When I started blogging, I said I was never going to rant because ranting boils my blood and never usually produces any results. But never say never, right?
This resolution of mine is one of the reasons why I stay on the path of fiction and normal everyday stories. I know that if I venture towards writing about the state of the Nigerian economy or politics or general public service mannerisms, I will definitely start ranting.
But today, I decide to rant a little.
I entered a bus from Alagomeji to UNILAG gate after conceding to the amount the conductor belted out to me. Hopping on the front seat beside the driver (I usually always have wonderful conversations with bus drivers. For some reason, they talk to me about the darnest things), I looked outside the windshield and just observed the activities around me; a woman who was backing a baby and was being followed by 3 other tiny children was swearing and cursing at another man with all the fervor and energy she could muster; a bike man on the queue of other bike men lifted himself to scratch his crotch; a Hausa kolanut and bitterkola seller dragged phlegm from the back of his head and spat it out in front of him; two young girls crossed the road laughing at something which they obviously found extremely funny; a skilled mallam was cutting up a huge watermelon and arranging the sweet red and green attraction in his wheelbarrow… Life was interesting.
My bus driver got to Sabo bus stop and parked to allow other commuters join the bus. The conductor flung himself out of the bus and started calling passengers. He was using his whole body and soul to attract people to the semi-empty bus; his voice, his arms, his legs, his brain, his humor, his pleadings. While I sat watching him and appreciating his art of marketing and persuasion, I saw a policewoman throw herself into the bus and ask for ‘money’.
My driver laughed and flattered her some, but she asked him why he was laughing and asked for her money. The smile on my driver’s face abruptly disappeared and he turned his face outside the window.
After everyone had entered the bus, and the police woman’s butt was still planted in the bus, she started to say, ‘Let me see how you people will leave here today. I ask you for my money, you you are laughing, your conductor was using me to call passenger. He saw me sitting here and he decided to still be calling passengers. I promise you, all your passengers will leave this bus and you won’t drive anywhere. You people don’t respect me. If you respect me, you will give me my money.’
Then the conductor gave her some amount which I did not see and then she switched to gear two, ‘You are very foolish. You have foolishness in your head. Is that the complete money? Ehn? You people don’t respect me. I promise you, you won’t leave here’
We all finally ended up alighting from the bus and joining another bus, but I was irritated and disgusted.
For those who don’t know, the policewoman was demanding for a bribe. This bribe was not being demanded for because my driver had done anything wrong, but because it was needed so that he will be MANDATORILY protected from the law today. Tomorrow will bring for itself its own bribe demands. Can you just imagine?! This crazy woman was demanding for a bribe to pervert the cause of Justice and she was demanding for it so blatantly as though it was provided for in the Police Act or in the Constitution or in her contract of employment. She was demanding for it as though if he didn’t give her, she could drag him to a court of law and seek for a redress.
She was demanding for it because she is a police woman and she can make life unbearable for him. Even if it were for something that my driver had done wrong, it was still a goddamn bribe! But hey, she is a policewoman and she has the power to make life unpleasant for anyone. She can frame you, she can detain you, she can extort from you, she can disgrace you and she can silence you.
Hence, she and so many of them like that, have decided to constitute themselves as nuisances to the society and they literally beg for money in order not to carry out their civic duty. They, who are saddled with the duty to protect civilians from harm, have now made it a duty to harm them.
How can a policewoman in her police senses arrest a whole bus of civilians because the driver of the bus did not give her say, 200naira.
I am so disappointed in this nation. It’s more disheartening when I think of the fact that I live in Lagos, one of the most advanced states in the country and this is happening! Whenever I feel like a wave of change may be possible in the country; like we can actually change, I visit one small office in a public service office and I see corruption at its disgusting peak! Why should I have to pay you for something that belongs to me? Why should I have to flirt or have sex with you for something that belongs to me? There’s just so much bureaucracy and nonsense.
And yes! We want to be positive and optimistic about the nation, we don’t want to thrash-talk ourselves, we don’t want to give up on our growth. But I don’t believe in feeding sugar to a dying diabetic just because you want him to be happy, except of course, you really want him to die.
Let us stop will all the fake hope hashtags and let us be real. There is so much to be worked on in this nation and we must all carry out painful excisons to remove all these cancerous growth.
The above paragraph even sounds very silly to me because it does not provide any practical solutions. I myself, I’m lost and overwhelmed at the enormous ocean of corruption the nation is drowning in. I am tempted to look at the little bowl in my hand and despise it; ‘How would this bowl scoop out all of this water?‘ I am tempted to think. It is even worse because I am seeing other channels of corruption leaking into this ocean and I am feeling disappointed.
But clutching the bowl in my hand, I will kneel in the ocean and begin scooping out corruption by praying for Nigeria and doing my best not to fuel the fire on the mountain.
But while on my knees scooping, I still remain pissed…