Who Kissed Our Military ~ By Peter Obidike
During my primary school days, we had two boys that just joined the school from abroad. They had some “phoney” to their tones and we as local champs where always following them around to hear the “oyibo” man tongue from these new kids in town. Wayback to my university days, we had another chap with the same “phoney”. However, after a while we observed the “phoney” had disappeared and we joked about the fact that “Naija” boys have corrupted the beautiful tongue the chap came with. We all wondered how that “phoney” got corrupted within a short while. Was it the schools “yoking” together the “oyibo” and “Naija” that took away this beautiful tongue from this babe? we wondered. She must have been kissed by a “Naija local boy” like us, we concluded.
That same question came across my mind over the weekend when I took a trip via the Port Harcourt Aba, Enugu express way. On several occasions our traffic was delayed and on getting to the “ishi mmiri” (the main location), we realized that it was an army checkpoint.
The good thing about army checkpoints is that they do not disturb anyone and will not go asking for any papers especially from private cars. With that understanding, one wondered what the delay was about until we got to see the trading going on at the checkpoint. The slowing down of traffic was bad enough but the collection of tolls from buses and taxi drivers was worse and so embarrassing for me; considering the fact that I hold this military men in high esteem, and to add insult to injury was the fact that they were giving “change” right there at the checkpoint, which was the underlying cause of the traffic jam.
I was really perplexed within me and wondered when all this started. I thought it was only the police that indulged in such, or my eyes were not seeing clearly.”I may have seen something different”I said to myself. Any delusion I had cleared on my return trip, when the same “exchange” played out right in front of me to my embarrassment. My stomach just turned at the sight of our smartly dressed military men in their combat dress belittling themselves. That they collect toll is bad enough, but to add giving of “change” to it was too much for me to swallow. And what is wrong with the bus drivers sef? “Why can’t they come with the exact change to avoid these delays?” I asked myself. What if a senior officer was passing by and sees this happening? Can’t there be some decorum in this tax collection? Is it that they do not care? If we forgive the police for this, not our military for whom a lot is expected from. They probably should not be on road block duty in the first place for God’s sake.
Since then, my mind kept wandering on who kissed our military. Have they been yoked with the other security forces that have resulted in their imbibing some of these negative threats? Who kissed our military was the question I had on my mind all day, as I dreamt about how bad our society had degraded. Of course they can’t be above the society from which they have evolved. With all kinds of corrupt acts celebrated and made to define the society, such things as publicly collecting bribes is no longer a thing of shame.
Corruption and so many bad ills have now been “normalized” and accepted as a way of life in our society.
Our society is going through dangerous times and one prays that our messiah comes soon to sweep away a lot of the bad things we witness in our life time. I will not attribute this malaise to poor salaries or conditions of service. This is because we have seen that even those paid huge salaries have also been reportedly putting their hands in the public tilt, pilfering funds that are meant to go into development of infrastructure and other amenities for their fellow countrymen.
We have seen senior military men charged with corruption to the tune of tones of billions of naira that my calculator may not even be able to accommodate the figures. Could it be that such corrupt money are meant for the welfare of these soldiers on road check points? Probably could have been used to build houses and schools for their kids. The money probably could have been used to provide additional allowances for them that they will have no business being on the road collecting toll tax.
“Biko” (please) our military is too decent to be exhibiting this kind of behaviour in the midst of “igwemmadu” (the public). I would rather have the authorities withdraw them from the roads than let them parade themselves in such manner. If am to forgive the police for this kind of behaviour, my conscience will not let me do same to the military.
Happy workers day folks!
Obidike Peter wrote from www.peterobidike.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday May 1st 2018