We were all made to sit at home this past weekend with the country and economy in a total shut down.
Our economy had begun to shut down since the Friday before – banks, offices, schools and markets closed early.
Our borders – land, sea and air – were also shut down as if we were in a war situation and yet, I hear our politicians chanting the weak refrain, ‘Election is peace, not war!’
How can it not be war?
All the indices surrounding the elections are the same, just like a country is at war.
The economy and borders are shut down, vehicular movement restricted and people told to keep indoors.
Is that not a war situation?
We see on TV how advanced nations conduct elections.
Their citizens still go about their daily activities.
They go to cast their votes, then go to work from there.
Their economy continues to run and their borders remain open.
But this election just helps us see better the kind of country we live in.
Like my pastor said, how can those we elect to run the country ever understand their jobs when we shut down the economy just to elect them?
How will they see that their mandates are connected to improving an economy that was shut down for their sake?
So, back to us idling at home.
Many stayed indoors because the postponement announcement came in very late.
Naturally, many Nigerians turned to social media or their TVs to catch up on the latest happenings in and around the country.
And that was when we saw the three minutes plus video of a bloody incident involving some Customs officials and passengers of a public transport on the Lagos-Benin road, at the Sagamu intersection.
In the video, a woman is heard screaming, “…because of N5000… he killed him because of N5000.”
Two customs officers were being beaten like common criminals after they reportedly demanded for a N5000 bribe from passengers in a commercial bus.
It was reported that the Customs men stopped a passenger bus and demanded to check their luggage.
Their interests were piqued when they were told the latter were from abroad.
While they checked, one of the passengers began to film the process, saying he didn’t want any contraband planted in their bags by the Customs men.
This irked the men in uniform who insisted on not being filmed in the course of carrying out their duties and attempted to seize the said phone, an Iphone 6.
An altercation ensued after the video recorder resisted and said the phone costs more than the Customs man’s salary.
One angry Customs officer cocked his gun in anger to shoot the passenger and an innocent life paid for it.
Sad as this incident is, it has become the story of our lives!
Several lives are needlessly lost on our roads every day, from the so-called ‘accidental discharge’, from so-called refusal to bribe a gun wielding uniformed officer manning a check point, from people whose job it is to secure lives, but take lives mostly at will but sometimes, accidentally.
It seems that once you kit the average Nigerian in a uniform, you automatically give him the right to lord it over the rest of us.
There’s something about the uniform that just brings the worst in our character as a people; and these uniforms can either be military or paramilitary.
This type of psyche comes from our long years of being under military regimes; everyone fears the uniform.
Isn’t this why powerful civilians pay the police for escorts?
Isn’t it why uniformed men don’t pay bus fares or queue like the rest of us bloody civilians?
On the roads, siren blaring police vehicles frighten or knock off everyone aside to make way even in the midst of thick traffic.
The military will drive brazenly on BRT lanes and get away with it; they even drive against traffic.
The police will harass bus drivers for bribes and impound private vehicles even when the papers are complete because, you see, many of them have targets; Lastma, VIO, FRSC, all of them have targets and God help you if can’t bribe your way out.
Here’s hoping the elections will hold this weekend.
Here is hoping that as our democracy takes deeper roots, the era of the superiority of the uniform over ordinary citizens will be eradicated.
Here is hoping that the uniform becomes a symbol of security and not of fear.