For over a month of being in Germany, I have busied myself with the thoughts of when my blessed country Nigeria – the giant of Africa – will truly change and upgrade to that nation where there will truly be institutional framework needed to benefit our people.
We are tarred with the brush of distrust and outright disrespect for the rule of law and human lives. For us, we are a religious people with godliness as the missing link. To a very large extent, we are guilty of all these when viewed against the backdrop of our conduct as a people. It is still a serious source of concern to many compatriots the awkwardness in our style as a nation.
While it’s a dread walking on Nigerian roads, the German model reveals quite the opposite. The pedestrian’s right is so respected such that when the traffic light orders the motorist to a stop, he can’t do otherwise. The system so much allows people in their 70’s and 80’s or above to walk freely across the road without the fear of being knocked down by a hit-and-run motorist.
Is it not amazing to see my humble self walk like a king in Germany when crossing the road? On one such occasion, my AIT colleague, Sola, was quick to caution me to be wary of the vehicular traffic. The image of that rambunctious drivers along Wuse, Berger (Abuja), Oshodi/Maroko(Lagos), Mararaba(Nasarawa), Maraba (Ilorin), Gidan Murtala(Kano) and Onitsha, instantly crossed my mind. But again, the damning thought got quashed as soon as it dawned on me such insanity won’t just happen here in Germany where there is respect for human lives.
Our unofficial but hospitable guide, Abiodun Opadeji, told a story of his parents’ visit. He said whenever they were at any crossing point and he asked them to follow, the oldies would simply stay back fearing that a mentally deranged driver could hit them. ‘Emi ni je oniwakuwa kan o ko lumi’ meaning ‘I won’t allow any reckless driver hit me.
And would you blame the duo? Both Baba and Mama were always conscious of the insanity or impatience on Osogbo roads and of course elsewhere in the country. Not even his many assurances that ‘such things don’t happen here’ would inspire in them some level of confidence.
It is quite amazing to note that even when such motorists have the right of way where there is no traffic light to regulate, the pedestrian still chooses to work at his or her own pace without any form of harassment from motorists or anyone at that. Same goes for cyclists who also observe the highest level of sanity on the lane provided for them, as well as for the pedestrians. That is the life of decency lived in this part of the world.
The watchword here is discipline both on the part of the leaders and the led. This sanity on the road is achievable because of the people’s orientation and readiness to do things right and allow the system to work. I am still waiting to see a lawmaker, governor or minister gallivanting and blaring siren to disrupt the public peace here in Bonn as we do in my country. Are you saying it can’t happen? my next 54 days will provide me the necessary answer!
Police response team
The only siren that blares very constantly around here is usually the one coming from the police or fire fighters. For the police, one sees them quite often neatly dressed, looking cute and earning public respect and not opprobrium. At regular intervals, one sees a female officer behind the wheel, giving me a different picture of what I see in my country.
The closest we are to the police was when a rift ensued between a physically challenged and an able bodied. Of course, I was already deep in my sleep at about 1.00am when my colleague witnessed it all. He said, as typical of the police, they raced to our neighbourhood following an emergency call from a passerby who gave a statement to the team on arrival.
In fact, all the way from Ilorin on Saturday, my boy –Abdulazeez – asked why he was yet to hear the siren-blaring usually at the background whenever we are talking. Lo and behold, barely had he finished asking the question when the siren came alive! That tells you the efficiency and level of response of the police in moment of emergency.
I think one thing is clear here. it’s not that the society doesn’t have a fair share of crimes and criminalities but there is a system in place that quickly nips such in the bud without somebody’s criminal tendencies affecting the lives of the innocent.
So, what the heck are we really talking about? Where are those images of the dreaded VIO, the FRSC and the almighty police erecting some barriers in the middle of the road for all manner of reasons? One begins to wonder if there are no lawmakers, governors or top government functionaries the rights to blare siren in Bonn.
A typical German has that national pride in him and very conscious of that. He is quick to exhibit that in all phases and places. “You don’t expect all Germans you will be coming in contact with to speak English,” so we were forewarned by Dr. Vladimr Kreck, KAS Country Representative ahead of our departure.
Yes, we are faced with the stark reality at different public places we find ourselves. In most places, you are not given the benefit of getting the message outside Deutsch–their language. Even your bank account is communicate to you in Deutsch! The onus then lies on you to fathom what on earth they are saying.
In fact, at a point, my colleague and I agreed that for a relatively long stay as ours, a German lesson is very much desirable. It is in my candid view and opinion that KAS should advise in this direction – at least a month if not two months’ lesson ahead of departure. This would help a great deal.
It is interesting to note that the computer system here in Germany is configured in the local language, thus making a non-German almost a digital illiterate in this modern world. Again, you don’t blame them as that is the best way to engrave in their people, especially the younger generation from being appendages of other western nations. To me, it’s good thinking.
And giving the level at which some non-Germans delightfully speak German language (KAS’ Samson Adeniran comes to mind), I shudder to think if the objective for the national pride is not being achieved than planned.