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A visit to Makarfi

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Sir: I will leave Makarfi Local Area Council for Zaria today. I have been here since Monday from Abuja, waiting to be called for an opportunity briefing in Zaria. I find this place accommodating and the people welcoming. Even though I do not believe that road construction is development as Nigerian politicians want us to believe, there are good road network here. The overseers who thought it wise to construct these roads to link corner and bends did their best for their people. Could it be the handiwork of former governor, Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi. That man and late Patrick Yakowa are the best helmsmen that Kaduna produced in the Fourth Republic as governors. I wish my home-zone in Igala land has good road network as these. I almost forgot, on Wednesday morning, I saw lads who should be in school going to the market.

I asked some why weren’t in school and they said, on Wednesday, children here hardly go to school as it is the council’s market day and they need must go to the market to sell farm produce. I pity the teachers. How can they cover up school’s syllabus with Wednesday’s taken as off-school-days by pupils and students as a matter of course? On same market day, a heavily loaded truck carried goods away from the town with bodies of men, women and children sitting on piles of loaded bags. Should that truck be involved in an accident on its way, I wondered how the people on it can ever make it out alive. Do we have a safety policy in place in Nigeria? Is there a ministry of transportation in the real sense in Nigeria?

Moments before I stepped into my room to pen this, some youths with bowls looking for nickels and food walked past me and surprisingly none greeted me, especially since we had to make way for ourselves on a bush path. I reprimanded them for not greeting, but one of them bold enough through clench teeth said they did and I didn’t respond. He lied but I understood. They are hungry and hungry children rile against the system. When will Nigeria ever get better to stop innocent children going around with bowls looking for food whilst their irresponsible parents are busy breeding many more children to be let loose on the street? The people here are farmers and I fell in love with their doggedness. Man-made wells are everywhere and it is from these wells that water is pumped to water farmlands, some many distances away.

What crop won’t you find onions, tomatoes, sugar cane, maize, etc., etc? However, the weather outside is hot, even without trees surrounding the apartment where I stayed, the room was really cold and I enjoyed it, thanks to the greenery outside. Talking about greenery, I noticed something strange. Cattle herders went about the business of feeding their livestock. I expected these cows to stray into farms feeding from the crops in-season but none did. The herders didn’t have to be challenged by farmers who weren’t on their farms on more than three occasions when I observed these trends.

They sort of worked through a sort of clairvoyance with the farmers who weren’t on their farms and there is peace. These herders reminded me of the herders I saw growing up. They didn’t carry guns around. Why and when did things get so bad that herders carry guns in Benue, Kogi, Plateau, Taraba, Western and certain parts of Eastern Nigeria and many times resulting in deaths? Can we ever say we are truly one Nigeria? Can my two children move around this country freely as the people in my father’s generation once did?
Simon Abah, wrote from Makarfi, Kaduna State.


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