I’ll probably get some backlash about this blog title…but on second thoughts that presupposes that this post gets a lot of reads in the first place from people hunting for ‘politically incorrect’ statements. But as we say in these Nigerian parts, let me land first. You only have to see the way the government treat its citizens that it becomes crystal clear that we’re no different from the livestock depicted in Animal Farm by George Orwell. The government sometimes introduce punitive measures at the expense of unsuspecting citizens. One word – Oppression. The most recent incidences making waves on social media is the new policy currently operated by the Lagos State government – Removing plate numbers instead of towing vehicles parking wrongly. Seriously?
Now while you simmer over this (or boil as the case may be) remember that in Lagos not every area is clearly labelled a parking or no-parking zone. Usually no-parking signs are placed in front of the fences or gates of establishments trying to discourage random, non-patronizing motorists looking for a parking slot. Fast forward to reality and you hear unfortunate cases where a motorist has had a bunch of uniformed officers aka SOTF (Special Offences Task Force) painstakingly remove your licence plate number and then ask you to go to their office to pay a fine before retrieval. Don’t forget that as a victim you just can’t say to yourself, ‘I’ll manage around town without a licence plate number until I can raise the cash or until I can be bothered to go to their office’. If you have this mindset then LASTMA officers and Nigerian Police at random checkpoints will quickly give you a rude awakening when you start trying to explain yourself and probably land yourself in another penalty.
Allow me to play devil’s advocate for a moment: Citizens who break the law should be warned or punished accordingly. My only grouse is that I fear some no-parking zones may not be clearly marked out for oblivious motorists. Look at the classic case of mainlanders who get caught doing one-way in Victoria Island on roads that have absolutely no signage whatsoever to tell you otherwise. Believe me, on more than two occasions I’ve been cautioned by pedestrians/good Samaritans while driving and saved myself a trip to LASTMA office and a hefty fine. I must say though, you can’t help but admire the creativity in which the government raise funds.
Back when seat-belt wearing was a big problem in Lagos, the Lagos government empowered Road Safety officials to stop erring motorists and take them to their offices where the vehicle would be clamped and then the victim would have to
complete successfully complete a psychiatric test to confirm if he/she was in a right state of mind to drive while knowingly endangering your life and that of your passengers (or in the case of one-way offences, whether you were mentally stable to know that you are not meant to drive in the same direction as on-coming traffic – the cheek of it all). Today it’s rare to find motorists not wearing seat-belts; not because they’re concerned about their safety. Nosiree! But because they’re concerned it may incur an unwanted penalty. This is how the government make Nigerians do what they naturally won’t do. I got to tell you – it usually works.
For now I’m thinking of my next move – either to use superglue on my licence plate numbers to deter the SOTF or to only park within the premises of any establishment I am visiting. What else can I do but ‘Shine my eye’. Be careful out there y’all – It’s a jungle out there 😉 #animalfarm