The Danger Of Being A Writer

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The Danger of being a writer is that sometimes you get lost in the world of writing…

Today I arrived at the MMA2 airport for my 9:30 am flight to Port-Harcourt. After checking in, I went to the security counter used re-verify ID cards against boarding passes. In simple English they serve as an additional check in-case the check-in counter did a bad job in verifying IDs… genius! Except that it did not quite function that way today …

I presented my drivers license and my boarding pass to the officer on duty. My face was checked against my ID picture, then my name was checked against the boarding pass and then the boarding pass was signed. I was cleared to enter the boarding area.

And then, just as I was about to vacate the vicinity, I caught in my peripheral vision the glimpse of a young guy arguing with the security officer that just checked my card. It was not the loud biosterous argument, but that quiet I-do-not-want-to-draw-attention-to-myself argument. With the young man saying “I have always done this before, there is no issue.” And then the security guard seemingly confused at what the young man was saying looked down … I followed his eyes to the countrer and there it was … a red debit card.

Said young man was trying to board a domestic flight with a debit card as his picture ID. But the problem was of course that Debit Cards do not have pictures on them.

No wonder the security guard was confused, the very purpose of his job was to match a face to an ID card and then the name on the same ID card to the boarding pass. In short words, a debit card could not be used to board a plane because it had no picture.

But right in my peripheral vision front of me, the security guard either unsure of his duties or too lazy to argue … cleared him. Allowing that young man to board a domestic flight in Nigeria with just a debit card.

I was shocked, how can this happen. This is a travesty. I have to WRITE about this! I had already even formed the opening words for the post

“Live at MMA2: individual goes to security counter with a debit card as picture ID but there is no picture on the card…”

And so I posted it on facebook here and the likes came in and then the comments.

But then someone asked “You no hala for them?” aka “So what did you do about it?”

And for the first time I realized that I could have done something in that moment… but I did nothing.

And you see, that is danger of being a writer, a journalist, a photographer and even a gossip. And it is that we are so pre-occupied with capturing the perfect picture, the perfect gist, the perfect story and the perfect moment that we forget that we can actually tell the security officer that debit cards cannot be used as picture IDs, that we forget that we can report the situation to other authorities rather than just blogging about it and that we forget that we can actually ALTER the moment.

The Danger of being a writer is that sometimes we get lost in the world of writing … like I did this morning …

twitterWritten and Drawn By Okechukwu Ofili of
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Words by Okechukwu Ofili of
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20 comments on “The Danger Of Being A Writer

  1. I’m reminded of a joke where a security officer at the airport asked a man why he had a Child ticket on him, and the man replied “because I’m a child of God”.

    But boarding a flight with a debit card? Haba! Our security officials really need to wake up. Sad how people get away with anything these days..

    • Lol at “Child of God”

      Ofili, your write up reminds me of a video i stumbled upon during one of my google surfing session. It was of a professor who was giving a lecture and passed out. To my surprised, his students brought out their phones to capture a video of him passed out.

      What shocked me was the fact that capturing the next viral was more important to them than helping a human being in need. This piece reminds us that we have a responsibility to the other that goes beyond our ability to dwell in any given moment. In this case, its informing an inexperienced or oblivious worker about the requirements of the duties assigned to him.

      Your blog posts are usually the highlight of my day. God bless that brain of yours.
      Monale Alemika latest post is the intimidation of adamMy Profile

  2. I’ve seen it happen once at the Abuja airport. The security man didn’t even flinch. He allowed the man to pass through just like that. This also reminds me of the award winning picture taken by a photo journalist showing a vulture waiting to feed off a dying and starving child. The journalist was condemned for just taking the picture and not doing anything to help the child. He later committed suicide after suffering from bouts of depression. We need to more rather than adopt the siddon look position.

  3. Didn’t you just write about the need for proper identication for everyone, and this happens in your very before? A debit card for iD? those things that are so easily lost or stolen. And with the security challenges we’ve been having recently, Terrible!

  4. I had same experience on the 31st of December at MMA2 and it was not just one person. Two people before me used their debit cards and they were cleared, it was like a usual thing. This issue should beaddressed and as concerned individuals we should speak up when such happens

  5. It is scary how the security issues at our airports have been ignored for quite a while. We are used to taking the arm chair approach in most situations and end up doing nothing.

  6. I can quite relate with Tami’s regale of the photo-journalist’s story. The same way 9ja youths update everything — good or bad — and then put the word “things” beside ’em as companion. As in “drowning things”, “raping things”, “lynching things”, “Sambisa things”. . . when we could’ve done “tangible things” to help or make things better.

    The MMA2 experiences underscore the issue of insecurity in Nigeria. What if the debit card guy was a psycho, or a terrorist. . . or someone that shouldn’t be on that plane? Corruption isn’t our only problem, our laxity is quite detrimental.

    Thanks Ofilli. Tell us! 🙂
    Adewoyin Joseph latest post is Quick Scribble: A Luta Continua . . .My Profile

  7. Pingback: Ceux qui changent le Monde | L’Unité dans la DiversitéL’Unité dans la Diversité

  8. Code of silence goes hand in hand with the attitude of grab my own and move. We are generally unconcerned about the big picture.
    On my way back from work on Friday, there was traffic, and the passengers actually started insulting the driver for not taking the wrong lane. Just one guy at the back and myself took sides with the driver.
    I made a decision to consciously start speaking up when I see something not right. Tho not easy for me, I plan to keep at it.

  9. I learnt from this…thanks for sharing.
    But look at it this way, by writing about it, you are doing something about it, creating awareness, sensitizing people and maybe that guy wasn’t stopped but it could change the whole system. Sometimes maybe writing is your way of effecting a change, it may not be immediate but it will work, maybe even a lasting change…

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