MEET LAGOS DANFO DRIVER PIUS ABAYOMI WHO HAS NO LEGS RECOUNTS HIS ORDEAL IN AUTO CRASH (MUST READ)
The story of 32 years old Pius Abayomi Abiodun is one which causes remorse, pity and at the same time could go for one of the 'Wonders of Lagos'. The handsome well built light complexioned gentle man is one of the thousands of Commercial Bus Drivers popularly called Danfo Drivers in Lagos. Of course to many drivers of private vehicles nothing will make them not include Pius in the list of those causing menace on Lagos roads. No thanks to their reckless driving and disobeying basic traffic laws.
For a passenger boarding his bus for the first time, nothing suggests Pius has no legs. When our reporter boarded his bus 2 weeks ago at Town Planning junction towards Western Avenue in Lagos , he didn't notice Pius had no legs to drive the Danfo. After about 10 minutes journey, a driver who rode a mini truck pulled up on the lane Pius drove and before the passengers could blink their eyes Pius increased his speed and got at par with the truck, looked towards the driver and said, “Iwo, ma deal pelu e (You, I will deal with you). You dey try me?” Despite words of caution from his conductor, who said “Leave am” severally Pius did the unimaginable as if he was instructed by the Road Safety men, he applied his breaks and forced the mini truck to a slower speed, one of the Road Safety men gesticulated to the truck driver to pull over for retinue check. Pius didn't say a word but this reporter could read something like, “You drivers with legs, I will make you all to respect me by force!'. A more careful look at Pius behind the wheels, the reporter was in for a shocker. Pius controlled the accelerator and brake pedals with his hands. Till our reporter alighted at Ojuelegba Terminus, Pius exhibited the mastery of his specially built Danfo which he operated without any qualms. The reporter and Pius exchanged phone numbers with a promise he would get in touch for an interview soon.
As nature would have it, Pius and the reporter met at the Town Planning Road Junction Bus Stop, where they first met. The reporter quickly hopped into the front passenger seat Pius had instructed his conductor to reserve for the reporter. It was a trip through Western Avenue to Nigeria Breweries Area to Orile Iganmu linking Coker (Ijeshatedo Area) and through Apapa-Oshodi Express Way to Oshodi Terminus and Down to Town Planning Road Junction. The trip lasted for 1 hour 20 minutes and a trip that also got Pius very sober because of a few of the questions took him back memory lane when he had both legs and functioned like every other Lagos Driver with 2 legs. On the day they agreed to meet as nature would have it they met at the same spot the reporter boarded his bus.
Pius who hails from Mowo, Badagry in Lagos was not born without legs, according to him he was involved in a fatal accident. “I was driving a Danfo bus on April 3, 2011 along Lagos Abeokuta Expressway by May Flower Hotel close Olorunsogo Bus Stop. Suddenly the bus developed a fault I felt I could fix. I went down from the bus to the rear where the engine compartment is. While trying to fix my Danfo, another driver was driving on a top speed hit me against the rear of my bus and that was all I knew. I was rushed to the National Orthopedic Hospital, Gbobi, Lagos. Two days after the accident, my 2 legs were amputated. I was at Igbobi for 4 months. The operation, medication and physiotherapy cost me all my savings. And I had to go to people seeking for financial assistant. In all it cost about 4 Million Naira to get me out of the hosipital.” Thereafter he was discharged and what could be least described as frustration set in for Pius who had never taken to begging to live. He was in a dilemma as to how to care for his wife who was pregnant then and his daughter and other bills. “I got so frustrated that I always thought of suicide as an option. Most times I am moody because I couldn't imagine I no longer had legs to move around.” Not giving up on his condition, Pius decided to go into Weight Lifting. This was after it had been confirmed to him he would need artificial limbs for both legs. The 2 limbs according to him was to cost 5 Million Naira. “I didn't give a second thought to begging as an option for survival”, Pius said in a louder tone.
He joined other physically challenged sportsmen at the National Stadium, Surulere Lagos. Even at that he wasn't in his best state of mind. He kept telling his new found friends (since the old friends were nowhere to be found) that he used to be a commercial bus driver. One day at the National Stadium someone who felt moved by Pius' attitude suggested he goes to The Mobility Aid and Appliances Research and Development Centre, Amuwo Odofin area, Lagos owned by millionaire, Cosmas Okoli who is also physically challenged.
“When I met Cosmas, he encouraged me and asked me what I could do. I told him I used to be a Danfo driver. He assured me, he would help me construct a bus I can drive with my hands.” Pius had to also look for a car dealer that could give him a bus and he could pay on installments. He succeeded in getting a dealer. Took the automatic Volkwagen Bus (Danfo) to Cosmas who fabricated some metals to the pedals, he simply called 'LEGS'. A closer look at the device built by Cosmas which cost 50 Thousand Naira only shows the break and accelerator pedals are both controlled by a long rod underneath the steering.
The metal rod controls the break and accelerator pedals. To speed he pulls up the rod to his chest and to apply the break, he pushes the rod down. Pius has so mastered the use of his special device that most commuters who board his bus hardly notice the man behind the wheels has no legs.
Asked if he has ever had experience of passengers being scared on sighting him after they have boarded his bus, Pius chuckled said, “A lot of passengers express their disbelieve. Though I had never had a situation of passengers getting scared of me. A lot of them watch me as I drive. Some, pray for me while others are too stunned to talk until they get to their destinations.”
Pius, revealed he does not go out for any social activities. He likes to be indoors whenever he is not on Lagos road trying to make ends meet. He likes to help his 2 kids Rachael aged 5 and Samson aged 2 with their home work from school.
Does Pius feel pains on any part of his body since he does everything with his hands?
“Yes, I feel pains like once a month on spot of both legs that I was amputated.” When our reporter took a closer look at Pius, he was a short sleeve pair of jeans that were rolled up. Obviously he was amputated beyond the knell joints.
When does his day start?
“I leave my house at Mushin area around 9am every morning. I don't stop work until 8pm at night.”
So how does Pius who has no crutches around him inside the bus get into the bus daily?
Pointing at the rear of his car, he said “I use my wheel chair. I park my bus around 3 streets away from my house so once I park, the conductor helps me get the wheelchair down and I get on it.”
There are stories of bus conductors absconding with money made from daily trips. How does Pius who lost his mother 5 years ago guide against this?
He revealed to our reporter he does not employ unknown conductors. “I employ those who live in my neighborhood.” He replied without much attention as he tried to confirm if he has all the seats occupied in his bus at the popular Cele Bus Stop on Apapa Oshodi Express Road.
Pius doesn't work on Sundays. He goes to church with his immediate family members. They all ride with him on Sundays from their Itire Road, Mushin abode to The Redeemed Evangelical Ministry (TREM), Kirikiri Road, Apapa, Lagos.
Pius gets his own share of harassment from Police man and officials of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA). Sometimes he is left to go free when they realize he is physically challenged and sometimes he has to bribe to escape the wrath of the law. Like every Danfo driver, has a nick name. He is called Oni Mama which means the one has a mother. Before the accident that claimed his 2 legs, Pius had the bumper sticker with inscription “Oni Mama” on it. Since then he has been referred to as such among those who know him way back.
Our reporter was curious enough to ask Pius if he still makes love to his wife. With a brighter smile, he nodded in the affirma tive. What about girl friends? He said, “I don't have girl friends. I have no time to chase women about. I appreciate my wife, Sulia who is very obedient. She is a good woman.”
About the time we go back to Oshodi Terminus, Pius who drove Danfo paninted light blue with some level of discipline told the reporter he services it every 2 weeks and pays attention to the special device. He buys a spray regularly from Cosmas Okoli which he uses on the device.
Pius doesn't want to continue as a Danfo driver, he wishes he gets enough money to start off some other businesses particularly auto parts sales once he finishes paying for the Danfo which he bought on hire purchase
© 2013 Nollywoodgists.com
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