I came to school that very day
and my parents like the day before had left without telling me what was really
going on in the country. I doubt they knew. It was 1998, not the days information
was available to everyone at their laps and fingertips in a timely manner.
If there was any day I came to
dislike the idea of military presence in a country, it was definitely this very day. Right
after school, privileged kids had their parents around to take them, and they
surely did that in a hurry. That got me and my colleagues of the walking
fraternity somewhat suspicious. We walked almost every day from school to the nearest
bus stop which was miles away, to catch a bus.
It was definitely one of my favourite moments, as it was a period I was just free from the rules in school and more
so the rules at home, I was not under pressure to learn, indeed I took that
opportunity very well. Nevertheless, I remember learning my first geography on those
paths “how to tell the time with the help of the sun and a tree” but this day
was different. The streets were scarce of grown up pedestrians, as those days
the Nigeria football team played a crucial game probably against Brazil, but I
wasn’t concerned until we got to the bus stop and there was no bus going or
coming, not one. It was a day for survival, but we did not prepare.
Through the same route which
the bus often carried us daily, we started to walk again, to ourselves we thought
hopefully and logically, as we walked a bus would pass, but deep inside we all
knew it was because we had never prior to now taking any other path shorter or
longer, and this was all we ever knew because that was how the bus moved, every
I lived the farthest, I lived
through four little towns. We walked and walked, until each person reached his
home or town. I was left alone. A little further, I found a bus which could
only take me as far as the last bus top, which was supposed to precede my entering
into a taxi cab on a normal day. This day wasn’t normal. The bus driver stopped
us in a hurry to escape from something I wasn’t even seeing yet. So, I walked
towards the taxi rank. And then I saw them; The Military.
They nonchalantly did whatever
they wanted, stopped cars and people from passing that area. They were fearless
in the face of innocent civilians that were not holding any weapon in defence.
Then as people became courageous to try to cross to where they could continue
their journeys home. They threw a substance that brought out immense tears from
my eyes. I followed this courageous civilians, as the military did nothing but
watch us like it was a movie from a distance, as they tossed the substance,
which I later came to realise was named tear gas. With a lot of discomfort, I
made it to the rank.
Sadly, at the rank there were
no taxis, all of them had been dispersed, just like the buses. Now I was
frustrated, worried but I could not be exhausted, for as I looked down the
bridge I saw so many civil servants, high school students walking. Who was I to
get tired now? I’m just a primary school student I thought. So, even though I
already started my walk about three hours earlier, I couldn’t stop until I was
home. So, I again began The Walk.
The military are our heroes everyday, so are the police. But, just like having a lion over as a pet in place of a dog or a cat, it might
work for a while, put fear in the minds of everybody in the neighbourhood, earn
you some respect and all that but one mistake from this lion can see you lose
your hand or worse, a family member or a friend. Therefore, Nigeria is not
there yet, until other law enforcing agencies can be sufficient and excellent
enough to carry out their duties fully without the presence and involvement of
By the way, am just a bystander.
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