On that fateful day, I stood at the popular, bustling Mile 2 bus stop in Lagos, waiting for any of the yellow shuttle buses (danfo) headed to Apapa Wharf axis. I was undergoing my industrial Training in one of the telecommunication firms at Apapa.
So on getting to Mile 2, I was in a hurry to catch any Apapa bus, i had to beat the usual traffic bedevilling Apapa/Tincan in order to arrive at work early.
So when a young man from nowhere accosted me under the pedestrian bridge at Mile 2, and tried to say something to me, at first i moved away from him. I didn’t even have the luxury of time to give a stranger a listening ear.
Moreover, in Lagos, nobody replies any stranger on the road; its assumed everybody is a crime suspect.
But the man kept tagging along.
And then I turned around and asked him authoritatively, “wetin na?”
In a calm tone, he said something along the lines of: “Abeg broda no vex, e get one oyibo man wey just return from abroad. E carry plenty dollars come back. And the dollars plenty well well. The oyibo man no sabi English. Na french e dey speak. The man dey find two people wey go help am count the big money. If ‘we’ count am finish, me and you go collect our share.”
Like seriously? What kind of cock and bull story is this? I thought. I hissed and said, “I’m not interested”, and waved him away.
The man persisted, as if I was the only one in Mile 2 bus stop that he found worthy of this juicy opportunity.
He resorted to coaxing me using flattering lines – Saying I looked decent, gentle and responsible. And that’s why he had singled me out, and trusted me enough to reveal this exclusive offer. He assured me that everything was perfectly okay.
From past 8 o’clock till past 9 in the morning, I was rooted at a spot listening to this man with a sugar-coated tongue, for reasons I can’t explain.
Before i knew it, I had began to weigh his request in my mind, having this satisfying feeling that I would make enough money that very day. Hmm.. see me oh.
After all, I was just an industrial trainee student who needed money badly. And see free money calling my name this blessed morning. And in Dollars too… Oh boy! Jackpot!
“So where the white man dey?” I asked inquisitively.
“E no far at all. Just for dia. No worry, just follow me,” he assured me.
He gestured towards a nearby park for bigger commercial buses, within Mile 2 – popularly known as “Tipper garage”.
In spite of how young I was as at then, I wasn’t that naive or less informed about this crime-plagued area I’ve known all my life.
I wasn’t lacking exposure either. I was a seasoned road user.
So i can’t really explain why I took this man’s offer seriously.
It wasn’t me.
Suddenly, I was no longer worried about running late for work. I totally forgot about my destination. I was just seeing dollar signs and mint hard currency.
I followed behind him sheepishly, so scared, but imprudence prevailed.
We had gone past the safe area of Mile 2, we took the walk way leading to “tipper garage” axis of Mile 2.
This area was the less busy part of Mile 2 where abandoned commercial vehicles were parked.
All the while, the man kept urging me, saying, “no fear” “we don dey reach”.
But there was no white man or any kind of shelter in sight. I clutched my bag tight and still followed him reluctantly.
On approaching a secluded, bizarre area where agberos (violent motor park thugs) were taking booze, I became apprehensive. These bandits had bloodshot eyes. Just then, common sense found its way into my head and scales fell off my eyes.
This place is too filthy and unfit for any of such transaction, I thought within me.
“You wan go? When we don already reach…no dey fear…”
I ignored him, turned around and walked back to Mile 2 as fast as my legs could carry me. Hoping and praying that they don’t chase after me or snatch my bag and phone.
On getting to Mile 2, I dashed into the first bus that called “Apapa”. As i sank down to my seat, I imagined what would have become of me.
Maybe, dispossessed of my valuables or used for ritual. My heart kept thumping as I whispered silent prayers.
I got to work late.