March 19, 2019

One day, the police will be your friend – Peju Akande

One day, the police will be your friend – Peju Akande

Did you get to see that video clip of Nigeria’s paramilitary officers singing a special rendition of that popular Christmas song, Feliz Navidad?

Yeah? Were you impressed with the pretty fair skinned Civil Defence female officer in the opening scene and an equally pretty dark skinned female Police officer singing like they had honey down their throats?

When I saw the clip, I first thought it was a drama show some production house decided to use it to promo a TV programme or something. Turns out it was real, our military and paramilitary personnel are telling us they are human and not brutes after all.

My initial shock reaction soon gave way to admiration as I watched the 5-minute long video. First off, I salute the person who mooted the idea to have that production done and forwarded to millions of Nigerians. I think it’s a brilliant and most welcome idea.  Why? We absolutely have no love for our military and paramilitary personnel, who over the years have assumed the role of despots and generally view themselves as tin gods.

Now, I’ve always loved professions that wear uniforms; I mean military or paramilitary professions, perhaps my love is due in part because I grew up as a military brat. I loved seeing my dad in his clean, starched and ironed sky blue shirt worn over dark blue trousers of the Nigerian Air Force. The “gators” would stand straight, thanks to mother’s labour of love, (those were the days when washing machines weren’t so popular this side of the world, therefore mother manually washed, starched and ironed father’s clothes, she even polished his shoes to a shine…everyday, o).

I loved the way father clicked his well-polished heels sharply whenever he saw a superior officer nearby, the quick salutes, the cunt cap perched atop the head,  the chest thrust out during parades, the morning drills which I saw new recruits performing…all of these held me captive and I vowed to join the military.

I never got to fulfil my wish because as I became older and wiser, I discovered that many men in uniform were not nice people and they gave the rest of them a bad name.

The bad ones are mean and hard and they take advantage of their fellow citizens, treating the rest of us as second class; Nigerians have too many stories to tell of brutality and the use of excessive force by men in uniforms and many times, these actions are totally uncalled for.

Men in uniforms abuse road users with their sirens; beat up civilians over perceived wrongs, they have no regard for civil law and many times, they show their lack of restraint in public places.

The news is replete with their atrocities and no one uniformed group is fully exempted from records of brutality against civilians; the Army, Navy, Police,  Air Force, Civil Defence Corps, LASTMA, Customso. Check and you will find there’s a catalog of evil committed by these people as a whole.

And no thanks to the long years of military rule, the average Nigerian has learned that wisdom comes from fearing men in uniform. Let’s do a small evaluation and let’s start with the military consisting of the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

The Army has a nasty record of brutality against not just civilians but against other paramilitary groups as well. It’s as if they see themselves as being superior to all ranks. If an army officer beats you, ehen, people will think you were hit by a truck; they won’t stop at that, they’ll throw your sorry behind in the guardroom to rot simply because.

Now, the Navy often shows their true colour once in a while, that pristine white uniform shouldn’t deceive you. Though I’ll admit they hold the least record for civilian brutality; there are, never the less, a few bad eggs. Amongst the ranks of the Air Force, the general public has been given a taste of their bad sides a few times.

What of the Paramilitary? Don’t try the Police; they are at the lowest rung of brutes in uniform, no need to say anymore, I swear.

As for LASTMA, they are only out there to catch people doing wrong in order to punish them… unjustly too, there’s nothing like a light sentence or warning, no, they are there to scream at you, pursue you and fleece you!

What of some of our Civil Defence Corps personnel? Nigerians had little respect for them until recently when they started bearing arms. Now they just need to point a finger of wrong against you and you’ll be sorry for a long time.

Some personnel from the Customs are also like that, the NDLEA and even common, ordinary  VIO, all of them thrive on the fear we have of them.and their uniforms.

Now you understand why like many Nigerians who’ve either experienced or witnessed brutality from these people,  I was very skeptical while viewing the video. What was the objective? To convince us they are now people friendly? Or just to celebrate Christmas and spread cheer? Good cheer to who? Same people, they constantly brutalize?

Biko nyem miri.

Make I see road drink water and put for ground. We ain’t fooled!

But it’s not all bad, I must commend the production of that clip; the choir was on point. I mean for a group we have absolutely no trust in, it was heartening to see that they actually do have a soft side;  they can sing, oh Hallelujah!

The rendition tweaked the lyrics to tell Nigerians they care about us, it was the season of love after all. They told us they care about us, (yinmu). They protect our borders, they help us blah, blah bleeeeerrr; all of them, one after the other, nasty Civil Defence, blood sucking LASTMA, black eye dishing Army, severely corrupt Police, lying thieving customs, all in a dance assuring Nigerians of their commitment to making our lives better.

But I believe!

Just as I know that the bad eggs amongst these are few, I hold hope that soon, there will be more good ones than bad.

My hope gained strength when someone sent me a softcopy postcard from the Police Command in Lagos; the photo showed smoking hot Police woman- Dolapo Badmos and the CP, Aliyu Giwa, wishing us a happy season!

Aww! So cool.

It was a good feeling to discover our uniformed personnel are making efforts to correct the bad public perception the few bad eggs have created. They should keep at it because slowly and surely, they will regain our trust and confidence in them and someday, we will all see, that the police can be your friend…for real!


Read more from Peju

The lesson I taught my son about money! – Peju Akande

The evil Boko Haram did is just beginning to manifest – Peju Akande

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