A Land Without Consequences
Updated: Nov 25, 2020
Last year December, I was on my way to a wedding on Christmas Eve and headed home to do a quick outfit change . It’s December in Lagos and on I am set for my third function for the day. All of a sudden I see a truck and hear a screeching and grinding of metal with a horrible sound of metal being ripped apart . I take a breath and take a look at my car and confirm it had just been brushed by a Garbage truck . I have been in my fare share of accidents . 4 to be honest. The first one was my fault and the last three the damage was done to me . After my first accident that was my fault I paid a hefty sum to fix both my car and other car- after that I experience I had become extremely an cautious driver.
Back to this garbage truck that wanted to ruin my Christmas cheer .
I quietly and firmly began engaging with the driver and told him that he would have to pay for the damages. He began a normal speech of begging and pleading that he is sorry he can’t afford it. I calmly told him he can call his employer so they would be responsible for the damages. He begged a bit and kept “pleading for forgiveness “ I looked at his truck ( it was battered and had dents all over it , part of the bumper had metal sticking out and it looked accidents was a reoccurring theme for the truck) .I looked back at him and continued insisting on compensation for my car.
As time went on myself and the driver came to a stalemate (I had walked back to my car and told him I was not leaving until I got compensation) the drivers continuance turned aggressive and he began insulting me specifically stating that “I am wicked .” I was a bit perturbed and confused. I had maintained a very calm demeanour throughout the incident and only insisted he provide some sort of compensation, as my mechanic was not going to take begging as payment to fix the significant damage on my car.
Then it hit me, he was not truly remorseful for the damage he inflicted on my car ,but had only feigned remorse because it usually worked to get him out of paying for damages and he was done faking it.
Our country is in a perpetual state of chaos because there are no consequences for our actions. Human nature is extremely cunning and manipulative , hence why the concept of The Law exists , countries that are lawless destroy themselves .
The case I cited above is a regular example of life in Nigeria . That driver had been in multiple accidents- from evidence of the damage all over the truck- he was used to hitting people’s cars and not dealing with the repercussions. In psychology there is a term called Operant Conditioning. According to Operant Conditioning, behavior that is followed by pleasant consequences is likely to be repeated, and behavior followed by unpleasant consequences is less likely to be repeated (Skinner 1948 ) . In a society where there are are significant consequences for negative behavior, there is higher chance that an individual will avoid those actions. Operant Conditioning coins this as Punishers which are “Responses from the environment that decrease the likelihood of a behavior being repeated. Punishment weakens behavior” ( Skinner 1948). I honestly believe in empathy and mercy . I believe in forgiveness and felt compelled to release the driver after the accident. But I kept thinking about the frequency in which his reckless driving had damaged other cars and the fact that he continued to maintain an indifference to being a safe driver.
The very first job I had , I had a perpetual habit of being late and my supervisor complained about. I tried very hard to be timely but couldn’t seem to make it to work on time . Finally , she sent a memo stating that if I was late to work , I would loose half a days pay- I was never ever late to work again . Whether monetary repercussions or firm legal repercussions NIGERIA solutions will only come to surface when consequences are enforced. Someone once said me they can never live abroad , curious I inquired why , they said because there are too many laws and too much tax. A system that does not protect itself against protects itself fails to be a functioning system.