“Aunty wetin you bring come for us na?”
“you send me go buy something for you? Can you please do your checks and let me go?” I said as I was handing over my passport to him. At this point, I was already getting pissed off.
I have lived in Nigeria all my life, the ‘begging’ culture here is not new to me. Little wonder I didn’t make any sense of it while I went through the same “Aunty wetin you get for us na?” before my departure. I simply smiled and moved on.
After I went through another country’s immigration, I couldn’t smile anymore.
How did we get here?
Every single official at MMIA down to the janitors are beggars. As a matter of fact, an average Nigerian living in Nigeria is a beggar. You cannot go to a supermarket and come out without the security guards screaming ‘weh done sir/ma’ at you, all in a bid to extort some cash from you. Yes! I call it extortion. If you visit the supermarket three times a day, be certain that the same security personnel would ask you for money every single time. He obviously does this all the time that he can’t seem to remember whom he has begged from already.
It is both shameful and appalling. Am I the one paying your salary? Don’t you get paid?
I remember one of the few days I got to work so early and had some minutes to spare in the car listening to my favorite radio program. A ‘corporate’ Nigerian beggar couldn’t let me be. What did he want? I should give him money to start a business. I was a bit startled because of the way he crept up to the car window without my knowledge. After I recovered from that state, I busted out laughing. I quietly told the man I would also want to own my own business if I had the money instead of working for someone.
“Oga we deh loyal oh!” “madam see as you fine!” These are no longer sincere compliments in Nigeria. Expecting to come out of a supermarket and not hear these comments is like expecting Donald Trump to be civil. Can’t ever happen!
Are there people who genuinely need help in Nigeria? Of course, there are. I’d rather give my money to them and not these scum of the earth. Living in Nigeria for so long would almost make you see these beggars as normal. It is not. I call it mental illness.
When you give your monies to these criminals in uniforms, you are encouraging them. Before you get me wrong, I am not against ‘tipping’. You can appreciate someone for rendering good service. Not someone who gets paid by his employer, but has got a second job by the side, which he does with the time the employer has already paid for while neglecting his primary duty.
The time spent during the check-in process at the airports would significantly reduce if we told the beggars to stop. Those dash tables should actually be renamed ‘extortion tables’.
And to think that these are the faces of Nigeria. They are the first people a foreigner meets the moment he steps foot here; they are the first impression of what our country is all about. It is indeed a shame.