INSIDE NIGERIA: When Everyone is a Bully

Posted: September 25, 2014 in Articles, INSIDE NIGERIA
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by Okoye Chukwudi Charles Ezeamalukwuo

The acid-rain of dishonesty that falls on the Nigerian Society, dripping from the top to the bottom, and percolating into every facet of it’s essence has affected nobody the way it affected Mr Emeka Okwuonu.
Emeka is a business man, who has been plying his trade in Lagos for over two decades now. The series of bitter experiences he had known in this city has screwed with his being that he now sees everyone as a potential prey and predator. Often times one could hear him advising his 12 year old son about the Entity called Nigeria.
‘Son, you have to shine your eyes.’
He would stroke the boy’s hair, cleared his throat, and continued;
‘You should learn to trust no one. Be brutal if you want to survive in this country.’
Mr Emeka’s goods have been at the wharf for some weeks now, and time is really running out for him to clear them. He needs N5million for the clearance, and he already has N4,100,000. He has been trying to reach Mr Theophilus, a lecturer at Yabatech; who was owing him N1,500,000 from a shady transaction that occurred between them last year. He was short-changing Mr Theophilus, and he knows it, but what can Mr Theophilus do?
This morning Emeka paid the police to arrest Mr Theophilus. He has asked them to keep him locked up indefinitely till the man pays up his debts, even to the last farthing.
It is against Nigerian Constitution to keep someone locked up for more than 24 hours without charging him/her…but who observes that law nowadays.
Leaving the Police Station, Mr Emeka started driving to one of his shops. At one of the Traffic Stop, he decided to check his phone for message, seeing none, he dropped the phone and continued on with his driving. Barely had he left the traffic stop did a couple of LASTMA officers stop his car. They asked why he was making a call while driving. Mr Emeka tried to explain that he was not making a call, but to no avail. His car was impounded and taking to LASTMA office. After 3 hours of shouting, then bargaining and finally pleading he was made to part with N50, 000. The money was collected by Mr Bola; a LASTMA officer.

Mr Bola Ajimbo is a LASTMA officer, a husband and a father of six. Things have not been easy financially for Mr Bola’s family for awhile now. The Nigerian financial sector has been good of late has we all read on paper and see on our Teles. But the average Nigerian still wake up to the same dire conditions of job insecurity and scarcity, to the same low income and insurance.
Mr Bola got a quit notice from his Landlord; Mr Tunde, this morning, and now has one month to vacate the building with his belongings and family unless he is willing to pay his house rent which has been increased by 25%.
‘Things are hard, very very hard, oga Landlord.’ He complained to the landlord the day he got the rent increment.
‘You sabi my condition. You dey see my six pikin, how I go take feed them and pay this rent. Abeg Landlord consider naa.’
But it was like talking to a wall. The landlord has even gone as far as finding a potential tenant to replace him.
So this morning, Mr Bola was in no mood to consider the rule of driving, or of Lagos State or any rule for that matter; if you blink while driving, you are wrong. And if you as much as cough on the wheel, you are so so wrong.

Mr Tunde Olaoluwa is a Landlord and a widower, in his late 50s. He inherited the public yard that he currently reside in; a bungalow with more tenants than it can handle. The roof has been leaking for some time now, and the walls bear so many cracks that one is made to wonder if the house had been bombarded before. The building meant so much to Mr Tunde, for it is a major source of his income. His eldest son who was in the University is currently facing a panel for exam malpractice, and he has been asked to provide N150,000 as bribe for the case to be dropped. On his way to the bank this morning, he stopped at Mr Bola’s door to give him the quit-notice letter. His own problems are many, and God knows he has no patience to listen to anyone whine about money to him right now. If Mr Bola can not afford the new rent, he should just vacate, things are hard as it is already for him without having to add another man’s problem to it, he thought to himself as he left for the bank to pay the money into Mr Theophilus’ account.

Mr Theophilus Maxwell is a lecturer at Yabatech. A middle aged man, stout and with the expression of someone with little worries in life. He is always wearing a smile, but behind this facade lie the strain of years of struggles and the illusion of comfort for his preys. He has been working hard to get his doctorate degree and things has not been well with his side business. Last year he entered into a deal with one business man; Mr Emeka, which left him owing the man N1,500,000. He had intended to pay back the money in a couple of months, but things hasn’t worked as he planned. He has managed to dodge Mr Emeka’s calls, texts and presence for months now. In order to raise the money quicker, he found another way of extorting his students; by threatening those he caught cheating during examination of suspension or rustication.
Early this morning he was arrested in his house by the police paid by Mr Emeka. He tried to plead his case and asked for more time, but all entries fell on deaf ears. Now he is locked up without charge, and illegally facing a long time behind bars.

This is the Nigerian cycle that we all have come to know and endure. A cycle of bigger bullies bullying big bullies, who in turn bully small bullies, who also bully smaller bullies and the cycle goes on and on. No one is exempted from it, we all make excuses for our transgressions, while exploiting the lawlessness of our society to our full advantage when confronted with a lesser bully, and when we encounter a bigger bully, we begin to cry wolf.

Most Nigerians do not understand that everything in life is inter-connected. The Business Man that short-changed a Lecturer, forced the Lecturer into blackmailing the landlord’s son, who in turn had to increase his house rent, forcing one of his tenant; a LASTMA officer to illegally extort money from the Business Man and the cycle continues.

The Nation is the way it is, not just because of the failure of Leadership. No! not just because the president and his cabinet are corrupt, but because we all are accessories after the fact. We all have our own share of the blame. We are all looking for cheap ways to escape the poverty and predicament that is Nigeria, thereby cutting corners to do so, which also negatively affect our neighbours, who in turn cut corners to mitigate it, and these come back to bite us all.

The corrupt and brutal politician who does nothing except to short-change the masses, can no longer walk on the street today without protection, because the rough ones among us will rough him up. Arm robbers are dealing with us, but when we manage to catch one, we take justice in our hands to deal mercilessly with them. The Land is without Law, the citizens complain in the morning but in the evening go about breaking the few remaining laws we have…the poor macho man who hacks gala in the sun all day will complain about Nigeria, yet he would be the first to jump queue and to threaten the people on the queue…The Governor complaining that the Federal Government is intimidating him, is the same Governor extorting money from Businesses in the state. The man who is complaining of high tax is the same man that is taking advantage of his employees. The man complaining of his employer is the same man trying to take another man’s land. The man, whose land is being taken, is the man treating his wife like a punching bag. The wife who complains of being marginalised by Tradition, is the woman who is maltreating her maid; beating and starving the poor girl…this is the Country we know, this is Nigeria…”A Land of the Bullies, for the Bullies and by the Bullies.”

The way forward for those of us who still have Human empathy, who still believe in hope for this deranged Nation is for us to have an inward retreat. A self examination of our daily routine. We need to check our past, present and future dealings with our fellow citizens, especially those less fortunate than we are. We should try to rid ourselves of the Bully-complex in us, and look for a more humane way of going about our lives’ businesses. We should also learn to speak up for those who are being bullied…because if we don’t, if we continue this way, if we keep mute while all these are happening, if we keep making excuses…who knows what tomorrow would bring; perhaps a bigger bitter bully who would put us in our place.

Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo is a graduate of Geology who believes that he will one day change Nigeria. He lives in Onitsha and Lagos. You may reach him on Twitter: @mr_charlze

The statements, views and opinions raised in this post is solely those of the author, and does not necessarily represent those of Lyriversity.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

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Comments
  1. Anene Francis says:

    Beautiful write up packed with sense. I concur absolutely. A quote says “animals are beasts. Human beings are monsters.” As much as I don’t accept its generalization, there is truth in it. Predator-pry mentality make us canibals. Jungle animals in food web better pass us sef … Human interrelationship is like interconnected myriad of chessboards. In your board I may be a pawn but in mine I am king. Illegally taking undue advantage of people at our mercy or breaking societal laws for personal gains has consequences directly and indirectly as the write up nicely presented a typical illustration. I wish more persons can read this… Good work mr Solar

  2. Anene Francis says:

    ★Beautiful write up packed with sense. I concur absolutely. A quote says “animals are beasts. Human beings are monsters.” As much as I don’t accept its generalization, there is truth in it. Predator-pry mentality make us canibals. Jungle animals in food web better pass us sef … Human interrelationship is like interconnected myriad of chessboards. In your board I may be a pawn but in mine I am king. Illegally taking undue advantage of people at our mercy or breaking societal laws for personal gains has concequence directly and indirectly as the write up nicely presented a typical illustration. I wish more persons can read this… Good work mr Solar

  3. Bubu Bricks says:

    Beautiful piece boss, Nigerians need to know. I’m going to share this on my facebook wall so that my 2500 plus friends can see and read. We must be the change we wish to see…

  4. chukwudi says:

    Nice piece

  5. Sheyzznote says:

    Increbibly written… Picture so clearly painted, but this is what we all know, “its a dog eat dog world, and the war is cold.”. Will you not agree with me that it is a surviver of the fittest, and that you step on some toes on your way through a crowded (competitive society) lot does not make you a bad person. Which is preferrable, that you step on a toe and be safe, or that you avoid the toe and get stampede upon because you missed a step?

    Wisdom is profitable to direct, corruption is not what I advocate or wish that it continue, but the tin line between been a just and honest man is spelt out in the wish to die and be nothing in this world. Who is an honest man?

  6. Mc King says:

    A well meaningful write up.

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