“Igbo businessmen are allowed to parade around the northern region without any restrictions or stopped from doing business. It will be unlawful to reject any northerner or restrict them from coming to do business in the south.” –Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
The above quote was linked to Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. I did not believe he said this. But I have also searched to read of any statement credited to him denouncing this comment. I did not find any. So, it is safe to assume that he actually said this as justification for the migration of persons said to be Almajiri to the southern part of the country during a nationwide ban on interstate movement.
For me, nothing is wrong with migration. In fact, it is one of the realities of living. Either in peace time or war time, people migrate to places where they believe the grass is greener. Migration is always for one reason: to escape hardship. To that extent, I hold no issues against those who migrate between the north and the south.
However, describing such migrants as ‘businessmen’ leaves me with one demand –to know their investment profiles.
A businessman who migrates takes two basic things along with him: idea and money. It is either he is coming to a new place with investible cash or he has new ideas that could attract investments and create jobs.
Someone who hides between baskets of pepper and tomatoes, or bags of onions and other food items to migrate to another place, cannot be said to hold investible funds. He or she may however have some ideas.
But the task is to find out the sort of ideas he/she is coming with. Reason: ideas could either be destructive or creative. If he/she has creative ideas to market, he/she will come with a proposal to those who hold the investible cash, that is, business partners.
If on the other hand he/she comes with destructive ideas, he/she is most likely to sneak in. So, where does that leave the ‘business’ delegation migrating from the north, hidden between bags of food items?
But, this discourse isn’t about those ‘business’ delegates. It is rather about the Police and its refusal to police Nigeria.
When I write about the Police, I do so as someone who grew up within the Police community and had opportunity to join the force but refused. My refusal was premised on the fact of the pain my dad went through to get his gratuity.
I had asked why he would like that I joined the Police after seeing the pain he went through in pursuit of his legitimate gratuity. I remember him telling me that “Police will change”.
I am still waiting to see the change more than 25 years after he told me so. To my mind therefore, the migration to the south at a time when a Presidential directive against interstate movements was I place, as a strategy to contain the spread of coronavirus, is a signature of the failure of the Police to effectively police Nigeria.
If the Police was adept at its assignment, those nocturnal migrations wouldn’t have happened. But here we are, in a Nigeria, where law enforcers see tribal mark and tongue as determinants to enforcement.
Almost all states of the federation put up boundary patrols to check influx. These were manned by operatives of the Nigeria Police (Force). But they chose to supervise the movements and wave the migrants on instead of enforcing the presidential directive.
Somehow, they told the President that he was on his own when he gave the directive. So doing, the police endangered the lives it was supposed to protect.
I was not surprised it happened. Turning situations like this into a cash cow, has always been another signature of law enforcement in Nigeria. If you ban the importation of any item, some officials of the Nigerian Custom Service smile. So, for the policemen who manned interstate boundary security checks, it was money making time.
The consequences, however, far outweigh whatever income they may have made. This has always been the bane of security in Nigeria. When law enforcement agents lend themselves to criminality and abuse of the law, there is no how the crime rate will ebb. Remember a certain senior police officer that was publicly executed alongside Lawrence Anini and his gang in the 1986.
That was a most notorious expose. There have been several others afterwards suggesting that the Police needs a thorough mindset reset to factory mode. You may like to call it restructuring.