Our character grows out of what we value as individuals. It begs the question “What kind of person do I want to be?” because the character traits we develop will in fact determine many of the decisions we make.
Below is a story of a young lady who’s intolerance for injustice resulted into a heated conversation between herself and a bus driver (Note: The story is written in the Nigerian colloquial pidgin language)
“Your money is 100 Naira”! The bus conductor shouted at the lady who was fully clothed in her NYSC (National Youth Service Corp) uniform. I was at the back of the bus while she sat beside the driver.
I sat there thinking “why a hundred naira?” She had joined the bus from the point where the estate buses would usually charge their passengers 50 naira for every drop in Lekki Phase 1.
Within a few minutes after hearing the demand for a hundred naira, I interrogated the bus conductor unapologetically.
“Why you dey collect 100 Naira, no be 50 Naira?” He was quiet. He didn’t respond but the driver defensively responded “Wetin concern you. You no go mind your own business?”
He was upset but I wasn’t going to allow his loud voice threaten me. I snapped back at the driver! I questioned why they wanted to cheat her of her 50 Naira. “Why you wan collect 100 Naira. No be 50 Naira from where she enter?” (Here, being the junction where the ride is charged 50 Naira to any stop, up on to the last bus stop).
He kept agonizing about my refusal to remain quiet; to mind my business because every time I shouted back, I instructed the young lady to pay 50 Naira.
She was very grateful and at intervals she said, “Thank you!”
In the end, we all got down at the last bus stop and she was still very grateful to me for standing up for her.
Now, the difference of 50 Naira wasn’t the problem. Though it seemed insignificant, it speaks largely about the degradation of values in our society. To imagine that as early as 8:00a.m, two people would choose to cheat a young girl of her money? It was a despicable thing for me.
But as I walked down to the office I realized why the driver had been adamant and insensitive. Put simply, she was a corp member; An NYSC serving corp member in Lagos who knew nothing about transport fares. The driver and his conductor, steeped in selfishness, had planned to treat her poorly in her ignorance.
We are victims of ignorance in Nigeria. When we are supposed to stand up for each other and demand accountability from our leaders, rather we allow them to strip us of our rights to live comfortably. We have been denied rights to quality education, consistent power supply and other basic amenities and have been exploited in goods and services provided to us.
Enough is enough. There’s an outcry by Nigerians to stand against these atrocities committed by those who are meant to serve them.
What values will drive your decisions? We are not talking about the values you think you should have but about the values you actually embrace from day to day. Are you the type that will speak up for the NYSC corp member or imagine she should know how to defend herself? Change begins with a simple decision to do something different everyday. The more we break out of our comfort zone, the more we strengthen our ability speak up with courage.
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