Monday, April 21, 2008

OPC, Police e.t.c

I’m sorry I have been away. I have been tied up with work, traveling and other matters of national security. While I was away, a plane disappeared without trace, a female minister was fired, a female Senator disappeared into thin air and President Yaradua took ill. I hear he has been recuperating in Germany. I wish him well. If he has any advisers around him, they should tell him to leave Aso rock while he can. Nigeria is not worth dying for. The problems of Nigeria would overwhelm any healthy human being that serves as President.
Getting back home after my travels, I discovered that some things had changed in my area. I stay in an area of Lagos that is wholly residential and has a semblance of sanity. Security is of high priority in the area. From 10 pm, motorbikes (okada) and taxis are stopped from gaining entrance. By 12noon, all movement into and out of the area is restricted. At about 8 pm, a police patrol vehicle drives around the area keeping watch on any strange movement. Apparently, all of these security measures have not stopped robbery attacks in the area. I was surprised to hear that that people in the area had decided to call in the help of members of Oodua People’s Congress (OPC). Basically OPC members are highly regarded in the issue of security in Nigeria. Nigerian policemen are helpless in the face of superior firepower being demonstrated by armed robbers. “Who wan die” is a popular refrain in Police barracks nationwide. Banks, Eateries and corporate organizations have been subject to random attacks by armed robbers. These dangerously armed youngsters shoot their way into buildings, rob people blind and leave in a blaze of bullets. There is no place in Lagos that is safe from the attacks of these hoodlums. Ikoyi, VI and Lekki are now favorite strike spots for robbers.
The question is this – What do OPC members have that the Nigerian police do not have? After all, the Nigerian police are better armed with automatic weapons, bulletproof vests and walkie-talkies. OPC members only have whistles, flashlights, dane guns (Shakabola) and a great deal of courage. What is it that makes OPC members confront armed robbers without fear while trained policemen run for cover? What is responsible for their “great deal of courage”? I think it has to do largely with their affinity for traditional African religious beliefs. OPC members believe in the efficacy of charms, amulets and gourds. Armed with these traditional security devices, they confront dangerous men and bring them to submission. The manner of operation of these traditional devices is beyond explanation. As an educated young person, I am supposed to frown at such a belief in the efficacy of trado-african security methods. I will be deceiving my self by postulating that these things do not work.
In the early part of the year 2000, there were a number of confrontations between policemen and OPC members in Lagos. OPC members with the aid of Eggs razed police stations down. I was able to see the remains of one of these police stations in my locality. A Time magazine report described the incidents in an interesting manner. It said that eggs filled with sulphuric acid were used to burn down the Police posts. The question is – Which laboratory did OPC members obtain sulphuric acid from?
Yorubas have a proverb that says “A child does not recognize the efficacy of a herb so he calls it a mere vegetable ( Omode o mogun, o pe lefo). Sulphuric acid indeed.
OPC members are now highly popular with banks, petrol stations and eateries. There are ways to recognize them. If you see a man that looks out of place / not well dressed in the environs of any corporate organization and is walking around comfortably with security men, it is likely that the man is an OPC member. We should be looking forward to a time in which OPC members would start providing security to churches and mosques.
A fellow blogger once wrote about an experience her hubby had with robbers. I jokingly “advised” her to resort to these traditional means of protection. The advice was apparently not well received.
My fascination with traditional forms of protection goes back to my childhood days. “Arelu” was one of the most popular screen plays of my childhood. It’s main actor was “Fadeyi Oloro”. When we got to school, kids would imitate scenes from the episode of that week. We would stand in front of each other with imaginary horns in our hands and begin to utter incantations. These incantations went like these: Inu Fridge lati n se omi tutu , Inu oven latin se akara Oyinbo, Inu transformer latin se ina mona mona , Oya maa sun. ( Translated – Out of a fridge comes cold water, Out of an oven comes a cake, out of a transformer comes electricity, fall down and sleep). It sounds like dumb stuff now but we thought we had supernatural powers. I will end with a story I heard while growing up- A couple of kids were urinating beside the fence of a compound that belonged to an old man. The man was greatly feared in the neighborhood. As the kids, stood outside his fence, the man looked on them from his balcony. The following conversation ensued

Baba: You children, Wetin You dey find for there?
Children: Baba, we dey piss now
Baba: Ok o, dey piss o

After 3 hours and an endless torrent of urine

Children: Baba, Baba, Baba, Abeg ,we no piss again o, we no wan piss again o