A Few Short Stories
Sade graduated finally from university after beating a few odds stacked against her. When her only surviving parent retired after years in civil service, her retirement benefits remains unpaid. So Sade had to make do with selling cute handbags to students back on campus just to fund her final year in school. Now as a graduate, she is waiting in good faith to be called up for NYSC before she could proceed to apply for jobs into corporate organizations.
A realization suddenly did dawn on her that the Finance Minister of her country neither went for the compulsory Youth Service nor did she qualify for/get an exemption.
Sade was lost in reverie.
Within minutes, someone in the mob at a market in Badagry had thrown a used tyre around a boy’s neck. Someone else contributed some petrol so that the tyre would burn faster and a matchbox to complete the ensemble of jungle justice. The boy’s crime was that he had attempted to steal Garri from the market and he was quickly apprehended. Could we have known if, as the fire from the tyre charred his skin and the smoke choked him, he had a flashback of that big man who was once the secretary to the government who evaded prison and still made away with ₦200 million worth of loot.
Perhaps his only crime was being poor enough not to have been privileged to afford 3-square meals.
Chioma was sexually assaulted by her boss while interning at a real estate firm. Ignoring the damages further exposure could bring her, she managed to report to the police in spite of the threats from her boss. The case did not get as far as the court trial before it was thrown out by the police for ‘lack of substantial evidence’. The police did no investigation on the matter because the rapist had bribed the relevant authourities beforehand.
Chioma, dejected, lost all hope in the law.
Back in high school, we treated the mathematical topic of inequality with glee; using our bended right arm to demonstrate ‘greater than’ while our hooked left arm showed the ‘less than’ sign. I would later be traumatized by same inequality, in economics, when I encountered it in unequal realities of the world populace. It was later to become a bitter lesson in power dynamics.
Since time immemorial, humans have thus propounded laws as a level-playing ground for harmonious co-existence. But what you will find happening in many instances is this same law being exploited by those who are supposed to be its guardian. If there surely exists a social contract between the citizens and the government, the assurance that if the law is flouted consequences will follow will lead to enough trust existing between the citizenry and the government.
Human beings are born corrupt; they also tend towards decay and they need systems, protocol, ethics, rules and values to curb descent into anarchy.
We have laws, yes – but it is also generally agreed that they oftentimes work in the favour of just the few in the upper class while the lower class not only groan at the weight of their lot but are also desperate enough to wait for the crumbs they are offered as soothing oil.
Laws are supposed to guide men, not control them.
In the least, what the laws should achieve is to give that boy who dared to steal Garri, and that thief who pilfered over ₦200 million of taxpayers’ money for personal use, equal treatment with the jury. If the law as a tool of governance or human administration refuses to have positive affect in such comparable instances of stealing, a situation of anarchy, such as that mob action, will become the order of the day.
These loopholes, which the more powerful are wont to exploit and largely benefit from, must be closed in due effect. This is the only time we can have a level-playing ground for all. Not until this is achieved can we have an ideal society and peaceful co-existence.