Speaking of Nigerian things, last month, a particular news item was brought to my attention by an aunt of mine: The Channels Expose on the Police College in Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria.
In telling me how she'd heard about it (my aunt lives in Canada), she directed me to Linda Ikeji's Blog where in addition to the video report, there were many pictures of the abysmal state of the college as well as several comments from people expressing shock, surprise, pity, sadness, and a few who felt it was so bad that they couldn't help but laugh.
We'll get to my own reaction later, but for those who saw that clip, Linda's post, a similar write-up on BellaNaija, or even some other reports on the situation, I want to first of all state, that that was only the tip of the iceberg. In preparing to do this writeup, I looked for other reports on the situation, and I found a few more clips.
Take a look at this one where the reporter shows us even worse "rooms" than in the Channels clip. So bad that he goes as far as to call them dungeons.
How about this one where he walks us through the dilapidated restrooms that cater to the hundreds of officers housed in Block 7.
When you then factor in the fact that, there is a limit to what reporters can report on, and that there must be areas kept off-limits, the police college begins to appear even more uninhabitable.
The sad truth for me however, more depressing than the state of the police college, was that my reaction wasn't shock. Unlike my aunt who was moved close to tears just imagining that people lived in such conditions, and the seemingly large numbers of Nigerians who were "appalled" by the news, I was unmoved.
I mean, what did we all expect!? Wasn't the I.G of police caught stealing hundreds of millions from police coffers some time ago? What about another officer who stole millions from the police pension fund? Not to mention the government officials who are still stealing Nigeria's money today.
Listen, all this money comes from somewhere, and someone suffers for its misappropriation. If it takes you and I several years (or even a lifetime) to earn N1 million, then when hundreds of millions disappear, obviously damage gets done to hundreds of lives for several years.
So why are we shocked? Why are we appalled? Why are we surprised? Did we really think policemen and women begged on the street for fun? That their self-degradation for money, and reluctance to give their lives when called upon had no cause?
See here, the work of a police officer is what I call a sacred profession. Like judging, preaching, and emergency rescue, it is one of those jobs that is hard to do for the money alone, and ordinarily, what drives people to these professions is a strong sense of moral obligation.
This is why anywhere in the world, people in these professions are well respected and, I must add, inadequately paid for the jobs that they do. Thus, nobody aspires to a sacred profession hoping to become a millionaire. A fact that serves us well, because it means that those who actually take the job, are those willing to do it under any circumstance.
Yet, like everything in life, the term "any" is relative. Can a judge remain fair if also the victim of the crime? Can an army officer remain patriotic, if abandoned behind enemy lines? Can a police officer protect civilians, when malnourished, mistreated, and mocked by society? Of course not!
So they take bribes to feed themselves, they cobble rooms to house themselves, and when called upon to do their duty, they turn their backs on the society that cares nothing for their well-being.
Now I ask once again: Why are we shocked?