It was Friday afternoon and even the hot sun cried through the skin of school children crying sweaty tears. I had just come out of my house, the abroad boy of the street as my friends like to call me. The increase in fuel price had turned my street into a dark haven at night as the usual habit of relying on the generator in place of the epileptic power supply was no more for many houses. Even my dad would not let us switch on the gate lights in a bid to reduce the amount of fuel our generator consumed.
Since this rationing of fuel started, I have developed the habit of taking a walk at night but that is another story for another day as the issue at hand is the issue of fuel and it’s price. This afternoon, I had discovered that there was no fuel in the generator so I decided to get us some. I was dumbfounded when I asked my dad for money for the fuel and heard a litre now sells for 180 naira. I was really an abroad boy, I thought since I had never bothered myself about acquiring fuel for the house before. Boarding a bike, I didn’t think to pray that the queue should not be long as in my mind’s eye, not many can afford such a ridiculous price.
To my consternation reverse was the case when I got to the fuel station and saw the long queue. Some people were complaining bitterly about how the fuel pumps have been manipulated and how Nigerians had no choice than to buy amidst the fuel scarcity. I resignedly took my place in the shove, push and grovelling for the precious natural resource. Amidst the sweating bodies under the hot sun, I noticed a LASTMA woman and some of her colleagues with a battered pick up truck, waiting to refill their tank. My ajebo mind found it appalling to hear this LASTMA woman begIn to rant and shout at the fuel attendant that he had not refilled the battered vehicle even though she knew that she met a queue there and that he had attended to them first.
I was really surprised to hear her go as far as threatening to have him arrested if attended to those on the queue and not her. All I could think of was, “What crime has he committed? It is not as if he broke a traffic rule or anything. ” Many must have been thinking the same because people were looking at the woman with disdain in their eyes and for the first time, I understood that Naija evil look. Nobody said anything however as everyone kept jostling for fuel with some only chirping in that we all knew he put his own share on the amount he sold the fuel and as such deserved to be harassed by the woman. It dawned on me then that everyone likes to use their power. She even without having much jurisdiction over him was threatening him with arrest while he on the other hand was abusing his position as a sales rep and taking advantage of the fuel scarcity and hike in price to exploit people. I was disgusted and found myself muttering my disgust out aloud. One of the other fuel seekers must have heard me because I heard,
“It is Nigeria, you don’t need to commit a crime to be arrested, you just need to be at the place and if you are really unfortunate, the crime concerns you. Everybody uses their power whether big or small to exploit those lower than they are. Na Naija you dey.”
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