Miracle at Lagos Airport
Her brown teeth shone as I approached. I dragged my bag on top of the desk in front of her.
‘broda, well done o, wetin you bring for us’
Her boldness offended me but I was pretty aware of where I was. Babangida may no longer be president but his legacy lives on, twenty years after. Who will ever forget ‘government of you chop, I chop’? Such a big hero, they named a university in Minna, after him.
I surveyed my panel of searchers. Two uniformed men and two women in civilian clothes. They looked dour and bored. It appears to be a particularly quiet evening for them. The lady of brown teeth seemed better fed and more rambunctious than the rest. She reminded me of another national hero, Aunty Peshe.
‘broda, I no want make dem open your bag. You be gentleman.’ I smiled at her craft. She seemed so nice in a bad way.
‘Aunty, I don’t actually mind opening my bag’. I said as I unzipped my bag.
‘You mean you no fit give us something’. Said Aunty Peshe.
I looked into my wallet, wastefully. I did not need to look as I have given the last naira note to the friend that brought me to the airport. But a single twenty pound stuck out and I quickly pushed it back in. Did she see that?
‘I don’t have any naira left, aunty’
‘If you give me naira I no go even collect.’ She spat out, face contorting.
‘Give us dollar. Na only una sabi chop am’. Said one of the uniformed men; a tall lanky fellow.
‘Okay make we do our work’. He continued.
I wasn’t sure how it is such a bad thing if a civil servant decides to do a job he is paid to do until this fellow started.
He rummaged through my bag so swift that I had to warn him of fish bones that might cut him.
‘So you get dry fish for this bag? He queried rudely. ‘Where is your quarantine certificate?
‘Quarantine? Have you looked at the sign here? I said, pointing at the ‘departure’ sign.’ I think you are at the wrong side of the building if you are controlling food coming into Lagos’.
Yours sincerely is fed up at this point. So I locked my bag and went to airline manager to notify that my baggage arrived check in on time. Turns out, he has been there all the time, watching the drama.
‘Just settle them and get your bag. You know our people’. I smiled at him and went into good bye calls, inadvertently rattling some people.
‘Oga, na your bag’. I turned and it was the tall lanky fellow. I let him preach to me for two minutes on why I needed a certificate to export a whole 5kg of fish but thanks to the benevolence of this all powerful Nigerian civil servant, I didn’t have to bother on this occasion.
Well I finally checked in my bag. Alleluia! If you think anything is easy, you have not been to Naija. So I went to the airline manager to testify what the good Lord has done for me.
‘Oh, they don release am. That’s good. Anything for me?