By Joe Ogbechie
An average Nigerian in Nigeria without question is a beggar. Yeap, I said it. We are it and you are one of us, period. Don’t jump off the hand rail yet and reserve your colourful language for some other time, the truth they say hurts. Your position on the Maturity Gradient and self-truth should be high now for a good dose of patience to read through this material.
Have you had an opportunity to request a need or service from a person or business in Nigeria? Have you been accosted by an overzealous man or woman, uniformed or not, that is willing to help you with doing little or nothing? I am sure that you have in one or two occasions. Come on! Am I alone here? I often get the “Welcome Sir” greetings, and the subsequent “Oga, we dey loyal ooh!” What about the “Wetin you get for us na?” Behaviours of these sorts are blossoms of acts by which a person is characterised. Donald Trump is expected to be outrageous and if he starts making sense, most of us will see that as out of character flaws. The very beautiful act of civility that is glorious in functional customer servicing is now a call for beggar-training 101. Hold your comments here now, okay; it seems like the old teaches the new and the new is responsible for returns and results at the end of the day. It is so seamless and assumingly symbiotic that has become a commonality of normalcy.
I am sure these acts may be in the rear view mirrors of some of us with powers beyond the naira level, they have bevies of road-clearers and may not be privy to the luxury of the harassment that comes next. Customer services pleasantries take a hike as you walk into these seemingly respectable enterprises; you are greeted and attended to by some of those seeming stoics behind counter; they will gaze through you with threatening looks of displeasures. At first, the belief is that this person would rather be somewhere else; cordiality is entirely removed from services and the notable act of wooing a customer for repeat business relations was maybe left in the locker-room. You are left wondering what you did wrong and if you happen to be a first-time visitor and you are not shock-proofed, guilt of act takes over. With your bags in hand and nervous gaiety work to the door, “Oga, wetin you get for us now?” is bemoaned through toothy smiles that call for long and continuous dental appointments. You are made to understand in one instance that alms giving is not charity or for the handicap, it is actually a demand and in one sweet swoop you will be told how hard life is “for this country” as if you have just tightened a thread or two on the difficulty screw. Starting from hunger and starvation to a need for help in sponsoring kids whom you did not take part in making through school – “Oga, help me na; money no dey to pay school fees; I beg”.
How did we get here? Okay, you think that is bad? How about the hostage takers and the blackmailers. Ah; ah; ah! I am not talking about the rampant kidnappings of which the custodians of security in the nation could do little or nothing about. For the later, there is a name, and they are called criminals outright and maybe prosecuted if caught. Here, we have the uniformed-hostage-takers; these are the people upon which our safety and security are entrusted upon, and they are by no means in short supply. They are found in all of our commutable links. Airport entrances/exits and other motorways.
They actually are the worst and in my book the scum of the earth and if there is anything worse than my choice of words above, they are it. These are subhuman mongrels that grind your balls to a halt when you are most vulnerable; like a vampire, they will sink their teeth and fangs deep into your veins for the last droplets of blood. On your entrance into the country, they are aware that you are carrying foreign currency of which you may have earmarked for a purpose, the local currency is what you do not have. On your exit out of the country too; you have some local spices that madam and you only have acquired the taste for growing up, and she had asked you by all means to bring some back, and that is another sure bet circumstance to get the last drop whatever it is that you have out of you. These ingredients that most of these uniformed hostage-takers may have just had, by all means, become a prohibited exportable product, a contraband that requires an MIT trained chemist for proof of chemical content. They will threaten you with jail term for possessing an ingredient that they may just have availed themselves of or may have just eaten. Here, you are susceptible to all the verbal fear-lazed cajoles. You do not want to miss your flights, coupled with the fact that now you have little or no local currency; all you have is probably little foreign currency you may have tucked away for coffee/sandwich at your transits or for taxi or trains at your final destinations; it is a need for you but they want it too. That is what they want and you have to give it to them. I was told by one of these guys that I would be made to stay in their office with my egusi/ogbonor over the weekend, as I was travelling on a Saturday, until Monday when the forensics and chemists will resume. That is the time the experts will be available to test these ingredients so as to make sure that they do not contain hard drugs. This was after a long frustration, and I decided to forgo the ingredients and board my flight to Frankfurt. Nobody cares if you have to walk, crawl or stay thirsty and hungry for the duration of your journeys that may span over 24 hours. That is not their concerns, they are here to collect and probably give returns at the end of the day. Selfish, self-centred hypocrites have no place in civilised societies. These are the faces of Nigeria, they give the first and probably the only impression of what our society is all about, and if these subhuman mongrels are allowed to continue telling our story, I wonder who will buy Nigeria. Where are the leaders, the managers, and supervisors of these herds? Who do you complain to and how do you report these vices? Hello! Chain of command, where are you? Who makes these rules they adhere to, and who signed off on them? Well! You be the judge of our societal “decisional-considerations” – leadership vacuum. Let me hear from you.
Ogbechie is a systems specialist at George Washington University.