Is it that we don't know the law or we just dont respect human feeling? “Asake, cut the crap! Human feelings and laws in Nigeria?” Its not that we don't have laws, it’s just that people misuse their powers.
I should have listened to the inner voice, it’s too late crying over spilled milk. The first time I experienced the butter and wine color wearing officials, they "impounded" a bus I was in. The passengers begged for minutes.At first I didn't care, couldn't be bothered, and was already looking for another bus. The driver was wrong. At that time, commercial buses were not allowed to drive on the middle lanes (or expressway as some people call it) on Ikorodu road; the service lane was moving very slowly, so the driver decided to move to that lane. ****Drum rolls**** the butter and wine color wearing officials came out of nowhere and arrested him, ordered him to park and they started transacting. “Mo gbe! 10k ontop wetin?”. That amount was enough to buy a bucket of KFC chicken and of course 3 Zinga burgers. 10k is what some families will live on for more than 3months.For some others, 10k isn't enough to have a nice evening... Oh well, different strokes for different folks. As much as I pretended that I didn't care, I couldn't help but think about it. Chances are the driver didn't own this bus; chances are he's a family man; chances are this was his first trip for the day; chances are he won’t even have the bus for the entire week. Guess what??? I was right on all counts.
The driver was in tears, he didn't own the bus and that was his first outing for the day. He started begging and the other passengers joined. An elderly woman who was begging really hard, said she understood the frustration of the driver.. At the end of the day, the driver gave the officials 2k which is the equivalent of 10 bus seats and then we got back into the bus and drove off to our destination quietly with a lot of negative prayers for the men in the uniform. That was in 2011and I was heading home from my Grandma's- which is between Palmgrove and Maryland.
Last month, as the Obalende-CMS bus approached, I was skeptical about boarding it, I didn't like the seat, I love to sit where I can place my head and catch at least a 25minutes nap. The previous day, I sat where I couldn't place my head and since my body system was already used to the usually early morning nap in the bus, it reacted to the deprivation.
As I sat on the jara (the extra seat, the one which in most buses was wielded to make the 4thor 5th seat), I couldn’t help but strategize on how I will catch my nap that day after I paid the conductor that exact amount ( I know a lot of Lagosians like having loose changes but if you like to sleep, having d exact amount is good, you won't be dreaming of forgetting your change with the conductor, you might dream of third mainland bridge traffic) I am always afraid of leaning on the bus's glass for safety reasons. However that day, I discovered an aluminum platform of about 4inches before the glass so I placed my right arm on it then my head on my arm.
Around 6am, I was enjoying my nap when the conductor suddenly opened the door; it was unusual as he didn't call out any bus stop. I opened my eyes and we were at Oshodi, the road that links Oshodi to Gbagada-Oworo express road.s i looked around; the conductor was no longer in the bus. Some people were shouting, “identify yourself”; you cannot drive us” while others begged the driver to drop us at the bus-stop. We were later dropped opposite the LASTMA office in Oshodi (the side headed towards Gbagada) not far from the newly decorated park. Let me explain what happened, the driver took a wrong lane, I didn't know it was a wrong lane as most commercial drivers took that lane every morning. The butter and wine clothed officials stopped our vehicle, took the conductor and the driver away and dropped us far away from the bus stop without allowing the conductor to settle us or put us into another bus. There were people who still had change with the conductor; a man had 800 naira change. We had paid for a full journey but were dropped off half way with no partial refund. I opened my mouth and words couldn't come out.
The month before, I was broke and didn't want to ask anyone for a raise. I had the exact fare for the trip. Even though I had my debit card on me I would have been stranded the day LASTMA “impounded” and dropped us off where there was no bank. At that time, my resumption was 7.30am. I was still at Oshodi at 6.48a.m, wondering when I will get to work and thinking about my weekly appraisal. I didn’t even bother joining the passenger in asking the man who drove us for any explanation; I just looked for another bus. After standing for about 10minutes I finally got into another bus and paid another transport fare. I couldn’t help but hear what the other passengers that entered the second bus were saying; that it is illegal to be driven by LASTMA officials because some of them do not have a driver’s license and that it is plain wrong for them to leave us stranded. I however understood that if they settled the passengers, then the amount of money the butter and wine officials will make will reduce significantly.
There was traffic as we approached Third Mainland Bridge. Getting closer we realized that it was caused by the butter and wine officials where they held another offender on the second fast lane on the bridge, who does that?????????????? Why couldn’t they just ask him to park on the slower lane instead of causing other road users unnecessary delay in the morning?
I feel the best butter and wine officials are the ones you see when descending 3MB (Third Mainland Bridge) at Oworo Shoki. Unlike most officials I have encountered, those ones are not after their economic gains but free flow of traffic.
Thanks to Mrs Ogo and Ms. Ginika for editing this post.
Photo credit: http://nzesylva.wordpress.com