I would naturally not resort to a blog post about a silly incident.
It has however now become important that I alert the general unsuspecting public to the little evils that lie in that calabar airport car park.
Why would I take my time and precious energy to write about an airport car park?
I have been so traumatised by the events that have ensued in that location that I have to vent about it, and tag it.
The earlier we start speaking up in this country about our rights as consumers who ought to be treated fairly the better.
I will mention some persons.
This does not mean they are responsible for what happened or have any role to play in it.
For a place I refer to as my hometown, it is quite saddening that everytime I have a reason to go to the airport, I cannot do so freely without fear that I’ll have to pay 5,000 naira to quell the huge ego’s of a security guard called ‘malabar’ as he was referred to.
An old dark complexioned man who wears glasses and should be in his early 60’s or late 50’s.
I have hardly had any personal contact with this fellow in the 11years of driving within and without calabar, picking people at the airport or travelling thereof myself.
He sometimes collects the ticket fee for parking or some corper recently employed does so.
He however sits in the gate house.
One of the first persons to meet you as you arrive the airport.
July 29th 2013
Aero contractors has sent an sms rescheduling their 12pm flight to lagos to 4pm.
I need to confirm this and explore other options.
I humbly drive into the airport.
I pay the 250naira fee required.
On proceeding to park the fellows who tote luggage for travellers have strategically placed their trolleys to block parking space entrance.
I do not want to make a scene.
I calmly maneuver the car to park within the confines of the space their trolleys have afforded me, climb down.
‘Madam, repark your car’
I reply ‘please move your trolleys so I can do so’
‘Madam, if you leave this car here we will call them to lock your tyres’
‘ Where else would you like me to park? If this place is for your trolleys or cars, please let me know’
Some gap toothed/ broken front tooth fellow from within the airport office area comes out to say repark your car.
He’s short and fair with some blotchy skin areas.
I say ‘do I push their trolleys out ?I can’t even reverse properly to repark
The entire place is covered with your metal trolleys. Do I push 5 of them at once ?
My car is at the foot of a huge tree, whose roots have spilled out such that I park slanted avoiding damage to the car fender.
‘ If to say no be my papa car I carry, I for destroy those trolleys walahi’
The boys who own these things are sitting on the railings watching.
Making no attempt to move their contraptions from the back of my car where they have repositioned them after I parked.
I am sandwiched. The only other option would be to damage the body of the car with those things.
Then the threat-
We will call that old man to lock your tyres.
2minutes later I’m back from aero office.
I’ve decided to fly with arik
And the flight will arrive in an hour.
I rush out to go pick my luggage at home
My car tyres are locked.
This is where I meet mr.malabar, who appears after I ask who locked my tyres.
I ask him what happened.
‘Don’t ask me any questions’
‘Okay, unlock my tyre’
‘ He walks away’
I go after him.
Excuse me, you locked my tyre.what’s the problem? Can u remove that lock so I can leave ? I’m really surprised that those boys called you to do this and you did it.
Did you ask what happened first ?’
He goes ‘you are not even begging’
‘Why should I beg? They threaten me and they fulfil the threat. The surprising part is why you joined them to do this. If you all think I’m going to beg and settle, that’s untrue’
I’m in a hurry, what’s the fine? I need to leave’
I call a friend of mine called innocent he comes out.
He works at the airport.
I need a witness to this entire drama.
Innocent starts to plead with the man.
Some police men and one lady call me.
I tell them that they saw everything that happened as they were a few metres away.
Calling me now, was it to beg the old man? To allow them settle the issue so I donate breakfast money ? What exactly ?
They say I’m not ready for business.’ I should go jare’
I pay the 5,000 naira when the old man says I didn’t beg him.
I won’t beg anyone when I did no wrong.
Not now, not ever.
I collect a reciept issued by the corper who is apologising profusely over the issue.
5,000 naira won’t change my destiny.
The funny part is they started saying I shouldn’t pay. But that money had left my bag. I had prayed over it and they were going to collect it.
Someday,I’ll talk about spiritual implications.
My journey was peaceful and safe.
5th september 2013
I see the old man by the departure walkway on my way to abuja.
I say hello sir, do you remember me ?
The boys called you to lock my tyre last month and you did.
He said- you didn’t beg me na
I said ‘ really? Well, you know its bad to do such things. You joined them to harrass me. collecting money from people for no reason doesn’t pay.’
He says nothing.
My receipt was the 3rd issued for the year as parking fine.
The first was january.
Funny thing is I see a car with locked tyres every time I go to that airport save on a few occasions.
Where does all the money paid as fines go ?
Yes, big question.
15th october 2013.
I go to pick someone from the airport.
I pay, drive in.
The car park is full.
Two spaces have been reserved beside a black hilux near the arrival hall.
I ask two policemen, whom I’ve confirmed work with the airport, can I park here ?
Referring to the front of two black cars.
I park and sit inside, waiting.
I notice a black huge car behind me, bearing a tinapa fze plate number.
I later discover it came for the immediate past governor of the state.
The one we all love so much, and the one who piloted the start of the christmas festival.
There’s a 2006 honda city behind the hilux, a white toyota corolla, a black toyota (bank toyota) and another car.
All of us are parked in one long line blocking the cars beside us.
We are all waiting on a flight to arrive.
Aero comes in from lagos after 5mins.
Naturally, I leave the car.
2minutes later, its beeping wildly.
People beckon on me frantically.
Scared I rush a metre there.
Mr. Malabar clutching the tyre lock.
Bewildered I ask,
Ah ah, papa. What has happened again.
‘ The problem with you is that you lack respect, so you cannot beg me’
‘Ah ah, what did I do ?’
‘See cars behind me. 4of them.Lock their tyres first na’
My colleague comes to join me.
A crowd of spectators has gathered.
A church member, mr.omini starts begging the man.
He says I should apologise.
I’m like huh ?
What did I do ?
He said apologise or I lock your tyres.
I say sorry.
Then I start smiling and shake my head.
Ah, he goes crazy.
Points his finger at me.
‘ You are hissing for me’
‘You are hissing for me’
‘I will lock this tyre, you will cry. You will pay 5,000 naira to the federal government’
I’m thinking this– The first time you did it, didn’t I pay? Did I die?
Now mind you, our finance minister started this ippis thing.
Doctors, medical staff under federal pay haven’t received full salaries for 4months.
In my case, 3months of nothing.
We started a strike on the 1st of october.
I said to myself, I’m going to still get my salary.
5,000 naira out of 15days I’ve spent sleeping at home is no biggie.
But I need to know why there are 5cars parked and mine is the one serving punishment.
The man says he has my size at home
Has washed me down.
Onlookers of about 10 in number have added their theories that women are all the same.
Pity for the women who marry such idle men though.
Some tall guy called Godwin rushes off to get a padlock, hands it to him.
They finish their misdeed.
Then I call mr.Godwin as someone says he gave the order.
If this is a show for the ex governor who by this time had arrived and was talking with some people 5feet from where my car drama was going on, I can’t tell.
He is rightly within ear shot
Seemed pretty likely though.
Why didn’t the policemen say big man dey come no park for him front of motor?
Anyway, I’m bini and ogbe .
I’m calabar south.
I don’t waste time.
If I’m parked wrongly then everyone else behind me is too.
Mr. Godwin is quiet.
Stop talking other men say.
I say why ?
Why ?someone explain to me why you are being unfair ?
Why is this old man after me ?
Public embarrassment , pointing fingers at me. The works!
Mr. Godwin proceeds to tell me a very long story which has nothing to do with my car.
He ends by saying the protocol is to call someone who parked wrongly to repark their car.
If they fail to do so, their tyres are locked.
Then I ask.
Did you follow your protocol before you locked mine ?
Yes or No ?
He admits No.
Okay, so now why ?
He’s tired he says. He’s stressed.
He just saw my car. He didn’t see the jeep behind mine.
Not because it is a jeep.
But he just didn’t see it.
Okay, now why must Mr.Malabar harrass me so ?
This is the second time.
The moment the fellow saw me he went bonkers.
Maybe he thought I’d settle
I don’t do bribery!
If I’m wrong, I’ll pay, u issue me a receipt
It goes to FGN.
That’s not your problem or mine.
If I wasn’t in federal employ, perhaps no.
At this point, Mr.Godwin had walked off to God knows where.
I went to the managers office
The PA to the manager of the airport was around.
Oga had gone for sallah.
PA follows me .
We find mr. Godwin
I tell them both that mr.malabar is here to serve the public and not the other way around.
Its inconcievable that because he’s older than me, he would wriggle fingers at me and say all what not.
The right thing would be for him to offer me the same apology I was forced to give him.
But he’s an older man, its an african society.
They won’t chastise him for his wild behaviour.
I don’t have a jEep.
I didn’t borrow one to drive to the airport today.
I am not huge and tall.
Infact I’m a mere 5ft.
But that doesn’t mean caution should be thrown to the wind.
Today I have met Mr.Godwin,the PA to airport manager, but is all that necessary ?
Do I have to call people each time I go to the airport innocently ?
The issue here isn’t this entire hullabaloo.
What if its someone who’s a visitor to calabar who is put through this.
The airport packing lot is a cemented stretch of space.
No restricted areas, save those the car hire service drivers have kept for themselves.
No security personel to direct parking.
Nobody to ask questions on what to do.
For a city that plans to host upwards of thousands of new visitors each christmas?
What happened to civility ?
What happened to customer care ?
What happened to just being fair ?
Why should Mr. A park wrongly and Mr.B cannot if at all I did park wrongly.
This is not the first, second, third or fourth time I’ve seen cars parked as so.
I have also been stationed in similar manner before.
Why is it that we choose to enforce non existent rules when it suits us? To make the ex governor happy ?
Its a pity if they tried to bully me because they needed to be masterly inactive.
I mean, it makes sense.
You sight Mr. Ex governor, whom I respect a lot by the way.
You want to be seen to be doing something.
You ask them to lock my tyres.
You end up embarrassing me, yourself and the ex.governor.
Oh yes, I think he clearly saw what was going on and had to keep his head down and gist with the people around him, until his car was brought around from the same banned parking spot where his tyres were not locked.
Why don’t the people who make the rules keep them?
Mr.Malabar is old enough to be my father but my father wouldn’t point fingers at his child in public or scream uttering such words as were thrown at me today.
Christmas is around the corner.
Visitors will start pouring into calabar.
I will avoid that airport like a plague
But I’m happy that today I fought for my freedom to park in the car park without fear of Mr.Malabar and his brown uniformed touts and accomplices.
I hope I never get to meet him when he is in need.
He never apologised and I left the airport because it was pointless to keep insisting he did.
Elders do not apologise even when they are wrong.
MR.Godwin told my friend that he can’t support the customer at the risk of his staff.
Amazing isn’t it?
The country we call ours.
We truly do not belong until we are rich, wielding power and influence.
Let the poor suffer on.
But not me.
Not in silence.
I won’t be denied my right to justice or fairplay.
And so you should too.
Keep those eyes open for Mr.Malabar. He could just have the yellow bar behind him or the old fashioned rusted metal plate with which he reigns over the airport car park behind him.
Be careful people!
To be fore warned is to be forearmed.
And just incase he gets you, call Mr.Gideon.
This , is public information.
If we can’t beat them, we’ll join them.
If you have to pay, collect a receipt.
Don’t negotiate nothing.
Help Nigeria grow with your fines.
Updated post – sunday october 20th 2013
I do not know if I mentioned that I asked Mr.Simon and the secetary to the airport manager to call Mr. Malabar so we could all speak with him and determine what gripes he had with me.
Sequel to this public embarrassment, my church member who attempted to wade into the issue, told my brother to talk to me.
Reason- I behaved badly.
Facts stated- He reported the events which occurred ( in whatever form ) and the picture painted was of myself being insolent,headstrong and unable to apologise to a wronged elder.
It took me a long time to sort things out.
If only said he knew the events that unfolded after he walked away when Mr.malabar had clamped my tyres.
He left and now this.
Its usually beyond what it appears.
This is a typical example of how african society works.
PreTty sad if you ask me.
28th October 2013
I was given this access sticker by the P.A to the airport manager.
This means I don’t get to pay whenever I make a trip to the airport.
It also means sometimes it pays to stand your ground and not run away tail between legs.
Plus the airport authority recognised that what their staff did was bad and made moves to make amends.
Overall, it wasn’t a pleasant experience but we all have learnt valuable lessons.
Stay blessed y’all.