He knows the traffic light is on red but still zooms on, only to be stopped by traffic wardens who have strategically positioned themselves for that very purpose – not before the lights to deter potential offenders, but after, to arrest actual offenders. Once he stops, the officers get into the car and drive to a corner. They demand N5,000 or threaten to take him to the police station, but N200 sets him free. That is how to be a real Nigerian.
The Road Safety Corps or VIO mounts a roadblock to check drivers and vehicle documents. A driver’s license expired long ago, and his car neither has insurance nor up to date registration. It is seized by stony faced officers. However, by rote, a friendly officer comes along and offers tips on how to ‘settle’ the problem. After artful negotiations, N1,000 is paid and the car is released. That is a real Nigerian.
Another citizen is stopped by customs officers who demand the original import duties of his car. Nobody knows if they have the powers to do that, but everyone knows they can make life miserable. Of course, the car has no proper documents because it was smuggled in and registered with forged papers. After a heated argument, an ‘unreceipted’ fine is paid and the car set free. That is a real Nigerian solution.
A car is stopped at a police checkpoint on a highway. The officers are heavily armed and will brook no nonsense. The driver has no proof of ownership, so the car cannot be his. To prove that the car is actually his, he is forced to part with money. He curses the police (under his breath), and invokes every manner of evil and calamities on them and their future generations yet unborn. They do not care. They’ve heard more curses and more invectives rained on them by other motorists. Infact, if the driver doesn’t leave the scene quickly, he may end up as a victim of ‘accidental discharge’, a genuine Nigerian innovation.
One person finds herself in court over a lawsuit. She knows she committed the offence and all the evidence are stacked against her. No problem. She engages a lawyer who is not known to be particularly brilliant, but has an uncanny way of winning court cases. He in turn goes to a ‘legal consultant’, who acts as a broker between some lawyers and judges. Against every legal sense, and in a mockery of the legal system, she ‘wins’ her improbable court case and moves on. She is only being a real Nigerian.
A politician stands for elections, and knowing he is unpopular, massively rigs the polls. His opponent cries foul and goes to court. Good. The politician is sworn to office, and using public funds, bribes the electoral panel so massively that the entire judiciary is thrown into chaos with claims and counterclaims. By the time the case is finally heard, he would not only have completed the disputed term of office, but has won re-election for another term. That is a classic example of how to be a real Nigerian.
An employee schemes to take over a position he is not qualified to occupy, so goes back to school to legitimise his tenure. He does not have the requirements for admission, but is first on the list. He does not participate in the required seminars and is incapable of independent research. No ‘wahala’. He is admitted, his thesis is written for him and the examining panel paid to give him an easy time. In the blink of an eye, a new ‘doctorate’ degree holder is minted. That is a real Nigerian resolution.
A resident finds out that her water supply has been cut. She immediately calls a contact at the water board who tells her that nothing can be done since there is a mass disconnection of defaulters going on. Joke. She sees the director, who rebukes the manager for disconnecting her. He orders her water supply reconnected instantly, with an apology. She is only being a real Nigerian.
Every now and then, PHCN decides that without giving much electricity, customers still have to pay for its incompetence, so simply issues a huge bill that the customer must pay or else be disconnected (from what? you may be tempted to ask). But everyone knows the game and plays along. Money is exchanged and the enormous bills are erased from the central computer. That is how to be a real Nigerian.
The problem is, having bribed, cajoled, threatened and bought our ways through life, can we really get angry when the Presidency budgets N1.6 billion for computers in one year, or frown at its plans to spend about N3 million every day on food? Can we complain when a small ministry budgets N25 million to ‘kill germs’ in its less than 20 offices in Abuja? They are only being real Nigerians.