By Ebele Orakpo
“Ah, what kind of hold-up is this at this time of night?” asked Steve, a commuter in the Kuje, Abuja-bound taxi as the taxi slowly inched its way towards its destination.
“I can’t believe this! So this Lagos disease has infected Abuja,” said Julie matter-of-factly.
Replied the taxi driver: “No! This is nowhere near Lagos traffic oo. Lagos traffic no dey get part two. The most annoying part is that you hardly know what causes it because when you get to the end of the traffic, you won’t see anything that has caused it in the first place. I worked in Lagos for years before relocating to Abuja.”
“This hold-up, I believe, is as a result of the many army check points in Abuja, thanks to the activities of Boko Haram guys,” Tim stated.
As the taxi got closer to the check point, commuters could see both commercial and private vehicles parked on both sides of the road with occupants sitting or standing by the road side.
Commented Steve: ”Something must be wrong. These people look like they have resigned to fate. Anyway, we will know soon enough.”
A few minutes later, the taxi driver beckoned on another driver and asked why people were sitting or standing by the road sides while traffic was flowing slowly. The driver replied: “The soldiers stopped them, asked them to park and collected their keys. The same thing happened the previous day. The soldiers were controlling traffic at the checkpoint. You know half of the road is blocked so the road is very narrow.
What the soldiers do is to pass vehicles from opposite directions alternately. But these ones were in a hurry so they decided to proceed without permission from the soldiers. So once the soldiers see any driver leave the queue, they stop him/her and collect the keys. They did not let them leave until 12.00 midnight and you can imagine the time it took them to sort out the keys!”
“That’s the kind of thing we need in this country. There is so much indiscipline. Everybody is in a hurry. Ok, look at where the hurrying got them. Oh, I like these soldiers. Although some were caught today but they are less than the number caught the previous day and I am sure tomorrow, some will still be caught but the number will continue to reduce until people learn to follow orders,” commented Steve.
“Yes, the fear of the soldiers is the beginning of wisdom. If you can’t voluntarily discipline yourself, the soldiers will help you,” stated Mimi,
“ Exactly! Just like agberos forced young men and women to dress decently, especially when going to the Main Market in Onitsha,” noted Julia, adding: “And the worst thing is that those soldiers hate people begging them for mercy. If you do that, they will increase your punishment so these people understood them. Just do what they ask you to do and wait patiently. When they are satisfied, they let you go.”
Narrated Tim: “They slapped a lady one day because they stopped the driver of the commuter bus she was in and after a few minutes, the lady felt they were like the police so she asked the driver to give them N50.00 so they could let them go. The soldiers felt so insulted that one of them slapped her hard across the face. She saw stars!!”
“Haba !, that was wrong,” said Steve, to which Tim replied thus: “Na you sabi. At least, that thought her a lesson. We are fond of blanket judgement. She had concluded that since Police mount road blocks to extort money, anyone else in uniform does that. I think we really do need iron fists to deal with indiscipline.”