I used to be the second passenger in the front seat for many years, and this was more pronounced during my five-year study at the University of Ibadan (UI). The only time I was freed from being the second passenger in the front seat was whenever I boarded a cab at the university car park. In UI, it is an offence for both the driver and the drivee (lol). Okada riders in the University do not take more than one passenger on any trip. Thumbs up for the transport Administrators for this because I’m sure if stringent rules were not laid down, there would be no sanity in the university transport system.
In March 2017, I decided that I was going to stop being the second passenger in the front seat. I had taken a cab to visit a brother of mine and his wife for the weekend. I must say the journey from UI to Total garden was an inconvenient one, talking about the forceful romance of the gear with my left thigh at various intervals. Of course, the driver was less concerned. He felt I should be the one adjusting to give way to “Mr. Gear”. The pain I felt in my left thigh, the following morning, reminded me of several discomforts I felt in times past in my left thigh which I didn’t trace to being the second passenger in the front seat. That was the end for me! Of course, my convictions were tested several times, but I always refused to exhale my conviction because change truly begins with me. I must be the New Nigeria I want to see by refusing to be exploited in the front seat.
Wait a minute! It seems to you that my reason for retreating was a selfish one, right? Far from it. When you refuse to do what is right, you will learn your lesson the hard way. Whatever is not right will eventually bring pain and regret, it just a matter of time. I decided to take an inventory and I realized that I didn’t learn my lessons early enough by buying into such unhealthy norm. It is only in Nigeria that unhealthy norms are stronger than written laws.
In March 2015, the University had just resumed for a new session. On this fateful morning of March 24, I had gone to Guaranty Trust bank, Mokola, to collect a new ATM card due to the expiration of the old one. Upon collection, I used the ATM, withdrew the amount I needed for my school fees. Transaction successful. I crossed to the other side of the road to take a cab back home. It was an unfortunate afternoon. There were four passengers in the supposed cab; three (all men) at the back and one in front (female). I was the second passenger in the front seat they were waiting for. I entered the front seat and tried to close the door but it was difficult. I tried it several times. The lady tried offering me some help. She held my bag while I kept trying to close the door. Suddenly, a forgotten past of when I was much younger came to mind. My mother sent me to deposit some money in the bank. After the transaction, I took a cab straight home. I remember that at the point of dropping at the junction of my house that there were just three of us in the cab; myself in the front seat, the driver and a supposed passenger at the back seat. I tried opening the door forcefully when the man wasn’t stopping at my destination. Alas, the locks were released and I made my way out of the car. I was scared. They thought I had money on me or probably saw me as a potential ritual sacrifice. (GOD ALWAYS SAVES HIS OWN!).
Back to the Guaranty Trust bank, Mokola, I shouted, “leave me, I am not going again!”. I snatched my bag from the lady holding it for me, as the driver shouted at me, “be going!”. I quickly checked the smaller zip in front of the bag to confirm that my money was intact. It was. I made up my mind not to take a cab again, but bike. I walked some distance away and hopped on a bike after proper scrutiny. I didn’t know my heavy cute bag was empty. As the bike was almost approaching Elewure, I felt the urge to check the main compartment of my bag, only to confirm my fear, my Samsung galaxy tab was gone! My spirit was at rage as I removed the heavy papers and books used to stuck the pouch of the tab. My very being cursed those wicked souls. It was one experience I didn’t get over in good time because my mother gave me the tab after much pestering. It was a big one for me. Above all I thank God that I am alive to share my experience. The lesson I took away from this experience was that you should never take transport directly in front of the bank, and one should watch carefully the cab to ensure that it is a registered cab having the NURTW sticker at the top right of the front screen with the correct cab painting. These bad guys are everywhere, so know your God and walk closely with Him.
For personal security, no one should agree to seat with another person in the front seat. It seems to me that money is more important to Micra drivers than the security and convenience of passengers.