He has stopped protecting me, and more often than not harassed me rather than rescue me.
I grew up knowing that the policeman was ALWAYS the good guy. In all my childhood games from “hide and seek” to “catching a thief”, he was the hero. Not that I ever figured out in my little imaginative mind how he was such a hero but the Police performed all sorts of stunts. He was protector, rescuer and wow; he always – always caught the thief and other bad guys. The Police was ready at ALL times. “I will call the Police” was my line of defence, and it always worked. The Police was my friend!
On the way to school, he helped all the little children cross the road. With our tiny hands we’d salute him in appreciation, and he’ll wave back at us. We didn’t have to pay ₦20. My Police friend was too much for that.
He was ever ready. When my parents would travel to Lagos from Ibadan and hear of robbery attacks, my Police friend would race his big truck, swerve in and out of the road, chasing them till he pinned them down. He’d never run away. He was too bold for that.
In the event of city riots and violence by university students, motorists or general protesters, my Police friend with all the calmness he could muster put the city to rest. He worked against all forms of violence and protected the lives of people and their property. Although he sometimes used tear gas when it was utterly necessary, he wasn’t trigger happy. He didn’t just shoot sporadically to dismiss the crowd. He was too gallant for that.
He wasn’t a bully. His job was to curtail the activities of bullies. He didn’t force himself into Lagos “molues” and demand to be driven to Ojota without paying. He didn’t demand that I pay ₦500 to enter the stadium to watch a match I already bought tickets for. He didn’t demand that people pay for their sheets of paper to write police statements on. He wasn’t a “cop for hire” i.e. for the senator who could pay for him to oppress his neighbours. He was a cop for the people.
He was mindful, tactful and smart. He didn’t have to nearly kill people to get evidence. My Police friend was tall with a broad chest – gun neatly tucked to his side, he didn’t have a drinking problem and pot belly to show for it. His gun wasn’t dangling from his neck. He’d never ask you to “roger” for not having an extra tyre. My friend would never sell out the Police Force. He won’t give uniforms to armed robbers to disguise in. He was way too disciplined for that.
Everyone liked the presence he carried. He was audacious. He entered a place and there was order.
I have not called him hero In a very long time now. I am not proud of what my friend has become. I try to imagine how my friend got to this point. He has as a matter of fact stopped protecting me, and more often than not harassed me rather than rescue me. I am scared of him and his very irrational behaviour. I’ll rather be quiet than report my missing property. I am compelled to pay him ₦20 every time I drive by a check point because of fear of being delayed. I can’t tell what he’ll do next. Right now I can’t speak for him or what he stands for.
All I remember is that the Police was once my friend.
Temitope Shittu-Alamu, is a writer, an eclectic public speaker and master of ceremonies with a degree in History and International Relations. Passionate about the media and of a strong believe that “it is my platform to building the Nigeria of my dreams”. I host a yearly Christmas show on television.
I love God, I love people.
Did I mention that I love Garri. Wow it keeps me going. BLOG; http://eclectictope.wordpress.com/