Remembering the night I ‘pallied’ with Donald Duke —Eugene Upah


Eugene Upah|10 May 2017 
It was in December 2006, and I was returning from the U.J Esuene Stadium in Calabar at about pass 2AM where I had gone to watch the Carnival activities for the night. Senegalese Singer, Akon (if my memory serves me right) had performed that night so many people felt the excitement and frenzy that comes with the Carnival season so couldn’t cut short their stay at the stadium. 
Super excited, I decided to take a bounce to spend the night with a friend who lived at the Cross River State Water Board premises back then in other to avoid the famous “common knor mi that phone” boys because I was living in Calabar South at that time.
I used the IBB route to access Marian road walking sagaciously as if I was Ndidem Usang Iso himself. On getting to water board gate, the old “papa” who was the gate keeper then (don’t know if he’s still there) kept me outside the gate for some 15 to 20 minutes drilling me with questions why I was coming back that night. I succeeded in convincing him with my “sweet mouth” and made him see reason(s) why he needed to grant me access because I was at risk standing outside. 
While papa was still considering whether or not he should let me in, a black Jeep drove and ordered him to open the gate, papa quickly asked “na who”? rushed to find out whom it was, the next thing I heard from papa was “ooh Ete Cross River” and hurriedly cut open the gate. As a street boy that I was (and still am), I quickly used the “golden opportunity” and rushed in and told papa “oya come stop me now papa”. Papa replied saying “abeg carry your wahala dey go”.
The car drove in and parked, as an observant fellow, I tick towed and watched very carefully to know who would drive and just stop like that. The Driver alighted and behold, it was the Executive Governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke. I confidently walked to where he was standing and greeted him, “what is your name”? He asked. Eugene, your Excellency I answered in a loud to be heard voice. Your Excellency, you drove alone? I asked him. “What is wrong with that”? He yelled amidst smiling. I stood with him and we walked round holding hands side by side as I observed he was inspecting the premises of the Cross River State Water Board Ltd. 
I was surprised that a state Governor would drive alone at that time of the night. When it was time for him to leave, he asked me "which way are you going so I could drop you halfway I am actually heading to somewhere else" I said HE Sir, I was going to spend the night with a friend at water board quarters. The soji guy-man Duke simply dipped his hands into his pockets and gave me some Naira notes, it was 11,000 Naira in total I could remember. At that time 11k was big money, in fact, it’s the equivalent of 111,000 Naira today. 
Between Peter Obi and Donald Duke abeg na who simple pass?

Eugene Upah 
Is a Social Commentator