Great Benin Bronze


Semi Eriyo Sr.

To be a Nigerian, you must learn the lesson that nothing is ever fair, and that indeed anything is possible, and you may have to pay your way through life by offering and taking bribe to facilitate many of life's processes. Babies are switched at birth in Nigeria and offered for sale; to leave the hospital with the right baby, and not fall victim of cradle-snatchers, you may have to pay the nurses a little "something" to guarantee their loyalty. Or better still you may have to patronise an expensive hospital where reputation is still important. Death is equally expensive in this country. Mortuaries and cemeteries are raided for spare parts by ritualists and their agents. To ensure that your beloved reaches the gates of Heaven or Hell, without a missing ear, tongue or genitalia, you have to pay the mortuary and cemetery attendants to have mercy on the dead from your household. Being alive in Nigeria is worse. Every activity involving life and movement has to be facilitated with cash. It is not for nothing that Nigeria is the second most corrupt country in the world. This is not a country of saints.

If you insist that you will not offer bribe, then you face a long life of frustration. You will never be able to get anything done. In Nigeria, parents pay a special fee to get their children into schools from nursery to the university. If you are a Nigerian parent, you may also discover that teachers need to be bribed before your child can pass examinations. To be a Nigerian truly, you must realise that official rules and regulations serve very little purpose. The meaning of the law depends on the man in charge of a particular office at a particular time. Positions and uniforms are to be respected by all means. Policemen, customs and immigration officials live on bribe. Local government officials expect you to grease their palms. To bend the law, you must pay a token fee, and once you do so, you are offered a special salute by the policeman on the highway or the immigrations officer at the border and allowed to do exactly what you wish. Thus, to be a Nigerian, you must learn to beat the system.

Oriri Oririfo.

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