Arithmetic? – Ah, I am not good in that at all. When it comes to measuring distance, I found it too difficult to do. Most of the times, when am stuck in the issue while talking to someone, I try to measure in my head the distance between two electric poles and what I wanted to say.
“Emm, about two or three electric poles”
That is always my answer to distance questions. That’s if am talking to close acquaintances. But if the person doesn’t fall into the category of a friend or acquaintance, I will supply guessed answers in miles. I can’t just claim to be deficient in what I supposed to know in my primary. Nah, it isn’t wisdom to belittle one’s self to a stranger in the name of being honest.
Few days ago, I was driving with my friend to a popular market not far from his house to buy some provisions. About three poles away into our journey, we were stopped by police officers that mounted road blocks and asked us to slow down. We did. We was asked to clear from the road. That is their normal parlance. Clear from the road or park well. We did. The officer started with:
“ Where’s your particulars”
We presented him with the car papers. He went into motion of checking it. Whether he was actually checking it or counting it, I really can’t tell. Observing him, I had this feeling that he was counting the number of papers not seeing what they are. They seems to Know how many papers each car supposed to have not what they supposed to be. After the counting, he handed the papers over to us again. Then, it was:
“ where’s your fire extinguisher?”
We showed him. Then it was: “ Come down and open your boot”
My friend went and opened the boot for him. He peeped from it north to south and then west to east and asked: “Where is your spare tyre?”
My friend shifted the boot rug and pointed out the tyre for him. “Where’s your four heads?” he showed him. He sighed audibly and eyed us and then, it was: “Why do you put tinted glasses in your car, don’t you realize it’s against regulations? Civilians are not allowed to use it. You must get permission from the police before using it. Do you have the permit?”
“ No Officer”
“ Give me your keys and documents, you must follow us to the stations. This is serious offence”
“ Officer, this the first time am hearing about this laws. Besides, I bought this car with the tinted glasses on it. I didn’t change them”
“ I don’t care whether you imported it or bought it with tinted glasses on, my concern is that it’s against regulations. We will talk more at the stations”
“Ha, officer, station?- we had been talking already for 30 minutes and you want to talk in the station again. We are going to the hospital to see a sick friend. We will change the glasses first thing tomorrow morning”
“You are asking how you will follow us to the station, don’t you know that by law, we supposed to impound this car and you?- I gave you leeway to go and see our chief and you’re arguing”
“ But officer, I never knew that laws like this existed. Pardon my ignorance and I will do something about it first thing tomorrow morning”
“Pardon your ignorance?- do you know exactly the interpretations of what you just said?- are you asking me not to carry out my official duty?”
“ No, no officer, that’s never what I meant. I am just asking that you reason with me for today”
“ Reason with you?- how?, Tell me how you want me to reason with. Are you suggesting I shouldn’t carry out my constitutional duties?”
Awkward laughter from me and my friend seems to spur him on.
“officer, you must carryout your constitutional duties. After all, we are the ones you’re serving”
We argued, pleaded, cajoled for about another 20 minutes before the officer opened his constitutional mouth to voice out what we all know it will lead to from the beginning.
“ Okay, because you are visiting the sick, I will help you see our chief. You have to hand over your papers and 20k and go see the sick after wards you come to our stations to collect the cover papers”
“ What! 20k?- I don’t even have such amount on me. It’s huge amount. How can I pay 20k for cover papers”
“Oh, you want to pay lawyer and court 100k? You don’t know once this your car got to the station, we will queue it up behind those with similar offenses and when it’s your time in court, we will notify you. No problem if you consider 20k huge. When we open proceeding, maybe 100k would be not huge anymore to you. Your documents first”
We argued and pleaded for another 30 minutes before he agreed to help us with 8k. Help us. That’s his exact word. Afterwards, he turned and wanted to know what we are still doing there. “Fade” he ordered.
It would have been stupid as Nigerian to show him how intelligent we were by following him to the station to go talk to their boss. If we were lucky enough to get to the station in one piece or even alive, the boss would have still sided with his boys. It’s normal practice here in Nigeria. Motorist went through hell in the hands of officers each day. Many are wasting in jail for nothing courtesy of Nigerian police. Officers here are in the class of their own. They has no rival in the whole of Africa. It might interest you to know what their motto is:
“ Police is your friend”
Of course, they are our good friend. For just bribe of 20 naira from a driver that tries to play them by speeding off while pretending to park well. Bullets always teach those in that bus lessons some of them are not given chance to put into practices.
Well, we got to the hospital from the market. We entered into the wards our friend is in. He was on colored drips and after talking with him and assuring him that all will be well. We left to see the doctor. If the man had been a yellow guy, you would have concluded in laying eyes on him that he must have been born in the year of the dog. He walks like one, talks in a bark like tone just like dog and when he is not talking and eyeing you, he seems to be doing so just like dog that is debating within whether to charge or not.
It’s funny how small things always turn to something else. Our friend who is actually our course mate sustained the knock that ended him in hospital while playing soccer. He had thought like everyone that it’s a small thing and was massaging it with hot water and applying balm. Three days later the pain was getting worse that he decided to see doctor. We were surprised to hear from the dog like doctor that the guy has serious diabetes that if not urgently treated with special medication the name he mentioned was sounding Greek or Latin, the leg would be amputated.
Our friend panicked and started sending “ save my leg” messages to all his course mates. We nearer had been the one connecting with other course mates in person and phones. Luckily, we were able to raised the 2.3 million naira the doctor claimed the special medication from America would cost. We paid him the money and collected receipt from him. On our way down to the parking lot, we had noticed one nurse that looked like someone that should be in the security sector not health sector following us. The way he walks and cast eyes here and there attracted our attention. She is just like those men you see at times in gym lifting weight weights.
“Excuse me sirs. It’s your friend you came to see just now, the one they said suffering from type what I don’t know diabetes, right?”
“ Sure, anything the matter?”
“ Yes sir. Everything is the matter oh. I can tell you something I believe you should know about that your friend's sickness. It’s all in this form my boss asked me to sell… sorry show you. It is all about your friend”
“About our friend?- let see the form then”
“ Ah, sir, the form is sealed. I believe seriously you needs to know about the real truth about that your friend”
“ Let see the form then”
“ Ah, sir, my boss asked me to show you this form if you have 10k. In fact, it’s more than important”
“10k?- for what? Who is this your boss?”
“ Sir, it is sealed. Once open without 10k, I am the one in trouble”
We debated within our self and decided to know the truth. We paid the nurse and she handed over the form. It was test from the lab department of the hospital our friend did on arriving there. The result indicated that our friend had serious knock on the leg that required resting for about two weeks while on antibiotics.
We have never seen anything like this before. We though it was only in security and political sectors you see dupes and crazy staffs. We can’t believe the health sector have joined the bribery race too.
We calculated and debated what best to do.
“ Who is the mad one here?”
My friend queried rhetorically.