Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Uniform Enigma

Just weeks ago, a bank security personnel shot a man around Akowonjo axis of Lagos state while fidgeting with is toy because it will be insane to still refer to guns in the hands of this people as a guns anymore,they no longer see it as one, he quickly claimed that the man he shot was an armed robber, but obviously the armed robber forgot his gun at home and decided to rob a bank alone with his bare hands and “Booli” in his pocket. This aroused the anger and wrath of the people and lead to a brutal chaos which resulted in the loss of a lot of the banks property and the near death beating of the Mopol whose life was saved by the arrival of more Mobil policemen on the scene. The people became the judge of the situation before law and order was restored, but nothing could be done to save the life of the obviously innocents soul, whose life was sacrificed on the altar of supremacy by the trigger happy Mopol. Something very similar to this happened again in my presence some weeks ago, but I couldn’t do a thing to save the situation but now another scene right before my very eyes, so I thought I will be fair for me to write about this particular one.

Once Upon a Time

It was a cool and lightly foggy morning, I was escorting my roomie to the bus stop where he was going to catch a bus that will take him to Evans Square, everything seems to be obeying the unnatural natural order until suddenly, some military boyz (too young and stupid to be called men) broke out on a hot chase of an okada rider right in the middle of the Herbert McCauley road very close to the WAEC office beside YabaTech. The okada was still very much in motion when they pounced on it and started beating the rider in the middle of the major road, caring less about the commuters he was taxing because he lost control of the bike and the two men behind him almost got hit by an oncoming vehicle who wouldn’t have imagined the bike was going to halt in the middle of the road. Thank God he slowed down; it would have been a different ball game entirely. The commuters were got injured from the crash but they cared even less because they only got busier with kicking and hitting the okada man, but before they could do more damage to the his body which was dripping with blood already, the biker took off with the last of his strength, and broke into a free run for is own dear life. 50% of the passer by were students and civilians while the remainder were boyz like the stupid ones already around so they joined in the mindless chase to catch the biker instead of trying to find and end to it.

Fleeing from an obvious grave if he had endured a little longer, he ran faster than his legs could carry him, scaling through a scour of soldiers who joined in the chase and somehow made his way into the compound of a near bye Nursery and Primary school (Mbari Mbayo) to seek refuge and probably an escape route. When I noticed that they still chased him into the school, it became very obvious that they will seize and continue with the beating, so like other passer by, we decided to get a little closer and see what we can do to save the situation. By the time we got to the gate of the school, they already had him but because of the presence of a lot of people and even some higher ranking military officers who moved towards the spot when they saw the crowd, they couldn’t continue with the beating him. Everybody got curious so we decided to ask them, what could he have done that lead to such a hot chase and illicit beating fashioned out of the uniforms they wore which was actually provided for them from the tasked paid by this okada man each time he buys a little of fuel at any filling station.

The biker explained that he incurred the wrath of uniforms only because he wouldn’t allow their bike to go ahead of him at the bye-pass that was along the road under the pedestrian bridge not because he didn’t want to, but because there was no way he could have drawn back is okada without the risk of being struck by an oncoming vehicle on the other end of the road. When the young soldier that led the chase was asked if the story was true, all he did was shake his head but had no better explanation for his unlawful act and neither did any of the others who joined the chase. The older military personnel’s released the okada rider with apologies and told him to leave the scene immediately. Everybody left as well to continue with their daily hustle and bustle while the okada man kept on prostrating and thanking everybody that came to his rescue, especially those that helped with moving his bike of the road and his passengers. What became of those military boyz needs no explanation, they did it and got away with it, turning the life a man they get paid to protect into a ping ball.

The bye-pass that led to the turmoil can take just one bike at a time because it is actually a break in the culvert separating the road, obviously the okada man got their before them, but because they had uniforms on they felt they could and should deal with him for not allowing them to go ahead of him because nobody can ask or stop them. At this time and age, in such civilization and in a democratic dispensation, men of the Nigerian Army still go about maltreating their fellow country men because they are empowered with military might. The sad part of it is that even students in the cadet corps and Man O War also get power drunk and over step their boundaries too many times and on different occasions. I have witnessed too many of such situations which always leads to chaos on campus and I was even harassed by one recently who told me I cannot claim the bed space I paid for because he won’t be comfortable with having an extra occupant in the room since I wasn’t their from the beginning of the semester. I also witnessed a soldier slap an elderly man riding an okada who obstructed him right in the middle of a perfectly fixed traffic jammed in Oshodi, although the Okada was obstructing him as well as every body, but he felts stronger in his camouflage and struck the man. Tell me, will hitting and kicking the man clear the traffic or make the bike disappear?

Uniforms come in different size and shapes and your position right now could be the uniform with which you oppress the already depressed. I believe it is time for us as people to start making some changes, let’s start thinking about others, let’s start reviewing our stands in wherever we find ourselves to ensure that where we are is not a uniform of oppression to the lives of the people around us, because with these uniforms, a lot of people maltreat, oppress and ridicule the helpless and voiceless in the society with their power, position and dispositions. Let us all shed our garment of pride and take on the cloak of prudence, let’s start seeing every man as a brother instead of living as two distance strangers, let our strength be made know in our diversity, our health in the weakness of others and our comfort in the way we handle the sorrows of others. If no man had stood for that Okada man that morning, he would have been beating so very hard for doing nothing. If you live in Lagos, Ibadan, Port Harcourt or any other part of Nigeria, you could or should have witnessed such situations while driving, walking, strolling or evening jogging, don’t just walk bye the next time you come across such situation on your way, stand for the next man, give your shoulders and put your head into it but not in a violent way, save the situation because the next day “E FIT BE YOU O!” don’t say it is impossible, ask QWEEN the comedian and you will believe what am say… :)

Our uniformed citizens are yet to learn their purpose in the society so abuse is inevitable, all we can do is pray, NO, intercede, TOO SMALL, organize crusade for them asking God to give them listening ears while we do our own part.

God Bless Naija.