Mr. Fatai Owoseni : We Need to Talk

Loud Whispers

The Lagos State Commissioner of Police is a nice gentleman. He comes out very neat with cute eye glasses. I even suspect that he dabs a little bit of powder on his face before he leaves the house everyday. Today sir, I want to speak to you directly and please do not vex that I did not put your full rank on the headline. Sir, the police force is a force that I fear and admire at the same time. I do all within my powers to avoid your people because interaction with them can go either way, so I respect myself and keep a safe distance. In fact, the only friend I have in the whole Nigerian Police Force both serving and retired is Supol Segun Ogunleye. Baba Sege as I call him is retired now and one of the finest. He used to admonish me with the saying that I should never give bribe to any policeman and that any policeman asking for bribe is not a well-trained one. So anytime, your people ‘catch’ me especially the ones at the foot of the Third Mainland bridge at Adekunle, I will try Segun’s theory and always end up in misery.

I will now call Segun, and he will be livid, he will tell me to drive straight to the nearest Panti station and make a report. Any Lagosian who has lived in this town will know that, that is a journey you do not even think of, talk less of embarking on. Sir, this week has been tough for you with the alleged shooting by one of your DPOs of an artisan and the alleged robbing of a medical doctor by a team from your division. All these and many more cases that are not yet in the full glare of publicity must be giving you sleepless nights. But you see my brother, if you allow me, let me explain something to you. I will not join the motley crowd in castigating and hurling invectives at the police force even though you may want to agree with me that some of your people more than deserve it. I will try to be very constructive in this my little advice to you sir. In the last three months, various things have carried me to your community.

These have given me the opportunity to observe very closely the men and women of the police. I now have a rounded view both as a citizen and also as a friend of the police. But sir, before I start supporting your people, some of them are harsh sha. Let me give you one small story, but don’t quote me o. At one of the police stations, as we were writing our statement, one of your boys just slapped a witness just like that. From nowhere o, the boy no do anything o. He just came as a witness. That was mean. I started shaking and sweating. If a common witness can be so slapped, what will happen to me accused with bow tie and suit? Thankfully, nothing happened to me as I had assured the IPO that I would definitely DIE if he as much as stared too much at me. That aside, I have seen the conditions under which the average policeman works. Sir, they are horrendous to say the least. I look at them with pity; these conditions are enough to drive a sane person up the wall. From my interactions, the average policeman is highly intelligent, hard-working and very creative in doing his job.

He is committed, and result-oriented. The level of investigative ingenuity is commendable and to add just a little bit, he loves his job. But sir, all these are easily muffed by the circumstances around him. The resources to do the job are not there, the encouragement and specific trainings are far and in-between. I was even told that some of them furnish their offices with their own money and even pay for their uniforms. My thinking is that we should all look into the welfare of the police force as a country. It should be paramount in all we do because security remains very crucial in national development. Not only the government but corporate bodies should work out a structure where adequate funding is provided to the force not only to meet official needs but also to give the average policeman a sense of pride. It is easy for us all to stand from afar and shout at how the police are evil, but at the same time fail to look at it from their own side. Sir, some of these solutions are beyond you but you can immediately start a campaign that would bring both the police and their community together.

That would reduce the mutual suspicion, for the betterment of the society. Sir, the average policeman is psychologically beaten; he has lost his self-confidence and sees society as the enemy. You see envy in their eyes when they talk to you. So, they see you as an adversary that needs to be humiliated instead of protected. You can simply put in place training and retraining programmes, especially in the areas of service, poise, confidence building and other such charm initiatives that would soften the image of the policeman, make him approachable and truly make us proud of him.  My Lord, it cannot be easy leading the force and I pray that God will continue to guide you and your men in this your perilous job, while also enabling both the government and the people to try and give you better working conditions. But sir, help me beg those ones at Adekunle to kindly stop harassing me. Last time, it was my chop money they took and my madam did not believe me when I told her what happened. Thank you sir and remain blessed. Pele.

Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO): good riddance
Me I did not even know what exactly their job was. I only used to observe that, of all the irritants on our roads in the name of law enforcement, these were the ones you could easily avoid. They usually did not stand too far from their offices. If you avoided Idi Iroko on Ikorodu road and Iponri in Surulere, then, you would most likely never have had any issues with them. But if you got unlucky and fall into their traps, you would witness a life so messed up that when you come out of it, you would need a full thanks-giving service. Their black and white uniforms and yellow trucks stood them out. They were mean and asked for everything from fire extinguisher to the cover of your radiator and if one thing was missing, you would need to pay five years’ tax that day, submit your father’s birth certificate and write a letter of apology to the governor of Lagos for daring to drive a car in Lagos. Lest I forget, you would also pay for your car being towed not to talk of the vulcanizer that leaked your tyres. I can sense relief from all Lagosians with this new policy and also the fact that the government has stated that they would look towards technology to do their job. I am happy o. Before, when I want to come out of my house, I would first take a bike and survey all the roads, looking out for them and their cousin Federal Road Safety Corps, mapping out their positions before I would now go back to get my car and drive safely, avoiding the zebra men. I thank God o.

Lara Oshiomole : ABrilliant Addition
I want to really express my immense pleasure and happiness at the recent conferring of citizenship on this very beautiful woman, Mrs. Oshiomole.  That she is a very powerful addition to our over 140 million people cannot be over-emphasised. She is not only an epitome of beauty but also a symbol of humility, personifying the essence of true Nigerian womanhood. I am sending all these accolades because I have been inspired, now I can bring in my own Kenyan beauty. The Oshiomoles have given me a road map. My Kenyan queen has been hesitant, waiting for me to secure a political appointment and not totally recognising my position as the Duke of Shomolu. So immediately this news came out, I reached out to her again, stating very clearly that like the Oshiomoles, we could find happiness together with or without a political position. The most important thing is true love. Lara (if I may call her that) has shown significant belief not only in her husband but also in our country. Nigeria is truly a great land, the land of jollof rice, the land of Dino Malaye and the land of Afrobeat. When many Nigerians are stowing away, going into prostitution in faraway land, people like Lara and the other three hundred people have found solace in our land. Welcome my sister. When is the party?

The Obasanjo/Adebutu Wedding and Disasters Foretold
Nothing can be as sad as when you get married without your mother’s consent. That was what just happened at this wedding. The mother of the groom kicked seriously against this wedding, even trying to get a court injunction and when that failed, she was quoted to have said that there would be a plane crash and people would die if the wedding went ahead. Well, I really feel for her and would not laugh away her sorrow. I also had a personal experience. My own mother too did not support my wedding. She did not understand why I would leave all the beautiful Ibibio virgins to go and marry this ‘short Yoruba girl’. All attempts at explaining to my mum that this was my choice fell on deaf ears. She did not know she could get a court injunction but she did the closest thing which was to go get a prophet who promptly prophesied that I will die a day after my wedding. Well, the marriage is now 17 years with lovely kids and my mother is now my wife’s best friend. So my dear mummy, whatever were your misgivings about that wedding, I hope you will learn to accept the reality that it is really not your decision and you didn’t need to throw all that tantrum. As a mother, you will give your advice and your child would use it as a guide in making his choice and when that is done, it behoves you to support his decision, while working with him to navigate the thorn that is marriage. I hope you are calm now madam, and for your information, I had advised my partner who was due for Abuja on the day of your son’s wedding to take night bus, we did not want to take chances. Anyway, nothing happened and we saw very beautiful pictures. I hope you have wished them a happy married life otherwise, you may miss your grandchildren’s naming ceremonies as they would not invite you. Meddlesome mothers, a lesson for you.