It has been 12 days since a cabman sped away with my 50 Naira change, leaving me dumbfounded by the roadside, wondering what I had done in my life to deserve such injustice.
He was wearing a blue washed-out polo shirt and I will never forget his face.
I pride myself as a sharp girl so you must know that this runaway cabman must have been a professional. While in the cab, I gave him my fare when I was about a minute away from my destination, because my parents taught me never to pay at the beginning of a trip. When I asked him for my change, he told me to be patient.
We arrived at my destination, and I stayed put on my seat, waiting for my change. He asked me to get down, saying he would hand me the money by the window. As soon as I alighted, he said ‘I don’t have change o’ in Yoruba and before I could grab him by the collar and ask him how that was any of my business, this man sped away.
Baffled, I attributed his behavior to poverty, that this man’s lowly estate had driven him to such ends. But I took a step back, and looked around, and realized this man’s actions had a greater motivation.
The hottest topic in Nigeria is our leaders and how terrible they are, but the truth is that our leaders are merely a reflection of a greater problem. The Theory of Motivation states that “an individual’s behavior is a function of its consequence”.
As a country, we have allowed bad behavior to fester for so long, and now we have a culture of impunity. We are a nation of no consequence.
We know there is no consequence for jumping queues at the bank or at a restaurant, so we do. What’s the worst that will happen if you run a traffic light? Or if you claim that a missing sum of money was swallowed up by a snake? Or if you postpone a nationwide election the morning it’s to hold?
Ever wondered why a lot of Nigerians know how to behave once they leave the country? And suddenly believe in the principle of punctuality?
A cabman today who speeds away with a passenger’s change is no different from a senator who runs away with a Constituency’s millions. Their actions are inspired by greed and fueled by the assurance that they will get away with it.
But how do you fix a problem that has seeped deeply into every structure of a nation? A culture woven seamlessly into the fabric of a people?
Lawlessness, is definitely not Nigeria’s only problem. There’s hypocrisy, which is as much a concern, but today is not the day to talk about that.
Today is to remember to always collect your change.