He walked briskly, black bag dangling from his shoulders as his mind reflected on the gathering he just left. Maybe, just maybe, he thought to himself, the leaders are only carrying out the wish of the people. They have been sent to steal so more money can flow downwards and they are doing just that, only this time, they are withholding all the money to themselves.
“Oga comot from road, you no dey see moto,” a husky voice called out causing Mr Portly to jump with so much force that he hit his left leg on a huge stone upon landing.
He crouched to check his hurting ankle, slowly massaging it amidst the tirade that was going on around him.
“Oga why you no look road,” the husky voice said, more to the small crowd waiting to take ‘along’ than to Mr Portly himself. Around him, he could hear people talking about how God had mercy to avert the accident that would have happened.
“Na another thing we for dey talk this morning o. See this man wey just enter road. God have mercy,” a light-skinned lady with full afro hair mouthed, occasionally glancing at him.
He did not understand why they did not check if he had an injury from jumping that high. Never had he imagined that he could fly so high, especially with his frame. Maybe this is how the country jumps. This is how Nigeria walks absentmindedly that she senses trouble so late and has to jump awkwardly and hurt her citizens when she lands. Maybe the citizens are tired of the hurt that came from falling so much that they have begun to hate the country.
Satisfied that his toe was good enough to walk with, he raised himself to straighten his clothes when he saw it.
Two men in black clothes were manhandling a young boy while the people around stood to watch with their hands akimbo. One of the men held the boy by his waist, dragging his clothes so hard Mr Portly feared they would tear off his skin. The other was hitting his rifle on the back of the boy and drawing a school bag along with him.
Mr Portly pinched his arm to make sure he was not imagining the scene in front of him. Nobody was moving towards the boy and the armed men. He looked around, at the green taxis honking and stopping to pick up passengers from the pool standing by the road. The scene greatly disturbed him. The way the ‘agberos’ helped the taxis ‘load’ passengers, some of whom were recording the assault on their phones. The process was seamless as though a young man was not being beaten some few metres away.
The sight of the young boy on the ground, hands stretched out as though he was pleading for something with the contents of his school bag spilt around, nauseated Mr Portly so much that he began to walk towards the boy when he felt a strong hand pull him back.
“No go there if you like yourself,” the stern voice of the person he was wrestling said still gripping his arm tightly that Mr Portly thought it would pull off. The middle-aged dark man was bent on stopping him from moving any further, something he did not understand.
“Oga no go there,” another voice said, the owner suddenly appeared in front of him trying to stare him down.
Mr Portly saw that he had lost without even fighting, no one was going to let him go there, and even the crowd shifted their focus on him. He slouched his shoulders in defeat causing the men to let him be. Glancing again at the young boy who by now was being handed an open laptop by one of the men, Mr Portly felt tears welling up in his eyes. He did not even understand what the tears were for. Half of the crowd standing here would have been able to rescue that boy from assault without stress, but they were all standing here.
“Why? Why can’t we help him? Is he a thief?” he asked the men who had stopped him.
The middle-aged man shook his head as if to let Mr Portly know that he was not the only one who felt bad for the boy’s maltreatment.
“Them say na yahoo boy. Na SARS dey there dey deal with am. Them fit shoot you if you go there now,” the man said.
“How does SARS identify yahoo boys? Why are they not wearing uniforms? Did federal government not ask them to start wearing uniforms? Why didn’t they take him to the station if he is a suspect? Why assault him in public?” Mr Portly asked and no one replied. He was standing alone as they had gone about their normal business.
He looked at the young boy who was gathering his things from the ground. The men were no longer there. Maybe they have had their full and left him. Maybe they took his money. He watched as the boy hurled his bag, flagged down the next cab which soon zoomed out of sight. He felt his conscience tugging at him for standing there and doing nothing. He felt pity for the people who have since sold their rights to defend themselves and anger for the slow implementation rate of the government. At that point, he hated that he was Nigerian, that he was from a place where no one was his brother’s keeper and the keepers of the law found delight in breaking them.
Heaving a deep sigh, he lifted his left arm to check his watch. 9:35! He sure would get queried for arriving at the office late today. He turned to the road hoping to board the next vehicle.
“Oga where you dey go, you must mind your business o. No go die on top another person sin o,” the middle-aged man who seemed to have appeared from nowhere said.
Looking at him, Mr Portly nodded and turned towards the road again. He will raise the issue at the office.
How much of one’s business should one mind?
About “The Nigerian”:
The Nigerian is a satirical series that explores the thinking she and mindset of Nigerians across board. It uses the perspective of a portly man who is also not exonerated from the thinking. Watch out for more subsequent editions…
Written by: Anita E. Eboigbe, an Abuja based Journalist/Storyteller and Business Content Developer who believes Africans can do better for themselves.