The Incorruptible Nigerian Police Officer and the burden of a societal failure upon the underlying truth.
We now live on a land where truth and personal integrity had become muscled into a waste mud; corruption and falsehood now flow unhindered with a nauseating odour oozing allover the entire horizon along with flies of insecurity and anarchy across the entire land.
I was on my way from work at Parkview Estate, Ikoyi where I was doing a site supervision for my boss who traveled to London with his family on a holiday visit. Parkview Estate is within Bourdillon, Dolphin Estate, Banana Island and Falomo, Ikoyi axis of Lagos-Nigeria.
I, Having boarded a taxi to the general park at Obalande where passengers get vehicles to other locations of their destination in Lagos from Ikoyi, there I have to board a bus again from that Obalande to mile 2, Badagry-Expressway. And before the bus took off an argument ensued between the bus driver and a guy who identified himself as a police Officer, he was on mufti, the driver was arguing that he must pay for his transport fair just like any other passenger before he can drive off on our journey. The police officer was insisting that he will not pay because he is an officer and he was the first officer to enter the motor before the other officers and he saw no reason why the driver should be complaining since that has been the tradition for all Lagos State commercial bus transits to exempt officers from paying transport fairs.
The Police Officer: That can never happen, I entered this vehicle before any other officer get on board and why should I be the one to pay and not the others ?
The Driver: One officer had sat at the front of the motor already and I not fit carry two officers on board for free.
The Police Officer: Look at this guy, so why should I be the one to pay? I was the first person that came into this motor and if we are two officers on board then it should be the other officer that came in thereafter that should pay and not me who came in first.
The Woman: Driver ! Come are you not hearing him that he came in first ? I beg make ona settle make we dey go, I get many places where I want go today.
The Driver: The other officer is on uniform and he is not wearing any uniform and officers who don’t pay are the ones whom are on uniform.
The Police Officer: What does he mean by I am not on uniform is he not seeing my belt that I put across my neck and what else does he wants to know before he can realized that I am a police officer ?
It is obvious that the driver has an interest on the officer he wished to collect money from and not to out of the two officers on board and it is clear that it is the female officer who is on uniform that he wished to exempt and not on whom that got into the motor first for it is the officer that wears uniform is the one that has what it takes to save him from being milk cawed off his daily hassling by the corruptible Nigerian Police officers on the road.
As the argument ragged on it drew the attention of the management of the garage taunts but it seems as the garage taunts tried to resolve the issue it hit bottom rock from both the police officer and the driver who stood on their separate grounds but after much said than done but nothing the driver got inside the bus and we kick started our journey but vow to collect his money from the officer at wherever bus stop the officer wished to come down from the motor. And as we travelled down the road the quarrel raged on between the officer and the women passengers whom are in support of their driver.
The Police Officer: And funny enough this driver knows me, he told those taunts (Agbero) that even at the front of our Station there at Onikan he will not carry me and my question is when he knows I am a police officer why is he still insisting am not on uniform and I should pay money? Ehn ? It is an absurdity for him to say so !
While the other passengers in the bus urged the driver to kick on with the journey, the exchange of the fireworks raged on as the other women passengers in the bus continued the attack at the police officer that he is a fake police officer and his appearance does not portray someone who is in the force; just as it is in the Nigeria pattern, everybody quotes the law even when we do not know the spirit and the letters of the law we claimed to know it all.
The Woman: You are a fake police officer, if you are a police officer then what is the prove on you ? Apart from you claiming to be on mufti, see how you looked rough, a force man don’t keep beards, see how unkept you look and you are claiming to be a police officer, people like you are disgraced to the Nigerian police force and the Nigerian nationhood.
The Police Officer: I am not a fake police officer, here is my identity card (waving his I.D card to those who sat closed to him at the extreme sit at the back of the bus ) on it is police number 00… My name is so so if you like you can go and verify from the Nigerian Police Force.
The Woman: Anybody can print anything in Nigeria to deceive others, you are not the first and you will not be the last this is Naija. All I know is that if truly you are a police officer then you are a disgraced to Nigeria and the force and you should be ashamed of yourself because it is officers like you that have spoilt the image of the Nigerian police force.
The beautiful thing about argument is that nobody is a superman yet until one uses superior power points to knockout his opponent, and until then what everybody is looking for is that weak point of the opponent to exploit against him in order to knock him out and at that you will never know when you will fire yourself into your opponent’s hands and that was exactly what the woman did to herself by further harassing the officer that he s a disgraced to the Nigerian police force and Nigerian nation-hood. Ever since I have been on board the officer had not really gotten a valid point to get back at that boisterous woman and those of her co-women passengers that were harassing him to my satisfaction. Maybe they being women, the officer is finding it complicated to get back on them but just as if his cerebrum just got clicked into the right gear with the hearing of the words ‘disgrace to the Nigerian police force’ so he spanked up from his slumber to reveal his true identity to those women which he has never been able prove to them ever since and somehow they shall soon know that what a woman can do a man can do it even far better.
The Police Officer: I’m not the one who is a disgrace to the Nigerian police force but it is your sons and daughters who take bribe along the Nigerian roads, in the street and in the offices that are disgrace, everybody knows me that I’m among a very few Nigerian police officer that don’t take bribe, I till the ground to plant cassava and yam with my bare hands to support my meager salary to take care of my family because I cannot sell my moral integrity for any material gains in this world not to talk of going so low to collect bribe from my fellow man to survive. I live in penury, abject poverty while serving my fatherland and I pass through all sorts of ordeal to make a living while your sons and daughters are living in astute luxury through bribery and corruption. I’m a graduate working as a police officer and it is not as if I do not go to school but look at me tattered, this is the true reflection of a true Nigerian civil servant who does not take bribe outside his salary. Your fat nyash (buttocks) and big bellie sons and daughters who lived on robbery and bribery from road users like you on the Nigerian roads and in the Nigerian streets are the ones that are a disgrace to this country and the Nigerian police force and not my very self who has sacrificed my convenience, my family wellbeing, had subjected my life into abject poverty in midst of plenty and my life and that of my family that are in serious danger just for an exemplary life of a patriotic officer with integrity that ought to be in the ideal society. And without you or anyone splashing it on my face I do know the implication of living a life of integrity in a country like ours but that is what some of us have chosen to do as patriotic citizens with integrity for our fatherland after all it is not all men that are born to dignify the devil for a mere material gains; some of us are born to vilify the devil by being anti-corruption crusaders even if it puts us under a very dismal circumstances just as some of us are today.
The Police Officer: You should rather be ashamed of yourself for given birth to sons and daughters whom are corrupt in all strata of our dear country. The very few of us that had kept on bemoaning and mourning what corruption had done to the state of affairs of this great country from the leadership to the followers are now getting tired and frustrated. Nigeria has become a country where everybody is directly engrossed in corruption or a beneficiary of corruption. Corruption has become an infectious epidemic in my country and in your country Nigeria and you have the got to tell me who is just one among a very few that had held on to our own no matter how the sun shines on corruption nor how heavy it rains on corruption we are not still deterred. No, it is not the very few of us whom have remained incorruptible but it is your sons and daughters that carry guns and collect bribes under the burning sun and under the heavy rain fall that should be ashamed of themselves. What you do not know is corruption is a wild fire and it doesn’t care who it burns next. Keep on encouraging corrupt sons and daughters to glow like super stars and celebrate them as much as you want so that they can keep on stealing for you to live fat. They will keep on shining and the incorruptible will keep on looking tattered; they will keep on getting fatter with fat corrupt parcels and the incorruptible will keep on getting slimmer with the slim envelopes that your country cannot even afford to pay in time. I till the ground for my little extensive farming to support the miserable envelope called salary that your country pays a police officer out there who risks his life for you day and night for your security. Nevertheless, I am proud to remain who I am than to be corrupt like your sons and daughters. See ! Hhmm it stinks !! It is nauseating !!! (stinks of dustbin on the major road just smelled into the bus and he covered his nose with the open space in the unbuttoned place at the top of his shirt and he spat outside through the window )See how corruption stinks inside your vehicles and on your major roads like stinky cunt. I can see the heaps of corruption pilling up in major roads and streets of Nigeria like the very kind that heaped up in major roads of Ghana during Kwame Nkrumah era which Ayi Kwei Armah wrote about in his political satire The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born.
At this stage it has now become so obvious that what initially thought to be a dance parade of few little children into the market square has now become a full market dance parade for all market women. So, as the man kept on yelling and lambasting everybody in the bus on whom it may concern; he talked about the people, the Nigerian system and the pathetic structure that had continued to encourage a bad and a corrupt leadership system some of us just kept our ears wild open and looked on in a fool’s amazement to the very obvious we all know about in this country before.
The Woman: E don do, weti self, you be woman self, talk not dey tire you?
The Other Women joined their voices to pacify the enraged officer.
Woman 2: Oga na wow for you oh ! Your own pass woman oh you not dey tire ?
Woman 3: Hmm, I tire for this Oga oh you not dey tire ? I wonder how you and your wife come dey cope for house oh !
Woman 4: Oga biko, ehn, you don tell us, we don hear everytin we if fit hear about Nigeria. Our children are corrupt, we are corrupt and you too self na your country too but e go better one day ehn, biko, e don do ehn.
Woman 5: Habah, Oga na wow for you oh ! Truly you get me scared, I can’t marry a man like you oh. Chaii !! Honestly you pass woman. Don’t you get tired?
The Officer: Tired ke, no oh, I don’t get tired, why should I get tired, that is what I’m trained to do, I stand all day long to argue cases with lawyers under cross examinations in court as an investigating police officer (I.P.O) on case reports almost everyday in court . I can talk throughout the day and I would not get tired so that is not a problem to me I am used to it.
What caught my attention and even amazed me mostly was the sudden manner in which that same boisterous woman just changed her tone from that of the antagonist to that of pity and sympathy.
The Woman: My son but how do you live, what about your family, how do they cope? I’m sorry my son, it is the bad country that we are living that caused it, no one trust his fellow man anymore if not I wouldn’t have attacked you like that, so I beg, biko forgive me on the way I talked to you, ehn, I beg biko.
The Police Officer: You should be ashamed of your country’s failed political system, the failing structure, the institutions and the ruin corruption had caused on the integral part of our core values. Corruption has become a cancan-worm that had eaten deep into the very nucleus membrane of our country’s value system and I wish it does not get to where it becomes a part of our culture like drug trafficking in Columbia and Mexico.
When we got to Liverpool, the woman got down and say the usual poor man’s prayer.
The Woman: My son, don’t get angry with me oh, you hear, God will help you, God go help Nigeria, God will reward you for both your integrity and all your hard-work, God go help you for the good you are doing for our country Nigeria, ehn my son. Thank you for your lectures and greet your family for me, ehn, pele, biko it is well. Bye bye oh.
She repeated the apology as if the man was deaf and it seems she was also bothered by her conscience in the manner she harassed the police officer with her overzealousness. And immediately as the woman got down, the man did not talk again, the entire bus became extremely quiet like the silent in the graveyard except the voice of the bus conductor who was announcing bus-stops; Tincan-Island, Trinity, Wema, Sun-Rise, Under-bridge”, until we got to Mile-2, which was the final Bus-Stop.
At Mile-2, where every other person came down as the last bust stop and we were waiting for the driver to give us our change, there, I took a critical look at the police officer again as he was adjusting the police trousers he wore, the police belt he carried as a big burden upon his shoulder, the black long-sleeves he wore, in his hands he hold an empty Sacco-bag and a 5 liter empty gallon maybe for fuel.
There I dropped down my sunshade semi-circumference eyes-glass upon my nose and taking a critical look at the young officer who should be at his late 30s to his 40s, a fair handsome looking young man, he should be from the Eastern Nigeria extraction, who looked tattered with beards unkept, he is tall but looking hungry then I saw what made that woman changed from that of her antagonist to that of pity and sympathy for the officer who said he and his family had nothing to lean upon apart from his untimely miserable salary and the small piece of the extensive farm at his backyard but rather proud to hold on to his integrity as an incorruptible police officer than to be corrupt.
By further look, I thought of several questions that bothered on the timeline of our country’s nationhood that remained hanged in my mind that I failed to ask the officer due to the obvious; a failed country that is unable to take care of the welfare of its workforce, a failed political structure that is anchored on corruption and a country with a failed economic structure that has unable to translate from a mono-economy to multi-economy to serve the fast growing needs of its vast population whom are mostly youths and at that I shook my head and sigh with heart full of many thoughts. How can a young hard-working men and women of integrity like that young officer continued to go on in this country with the way things are going when corruption had eaten so deeply into the very fabrics of our country’s structure ? How did we get here at the first place for those who choose to be incorruptible become the sufferers of country’s numerous failures and the corrupt become the shining heroes? My questions remained unanswered in my heart as I collected my change from the driver and walked away.