Damsel in Distress

Rasheedat Raji Written by Rasheedat Raji · 2 min read >

20th October 2020, a remarkable day in Nigerian history. The beginning of an era where Nigerians became vocal about their rights. The protest hashtag ‘Endsars’ made the headlines of every newspaper, home, and abroad. We need to end police brutality that is gradually becoming the norm in society.

This damsel was on an assignment to Kaduna state for inventory count. I was to visit Kano, Zaria and Kaduna. At the final location, Kaduna, I received a call from a colleague asking if I had completed my task and the need to return to base as quickly as possible due to the impending unrest due to the Endsars protest. My thought was that it’s better to be home than diaspora during a crisis, and Kaduna is known for curfews.

I rounded off the assignment that same day, then booked the earliest flight back to Lagos the following day, 20th October 2020. Very early the next day, I checked out of the hotel and went straight to the airport.

Meanwhile, there were stories of happenings on the road to the airport due to distance from town. Hence the journey of about an hour seemed to have lasted over three. I could not just wait to arrive at the airport.

Arriving in Lagos, everywhere seemed pretty calm, so I aired a sigh of relief. Then I booked an Uber to take me to the nearest motor park to get a cab to Ibadan. The Uber was taking forever, complaining about the traffic and road blockage by the protesters. I should have taken that as a sign to book a flight to Ibadan, had I known. Eventually, I had to cancel the trip then book another one. While I was waiting, airport taxis were all over calling my attention to ride with them however my cost management mindset did not allow me. All attempts to get an Uber failed.

Eventually, another airport taxi pulled over in front of me then I realized I had to move. The driver started telling me about all that had been going on. Thank God for his connections and smartness. He knew someone at every roadblock and also knew Unilag passcode. That was the only saving grace. Everything seemed calm in the town, then we drove to Ojota car park, all the drivers were not moving as a result of the crisis but informed us they would move later that evening.

My dilemma, should I wait at a restaurant till evening when the driver promised to leave or go lodge at a hotel? I knew nowhere was safe at that moment, hence I decided to go lodge at a hotel. On our way in search of a hotel, we came to a roadblock filled with hoodlums with cutlasses, we had to make payment to pass, the driver immediately paid, after we passed the roadblock, the driver asked if I noticed one of the cutlasses was dripping of blood. I said no, I was too scared to notice.

Eventually, we arrived in Ikeja, the area looked very expensive, I had to recheck my account balance, but the driver advised me it was the best and safest option. The hotel was just a few blocks away from Radisson Blu, so I am sure you can imagine the kind of area it was.

Luckily, the hotel offered a 50% discount as a result of the crisis.

In fact, that driver was an angel sent from above!

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