One thing led to another and the Driver we initially negotiated to take us on our road trip to Benin Republic canceled on us the same morning we were supposed to leave. We had no option than to find a replacement on short notice. This was how we met Abass, the unbothered.
Abass, a driver of average height, whose age range was hard to guess, picked us up from Ojota around 12 midday for Benin Republic. His 18-seater bus was not the best there is, but considering the circumstances, we had no option than to go with him. Before we left, we used Google maps for a quick overview of the route and decided to avoid a 30-minutes delay by going through Ojota-Oregun route, but the Driver went ahead to take the Ikorodu Road route leading to Maryland. This was the first red flag that we overlooked out of sheer excitement for the trip.
After this incident, the journey was largely smooth and uneventful until we started approaching Police Checkpoints on the road leading to Owode Border. Every time we got to a checkpoint, Mr Abass; our driver would act like he were a statue. The security Agents would ask him simple questions like “where are you coming from?” and Abass will look them in the eye and say absolutely nothing. Depending on the officer involved, Abass’ behavior could either be interpreted as him looking lost or appearing arrogant.
If the Officer at the checkpoint decides to interpret Abass’ expression as looking lost, this usually meant good-news, as he would then proceed to questioning us the passengers, then either ask for a tip (money) or let the bus go. But if the officer interpreted Abass’ attitude as arrogance, that meant trouble for us, because Abass frankly appeared incapable of being troubled. I’d give you Guys two examples of how Abass’ attitude translated into trouble for us.
So we got to this checkpoint and a Soldier flagged us down. Here is the conversation that ensued
Soldier: Where are you coming from and where are you going to?
Abass: moves his hand from the steering wheel and puts it on the head-rest of the seat beside him.
Soldier: keeps starring at Abass, waiting for a reply.
Abass: stares at the Soldier as if he was tongue-tied.
We had to intervene by chastising Abass and answering the Soldier ourselves. The soldier then said it seems the driver needs some warming up and ordered him to come down for twenty frog-jumps. Arghh, we had to plead with the Soldier because after twenty frog-jumps, I doubt if Abass was going to be able to drive us to Benin Republic with those same legs.
The second time that Abass landed us in trouble was at another checkpoint where a Policeman stopped us and asked him the same questions, he didn’t answer either, so the Policeman asked him to come down from the Bus. I don’t know what happened after Abass came down, but few seconds later, the Policeman ordered everyone to alight for a thorough search of our bags. This was 6pm and daylight was already making way for the darkness that comes with nightfall. We spent at least thirty-minutes at that Checkpoint and eventually had to give the Policemen N500 before they let us go.
Finally, we got to the border and thought phew, it’s finally over. That was when we got the shock of our lives. Abass had no documentation whatsoever. He neither had an International Passport nor a Nigerian or international Drivers License. This effectively meant he could not drive into Benin Republic. We had to start sourcing for an alternative source of transportation in a French-speaking country where most of us had never been to. The irony of this situation was that while we were all bothered, looking for a solution that will enable Abass drive us across the border into Benin Republic, this man instead bought five cobs of Maize and went ahead to finish them while we ran helter-skelter. He didn’t show the tiniest bit of concern or looked the least bothered.
I Stan this Man’s energy, I Stan his disinterest in anything that poses a threat to his peace, I absolutely Stan his ability to remain unbothered come what may.
Yes, you guessed right. We left him at the border and found our way to Casa Del Papa in Benin Republic. We couldn’t be too bothered about someone who had thought us such a practical lesson on being unbothered.