Obituary of the Twenty-Naira policeman By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

With no police checkpoint in sight, I am lost in the middle of nowhere, and I cannot but mourn the very sudden demise of my dearest friend, the ubiquitous Twenty-Naira policeman, who was heartlessly made to kick the bucket recently by acting Inspector-General of Police MD Abubakar. Oi! Oi! Oi! This monumental loss is indeed very tragic for me because the Twenty-Naira policeman, whilst he lived, happened to be the most dutiful Nigerian worker who was always at his duty post, from Kaura-Namoda to Agenebode, and from Koton-Karfi to Otanchara-Otanzu! Nobody could have accused the Twenty-Naira policeman of absenteeism all the days of his life! Compared to electricity workers, for instance, the Twenty-Naira policeman was always there. He was never found wanting in his job of collecting Twenty Naira at checkpoints!

What a price to pay for dutifulness! Here was one Nigerian worker happy to do his job. Now he’s gone kaput just because MD Abubakar never liked his face, or stomach as the case may be. It has been authoritatively revealed to me that IGP Abubakar struck only because he lacked the stomach to stomach the pregnant stomach of the Twenty-Naira policeman! You see, the Twenty-Naira policeman carried his pregnancy with poetic aplomb such that I learnt from very good sources that the gurus of the Guinness Book of World Records were on their way to Nigeria to record for history and posterity that it was only in Nigeria that policemen at checkpoints carried huge pregnancies.

Even as I am yet to make the scientific connection between the collection of Twenty Naira notes and the impregnation of the Twenty-Naira policeman, it is meet to admit that IGP Abubakar carries no pregnancy of his own and, as one cannot give what one does not have, there’s no escaping the fact that Abubakar was jealous of his pregnant subordinate, the Twenty-Naira policeman. The real McCoy in the matter is that even in very advanced pregnancy the Twenty-Naira policeman could collect Twenty Naira notes from bus drivers and allied conductors with the agility and acrobatics of the likes of the legendary goalkeeper Emmanuel Okala!

Now I have done the necessary scientific research to come up with the finding that too much accumulation of Twenty Naira notes at checkpoints always led to gargantuan consumption of beer and pepper soup by the police rank-and-file, thus leading to the fat beer belly that became police pregnancy. Who out there doesn’t know that the beer and pepper soup theory was initially proposed by good old Alozie Ogugbuaja in regard to the military brass-hats and their many coups? Now that military coups have been overthrown by police pregnancies of the selfsame beer and pepper soup combo, MD Abubakar could not but strike. What a Nigerian transformation! See how things change and remain the same…   

By ruthlessly dismantling checkpoints, MD Abubakar has succeeded in killing the singular honey-pot motivation for joining the police force. Just before the coming of Abubakar, one young man attended a police recruitment interview, and even before he could get the result of the interview he had set up a checkpoint at the Akokwa border in Imo State, collecting so much Twenty Naira such that even the Central Bank noticed a shortage of Twenty Naira notes in its vault! I am yet to clear with CBN Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi whether the activities of this police wannabe led to the introduction of cashless Nigeria! You see, the Twenty-Naira policeman can start up a revolution just at the drop of, you guessed it, Twenty Naira!

With the Abubakar-induced annihilation of the Twenty-Naira policeman, Mama Iyabo, the ogogoro seller just by the Ikeja Country Club in Lagos, can no longer boast of the ready change almost always supplied from police checkpoints. This has led to a very bad chain reaction since Okada riders who got their change from Mama Iyabo have become short-changed such that they now settle their change matters with their passengers through kick-boxing and kung-fu. And like Muhammadu Buhari’s essential commodities, alias essenco, the total absence of the Twenty-Naira policemen all over Nigeria amounts to discombobulating cataclysm! Ask Hon Patrick Obahiagbon for explanation!

The Twenty-Naira policeman knew that his primary duty was the capture of Twenty Naira Notes, and in the discharge of this onerous duty he made sure that “sake of a single twenty naira not to be arrested, let all the kidnappers and armed robbers of Nigeria pass freely through the checkpoints!”   

Be that as it may, MD Abubakar thinks that because he is the supreme boss of the police he cannot be investigated, without knowing that as an investigative journalist always armed with Twenty Naira for the settlement of the checkpoint boys, I have put him under investigation from way back. Ever since I met him in the company of my late townsman and brother, Chief Jude Ezechukwu, the proprietor of Jasper United Football Club, with whom he served on the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) board, I knew without any shadow of doubt that MD Abubakar had no liking at all for the Twenty-Naira policeman. My investigation of Abubakar would in due cause reveal that he was once arrested at a Lagos checkpoint for refusing to part with Twenty Naira! Let him deny it, and as my late buddy Fela would say, “I go open book for am!” It happened that as Lagos State Commissioner of Police Abubakar was without his uniform riding in a sparkling Mercedes Benz one bright Sunday afternoon when he was arrested at a checkpoint for refusing to “drop” Twenty Naira. He was taken to the police station and was about to be jammed into the cell when the policeman at the counter looked at the picture on the wall and at the face of the arrested Abubakar and screamed: “Alarm don blow-o! Na Commissioner una arrest-o! I no dey-o!”

See what damage ordinary Twenty Naira has caused, and now IGP Abubakar has done his worst by totally obliterating the Twenty-Naira policeman and his many checkpoints, thus leaving me with the cry-cry duty of writing this obituary with tears of the crocodile in my eyes! Oi! Oi! Oi!  

Uzoatu, a poet, and public commentator, writes from Lagos.


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