“Go Bring Recharge Card”. Those were his exact words that hot afternoon as I returned home from a hi-level stakeholders meeting geared at fighting sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria.
We were inside the tricycle – the 3 legged yellow bikes called KEKE NAPEP – I was behind the rider on the extreme left, a student who was just returning from a WAEC paper was seated in the middle, a lady was seated to the extreme right and another lady in front with the rider. We approached a popular junction where the student requested to be dropped off just before my stop point. I was in the process of telling the student to go and not pay the transport fare because I was going to take care of it as my commitment to students when he entered the tricycle.
I was seated there trying to make the payment, thinking the person that had just entered was also a passenger. We remained at that point for too long and I began to wonder why we were not moving from that spot since the student had left. It was at that moment that it dawned on me that the man in a black t-shirt and a black trouser was an officer and not a passenger. The officer was very concerned about our safety and was cautioning the rider who had wrongly packed to drop-off the student. He spoke very posh English and was hitting all the right notes in his admonition and correction to the rider to ensure he parks well to either drop-off his passengers or pick them next time. I was very impressed by his professionalism not until I heard the officer in Pidgin English said: “go bring me recharge card”. My spirit just deflected and I did not know when my mouth opened up and I began to look with my eyes and mouth wide open in amazement of what I had just witnessed. The rider pleaded with the officer to please forgive and let him go but the officer refused and said he must have the recharge card before he can allow us to continue our journey.
I should have said something to correct the officer but I did not and I am not sure why I said nothing and just observed. The rider brought out 50 Naira and handed it over to the officer and the officer asked how much is that the rider mentioned and the officer laughed. He responded to the rider and asked if it was water he wanted to buy, the officer then bluntly said buy recharge card for 200 Naira. The rider pleaded some more and later added another note of cash to the 50 which I am not sure of but the officer in wonderment as though to make a statement of I am above this money dropped off the tricycle and we proceeded on our journey. At the next stop which was my bus stop the rider made sure to park well before I came out to avoid a repeat of the previous encounter.
We must do our best to ensure that when cautioning or correcting others for wrongdoing, we do it with the right motive. Correct others from a place of care and love else, correcting can quickly become corruption and exploitation.