The North is being burnt by unemployed despondent youths. While in the South, young kidnappers and car jackals constantly terrorize all as the Nigerian police spend their time watching movies, eating Titus sardines and asking for bribes while dangerous criminals smoke marijuana in the front of the barracks.
Two months ago, I moved my family to Nigeria, from a fairly comfortable living situation in the United States and East Africa. There were no plum jobs or serviced apartment or company car waiting for me in Nigeria, just a hope and a commitment to being useful to this country. I thought that the little I might be able to contribute might matter and help change the country in the long run. Previous to the move, every week on this platform, I had made a case for a change in the governance system and called for a more committed citizenry and I believed it needed to start with the writer herself. I firmly hoped that all I would do here at home will proof valuable and that I might get to see the country clearer than I could from thousands of miles away. So I came home and Nigeria welcomed me with fury.
Two days ago, while on the way home from the Lagos Island, at 8:30 PM, the car I was in was hijacked and robbers at gunpoint drove me around the city for two hours. Nothing I have ever experienced previous to that evening prepared me for this absolutely terrifying ordeal. It wasn’t really clear that I would survive it, if not for providence and an amazing sister-friend who after fighting and begging the police to get them to take action to no result, turned to the private sector that ended up saving my life. I am alive and well but there is so much to say about the hopeless helplessness that Nigerians must contend with every single day.
There are despondent and unemployed young men in every country. There are quiet middle class folks who go shopping for groceries after work and drive home in most countries. There are incompetent policemen everywhere but nowhere in the world do these three classes of people collide to such horrifying results like Nigeria.
There is nothing interesting to say about the thieves that kidnapped me for 2 hours, they were like all thieves, jittery, scared, and violent. I am not any special either. I go to the movies, like thousands of young women after shopping for groceries for my family and I drive home chattily with my sister-in-law. This isn’t special.
But when cars are hijacked and lives disrupted while being held at gunpoint, the only thing that should save my life and keep me safe is the police. That is their job and that is why this country invests N922 billion in the security sector to keep us all safe. And the fact that the Nigerian police fail most times is what needs to change.
In the last two months, the cases of car jacking and armed robberies have seen a remarkable increase. Newspapers report it and people lives are disrupted, sometimes permanently. Yet the police have not increased patrol, they are as incredibly incompetent as they ever was, spending most of their time trying to see how much money they can extort from victims and asking for bribes like shameless monkeys. Emergency lines provided and publicized do not work: they lead callers to automated voices. There are no reliable cars to pursue highway robbers, and the radio tools are as good as useless. From all accounts, the force system deserves a complete overhaul and that is the only thing that will work.
Nowhere is safe in Nigeria. The north is being burnt by unemployed despondent youths. While in the south, young kidnappers and car jackals constantly terrorize all as the Nigerian police spend their time watching movies, eating Titus sardines and asking for bribes while dangerous criminals smoke marijuana in the front of the barracks. Without a complete overhaul of all security system in the country, the Nigerian life will continues its helpless descent into uselessness.
Or maybe I should get a gun.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.