Valentine’s Day fell on a weekend. Who the hell cared, me and the lads decided to meet up for a trick or treating in the evening. But there was the small matter of a wedding I had to attend at Golden Gate Ikoyi; I got there for the reception and was ushered to a table where one of the women corned all the small chops and finger foods for herself and her clan. Maybe it was because I wasnt wearing aso-ebi so it was all good. Good wedding – lots of talent everywhere, but not enough nosh so everyone’s eyes looked strong.
Then Kevin my friend called me, to say that he and another, called Mof were downstairs in the restaurant’s lobby. We then got a buzz that there was a get-together somewhere in Lekki Phase one. I and Kevin rode in my car, with Mof driving directly behind us in his car.
When we got to Phase one, we couldn’t locate the street; so we did what anyone in Lagos would do – we started asking Okada riders.
Abeg you sabi Babs Oki street? The okada man would reply “Danbaba Aboki street? No, I no know am.”
Then we would be like “No, we said Babs Oki” but it was no use, the Okada chaps didn’t have a clue. They didn’t look like they wanted to have a clue either. All they wanted to do was ride.
So we called the chap who had invited us for the get-together; he described it thus: When you get to Admiralty, take the 3rd turning after the first junction on your right. When you get to the adjacent street, take a 2nd turning on your left and keep going straight. Then you would get to a close. Drive to the end of the close and ask okada for Babs Oki street.”
Drive to the end of the close and ask okada for Babs Oki street?!! Men, this guy was obviously pissy drunk, and didn’t know what he was talking about.
So we turned off Admiralty, with me driving, and saw a stream of okadas on a side street. We drove up to approach one, and my pal riding shotgun had wound down the window to ask the okada for directions when we heard “BOOOOM!!”. The car rocked forward on impact.
Oh that can’t be good, I thought to myself.
Me and my mate got down from the car to look. An okada guy had collided with the car and had totally smashed the left rear light. Valentine’s Day Massacre was about to occur on the Lekki Peninsular. I was sooooo angry.
I looked and the okada culprit was writhing on the floor in pain, with his finger sliced.
Men I was still angry.
I was like “Look at what you have done to my car. You have smashed the rear light”
The okada man kept bellowing and writhing on the floor louder.
You know the drill in Nigeria – whoever is angrier or more upset or more aggrieved is usually the one likely to gain upper-hand or not be at fault. If you dull, you may end up replacing your car rear lights as well as paying for the okada-man’s hospital bill. If a policeman passes by, and intervenes, you will also pay a “consultancy fee”.
For about 5 minutes, me and the wounded okada man, who was still on the floor writhing and holding his calf, and bellowing like a crazed banshee, had the following exchange:
Me, in a loud voice: “Aboki, see wetin you do my motor! You go pay for the back-light”
Okada man in a louder voice: “Yeeehh!!! I don die o. You don broke am for my leg o. Shege banzai!!!!”
Me, in a louder, louder voice “Make you stand up!!! Na you hit me from behind! I go seize ya machine o! Plus ya helmet!! And the passenger helmet!!!”
Okada man in a louder louder voice “My leg don broke o!!! You don kill me. I just come from Jigawa this morning o!!!!! This machine, na ma brother own o!!!!!”
And I am like, Dude, you just came from Jigawa this morning and you are operating as an okada man in bloody Lekki of all places, expressway and all.
In case you did not know, in Nigeria, when someone smashes into your car, you don’t ask for their insurance; no sir, you ask for their assurance – their assurance that they will fix the car or foot the bill for any repairs – immediately.
My friends too were all pissed and angry and engaging other people on the scene.
Meanwhile, all the okada men in Lagos were swarming on the accident scene. It was now a case of 3 versus the great multitude. Uh oh!
The okada kept writhing like a worm with salt on it. It wasn’t looking good.
Then a man forced himself to the front of the gathering and said in the thickest Igbo accent “Mallam, why you de lie”.
Without even looking at me, the man continued: Mallam, why you de lie?! Na you jam this man motor for back? I see you, you de drive okada and de follow ya brother talk, and you no see say this man motor don park. You come hit am, break the back light. When you see say you don jam am, you come de lie for ground, pretend like say you don break ya leg.”
Apparently, the man (let’s call him Good Samaritan) had been making a phone call in a recharge card centre by the side, and had seen all that had happened. Aww bless.
Good Samaritan now did something that surprised me. He walked to the okadaman on the ground and held the okadaman’s ankles and started stretching and bending the okadaman’s legs at the knees. “Aboki, you talk say your leg don broke abi? If e don break, why you fit bend and straight ya leg? Get up jare!!!”
The okada dude realized that his game was up; he stood up like Lazarus!
Everyone present was angry – and believe me it was nearly a mob at the scene.
Everyone was angry and started verbally attacking the okada-man, and not even his colleagues could intervene.
Ok so the okada man is at fault, all well and good. But there is still de small matter of my car lights? I doubt if anger is going to be able to fix them.
My friends seized the man’s key, and started loading the bike into our car boot. “We de seize you okada, that back light na 15 thousand naira for market.”
Normally when another road user bumps into my car, depending on the severity of the damage, I may let it slide and drive off. But this chap lied and pretended that he was injured, an act which could get me set upon by okada-union. And he broke my rear lights, which for the brand of car, will cost a decent sum to fix. Something or someone’s has got to give.
All the okadas decided to donate, after much haggling and we came away with N8000. My lights cost at least N14, 000.
Well in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, lets just accept this and let the okada chap go. Especially cos new people and okadas were coming to the scene of the incident, and everyone was shouting and getting aggressive.
Me and my friends pulled away from the growing mob, and drove off in our cars. We got to the get-together, it was nearly over. We couldn’t even get a decent drink and had to make do with Fayrouz.
Valentine’s Day was ruined for me anyway, but worse still I developed a phobia for okadas. I would not let them squeeze in front of me even in traffic, and I turned my side mirrors in, when on narrow roads.
I can’t wait for the Lagos State’s ban on okadas on highways to take full effect. I obviously want riders to earn their living, but there’s no excuse for recklessness. The ban was meant to start on September 1, 2010, but so far when I look outside my car window, I still see Speed Demons – daredevil okada riders doing Ruff Ryder or Biker Mice from Mars drills while carrying delicate passengers.
Ban them from the Autobahns I say!
This is a story I’ll never forget/
About the day my new car got hit/
It caught me off guard cause it happened so quick/
When I heard the crash I got mad as hell/
Cruising down the highway fast not slow/
Ninety miles an hour in my five point o/
People waving at me cause they know who I am/
Alpine stereo blasting a jam/
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince (You Saw My Blinker, 1991)