Sometime last year I was at one of the Public health offices in Ibadan to move health officers (popularly known in the Southwest as ‘Wolewole’) to inspect a house we believe is likely to pose environmental and health hazard to neighboring house owners and occupants due to termite infestation.
On getting there, I (and the most troublesome partner anyone could ever have) informed them of our reason for coming and one of the officers – Mrs. B was so excited about it and enlightened us on several actions that could be taken against the owner and occupants of the house constituting such nuisance as we had reported. She went to town in citing statutory provisions and instances which reiterate their powers to abate nuisance.
But, this eye-opener and their willingness to act accordingly came at a price. No, our Mrs. B didn’t ask for a bribe, at least so she said. All she wanted was she MUST be given transport fare of
N10,000 (from Bodija market to Bodija estate) and that upon issuance of a notice to the owner and occupants of the house in question, she MUST be awarded the ‘contract’ of fumigating the house, else they were not moving an inch.
Shocked, I quickly ruminated on their statutory duties and powers as dished out to us by Mrs. B, but nowhere did the law make it compulsory for the Public Health Office to be the one to fumigate a house or any other structure, or for them to be given transport fare of
N10,000 or any amount at all.
Still in shock, my partner and I left their office with the question; what Mrs. B is demanding, is it a bribe?