Not long ago I witnessed a bizarre thing on a street in Lagos, which made me wanna just scream!
A driver got delayed by a motorcycle which was in front of him along the drive, and in the split second of the delay another vehicle which was driven by this petty soldier hit him softly.
And then starts the drama.
The soldier boy got out of his vehicle and drags the other driver out to come and take a look at the ‘bash’ on his own car.
I could see fear on the other driver. This afrerall is a soldier boy, who can do and undo.
The soldier boy assaulted the driver twice. I was mad with rage. My phone wasn’t with me, I was burning wishing I could capture the scene in somehow and reveal the identity of the soldier boy.
He was wrong and he still took the living hope out of the civilian for it. I moved closer to the scene to see what would happen. I was ready to put on the air of an activist. But the guy left off and let go of the civilian who was too happy and quickly drove off so he can thank his stars.
Such things are not done. We are not living under the shadow of a coup d’etat. Why should a man be afraid of the armed forces in a country with Constitution?
What was more apaling was the attitude of the civilian. Fear.
We still fear the bloody soldiers. We still felt as though we are ruled by a military regime.
In fact we still refer to civilian government by the word regime. I fear we will never outgrow it on time.
The habits of the old dog is still in us. We fear the green camo. And our ‘rulers’ are the same. They thought they can make us behave in certain ways if they will force us.
Coercion and threats and sanctions and the brutality of jackboots and delayed justice and poverty and erosion of justice and the utter disdain of fundamental (and constitutional) human rights and overpopulated prisons and understaffed prison service and corruption in the civil service and…and…and…
The list continues.
I was taking a group of senior school students on the subject of government recently. It was a free tutorial of which I’m a volunteer. So we were discussing the functions of the government and one way or the other we digressed into talking about the death of African leadership and why we are impoverished and so on till the class became a motivational session and we were having fun…until we talk about power and authority and someone raised a question about the authority of police to arrest you.
It went like this:
“Sir what if you were going on your own and then police came and arrested you?”
I refuted that THAT cannot happen. Immediately all the students disagreed with me and affirmed that such incidence do happen, and often too.
Which is true. I have heard stories and seen many. What’s the problem with us. We living in fear.
All because we don’t know what is contained in our constitution. We don’t know the limit of the police or soldiers and they too fail too often to respect them.
‘Militariophobia’ ‘policiophobia’ and all that.
We allow injustice mainly because we have no idea what justice is. And we too are part of the system of injustice.
Abi? When a man goes to the police station and took a policeman to come arrest his neighbor.
Our problem remains at the very root: ignorance.
And for any real transformation even change to occur; we need to educate our people.