The backdrop of the Conference
January 2020, coming back from Ibadan after the AIESEC in Nigeria national conference, I was giddy with the experience of having experienced my first AIESEC conference. Meeting new people from different parts of the country all converged in one place because of one organization – AIESEC was a heady feeling. I didn’t think I would be able to experience another in a while because of COVID-19 and least of all have another conference experience that would surpass the experience I had in Ibadan but boy was I wrong…
Towards the tail end of last year when an internal survey came out for proposed dates for a physical conference after almost a year of virtual touchpoints in the organization, there was a lot of excitement from AIESECers all over the country. I was also excited as well but I was worried about the federal government regulations on COVID-19 and the fact that the legal laws of the land and some other external factors might not allow the physical conference to hold. I guess I’m eating my words now for doubting the resilience of AIESECers when they want to get things done because not only did the conference hold but it surpassed a lot of my expectations.
So let me take you on a journey from Port Harcourt to NC Abuja 2021.
Journey to Abuja for NSM and NC
On the 16th of January 2021, I took a bus trip to Abuja for the National Strategic Meeting(NSM) which is a national meeting where all the elected Branch Directors of AIESEC in Nigeria formally called Local Committee President (LCP) in AIESEC get to meet and strategize on how to best prepare for their new term. Strategic direction and goal setting guides were usually provided by the national office of AIESEC in Nigeria formally called Member Committee (MC).
I was supposed to have traveled a day before on the 15th because NSM was 16th -1 8th but due to some errands I had to run in Port Harcourt I delayed my trip by a day and communicated that across to the MC.
There is this weird thing I do whenever I want to take a trip – I don’t sleep the day before, I end up using the night to do a checklist of everything I need to take on the trip and because I’m always hyped up about traveling I end up performing the mundane tasks I could have done during the day to kill time till morning. Anyways on the morning of my trip to Abuja, I went to Waterlines in Port Harcourt which is a popular motor park for transport companies in the city, and boarded a bus to Abuja. Considering I got to the park before 7:00 am you would think I would be out of Port Harcourt latest 8:00 am but no my bus decided to waste my time and keep me in Port Harcourt till 10:00 am which meant I would be getting to Abuja very late, yah me!
Around 10:00 am we finally left Port Harcourt, a man got on the bus to pray for us and he was narrating a story about how he boarded a bus and the bus got into an accident where he lost the use of one of his hand. It was visible from the way he was standing that it was true because he was always adjusting his center of balance. He said after he got recovered, he made it his mission in life to pray for as many travelers as he could for as long as he could so they don’t experience the same fate he did. I have to say I was surprised by the sentiment. He prayed for the bus and he got off and we continued on our journey.
Now, remember I didn’t sleep the night before so I was pretty much tired and my eyes needed to be shut for a while so I took a nap and It was lights out for me.
Delta, Edo, and Kogi
I woke up to find myself in delta state. After crossing Delta state, we got into Edo state and then I found out that my journey would take me past my hometown of Uromi, go figure. I can’t remember when last I visited so it was kind of a bitter-sweet experience passing through my hometown. Edo passed by without much event but my Kogi was a different matter.
I think after the second hour in Kogi state, I started going online to see how I can get a bill to pass Kogi as a country instead of it being a state because how can one state be this long? You can drive at 120km/hr for three hours and you still won’t get across the whole of Kogi state. Added to that we had about 45mins of delay in Lokoja because some truck drivers wanted to use the expressway as their garage. Luckily for everyone in that traffic jam, there were soldiers as well. If you’re from Nigeria, you probably don’t need me to explain but if you’re not Nigerian, let’s just say the army brings out obedience in people that even they didn’t know they had. The gridlock was cleared up 10minutes after the soldiers took matters into their own hands.
TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 2