Heart of the matter with Chioma

March 25, 2018

Caught in a bus stop parliament

Caught in a bus stop parliament

Pix: Traffic after A 33,000 litres tanker fully laden with diesel with registration numere TUT 258 XA exploded after crashing into a BMW car with registration number LSD 462 CZ at Toyota junction, Ladipo bus stop along Oshodi – Mile 2 expressway on Monday. Photo: Bunmi Azeez

By Chioma Gabriel

If you are living in Lagos and you don’t move around in commercial buses, at least once in a while, you are not a typical Lagosian. And if you are a Nigerian and you have not been to Lagos, there is a possibility that you are missing out on something. There is something about Lagos and the people living in Lagos, even non-Nigerians.

For one thing, nothing said or done is taken on its face value. Everything has its twists and turns. Black is white and white is black. If you are going somewhere and misses your way, don’t just decide to ask anybody. The truth is that you could be very close to your destination but the person you asked for direction could direct you completely elsewhere. So, the first thing to learn in Lagos is how to be completely streetwise or street intelligent. Well, 9ice called it street credibility.

The way things are interpreted here is different from how it is interpreted elsewhere.

I had cause to use a commercial bus recently and at a time Nigerians were celebrating the release of kidnapped Dapchi school girls but the whole episode meant different things to the common man.

A passenger in a commercial bus I boarded had a copy of a national daily with him and he was seated behind the driver. From the way he guarded the newspaper, you would think there was something else was there. Two passengers seated behind him and the one beside him seemed to be trying to catch a glimpse of the contents of the newspaper. When he finished reading the lead story about the release of the Dapchi school girls, the argument started.

A female passenger started praising God for the wonderful miracle of the release of the girls, especially the swiftness with which they were released. She lamented how former president Jonathan wasted so much time with the Chibok girls that many of them ended up ‘happily’ married to their Boko Haram kidnappers.

Another passenger punctured holes with the woman’s argument, doubting if the Chibok and the Dapchi girls were really kidnapped. By the man’s calculations, the abduction and release of the schoolgirls in Dapchi, Yobe State depicted a well-orchestrated plot to dupe and swindle Nigerians. The passenger wondered how neither the army nor the police were on the ground when Boko Haram entered Dapchi community to kidnap and later returned the girls.

“This is another Nollywood film. Their release is no doubt a drama scripted by the government and its agents to swindle Nigerians. See, 2019 is approaching and the entire drama was to have reasons to divert money for 2019 elections. Is it not strange that the girls could be brought back to Dapchi by their abductors without the security agents knowing when they were returned and who returned them?”

A huge argument for and against the kidnap and release ensued inside the bus. It was obvious soon that both APC and PDP supporters were inside the bus. Some were aspiring politicians and a passenger who claimed to be a former councillor hijacked the discussion and the argument would soon snowball into a fight that made the driver to park the vehicle and say he could not continue the journey under the circumstances.

But the argument did not stop.

“If it was true that Amnesty International made calls to alert the security operatives of the presence of Boko Haram in Dapchi before the abduction, why were the security operatives withdrawn few hours before the kidnap of the girls?”

“Why is it that since APC got into the picture, there have been so many kidnappings going on in Nigeria?”

“Why did Boko Haram leave the remaining Chibok girls to release Dapchi girls?”

“How come nobody was arrested over the kidnap and release of the girls, does that mean there were no security agencies in the town, even after the kidnap hit the dailies and the kidnapper had to return them and nobody saw those that returned them?”

“Are they saying that these large number of girls were released without any suspect arrested?”

“Maybe I have not been following the news well. Someone should please tell me, how many suspects were arrested.”

“Did you notice? The kidnappers even took the girls shopping, bought them bags and goodies and even dressed them well?”

“Forget that crap. Let me tell you something: the recent kidnapping is a modern socio-political tool to either frustrate an administration or exalt it. The whole thing was stage-managed. I followed this issue from the day of the kidnap and if you have skimmed through that story, you will understand this properly.”

“What are you saying? Terrorists escaped the school security personnel and abducted more than a 100 females like in Chibok and all of a sudden,the President showed up and claimed he has ordered a 100 surveillance helicopter search to see to their rescue and the Chief of Air staff came on air and said it was a lie, that even the whole of Nigeria doesn’t have such amount of fighter jets, and the same terrorist that abducted them in army clothing released them without any scratch. Did the girls go for an excursion that they even came back with shopping bags?”

“Anyway, it is only the person that steals your property that can easily help you find it and if he chooses not to, you may not find it. At least there was a negotiation with the abductors. This means that the abductors are known.”

“ You Nigerians are terrible people. No one ever pleases you. Jonathan did not perform, you guys crucified him and are still crucifying him. APC is performing, you are saying they are conning Nigerians. What do Nigerians want? Why are we like this?”

“My friend, shut up and stop fooling yourself. You were employed before 2015 but you lost your job and you are talking. If APC is performing, why are you jobless now?”

“Is it not the maladministration of PDP that left us like this. Jonathan was in government but not in power…”

“Just like Buhari eh…”

The argument went on as yours sincerely dropped, exhausted even though she did not participate in the argument.

Indeed, it is very difficult to govern Nigerians and that is what every leader should know. With the Nigerian, you can never be right because you are wrong when you are right and vice versa.

Years of political misrule has damaged the psyche of the Nigerian and battered his ego. He doesn’t believe in anything or anyone and nobody is making things easier.

Vous ne pouvez pas battre un Nigérian (You can’t beat a Nigerian)