Train arrives at Union Station Chicago. I walk out to Canal Street and book a ride on Lyft to O’Hare Airport Terminal 1.

The driver’s identity pops up on the app. His name is Benedict. I see his photo – a black man.

He arrives promptly and stops some feet away from where I am standing. So I walk to meet him. I unlock the trunk and throw in my bags.

Mr Benedict

I go to the back seat and we greet. As he drives off, he starts to explain to me why he stopped where he did. “If not because of the road construction, they don’t allow people to park there.”

“Oh! Is that so?”

I listen to his accent and then I ask him, “Are you a Nigerian?”

“I am not a Nigerian,” he says.

I wonder in silence why I thought he is Nigerian.

He takes a pause. Then says again, “I am not a Nigerian. I am a Biafran American.”

I laugh. “Oh! Biafran American,” I repeat.

“Where are you from?” he asks me.

“I am from Nigeria.”

Then he goes on.

“If Nigeria still exists in 5 years, you guys’ case will be worse than Almajiri.”

He pronounces the word as “Allah-ma-jiri.”

I show interest in what he is saying. My journalist’s instincts tells me to take short notes.

He tells me he is Itsekiri but lived in the north for sometime.

“Your parents were working there?” I ask.

“No, I did my National Youth Service there.”

“Where in the north?”

“Gombe State,” he says.

“The way Nigeria is now, their case is already worse than Almajiri.”

He quotes Senator Shehu Sani whom he said revealed that Boko Haram has wiped out over 2000 communities in the north.

“Those are not just any communities. They are agrarian communities. Let’s say you have 20 farmers in each of those communities. That is 40,000 farmers. 40,000 farmers that can no longer plant crops or grow food.”

He changes subject. “Twenty years ago if you had 10 million naira in your account, that was $50,000. Today, 10 million naira cannot fetch you $7,000.”

“So in twenty years you have lost $43,000?” I add rhetorically.

I allow him to continue.

He changes subject again. “Emirs in the north have oil wells in the south. They do nothing. They just sit down and collect rent and become billionaires. Oil is in the exclusive list. But the gold in the north is not in the exclusive list. The Oba of Benin, does he have a mining license to extract gold in the north? The Olu of Warri does he have a mining license in the north?”

“Now is the time for our people to get the hell out of that place before they can’t.”

He introduces a new subject – Nigeria’s debt profile.

“As at today, the unborn child is owing thousands of dollars. Nobody wants to borrow the country money again. The only thing they can do is to print money. But the more money they print the more the naira will continue to fall.”

“Even Dangote dey use him money run. The money wey e thief o. Na you wey get chicken change wan remain there?”

He begins to talk about Dangote’s monopoly on certain goods and services such as salt and cement.

“Only Dangote and BUA are importing cement today. They are both Fulani. Dangote drove out all the competitors. We used to have Benue cement, Okpella cement, Bagco cement but Dangote has driven them all out of the market.”

“The quantity of salt in Ebonyi State is enough to feed the whole of West Africa. But they are not mining it, they are not processing, only importing. How can a government survive with just importing?”

“Those guys are collecting armed robber salary, and they are not contributing anything to the economy.”

I imagine he is talking about Nigerian politicians. I don’t want to interrupt him.

“The sin of Osinbajo is that he granted license to modular refineries in the south so that small business people can refine crude oil.”

“That’s why I say that if Nigeria still exists in 5 years the condition of the people will be worse than Almajiri. The people wey terrorist kill go small pass the people wey go die from hunger and disease.”

He compares Nigeria to the U.S. where people have health insurance, etc.

“The pharmaceutical companies are leaving. If they are not leaving the prices of drugs are going up. Nigeria is not producing any of these drugs. So how will a poor sick person survive?”

“That’s really serious,” I say.He continues. “I am supporting the Biafra government. That is the only solution to my people’s years of suffering. Those calling themselves Nigerians I wish them well.”

Omokugbo Ojeifo I

“If you see a people who do not have the right to choose their leaders, do not have the right to protect themselves through their own police, do not have the right to control their economy, they are finished.”

He brings on a new subject. He asks me, “Do you know how much agberos collect from drivers?”

I answered, “No.”

“The last time I asked my younger brother who is in Port Harcourt, he said agberos collect 2k every day. If you drive 300 days in a year, not 365 days, that means as a driver you would have paid 600k. There is no civil servant who pays 600k as tax in that country.”

“You know how much each driver pays, but you don’t know how many drivers are there. There is no database. It’s deliberate. So that you will not know how much they collect and you will not know how they spend the money. After 4 years Governor don become billionaire, agbero don become billionaire. Driver don become pauper.”

“No security, no health insurance, no good road, no electricity, no database. How can the police function? Here if police pull you over, they will ask for your driver’s license and your insurance.”

I nod in agreement.

“They have the equipment to verify your driver’s license. In Nigeria police don’t have the equipment to verify driver’s license or car insurance. How will the police function?”

“Nigeria is a joke. If the people don’t kill Nigeria, Nigeria will kill the people.”

He went on and on.

I look out of the window and see a plane piercing into the clouds. I take up my camera and snap a photo. We are close to the airport. The 30min ride seems as if it is 10min.

As he approaches the terminal, he asks me, “Chief, after all I have told you, do you still want to remain a Nigerian?”

I laughed so hard.

“But na Nigerian passport I get na. How you want make I take travel? Una go give me Biafra passport?” I ask him cheerily.

“Register first na.”

“Oh! There’s a place to register?”

“Yes. Go to and get your ID first.”

We are now in front of the United Airlines terminal. He comes out to open his trunk so I can pick my luggage. We shake hands and smile at each other.

He pauses to greet me. “Egbefure.”

I didn’t know what to respond.

“I am from Akoko Edo,” I say.

“Ok. That is nice. I greeted you in Esan.” We both chorus “Esan.”

I thank him and walk into the terminal.

© Omokugbo Ojeifo, June 1, 2024, 10:50am

Author’s Profile: Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Omokugbo Ojeifo is a Catholic Priest of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja. He’s currently a PhD candidate of Political Theology at the University of Notre Dame.