Nigerian Spice, Series

Nigerian Spice: 3 Foolish Men

By Emmanuel Adebayo, Nigeria:

It is with total disgust and anger targeted towards a particular group of Nigerians that I type these words. I visited Lagos recently to attend a meeting. I was 10 minutes from being late when a group of ‘men in black’ stopped the public transport I was in; I assumed it was the usual stop and harass the driver system, but I was wrong. This was an entirely different thing.

There were three of us in the car, two men in suits and a lady; the other man and I were asked to come down for searching. I took it in good faith and complied, and felt it necessary due to the present situation in the country (boko haram). I was totally thrown off balance when they asked their first question…”who are you?”

The man, who was clearly elderly, was as perplexed and flummoxed as I was. We both looked at each other in surprise only to be totally knocked off our feet by the next question…”where do you work?” By this time the man (who I later discovered was heading towards the Turkish Embassy) was angry and filled with rage; if only he knew what was coming next he would have saved his energy for the real treat. He went barnacles, spitting fire as he spoke. The ‘men in black’ too wouldn't be silenced or made to look like fools – they tried as much as they could to match his anger word for word. I on the other hand was too stupefied to talk; I felt like I was in an African magic movie scenario.

They then took the man’s papers (he had a lot with him, it felt like he had all his life’s achievements with him that day); they claimed they needed to verify who he was. They asked for his identity card, instead he offered his international passport. But they said they needed a passport that related him to where he worked. So he told them he was the chairman of his company and didn't need an identity card. He proceeded to produce documents of the company attesting that he was indeed the chairman and that he had CAC registrations to back it up.

However, all these didn't seem to mean anything to the ‘men in black’. They insisted that for all they cared he had nothing to prove that he worked anywhere (I wonder when not working became a crime in a country with a high rate of unemployment). During all this, I just stood looking from one man to the other wondering what the problem really was. At some point the man had said he was a member of the chartered institute of personnel management in Nigeria and produced documents to back the statement, then one of the ‘men in black’ asked the ‘stupidest’ question i have ever heard, “where's the CAC certificate for the CIPM organisation?” Even the man in his anger couldn't hold himself from laughing.

Right there and then, I concluded that we were in trouble; why wouldn't Boko Haram kill and maim at will when we have such nit wits to serve as security agents and law enforcers?!

In Ibadan, recently, some ‘men in black’ were alleged to have accompanied some miscreants and joined them in disturbing the peace of a neighborhood. This is what we get for allowing the “intelligent ones” to run after the supposedly great and better job opportunities and we leave our security in the hands of lesser men.

The same thing is happening in the education sector; the “intelligent ones” run after being the Don in the university and we leave those who seem like they had nothing else to do other than teach to take the illustrious task of tutoring the next generation, and then we still have the guts to complain that education is getting worse! Of course it will get worse!

We are building a society whose values are placed around money and power; you've got nothing tangible to contribute if you do not have a ‘good’ job. The teachers have been relegated; the security forces are pushed to the background. We live in an age where your dreams don't matter, you are tutored right from birth to be one of four things…a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer or an accountant…. I wonder if we were all these four professions, what would have happened to the next generation.

Nigeria needs to wake up, we all need to wake up, every profession is important for the survival of the society, none is better than the other, stop the dichotomy!

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