The Ijebus in Ogun state were the first Yoruba speaking people to have contact with the Europeans in the early 14th century. They were the first Yorubas to have invented money made from cowry shells called ‘Owo Eyo’, which was accepted throughout the kingdom of Yoruba land but was later replaced by legal tender coins made from silver materials called ‘Pandora’… could this have been the reason why I fancy Ogun state this much? Perhaps, it could be due to its situation by the east of the great ogun river. Or could it have been due to its rocky nature? Whichever the true case might be I ‘sha’ had to save up a little stipend for the sake of this adventure.
How I Started The Trip
I Left home for iyana ipaja by 12: 30pm on the 17th day of july 2016. This park is widely acknowledged as one of the foremost bus parks in Lagos due to its similarity with other renowned parks like Oshodi, Ojota, Oyingbo et’al. You can get buses to almost any/everywhere in Lagos/Nigeria from these parks.
Though the ones on the express are cheaper, I opted for a bus inside the park since it’s about the safest thing for a new traveler even though I got charged #600 as against #450 or #500 had I decided to do it the express way.
The rickety-looking bus departed the park after taking forever to load and raced along the Lagos- Abeokuta express way like an angry robot. Seated beside me at the front was a fair beautiful lady whom I suspected must have been a student in one of the numerous higher institutions scattered around Ogun state.
Ogun state houses the highest number of higher institutions in Nigeria.
I faked a grin as I gazed swiftly back at my phone in search of Dare’s phone number to inform him I’m on my way- Dare and I met 15 years ago when I got transferred to the primary school he attends.
After about 5 minutes of maintaining an average of 100km/h, the average-aged driver slowed down as he maneuvered into the almost empty filling station by the road to refuel the bus. As usual, he begged us not to get vexed when the fuel attendant was almost done selling.
He sped past katangowa (one of the largest second-hand clothes markets in Nigeria) blasting pasuma’s music all through. We soon got to Abule-Egba where our bus was in no time mobbed by different kinds of street hawkers: I initially presumed the new Lagos state government’s law against hawking would finally eradicated them but I miscalculated. They almost pulled down the side glasses of the bus in search of a potential customer. While some passengers patronized, others including myself looked on due to different reasons best known to us. The bus raced through, Ifako Ijaye LGA; Lagos-Ogun toll gate. But as we passed by the old gateway hotel, it looked more appealing as it has been converted to a super mall yet to be opened. (*it’s been launched now though).
Still in the revere of the magnificent edifice, I was jolted back to life when the bus struggled for balance due to the bad road. Soon we got to Sango where I noticed a kind of hustle spirit obtainable in Lagos alone.
As we went further, I almost concluded Ogun state was a complete industrial state since I barely saw a residential nor commercial structure, all my eyes feasted on were factories, and of course chains of trucks parked by the road side patiently waiting to be fed with cartons of finished goods.
Then we arrived Ifo LGA where I became awed on seeing a gigantic structure spanning from one side of the road to the other. The driver validated my thoughts when he told me the company is Lafarge- a popular cement factory.This road was long, smooth and free at the same time. My perception about Lagos being the only state with good motorable road soon changed.
The bus in no time got to Ojoo town, then Lala and afterwards Akinjole town with the road still maintaining its enviable smooth attitude. I just couldn’t stop gushing about this road.
And as we approached it, I became more eager to know what they do there, and just like the bus heard my thoughts it sped faster and my curiosity was soon satisfied! It’s the much talked about “Aro” psychiatric hospital! According to what I have once read in one of the documentaries, The Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Aro, Abeokuta, Nigeria, came into existence in 1954; but its progenitor, then an asylum, now called Lantoro Annex, came into existence on the 13th of April, 1944. This was when 13 health attendants were transferred from the Yaba Asylum, Lagos, to open the Lantoro Institution with five mentally ill patients. These were Nigerian soldiers repatriated from the Burma war front during the Second World War. Lantoro was a former Local Government Prison in Ogun state which was taken over, first by the Military and later by the then Colonial Medical Department.
The Cold Welcome
In 10minutes, we got to Ita oshin (the bus park) where I called Dare to inform him about my arrival and he directed me to board a cab to Onikolobo where according to him, a girl has been informed to pick me. Her name is Victoria. This ride from Ita Oshin to Onikolobo which took just about 12 minutes marked the worst part of my journey because on meeting Victoria, I felt like going back to Lagos.
Many thanks to Phillips Olutayo, Ononuju Lotana, Akinjole Akinwunmi, Ilawole Funmi, Rasheed Zainab, Isiaq Wasiu, Aluko Opeyemi (papuz).
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine