BRIBERY AND CRAYFISH

      coat of arms

With the so-called Social Media Bill currently pending, there is no better time to write this post than before that damned bill is passed. I need to get married and have children so I can’t afford four years in jail and I sure don’t have two million naira to ‘dash’ the government in the name of paying fine.

I hope that bill never sees the light of day, and Senator whatever-is-his-name that’s leading the call for that bill to be passed, I have only two words for u, “**** you!”

If you were able to interpret the hidden words, please look for the nearest church and register your name for deliverance…lol

3rd December, 2015. Ministry of Works Headquarters, Abuja, 2:30pm

The corridors smelt musty…stale even! Everywhere looked like it hadn’t been swept in weeks. It looked nothing like what an organization owned and run by the Federal Government of an oil producing nation should look like.

My friend D-1 and I found our way to the department we were looking for. What I needed to be printed wouldn’t take more than five minutes tops, which was the only reason he agreed to follow me there anyway. I assured him again…five minutes! (if the man was on seat).

When we opened the door…the first thing that hit our already fragile noses was the strong smell of crayfish and stock fish! The whole office smelt like Balogun Market! Some women, obviously staff, were gathered, examining samples of dried fish and crayfish and pricing them. In a federal government office!

We inquired about the man we had come to see. I had been here for three consecutive days, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and he hadn’t come to work all those days. This was Thursday and his chair was still empty but to my relief, I was told he’d just ‘stepped out’ and would soon be back.

After waiting for almost an hour, the man sauntered in, half dragging his massive frame and Amaechi Muanogor sized pot belly to his desk. He asked me what I wanted; I told him I needed a printout of a particular document. Without even asking ‘codedly’, he demanded I provide ‘paper and ink’. Huh? This document is my right, my right o!

Even though I pride myself in being a ‘sharp guy’ and a ‘tear eye’ Naija boy, I didn’t realise that ‘paper and ink’ were code words for money. It took the man’s colleague, whose desk was beside his, demonstrating money counting gestures like a gambler in a casino, for me to understand.

Nawa o…Now it was time for the bargaining process. All my appeals and claims of not having money due to the current pathetic financial state of Naija’s economy fell on the man’s fat but deaf ears.

It was simple, provide ‘paper and ink’ or forget about your document. Finally, like a suspect who was fed up with interrogation and torture, I caved in and agreed to cooperate. He pointed to a chair beside him and ushered me to sit beside him. How warm…

My friend D-1 was struggling not to laugh at the ordeal I was going through. I moved reluctantly and sat where I was told. The man then opened his drawer and asked me to place my ‘paper and ink’ inside it. I reached into my back pocket where I had a couple of naira notes. I prayed to the gods that it would be a 200 naira note that would slide out and not 1000. Alas, the gods decided to meet me halfway. It was 500 naira.

I slid it into his drawer and noticed his expression. He began to shake his massive head and spoke in Yoruba. I didn’t understand a word but I didn’t need to be a genius to get what he was saying. As if reading my mind, he proceeded to translate by saying “dis money no reash to buy paper and ink o…I no go fit print ya work”.

At this point I was really struggling to contain my temper. It was  bad enough that I’d come to look for him three straight days, and today had to wait over an hour in an office that smelt like a fishery.

My Paco Rabanne freshness had been replaced by Eau de Toilette (crayfish edition). Just because he was an elderly man I decided to remain polite and respectful.

We negotiated for about 10 minutes but he refused to budge. He wanted an extra 500 naira. I had over 4000 naira cash in my pocket but my determination not to drop more money was bigger than his potbelly. I shall not budge!

Finally I remembered I had a pack of A4 paper in my car. I decided I might as well offer to add some REAL paper to the ‘paper and ink’ I had already dropped as my offering. He reluctantly accepted and I had to come out of the building, walked more than 10 mins to where I parked my car, under the scorching sun, just to get this man A4 paper.

I came back drenched in sweat, added to my new ‘crayfishy’ fragrance, and dropped the paper. After what felt like eternity, D-1 and I were out of there, my documents in my hand, thinking to myself… “What a country!!!”

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