Each day is a 20 Naira day
for the Nigerian Policeman,
each vehicle, a potential prey,
so break all the laws you can.
They stand at the corner of the street,
eyes roving, alert as a cat,
they are waiting with clenched teeth,
ready for all, whether lean or fat.
Make sure you have the 20 Naira note.
Fold lengthwise, slip between you fingers,
your left hand hanging from your window – afloat,
be quick about the financial transfer,
as if you just gave him a handshake
he’ll look the other way and you’re free
you have given him his piece of cake,
and you have your cup of tea.
Its no secret, its common knowledge:
“make una give am 20 Naira, make we go”
a passenger says as if it was the pledge.
I look in a wander, to and fro
if he’ll give it, if he’ll take it,
and quickly the exchange was made,
eyes read the mind, the mind reads the eyes,
daylight corruption – not in a shade.
claiming to be looking for robbers,
trotting guns in full army gear,
asking “are you the owner of this car?”
They’ll stop you if your car is new,
and if old, they’ll think you’re a runaway jaguda,
their case is a hot pot of stew
but 20 Naira gets you out, fast and clear.
At every 10 minute drive on the highway,
a roadblock – a 20 Naira toll gate,
going into greedy pockets, day by day,
The “friendly faces” are primary bait,
they’ll charge you for what you never did,
a summary offence is what its called
when you refuse to pay the 20 Naira bail.
Conscience? where is their conscience,
as they put 20 Naira bribe food on the table,
pay their bills and send their children to school.
How will God bless those innocent kids,
reared with the 20 Naira bribe,
how can they become responsible citizens,
life father like son, like mother like daughter.
Its a shame, its a mystery
who will deliver us from this miry clay,
if you don’t give, you’ll be harassed,
if you do, just to save your neck
they are encouraged in their evil deed,
we are caught between a wall and a rock,
so why won’t people break the law
when 20 Naira spells freedom.
author: Tokunbo Ajewole – January 13, 2003