Welcoming Mr. President

Reminiscing Tuesday :

:Seeing pictures of the crowd welcoming Mr. President (President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerias president) in the city of Kano;northern Nigeria earlier on in the week.

It made me remember my experiences of how I welcomed two former Nigeria Presidents. Believe it or not,just like the good people of Kano, I had the rear privilege of this experience of nothingness, just stand by the road side, and wave, 👋, clap 👏 or cheer 📣   the Presidents motorcade and then "life goes on".

First experience: It was during my very early years in primary school,1982 I believe. So this experience is a bit fuzzy, but I can still remember our teacher lining us all up in "a single file" and we marched from Aileru Primary School right in the heart of Marine Quaters, all the way to the the major Road where we queued on a section along Warri-Sapele road. As the president and governor motorcade rolled by we all waved, and cheered without a clue who or what we were waving at,fuzzy still, but this bit of the experience was deposited in my memory.

I believe that visit was most likely when former President Alhaji Shehu Shagari commissioned in Bendel state, the Delta Steel Company. (DSC),in Owvian-Aladja, on the outskirts of Warri. Yes late 90s and 2000's millennials reading this, there was actually a state in Nigeria called Bendel, I didn't make that up.. lol.

Second experience:- this again happened during my early years in secondary school. On a hot afternoon and without advanced notice we were summoned out of our classes to the assembly hall. The President is coming to town and we are to welcome Mr. President,the year must have been 1988 and General Ibrahim Babaginda the president was to commission a project. I think most likely it was the Petrochemical Plant,that had just been built in Ekpan.

This experience is not as fuzzy as the first, it started off with  a lot of excitement, because  at least it's an opportunity for us to leave the class room early. Had I known what's ahead I probably would have wished the president never visited or even if he did, we didn't have to go all the distance just to "wave".

We filed out, for the long trek,  the senior students ensuring we all are "kept inline", back in those day, my alma-mater Urhobo College Effurun had some "full grown looking men still in school uniforms" and when these folks give you instruction, you had better "check yourself, before they help you wreck yourself" - who tell's you to Puff your Jaw (meaning close your lips tight  and then fill your mouth with air) before slapping the living day lights out of you? Well, a senior has all the rights and privilege to do this and then some. Might I add, that these forms of discipline was more like a tradition then, not sure if it still exist today- but back then when you eventually get to become "senior" and change from wearing shots to trousers, you practically get your first real taste of Power and Authority.

I can't tell how many kilometres walk it was from Urhobo College all the Way to Army Barracks where the president would be arriving,but that walk, was a real trek. It must have felt like the Isrealites leaving Egypt to their promised land, it was long, noise and harsh. When we finally arrived, many of us were so tasty we ran in all directions looking for where to find water to drink, anything would do. I knew I drank from water stored in a metal tank, weather it was rain water or tap water, I cared less, I just had to drink water.

The last bit of this journey I could still remember was seeing many people and students from other schools all standing by the road side and after a long wait. A military vehicle drove past with a sign "Road Closed" and  some minutes later, the lighting fast speeding motorcade of General Ibrahim Babaginda, flew past so fast most of us didn't know when the president own car passed, we just kept waveing  and  cheering till the last car zoomed past and then another military vehicle behind the motorcade passed with another sign  "Road Open" and that was it,I had welcomed Mr. President.

Now the journey home was every man for himself and mine was hellish, my home was way over on the other side of town. So it's another very long walk home, because I didn't have a Kobo on me. Yes again millennials, Kobo was actually part of our currency,we used coins called Kobo long before Amazon stole that name.. lol..

The sun was blistering hot, and somewhere along the road on my journey, the after effects of drinking all that nasty water on an empty stomach kicked in pretty fast. I remember throwing up twice and then seating under some shades to regain strength before continuing my journey.

On both occasions I didn't see Mr President,but even if I did see him, waved and he winked or waved back, I know now it would still had been an experience of nothingness.

However as sure as heaven and hell is real, I like my good folks in Kano can say - "I did welcome Mr. President"

Merry Christmas All.


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