I was alerted that Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto (UDUSOK) has uploaded our names on NYSC Senate list. Hearing such greenish news, I felt overwhelmed to go for Service that year. I informed my buddies and my families of the latest news. NYSC told us the date to start registration on her page. The day of the registration, I and my pal went to the Internet Cafe as early as 8:00am. We started our registration on time, on that spot, biometry (thumbprints) slothful to detect our fingers, my eyes twinkled, I washed my hands twice with detergent, unfortunately, it accepted my fingers after a long try. I chose four States; Osun, Zamfara, Niger and Edo.
I started jubilating that we were next to go. My friend asked the state of my choice, I replied, ‘Osun’ I even bragged to go to Zamfara because of my relatives. I started the preparations, still waiting for the date to print the Call-up-letter.
On Friday 19 May, 2017, I printed my Call-up-letter and Zamfara was came up, my mind disturbed, I halted for 5 minutes not knowing what was keeping me waiting at where I went to print the letter, my father saw Zamfara on my Call-up-letter and he asked ” why Zamfara?” you left Sokoto and NYSC deploys you to Zamfara, it’s not making sense “, I felt something was burning in me, I started sweating all over through his word, I realized going to Zamfara was not an easy task and we have to report to camp on Tuesday 23 May, 2017.
I had booked on Saturday to avoid mass of passengers that can retard my journey. On Sunday, I packed everything like I’m going to live there permanently, not knowing I don’t need too much of stuff but less.
We took off from Offa to Zamfara at exactly 8:00am on Sunday, most of the passengers in the bus were also wanted to report to Camp on Tuesday, the date NYSC Camp will open in Tzafe, Zamfara. We entered Ilorin around 10:00 am because we encountered a heavy traffic in Ajase Ipo, one of the passengers said, ” the condition of our roads in this country are coy aggravating, see how we are working like snail,” we all burst into laughter, “The journey we embark on is not a small thing ooo” Said the driver.
The vehicles were retarded on the Brigid of Jebba for 20 minutes, we were in the state of puzzlement for that time, I consulted my watch, it was 12:30pm, I began soliloquizing on the bus, I had many experiences in traveling but that day added to many scenarios seeing on the road.
I said to the man sitting next to me, “like how many hours’ drive is Offa to Zamfara,” he replied, “I don’t know precisely about the hours but we still have a long distance to cover, be prayerful before we reach Birnin Gwari’s Village.” I asked, “What is in Birnin Gwari?” he replied, “it’s a Local Government Area in Kaduna State, it has a Village where travellers were been robbed off their belongings and there is no shortcut than that much said village to Zamfara.” The fear of the unknown village began to grip me, cold shivers ran through my spine.
We had a stop by at a restaurant in Mokua. Moslems observed prayers by joining two Solate (prayers) together called Solatu-il- Safar (Journey prayer), after prayer, I quickly entered the restaurant and devoured my food because the driver was sounding the horn, “we are sloping to evening and we wouldn’t sleep here,” he said.
We entered Kaduna, channeled our road towards Birni Gwari, around 6:30pm, sky was turning to black, cloud was moving and starts were about to light our way. Buses were moving like a flash of light, our driver asked, “Do you know why those buses are running like they are on a race? They wanted to slip through the joint where robbers were before darkness, we have to stay to their positions.”
The driver started telling us his experiences on this journey through this village called Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State. “That place is a place of bloodshedding, bloodletting and carnage but only if you surrender and lower your wings, they will let you live and collect your goods and properties. They do rape lasses if they had chances. That place is a place of hell but be prayerful, so that we shouldn’t meet them on the road. They had big Rocks and trees they used as blockage, if God let you meet them, they will face you with heavily armed – AK47 Rifles and some homemade weapons and Gluck pistols like they were on a war, if you refused to shout down the engine, they will release the bullets. Some escaped, some died at the spot. I was also part of their victims. They stopped me six (6) times, collected my money, passenger’s money, phones, food stuffs, clothes, the messages they gave me to deliver in Zamfara, they collected all. They even recognized me as their extreme customer. The things I always do to save my passengers if we met them on the road, I never open my bus for them but I opened it once, when I was totally confused. one day, they angrily destroyed my front glass when I refused to open the door because, most of my passengers were ladies going back to school, they pointed gun on my forehead to open the door, I begged them that they should collect what they wanted but open the door, they should let it go.”
One of the passengers and his wife that experienced such incident once nailed what the driver said. “What he said was true, since then, they never dream to go back to Zamfara until now, May God save us that is the only prayer we need now.”
We arrived Birnin Gwari at exactly 8:00pm, driver told us, he must see buses inside out or else, he will off the engine and sleep in this village because they never rob inside the village but on the road of the village. Everywhere was dark, no buses coming and if you see buses going, they always be in Trinity. They drove very fast, our driver didn’t know anybody among them, I was very frightened, my heart was beating heavily, I started praying lonely. Our driver refused to go further, we slept in that village, where we slept, we saw a lot of tankers and buses that also scared to go further, we all slept on the street.
In the following day, we took off at exactly 6:00am in the morning, a Christian woman started praying heavily, it was laughable that resulted into tears…heeheheh. We approached the spot like I’M SEEING A GOAT IN THE LION’S DEN. We founded their big trees and huge rocks they always used as blockage but they were not there, driver told us they didn’t have specific time of operation. They can operate at any time, whether morning, afternoon, evening and night, we just got Lucky. I gave thanks to Almighty Allah for letting us escaped the DEN OF LIONS safely. We were asked the work of Kaduna State Government on this matter, it’s a place of bloodletting and they kept muted. People are dying on this road, in this village and they never think of finding solution to it. Saharareporters also reported different mass killings in that village. It’s barbaric and disheartening like a Zombi’s nation. .
We arrived Zamfara unscathed, the climate was arid and the land was hot. I descended to my brother in the Capital and found a lasting solution to my sleepless night. I took my bath and entered Camp in the Evening.
YASIN OLAWUMI recently finished National Youth Service, NYSC OSUN STATE.