anyajiugo, Mr. Elesho Fisayo and Mr. Jude Ogala, a young man whom I admired his style and his aesthetic greybeards. I have also been introduced to many Professors and Technocrats, the students here are mostly from not just wealthy but abounding families. Evidently, there are many important persons at Salem, which is part of what makes it such an impressive institution.
“The people here can be savoury.”
In other ways, though, Lokoja is not as I expected. The weather here is so unfriendly that the skin groans painfully as slaves in its hands. I’m told that its wickedness will be more manifest in months to come. The people here can be savoury too and on the whole not terribly friendly. Dad, you will be confounded to discover that about seven tribes reside here in Lokoja, with the Igalas, Okun, and the Ebiras being the dominating tribes. This to my awe contradicts my previous thought that the people here are predominantly the Hausas. The Hausas are merely foreigners who reside here comfortably owing to the presence of their religion (Islam) here. People here are conventionally religious with Christians and Muslims cohabiting peacefully. Unfortunately, the people here are not business minded, business ventures here are mostly owned by the Igbo. No wonder they call us the business people.
Everyone calls me “Sir”.
I am enthused to report that I have met six other Corpers here; Patrick Ode, a First-class graduate of Microbiology, Benue State University, Adebayor Henry, a 2nd class upper graduate of Forestry, Federal University of Technology, Akure, Owolabi Temitope, a First-class graduate of Bio-chemistry, University of Lagos, Ehimitan Olumide a First-class graduate of Microbiology, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Egbeleke Adeniyi Adegbola, a First-class graduate of Business and information system, Baptist University Cape Verde, and Edeh Elijah, a second class graduate of Religion from my school. Notwithstanding our tribal and academic differences, we have come to be fond of ourselves as a butterfly is to the flower. The students here are mostly spoilt owing to their wealthy backgrounds, but surprisingly virtually everyone here calls me “Sir”. Life is different here, but a greater adventure awaits me. I intend to visit the popular Confluence beach and see where the River Niger and the River Benue joined, to also visit some other archival and notable places like Mount Patty, the Confluence stadium and so on.
“I’m now called Baba Wali.”
Dad, I wait solicitously for news from home my greetings to everyone and please tell mum that her foodstuffs has served me well especially her OGILI which I have shared with my Yoruba colleagues. Tell Nenye, Boy, Kene and Kosy that I miss them all.
By Victor Vanharicon Nwawube
“The roads were outrageously cloaked with hills”