The Exchange

Osarennoma Ogbeide

Rubbing of palms, we thought ought to be just a mode of greeting, however our men in black would rather they have something in their pockets as well. Inter-state travel these days is synonymous to an unbearable journey echoed with the usual head bumps from the bad roads and wild driving from the driver with gin-filled eyes. Passengers yearn to have a smooth journey without hitches or unnecessary stops but these only remain wishes for them.

The full span of the road is littered with several checkpoints that ought to ensure that vehicles are in the right state to be on the road. On getting to the first stop, instead of the supposed “where are your particulars” or “open your bonnet”, the air is filled with silence, eyes meet and a swift exchange is made. The driver stretches his left hand out; the man in black extends his right hand and immediately moves it to his pocket, dismissing the driver with a nod.

Same thing happened at the next stop and the two others after that. One is left to wonder what exactly the job of the men in black is, quality control or monetary services? It is unfortunate to see that at every stop, these men in black expect that their palms are greased with currency and the drivers on the other hand comply with this absurd system and sometimes even request for change. This means there is a fixed amount required of them, already known to the drivers that ply the road. When prying eyes from within the vehicle question the just concluded transaction, the duo feign ignorance. The driver cranks the naked gear lever and moves to the next ‘point of transaction’ while the man in black clutches his underused gun.

The ‘exchange’ is not just known to be on the roads or parking lots, but is also in civil offices and even cooperate organizations. Bribery, corruption and dishonesty are not far-fetched as an informal contract now exists between the involved parties. Corruption is an issue the Nigerian government has been trying to tackle for years without total victory. This menace has eaten deep into the fabric of the nation and perhaps needs a miracle to restore its credibility.

Since we are in the season of lent, why don’t we starve our greed and feed our desire for a better country. We cannot over emphasize the importance of diligence and honesty, thus we should go to all extents to ensure that we enforce it in all spheres of life.

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