Going to work today was such an orduous trip. Firstly it rained all morning, and as is usually the case on my side of Lagos, the roads were flooded. I spent over an hour just trying to manuover my way inch by inch through the terrible traffic that had built up. To compound matters, slightly away from the flood and traffic, a section of the road, which is supposed to lead to the interchange where vehicles were supposed to make their exit should they want to go to the other side of the road, was under construction and the construction company had blocked off the outlets, but opened an inlet. With no direction sign, no police officer or lastma (come to think of it, that road is a federal road, under construction by the Federal Government, and lastma does not man federal roads), no FRSC officers that usually hide in the crevices and blind corners of the road to stop, harrass and extort innocent drivers going to work early in the morning.
By the way, talking of FRSC, I think that they are way past their usefulness. They are now complete nuisances. Can you imagine that these people come into the housing estate to catch people who are going about their errands, for not wearing seat belt? A guys with his kids who quickly left the house to buy bread at the supermarket, they will stop him and harrass him for hours that he did not wear his seatbelt as he left the grocery store, which is actually a stone throw from his house, and the guys is just wearing a nicker and his kids are still half clad in their pee-jays? shame! The interesting thing is that these guys, while they are bent on catching residents going around their chores, do nothing to help clear the traffic that is building up due to motorists trying to avoid bad sections of the road.
Anyway to get back to my story, no relevant authority was at the closed point to even help direct motorists who want to exit the expressway for the other side, and so motorists, including yours truly, went along to pass through the in-let as an alternate route. Your guess on what happened next is as good as mine, just a few meters up the flyover, a bus load of gun touting police officers pulls in front of us and with all force possible, even including threat to shoot our tyres, forces us all, including yours truly out of our cars, and ceased our cars by force. All the car, well dressed people trying to turn, going to our various offices. They apprehend our car, the other fortunate motorists scramled to safety to escape them. But haven heard stories of Nigerian police, I had to shut my running mouth and be gentle. Get down! Bring you keys! Go to the other side (passenger side that is)! Yours truly calmly obeying, that scripture, "Soft answer turns away wrath" running through my mind. One of the police officers took charge of my car and started driving me down the same route (I thought I was being arrested for passing that road) obviously, there is no alternate road, the construction company blocked it off already). Anyway the guy starts the discussion, oga talk, wetin you want make I do, how much you get? Pay 70k, my mind began to flip, I noticed he was Igbo, so I spoke Igbo, it fuelled the issue, then I said to him, I am a pastor, that one worked small, I preached to him how that I could have have possibly driven one way, and the whole gamut of the blocked road and the lack of direction, but like my father used to say "who sai"oda-echi, e no work. I remebered the advise of Jesus, "if they arrest you, settle with them on the way, else when they take you to their station, you willl not go out until you have paid every single dime", So I intensified my preaching, and the guy drives me to one backside dungeon they call lastma park, at the back of no where, then my preaching gently changed gear. I thought to myself, what is my recourse, if I drag, what will happen, they are the judge, the court, the jury, the police and that will only make my car sleep there. Alternative 2, call another police friend, all the same, you will still pay, maybe not as much, but you would have spent time. I resorted to vent on my facebook wall, "what do you do when there is no recourse, when those who should organise alternatives don't, but rather harass the people they should be helping" that helped me, at least I could vent on facebook. Then I had a golden answer "wisdom is profitable to direct" and like one of my colleagues says, "I borrowed myself brain" and so gently and methodically I negotiated, all the way down. Finally, after "settling" they let me go.
If I may rant, that was complete extortion. if a road is blocked, it is just common sense that police or whoever should redirect traffic. Lagos state did it when they closed third mainland, and we coped. But in Apapa, never, all the federal parastatals there, no brain, shame!
My issue: it is sad to live in a country where there is no recourse, where every law enforcement is a law unto themselves, where the law enforcement do not work for the good of the people, but to extort them. But I know my job, I have a platform, I can vent on FB, and if FB is not enough, I can vent on my blog. We all can vent somehow. If it does not produce change, it will produce laughter. Finally, don't pass any road you are not sure of, a word is enough for the wise!