Nigeria dehumanizes you – Peju Akande

Nigeria dehumanizes you – Peju Akande

 

I watched the viral video of a man who, somewhere in Nigeria, stripped himself naked in front of IKEDC officials on a power cut exercise and threatened to rape one of them in the open.

 

The man, who looks to be in his mid-forties had a haunting appearance; he had accused the officials of being responsible for his son’s death. He claimed the boy was electrocuted from power cables left carelessly by the company.

 

While the cause of his boy’s death has not been verified; we have all seen, heard, read too many times how power cables have killed innocent Nigerians; and no one has been prosecuted for these careless acts in Nigeria.

 

From the video, I imagine the power officials had gone from house to house gleefully disconnecting houses that were owing. Also, in several instances, to prevent consumers from reconnecting the power when they leave, they remove the cables as well.

 

The energy with which some of them do this job smacks of nastiness; it’s as if they enjoy putting people in misery in Nigeria.

 

If not, why is it that up till now; hundreds and thousands of residents still do not have the prepaid meter!

 

With prepaid meters, the power companies get what they give. Also, consumers would not be given crazy bills that infuriate them, which they refuse to pay and in some cases; are unable to pay because these bills are simply outrageous!

 

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Before I got my prepaid meter just a few months ago; I was paying a range from N12,00 to N26,000 per month. Most times, my inverter and generator were my main sources of power. Yet, my bills danced from figure to figure every month; regardless of whether I was in Nigeria or not!

 

Then I ‘fought’ to get the pre-paid meter. Now I spend less than N10k per month even with all my units on for the month. I said ‘fought’ to get the meter because the power company was not ready to give prepaid meters. They enjoyed sending outrageous bills and cutting desperate consumers off; many of whom are then forced to pay these bills.

 

So I understand first-hand what this man’s frustrations is. Not only would he have to pay re-connection fee after paying the outstanding bills; he would also have to find cables as well!

 

 

Nigeria dehumanizes you - Peju Akande

 

As far as I am concerned, those power officials were looking for trouble that day. Like Fela said; Palaver e dey find…palaver e go geti ooo!

 

And it’s partly the reason the rest of us watch amused when angry consumers attack power officials.

 

I empathized with our man (but surely not the rape part). I think he was simply trying to make a point; the fact that he stripped himself naked in full view says it all. He’d lost his mind, over his son’s death, over a system that steadily rapes him, over life itself!

 

A few weeks back, my friend took an Uber that got stopped by VIO officials. The Uber number plate had been removed at the back. He claimed this was done by area boys at Apongbon where he parked while waiting for a passenger. When the officials accosted him, he told them the tale. However, the officials didn’t bite.

 

He then showed them papers proving he’d already been arrested and booked by FRSC officials over the same number plate the day before; he claimed he was trying to make money to buy a new one. The Uber driver showed the men his booking receipt from FRSC; his driver’s license had been seized as well. They had charged him but he hadn’t got enough money to get a replacement number plate.

 

Furthermore, he hadn’t raised enough money to claim his driver’s license back.

 

Not an excuse if you ask me but the guy was hoping the VIO guys would show empathy. He begged, he pleaded, he showed them the money he had made that day…all fell on deaf ears. Thereafter, he broke down in tears and wept like a baby on the streets of Lagos, Nigeria!

 

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None of that moved the VIO officials. They pooh-pooh-ed his pleas; insisted he drove to their station and once there his tyres were promptly flattened to discourage any attempt at breaking away. Also, he was fined N25,000!

 

At this time, a cluster of sympathizers had gathered. The sight of a crying able-bodied man was enough to stop anyone. They listened to his story. He had been out of job for years and only just got a break with the car the month before.

 

He said there was no way he could raise the N25k demanded if he was also to meet other responsibilities.

 

Even when he began to lament about ending it all, the officials laughed in his face; telling him to hurry about it.

 

What galled everyone was the fact that the VIO officials seemed to think he was a ‘good kill‘. They had targets and he fell right into their hands. Did they say so? Not in many words, my friend said, but ‘they seemed to take pleasure in his misery.’

 

My friend, who was his passenger, also pleaded. She even wanted to stand in for him upon seeing his desperation. But none of these moved the officials who insisted they’d heard sadder sob stories before.

 

After almost three hours, my friend had to leave the snivelling driver at the mercy of the VIO officials.

 

Several times, I have encountered public officials carrying out their duties in Nigeria. While I commend them for their dedication; I often wonder why they can’t show human feelings sometimes for people they deal with; people who are struggling to make ends meet in a tough Nigeria, just like themselves.

 

If you’ve ever watched KAI officials ruthlessly chase down hawkers, drag their wares into their lorries or trample them underfoot; you’ll cry from despair and wonder if their aggression is borne out of exuberance for the job; or from the joy of watching other people’s misery.

 

Please ask them what they do with the wares taken? Do they share them among themselves!

 

 

Nigeria dehumanizes you - Peju Akande

 

 

These and many more are the things that dehumanises many Nigerians even here at home in Nigeria; the thing that would make a man strip naked and threaten to rape a woman; right in the full glare of everyone.

 

And now that I think about it, he wasn’t making a threat really. He was just running mad.

 

 

 

 

 

Lilian Osigwe

DATABASE MANAGER/ WRITER at 1STNEWS
Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer.





lilian.osigweh@1stnews.com
Lilian Osigwe

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