Having settled down to write the piece for this week’s Laughter Line, I discovered that the trailer drivers have taken up the spaces on my computer keyboard

Chika Abanobi

These days, Coscharis St, in Kirikiri Industrial Estate, Apapa, Lagos, and its surrounding streets are inaccessible; they are no-go areas. You can only access them either on foot or through the use of the service of commercial motorcyclists known as Okada.

Sometimes, even the Okada people find it difficult to access the area. Reason: articulated or containerised trucks otherwise known as “trailers” have, all the way from Mile 2-Apapa Expressway, taken up, bumper to fender, the available spaces on Coscharis (location of The Sun office), Happy home Avenue, on the other side of it, Comfort Oboh and the surrounding streets.

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But imagine my surprise when I came to work this week and having settled down to write the piece for this week’s Laughter Line, discovered, to my consternation, that the trailer drivers have taken up all the spaces on my computer keyboard. I mean, the gutters between the keys of the 26 letters of the alphabet and other keys like ampersand, hyphen, hash, comma, full stop, apostrophe, question mark and exclamation mark!

So alarmed was I by this development that I started the piece by typing an exclamation mark first instead of “H.”.But did you know that to even do that was not easy? I had to threaten the trailer driver first by pretending to call the head of SARS (Special Armed Robbery Squad) operatives to come and remove him from the space. He laughed and said that if he ever sees them around his truck, he would simply arrest them and take them to either President Buhari or the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for appropriate punishment. Having been defeated or so it seemed, on that score, I threatened to invite Akinwunmi Ambode, governor of Lagos State, to deal with him.

Again, he laughed and asked, which Ambode? “Let him come now,” he sneered. “Is he coming alone or with his usual convoy?” I answered: “with his usual convoy, of course.” “Na so?,” he queried before adding: “On this your computer, there are about 80 trailers parked in the spaces between the keys, so na where he and his convoy go see space pass? Unless they will park somewhere in Festac Town and use leg waka come here. Otherwise, I don’t see how him go fit come here to help you. And, even if dem come here wetin dem go fit do? Nothing because dem no fit carry all these trailers for head comot for here.”

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Brothers and Sisters in Crisis, on hearing that taunt, I didn’t know what else to say except to beg him. So, I knelt down to do so. “Jagunmolu or is it Jagaban?,” I called out. “I know that Ambode has the authority while you people are the ones exercising the power on his behalf. But, please, could you move your trailer a little because it is blocking my view so that I can punch the exclamation mark key, for goodness’ sake. Since those we voted into power are nowhere to be seen exercising that power, I wouldn’t mind mobilizing my colleagues to vote for you people or your candidates in next year election.”

“Ese pupo, nagode da yewa, imeela rie nne, na now you don begin dey talk sense,” he said.”You think this thing na by force you people go take comot us for here? No bi by force at all, at all. No, you go dey talk and dey write jeje; you even fit beg us, becos, as you can see, we are now the Ebeano, the ones in charge of Lagos. If una no gree, we go gree for una, you hear?”

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“I hear, Sir, just help me move your trailer a little so that I can type the exclamation mark”

“Na which one be dat?,” he queried. “Na which one una wan exclaim again? Abi, una neva get tired of exclaiming in the past four weeks or so?”

“Honestly, we are tired,” I replied. “Dis one I wan type is different from the one we’ve been exclaiming in the past weeks, I swear.”

“Ok o, if you say so,” he said, And with that, he moved his trailer a little so that I can see space type the exclamation mark.

But then another round of wahala started when I began to go round, begging the trailer drivers, one by one, to give me space so that I can type the rest of the title of the article. Four of them who initially agreed to make space for me became alarmed when they looked over my shoulders and saw the word I had typed: h-e-l-p! They promptly accused me of trying to call the mob or the police on them when they are not armed robbers, but hardworking Nigerians trying to look for daily bread.

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“Ehn, na wetin you dey write “help” for?” they asked in unison. “Abi you wan call police or agbero for us?” I promptly denied the accusation. So did I also when another group confronted me after I had typed “trailer drivers.” “If we know say you wan write nonsense against us, we for no give you chance, rara, to type anything. We for park there on your computer keyboard and never comot our trailers for you,” they said. “See am now. No bi trailer drivers I wan write,” I swore. “Na Thriller drivers and Michael Jackson of blessed memory is the head of the drivers I am writing about.”

“So, na song you wan come teach us for here?,” one of them asked. “And, you think say we no get our own song too wey we can use to thrill you?” Having said that, he signaled the drivers with: “oya, sing that our song for am. He think say we no get good song.”

And, with that they burst into their song, with its tune and lyrics patterned after Mad Melon and Mountain Black’s “Danfo Driver,” their one-time hit song that ruled the airwaves: Omo wetin de happen/…..Omo hold them, hold them, Oh papa mo…’Cos we are crying down to our soul….We’ll never let you go ‘cos we no de jisoro/….We’re parking by your window/…We dey knock on your door, we no de jisoro/ We bi trailer drivers…/Sebi, you bi trailer drivers, sure!…..Anytime you earn money/You chill enjoyment downtown o/….. Alaba Suru o, Orege Mile 2 o…./Duro wole, make una watch your side o…..We bi trailer drivers…/Sebi, you bi trailer drivers?, sure…..”