If I have a naira for every time that statement has been thrown around along with its elder brother, “Do you know who I am”, I would be lounging on a beach on some exotic island sipping tropical drinks or flying around in private jets. But you know what they say about wishes…
Anyway, I was at the bus park on Wednesday morning waiting for the bus to start moving, and I was already getting antsy because I was running a bit late. This young man was about to take the seat closest to the door when he was told that there was someone there, so he moved to the other seat. Then I overheard this policeman, let’s call him Mr cheap, telling the driver that he must “carry him”. Apparently the seat was reserved by the policeman who wanted to ride the bus for free. The driver then responded saying, “You can’t force me to carry you. Don’t think you can ride me. This is my property.” At this, Officer Cheap leapt out of the bus and started
barking shouting, “who do you think you are! Who do you think you are!” the driver stood his ground and matched Officer cheap pitch for pitch, “It’s my property, you can’t force me. Don’t think you can come and ride me because you are wearing uniform.” Officer Cheap was getting really aggressive at this point, screaming and hitting the bus, “this bus will not move today!”
At this point, the passengers in the bus erupted, “what do you mean by this bus will not move? Na you buy the bus? Shameless man. All these policemen sef, be doing agidi on top meaningless things” etc. The other drivers and agberos had intervened at this point, trying to calm the driver down. Officer Cheap was already pushing the driver and the driver was pushing back, he wasn’t going to be anybody’s fool. Amidst all of the shouting and shoving, Office Cheap was about taking off his belt when the other drivers and agberos restrained him. Somehow, they were able to steer the driver into the bus and we zoomed off, leaving Officer Cheap being held back by an impressive number of drivers. My battery was low, I would have taken a picture or recorded a video or something.
It was a sorry sight: a policeman, well dressed in his uniform, fighting with a bus driver, being held back by other bus drivers and agberos, uniform all rumpled, at 6.45am on a Wednesday morning. Why? Simply because the driver refused to carry him for free? What was the driver thinking, he is a policeman, and therefore is entitled to the preferential treatment i.e. free bus ride, yes?
No. News flash sir, it is not your God-given right to ride the bus for free. It is not an entitlement that automatically accrues to you because you are a police officer. There’s no written Law anywhere that stipulates that you ride the bus for free. In all fairness, the welfare package of Police officers leave little to be desired, but there’s such a thing as carrying one’s self with dignity. Even if the driver would carry you for free, it should be his call. He should want to do it out of a deep sense of regard for you and the uniform you are wearing. Not because you demand that he must. And if you, a police officer, have no respect for the uniform you wear, how are others supposed to have any regard for it?
Isn’t it one of the responsibilities of an officer of the law to maintain peace and order? Instead, they are the ones caught in the middle of the chaos. We have heard so many stories about police brutality and how so many lives have been lost when a policeman
murders in cold blood accidentally discharges his weapon (At least that’s the official term that is used) at the slightest provocation.
As a police officer, your duties do not include lording it over ordinary citizens who are just going about their way, trying to make a living and make do with the resources they have as best as they can. So what if you are wearing a uniform? What uniform anyway? The same one that has lost all significance and is synonymous with mediocrity, ineffectiveness and corruption. That uniform? I am not saying there are no good men in the force, but it is men like Officer Cheap that give the force a bad name. I couldn’t help thinking that if he had had a weapon on him, he would have used it and damned the consequences (if there would even be any).
If these are the types of lawless men who have been sworn to ensure peace and order in our society, then may God help us all.