Did you see me at the Mobile Police protest in Borno? I was the bigheaded guy shaking Boda Idris’ table. Okay, if you didn’t see me, then you must be an “unbeliever”. It’s clear you don’t believe in Baba, the prayer warrior, who can pray insecurity away like magic! You may not also believe that prayer is the only remedy left in the Presidency for insecurity!
Bloody unbeliever like you. Now, I know you’re wondering why Baba insists on re-contesting, since he admits there’s nothing he can do about insecurity. You wonder why we have the security forces. And why we draw security votes. Why one billion dollars was needed to fight insurgency. And, why it’s so difficult to brand the herders as terrorists. Then you wonder why we beg France for help when we refuse to admit that we have problem. Kwantinu in you unbelief.
You see, I don’t blame you for distrusting our reasons for the protest. Too many mechanics do not allow us to know who is a madman. They all appear dirty, don’t they? So in a “kwantery” where bigmen lie as easily as they draw oxygen, believiing small people like us isnt easy, abi? Some even say we’ve no right to protest. And one big oga claimed our salaries were unpaid because the budget was not passed on time. Where did his own come from, please? And we are to fight terrorists with empty stomachs, abi? It’s as if the bug of lies from the presidency is spreading faster than ebola!
Anyway, if you didn’t see my face during the protest, don’t worry. I tried a few tricks I “borrowed” from my brothers in the Niger Delta creeks.
You know why? I was scared Boda Idris might order someone to “shoot at sight”. Which always interprets into: “shoot at anything with eyes”. Some- times, he commands us to “shoot-on- sight”. Meaning: kill the nearest person to you. And then, the next policeman may turn and pump the lead into me. So, unlike the courageous ones, I had to cover my ugly head and face.
Oh! Come on, silly! If you didn’t see me, at least you heard my voice. I was the one who sang off key: Give us allowee o; give us allowee o, mean-a– while–a!” Meanwhile, I was thinking of how to deal with some of the contractors, sorry, detractors in the Police Force. Denying us of salaries for over six months. All the contracts to supply policemen “ogogoro” – something we call welfare – goes into some pockets. Our “ogas” can’t even monetize the heat of the sun we absorb every day. Haba! This must not go on forever.
Walahi! I was also worried about where and how NAFDAC and co destroy all those truckloads of tramadol. I hope they don’t burn them near Aso-sometin. You see, I’m worried the way people have been talking from that high place, recently. One said Nigerians, including us, the deprived Mobile Policemen, have been enjoying excess power supply. In his dream? The other so heartlessly suggested more of our brothers and sisters should be killed by herdsmen just because, according to him, more were killed under President Jonathan. Then, the Boss threatened the Igbos over 2023 presidency. He said they can never “smell” that office unless they vote for continuity – of backwardness? Is he the one to “dash” them? We just had to protest, oh jare! The injustice in the land is just agains our human rice, sorry, right.
See, I’ve been stagnant for 15 years, no promotion. They keep calling me “rank and file”. You know why? Because every time they want to give me rank, my file would disappear. My take-home pay can’t take me home, especially after I get “called” to (Mama Iyabo’s) bar. My “oga”, the Inspector, insists on counting every N20 we collect at the checkpoint. If that is not injustice, then Elton John didn’t wear wedding gown to marry a man. But is it my fault that Inspector’s monthly salary can’t settle his “book me down” at Mama Ngozi’s buka?
Anyway, some of us are not happy. Why should Old Soja, my neighbour, enjoy and I don’t? Imagine! Sometimes, we go together to slap a few female buttocks at the “Mammy Market” and confront the terrorists. Yet, I suspect he gets more motivations. For instace, car loan. Which he quickly de- posits with Mama Risikat as advance payment for her “services”. He gets furniture allowance, even when he lives in a toilet. His rent is subsidized. He’s paid special duty allowance, for sleeping with the widow next door – the one whose husband died in Sudan. Me? I’m taking care of five widows, plus their noisy – disrespectful children – with my meagre take-home pay. Isn’t that enough for me to get job hazard allowance? I need an insurance! One day, those children might suffocate me in the dingy, tiny bed they share with their mums!
Look, even the nurses get paid for making and answering calls while the patients die in pain. It’s called “on-call allowance”. Some of them are actually always “on call” – with their boyfriends or the rich male patient in the private ward. If they venture to shift from the private ward to the abandoned poor, they get “shift allowance”. In fact, they even get allowance for administering fake drugs and hoarding good ones for their chemist stores. So, why should some of us not get compensation for sleeping in the cold and, well, sometimes hiring guns to robbers?
You see, we’ve been marginalized everywhere. Victimized by the society. The masses are not our friends – simply because we ask them to “drop something for pure water”(Which often translates into N20). We also ask them to show “wetin dem carry”. The politicians, too, only use us. We escort their girlfriends and mistresses to the “Ladies”. And guard their stolen loots to the hideouts. While they sleep, we keep awake – enjoying the pranks their errant children play in the night. But you know the ones that disturbs me most? Robbers; herders and boko-nonsense! Those guys shoot us – is it “at sight” or “on sight”? No insurance! No assurance!
For now, we are aggrieved. And our protest continues in Alhaja’s joint. Nobody goes there anymore. No money to spare. A police dog has even advised us to make it a big strike. So, some of us have been reviewing past courses. Note of PS 101 of 2002 said the only heaven that fell was Musiliu Smith. Then came Police Strike (PS) 102 in 2006. The theme of the next one might include “transmitted Transmission of the omission ”! Watch out!
• (The piece was first published in this column on Feb 4, 2006 with the title: “Police strike begins at Alhaja’s joint”. It has, however, been modified to suit recent developments)