The opening quote made me laugh. The Lion King is actually one of my favourite cartoons. These have nothing to do with why I am writing this.
At the time of writing this post, the results of the presidential election were yet to be announced by INEC. The event that prompted this particular post was very illuminating. On that fateful Friday – two days ago – I was in a Tricycle, otherwise called a Keke Napep or Maruwa. We were at this junction, that busy one that connects Our Lady of Apostles Girls’ School, Marda Barracks and Unilag Junction. This junction is always very busy and the motorists usually defy the traffic lights. For sanity to reign at this junction and to prevent a gridlock, it is preferable to have at least two Police Officers or LASTMA officials. Trust me, that’s my route, one is not enough. I feel a bit ashamed to say that I don’t still know the name of the junction, but I will find out. On that day, the Napep I was in was coming from the street that led to customs bus stop. The light was red. As soon as the light turned green, the incoming vehicles from Agnes and Sabo, as well as Yaba, should have stopped crossing the intersection as the traffic light regulating their own part of the street would have turned red. As usual, they tried to beat the traffic light and we all ended up stuck in the middle. As is typical of Lagos motorists, horns were blaring left, and centre. While everyone was trying their best to maneouvre their vehicles to safety, a man driving a Toyota Sienna jumped down from his car, hit my Napep’s driver across the head twice and grabbed his keys while screaming, ‘this man, what is wrong with you sef?’ He took off into his car and drove off leaving the driver in the middle of the intersection. While the driver was contemplating the next course of action, a soldier i.e a man from the Nigerian Army just came come the other side and unclasped his belt. My heart skipped a beat because really who hasn’t heard the stories of the average Nigerian soldier? He told the Napep driver to move his Napep back, but this was impossible – the guy who took the keys was nowhere to be found. The soldier began to control the traffic with some other civilians. Within two minutes the soldier looked in our direction and saw that the Napep had not moved, he began to use his belt on the driver. We, the passengers, looked on with questions on our lips. Who was the guy that took the keys? What right did he have to do that? And we all trembled in fear at the back while the driver tried to explain in vain to the soldier that he had not violated any traffic rule. When one guy in the Napep spoke up to corroborate the driver’s story, the soldier dragged him out of the Napep and told him to get on his knees. The guy refused to, saying he was a federal government worker – he stood up to the soldier. The soldier dragged him to the other end of the intersection along with the driver. All other passengers said was the usual ‘Na wa o! Hian! etc’ I was dazed, speechless – you get the drift. I admired the guy for standing up to the soldier – he was all fierce. That’s the end of my story.
What’s the point of all this, you ask. I will tell you. Nothing is wrong in believing that one man can be that change that Nigeria needs. After all, we can only dare to hope. But carefully pay attention to the story above. What is wrong with Nigerians? First, we show a blatant disregard for rules and sanity, we prefer the struggles occasioned by chaos, we are intoxicated by the adrenaline produced in the race for survival. It is me-first, me-here, me-now. Then the law fails to culminate in justice and the innocent bear the brunt of the failure. Furthermore, we are hypocrites. We point accusing fingers at our leaders – they choke us with their greed, and selfishness, and shortsightedness, and lack of values. The truth is we are not any better. Why attack your fellow man on a whim because you can? How do you take the source of someone’s livelihood without batting an eyelid? Just because you are wearing a uniform that has a belt, you can lash out at anyone that is not on a uniform? And no one can talk back at you otherwise they will be flogged for such foolishness. The Army that won’t protect its citizens – running away when duty calls, leaving its citizens at the mercy of terrorists and insurgents. Then, oppress them for daring to speak their minds. When did the Nigerian Army even become concerned with traffic matters? We have lost faith in the Army, no amount of propaganda can restore it. Yes, that’s the plain truth. I don’t care if they were exemplary in whatever International peace keeping mission they went for. I just don’t understand why people beat other people up. If we have a misunderstanding, there is a standard procedure for settlement of disputes. We don’t go around beating each other up to prove the rightness or wrongness of an act. It is insane.
That said, I wouldn’t want to bore you with any more of my monologue, but I dare say that we hope in vain for change if we don’t start with ourselves. If we show utter disregard for the next person, what do we expect from our leaders? If we deliberately defy orders and undermine the legal apparatus, what is the essence of society? We must be the change we seek.
P.S This happened for real. Plus I want to apologise for not posting anything for some time now