Who Is Well Behaved?

Will We Ever Get It Right?

They acted like restive Nigerian Youths. They rumpled and tore each other’s shiny clothes just to get a hold of it. They shouted at one another at limitless decibels and the moderators’ plea to these educated adults to calm down and organize was met with typical barbarism. They stood on their seat searching, fighting and asking for paper that will sneak their names into government’s payroll. They were already on government’s payroll but they wanted more. An alert from the Independent National Electoral Commission could shiver their bank accounts and a civil servant will be close to life. No amount of money is too small, no number of jobs is enough (a Civil Servant can be illegally enrolled in NPower and still feel cheated) and gentility is the least requirement to make it in this Nigerian Jungle. They have realized the well behaved suffer.

I wondered what exactly we are and if we will ever get it right. I wonder. If Civil Servants with stable jobs are acting out the blueprint of Belzebub what should be expected of those drinking gutter water? The elderly (and by elderly here I refer to men above 50) were not left out in the tussle and they did theirs on concrete ground as though it behoves on the perpetrators of an inadequate system to immorally uplift the elders before considering younglings. That is the Nigeria we built. The elders think the young owe them unreasonable loyalty and in the exercise of barbarism, they deem it respectful, even cultural, to be at the head of the food chain. The thing is bad but you have to be respectful by allowing men older than you do it before you join the bad gang. Call it the Hierarchy of Evil if you like but as Africans, we know that what the elderly man sees while sitting, the boy will climb a tree and still wonder what they are talking about.


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In the beginning the signs were there. They had just left the front door and were asked to come through the back and a line was formed. While the young among them queued, the elders drove in with the disdain for orderliness and that horrible entitlement typical of the average African elder. That is Nigeria for you. The few sane ones in the fold stayed behind murmuring profanities and because the chaotic ran the show, their voices were frozen and madness won. Sometimes Nigerians exhibit manifestations similar to voodoo curses. I have seen Nigerians crown a crazy man prophet while the healthy surround him asking for metaphysical postulations. Go to Aba, to Lasgidi, to Onitsha, to Port Harcourt and other standard crazy cities, you may be lucky to see a rare sight. Young gamblers surround a certified lunatic pleading he brings them the contents of his communion with higher powers so they can make these betting sites broke. Again you look at these Civil Servants and you are broken because among them are the Lecturers, the Lab Technologists, the Doctors, etc., men who shape and educate the country’s youths. Our educationists need to be educated. They elevate madness and chaos as standard and the people coming behind adore and follow their example. God help us. God help us?

You look at the security operatives and the lump is adorably present. Bruised, rotten, stinking but still shown public admiration. One of the most useless police forces in the world resides in this part of the cosmos but which officer dares to be different? Dare to be different and get sent to the region were lives don’t matter. If you are lucky, your rusty AK-47 with few bullets will accompany you. And if you are stupid enough to survive, places like Sambisa, the creeks, etc., are added to your place of work and neither your time of death nor date of disappearance will be acknowledged. In fact, to avoid making the force seem weak, you death is denied and woe betide your family if that meagre income you come home with is their only means of livelihood. You were purged for being overqualified for the job. Lesson learnt. Cooperation is encouraged in the vineyard and recruits return with bounty harvest.

The Nigerian motorist is first, mentally bullied, physically bullied, tortured and were he to develop any strange sense of morality, delay is used as a fine tactics to defile him. He bends or breaks but to the officer, it doesn’t matter, as long as money flows and keeps flowing into the coffers of the big man in the office. The ‘strong’ motorist has been taught a lesson and soiled at the same time and when next he thinks of wearing that strange moral image, he remembers where he lost his hymen and tampered is his will for secondary virginity. On another side are military men who have little to no sense of what they should be doing. Our military man is no longer that man who protects, fights and defends against aggressors but that sadist whose joy is at full moon when he oppresses weak locals. Many are badly behaved but the military prides itself as a well disciplined institution but then you look at their crude and beastly lifestyles and you know they need lectures on discipline.

Who in our security is of good behaviour? Which group can we say is helping Nigeria grow by properly doing their jobs? At the borders our Custom Officers frustrate the importers and exporters with the same gloomy tale. These servants are messing up this country, getting the system messier and taking us further into all forms of depression. Why don’t Nigerian security officers join the queue? I watched the arrogant soldier bully his way into the cabinet of the ATM and I’m sure somewhere, an overzealous civilian-zombie must have shouted at the first person on the queue for frowning his face after such ‘normal’ incident. Our soldiers kill at will. Our Customs Officers kill at will. Our Police Officers kill at will and it is often added advantage if they drown you in the pool of your blood with a gold ring on your neck. The ‘Criminal’ tag can easily sell.

What about Nigerians? By Nigerians’ I am talking about that blind majority whose actions speak louder than the calm voices from the same territory. I munched beef roll in a bus and placed the trash in the net behind the driver seat and a man close to me seemed to baffle at my strange wisdom. I think he was disgusted. This was not the custom. This was a misnomer. What I did was what, in his world, people who ‘claim’ to be neat, polished, you know…different, in that other, do. The usual thing is to trash it outside the windows for other cars to step on. The usual thing is the throwing of nylon into the gutters. I was acting weird and maybe foolish, because once the driver is done for the day’s work, he gives the trash same treatment I was trying to avoid. This is the normal way. Who is well behaved here?

You look at the desert of dirt in Douglas Road, Owerri, Imo State and you wonder how people do this to themselves. We know the road is bad and damaged by the poor expansion the government is working on but those plastic bags heaped in gutters are not a product of the epileptic government. The same story is also in existence in Ikotun roundabout, Alimosho, Lagos. Plastic bags and other obtainable filth encircle the road as if to work as side attraction. In Rumuokoro, PH, Rivers State, the same thing exists among the sellers on the roadside. I was almost poisoned by the mixed stench of human created waste last Christmas on that road and the sellers acted like their human systems are different from mine. Human created wastes exist almost on every corner of the country and to be frank, these are not the handwork of the useless governments across these states.

Our attitudes in wedding ceremonies can tell you something about our countrymen. One man collects a can of Malt, hides it and waits for you to pass with a can of beer and he lies to get another one. At the same time there are many in the hall that taste and will be grateful for a can of anything. He doesn’t see his actions as wrong and when he narrates his victory trick to his friends he adds sarcasm and diminishes the sin and his listeners only consider the humorous side. While it looks harmless on the surface when viewed by the typical Nigerian, it is such little things that shape a country. I’ve seen people over 70 years of age lose their minds for a plate of rice in a party and any attempts at desecration their gluttony is met with elderly curses and incantations. That is the Nigeria we built. We have also been in places where influence is the ticket to entrance and the masses are literally sun-dried before they are listened to. Who is well behaved here? Who is even willing to be?

About Poet 171 Articles
I am Rey Alaetuo, a conscious Poet and health care professional living in Owerri, Nigeria. I am an exponent of humanism and a vigilant Poet. I am deeply interested in the propagation of positive human values and behaviour.

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