‘…In Nigeria, ownership of petroleum resources is vested in the Federal Government. Pursuant to the Petroleum Act of 1969 however, the government grants certain rights in the oil and gas industries to investors. There are three different arrangements under this heading. Oil exploration license, oil processing license, oil mining lease. A license is… What’s the difference between a license and a lease? ‘Our sturdy potbellied Frosty the snowman shaped, hobbit of a lecturer suddenly stops and asks. That’d be the hundredth question in his ‘ought-to-have-ended-a-long-time-ago affair of an Oil and Gas law class. It’s a Tuesday morning and I’d just missed my mother’s call. She’s in school to drop some stuff with me but I am right in front of the lecturer so my phone automatically goes on ‘power off’.
“You!” I look up from my scribbling. It’s not me but Stephanie on the last row. Ours is a seat-anywhere-you-like arrangement in the seminar room we use for a class for lack of a better venue. We are small in number though- about thirty two.
‘License is like a right of ownership you’re given over a property while lease is like- it’s also a right but you don’t own the property… ‘Stephanie rambles.
Well… he nods doubtfully. ‘Hmmmm, you! He points at me but I’m not looking. I’m painting out a love shape with my blue pen- my favorite class past time.
‘ Hey, you.’ It appears pointing is the game of the day.
‘Me?’ I feign surprise.
‘Yes, what’s a license?’
‘A license is a possessory right given over a property for a particular period of time.’
‘You- ‘points at Stephanie,’ you didn’t get it o’, points at me and declares to the class, ‘she’s close to the answer, close.’ He’s saying ‘close’ but making the ‘okay’ sign.
‘You,’ points at yet another lady.
‘What’s your name?’
‘Seun’, she smiles. She’s diagonally four seats away from me to the right.
‘Where are you from?’
‘What part of Ogun state?’
‘Hen, Aboki?’ Everyone laughs.
‘Abeokuta’, she repeats.
‘What part of Abeokuta?’ (Spanish Inquisition!)
Points at me but again.
‘What’s your name?’
‘Which state are you from?’
‘Oyo state,’ I lie.
‘Where in Oyo?’
‘Oh, omo Ibadan…’ I smile.
‘Now let me explain what a license and a lease is’, he strolls back to the lectern. ‘Assuming I have a B.Q on Parry Road…’ I’m off to Parry Road, taking his voice with me – as guide. ‘…and Sade could not get an accommodation in the school hostel and she comes to me and, I’m like go on and stay at my B.Q…’ I now reside at a B.Q in Parry Road, an old Gothic affair surrounded by stunted pines and a large oak at the back that’s almost uprooting the house itself. The main building in front is a direct contrast, reconstructed to modern taste, elegant in sight, imposing a structure. The B. Q’s a two room affair with an adjoining toilet and kitchen on the outside, a quiet and peaceful neighbourhood as a staff quarters residence was wont to be. ‘…Maybe Seun also now does not have accommodation and hears of it and comes begging me, then I ask her to also move into my BQ on Parry Road( He sucks at description but I can handle anything). Seun also now has a license.’
Do you get it?’
‘Yes sir,’ I can hear the class faintly chorus.
‘Now when she gets there, he continues, ‘and says she’s been asked to move in, what will the reaction be?’ ‘Now, (he loves the word ‘now’) if it had been a lease, she’d have paid some consideration for the use of the building and exclusive possessory right is then conferred on her. You know how you ladies behave…’ It’s a warm Sunday afternoon where I am and I’ve just returned from Church. I have barely changed into casuals when I hear a knock on my door. I open up and there’s Seun my classmate with all her baggage, the truck driver bidding her bye and starting the truck.
‘I’m your new housemate’, she announces.
‘…Am I right? The lecturer asks the class.
I look into Seun’s eyes to be sure she’s not joking.
‘Am I right?’
I nod vaguely trying hard to lock the door before leaving the house. I’m back in the faculty now, climbing up the stairs that led to the seminar room.
Now she’s not answering, am I right?
‘Yes, you’re right.’ I’m in class seated on the front row, six chairs from the main entrance. I am irritated. I hate being disrupted.
‘Do you have a problem young lady?’ The lecturer is now right in front of me, peering at me through his concave lenses.
Now I’m confused. A problem? What gives him that impression?
‘Do you have a problem?’, he repeats.
‘Are you sure there’s no problem?’
‘No sir, I do not have a problem. ‘
‘ Get out of my class.’
(This is for all the thoughtful, imaginative, contemplative yet inspired minds out there constantly interrupted by the noisy, impatient and tactless world around them)