Femke becomes Funke: Open letter to Nigerian law enforcement officers, big and small

Dear law enforcing officers of Nigeria, I know nobody likes you. That is a terrible thing to live with. I know you are underpaid and bullied by your seniors. But taking it out on the rest of us Lagosians is not the answer. 

Dear police, LASTMA, Road Security and VIO officer (and any other uniformed law enforcement agent I have forgotten),

Forgive me. For owning a car. For being white. And for driving myself through the potholed streets of Lagos.

When you single me out and stop me over every time you see me and my car Wilma passing by, please understand that not all oyinbos are rich. That not every expat earns a salary so humongous that he can pay you off with a bribe without even thinking about it twice. And that I am trying to stick to my principles and not to corrupt this new country of mine any further than it already has been by routinely greasing your palms.

Abeg, accept that I do not get out of my car anymore to show you my C-caution and Fire extinguisher. They are there, in Wilma’s boot, on display in a nice little baby blue basket. All you have to do is take a peek through the rear window to witness their presence. There is no need for me to leave my vehicle.

Do realise jerking frantically at my car door handles in order to try and open one of the doors is of no use. I had the central locks removed the day after one of your colleagues got into my car uninvitedly. As I entered my parked car, the sympathetic gentleman in yellow shirt and burgundy pants yanked the door on the passenger’s side open and sat himself down next to me. ‘I wan chop’, was his only explanation, making the universal feeding gesture to his mouth. I had to threaten him with my non existing big Nigerian husband to get him out of my vehicle. Please also understand why I do not roll down my windows more than one inch if you want to speak to me. Not after one of you groped through the open window to try and open Wilma’s door from the inside.

I am very sorry, but I am not answering your smiles anymore. Your smiles are like Judas’ kisses. You smile at me, and the next moment you are yelling. Even Wilma, normally an incorrigible flirt, has stopped responding your mock friendliness.

To that officer who means well and is genuinely trying to serve the public in a friendly manner, I apologise. I fear your colleagues have spoilt it for you. Two months on the Lagos roads have transformed my mild dislike of anything uniformed into a genuine hatred.

Dear law enforcing officers of Nigeria, I know nobody likes you. That is a terrible thing to live with. I know you are underpaid and bullied by your seniors. But taking it out on the rest of us Lagosians is not the answer. Suppose you would change your act and start serving the public instead of harassing it: the friendliness you would meet from civilians would be a reward in itself. And I would personally join your demonstrations for better pay and better treatment by your bosses.

With the above in mind, I am humbly asking you to kindly accept the fact that the two weeks my mother comes to visit Lagos, I am hiring a driver. I would not want her to see the way you treat her daughter as she drives through her home town she speaks so highly of.

I would be ashamed of this new beloved country of mine.

Thank you for your understanding,


Femke / Funke


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

Comments (7)

  1. Haha! This is hilarious, Funke!

  2. You forgot the picture of the baby blue basket. Haha! I love it.

    I agree the job of the law enforcer is hard but then so is that of the okada men, carpenter, vulcanizer, pepper grinder. We should all strive to do our jobs to our utmost best. And to be honest, this constant request for a bribe is quite embarrassing. Haba!

  3. Very nice…I had a smile on my face all through. Well done

  4. @paul, i agree we don't have the perfect Law Enforcers,but who does? Yes, they can be over zealous and crude. But no matter where you go, L.A, Rotterdam, London, Calcutta, Rio or Jo Burg, people have something negative to say about the fuzz. So Lagos isn't different and to each his own. You only have to remember the way Lagosians drove, it was anarchy.

  5. @ Majeed isn't she right. That is what folks go through all the time and it gets annoying. I 100% agree with her. I know a lot of folks who have complain about the same problem.

  6. Dear Funke,

    Your pessimism towards our uniformed men is a bit exaggerated. I beleive it comes from adopting this country this late, and thus bringing Oyinbo mentality to understand Nigerian issues. You see these uniformed blokes are on the street, day in day out selflessly trying to serve the public. They do the most thankless job in the Land, and what do they get from your ilk? complains, moans, and abuse. At least a smile and some mumur about appreciating their good work wont hurt. I appreciate your resolve not to succumb to palm greasing. Next time a Cop pulls you over, you jam wilma's brakes, park on the curb, and obey the instructions with the knowledge that they are operating in a rough neighborhood, which makes them sterner. Enjoy your new home. Cheers.

    1. @Majeed, selflessly trying to serve the public? Has a police man ever assisted you with anything successfully and satisfactorily before? i am fully Nigerian, not even remotely light skinned and i can relate to whatever she has just said.

      Maybe if they weren't border line obese, lazy and overly incompetent with their jobs, i would agree this is a bit exaggerated but as this is not the case i think you sir might be one of the reasons Nigeria isn't getting any better.

      If Nigerian mentality hasn't really worked well for us, i believe we could try the Oyinbo mentality. Police everywhere else in the world are under paid, you don't see them trying to extort people in broad day light over this. I think the Nigerian police force need a lesson on what the police force stands for. They must have all lost their damn minds or simply forgotten. It is not an excuse for the law enforcement to act unprofessionally.

      I don't get anyone saying thank you to me at work either. I shouldn't be obliged to say thank you unless i feel someone has helped me immensely. I don't feel this way about the Nigerian police force and not until such that they clean up their acts and start acting professionally, i don't see any thank you's or smiles coming their way.

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