If there is a period you want to enjoy beer parlours around, the festive period sits without stress at the top of the pedestal. Enjoyment in these beer parlours however varies. In one, you could consume more than you’ve planned to as a result of the immortally sweetened flavour of free drinks. (We say free drinks never taste sour right? You’ll get more free drinks this period), in the other, you could be mesmerized by the openness of people in matters relating to every aspect of the world in general and ‘very personal’ issues of their lives in specific. Based on these, the discourse that comes up in different beer parlours at a different time could be as much as the waters in the largest rivers. Today’s topic is just one out of the many topics discussed in the beer parlour. This, however, interests me because it’s the festive period and security challenges are at an alarming rate in different parts of the country.
When the discussion started, I hoped fervently that a police officer would be available to make the sides to the story fair enough. I was elated it happened and strangely enough more persons who aren’t police officers shared his view. What I heard from the first person who spoke was quite hard-hitting. ‘The “force” in the Nigerian Police Force should be supplanted to “Farce”, he said. ‘ As most Nigerians would believe, most of what we get from the Nigerian Police are opposites of what we should expect. The Nigerian police seem not to get better. They’ve always been infamous among Nigerians and it now seems as though they are making more effort to escalate their infamy. A friend told me that he was attacked by armed robbers and when he called the police to inform them of the event in his neighbourhood while the operation was ongoing, all he heard from the police officer talking to him was ‘Thanks for your concern’, Isn’t that ridiculous? That’s the Nigerian police farce for you’.
‘What are you saying young man?’, the obviously livid policeman in our midst said, ‘do you know the number of police officers that have been killed by armed robbers in the course of saving some of you ungrateful Nigerian citizens? The Nigerian Police is one of the bravest police in the world! We do our best but we cannot possibly be everywhere at a time. No doubt, there are some bad eggs among us and that is not alien to all other professions. Even the most morally upright professionals, religious leaders, have more bad eggs than the Nigerian Police (Yes, being a religious leader is a profession in this clime!). And my friend, you said your friend was told “Thanks for your concern”, isn’t that polite enough?’
The next person didn’t really see the sarcasm in the police officer’s last statement and he annoyingly said, ‘What rude politeness is that? That’s sheer incompetence! Someone’s life is in danger and all you could think of, instead of taking an action, is to be polite? Let’s even face it, the Nigerian Police do not have an iota of politeness in the course of their duty. You’d understand what I’m talking about if you have been to a police station for some reasons before. They might even dictate the statement you are to write for you and blow a very simple issue out of proportion so that you can pay higher. That’s their own law of engagement with ordinary citizens, the more the naivety of the people; the more the people pay as bail. I wonder what figure of speech is that inscription you see in almost all police stations “Bail is free”, I assume it’s “falsehood”, a Nigerian figure of speech’.
‘Truth be told, the Nigerian police is one of the most corrupt, if not the most corrupt, government parastatal in the country. It sometimes amazes me when I see how openly the Nigerian police showcase their incompetence and advertise their imprudence’, another man said. ‘I have heard one saying that he doesn’t understand why some people always complain that policemen sometimes don’t show up in areas where armed robberies are going on knowing quite well that these policemen have their families too and do not have a special body that bullets can’t penetrate. Although he expected people to laugh which I did, but I did not laugh at his statement but at his foolishness and proud ignorance. The Nigerian police have been more of comedians than security agents to me and I completely agree with my friend who said it should have been called the Nigerian Police “Farce” rather than Force, then we would be at home with some of their actions’.
Everyone obviously holds a grudge against the Nigerian police I thought before a lady decided to share her opinion on the issue. ‘I am not a Police officer but I know what a wonderful job the Nigerian police has done. In Lagos state for example, the police has proven to be capable of maintaining high rate of law and order. I have seen how effective the police stations in Agege have performed in curbing crimes in that locality. The police stations in Ogba, Ikeja and some other places have proven through time that they are competent and reliable as well. Some have however also proven to be very unreliable and incompetent. It would be a great disservice to the good ones to chastise the whole Police force as most of you have been doing’.
‘Well said madam but let me tell you this, I have been driving for over thirty years and I have never come across any policeman who does not request for bribe’, an elderly man said. ‘If you should report a case to them; you will pay, if you are being reported to the police; you will pay. I had once gone to the police station to report a case of a missing phone and I was asked to pay, a night watchman was killed in my neighbourhood by armed robbers sometimes ago and the police asked the family to pay before releasing the dead man to his family. The Nigerian Police and bribery are like Siamese twins that even Ben Carson will fail to separate. It is a norm and it is getting worst. You would know it is worst when you travel on Nigerian expressways and see how these security agents receive bribes from drivers. That the giver and receiver of bribes are both guilty of bribery in the Nigerian police “farce” context is in itself a farce. If you ply Nigerian roads, you would know what I mean’.
When security issues are discussed in the beer parlour especially one that relates to the Nigerian police or other security agencies, the beer parlour brethrens are swift to share different maligning stories which could make the listeners bask in sophistries of mirages or could as well, be a real event. One underlying fact that is inferred from the contributions of all the contributors to today’s beer parlour gist is that the reforming of the Nigerian police should be the chief task of the Nigerian government in the quest to stamp out security challenges in the country.