19 March 2009

Home Sweet Home!!

Well my vacation is well and truly over! Glad to be back home? Yes and no! I'm an Omo Port Harcourt, born, not exactly bred, but very much buttered in this town; and wherever i go PHC and Naija always beckon me back. But as much as I'm a green white green lover I can't stomach a lot about my country. I've been away a month and a fraction and as my return loomed closer I shed a tear or two. Not just because I was saying goodbye to my new found family but because of what I knew was waiting for me on my return.

I knew I was back in Nigeria the minute I disembarked the plane. The escalator wasn't working... international airport o no be local o!...neither was the airconditioning. We were herded through Immigration like cattle in the sweltering heat, a 15min process, for 1 1/2 hours and then another hour was spent waiting for baggage to appear. The nearly 3hrs spent trying to get out of the airport would've gotten me a third of the way to Dubai! That notwithstanding since i arrived Port Harcourt I've had about 2hrs of power. Not new you might say...but I've been in a country where the fact that light went for 2 minutes is an abomination and blood is being called for!

Now...what baffled me about the Philippines was how they did all the things they did with no money other than that that is accrued through taxing OSWs (overseas workers), exporting rice and tourism! 90% of the roads I travelled were tarred, all villages and hamlets (or barrios) had electricity and water as well as their own standard elementary and high schools. One of the schools I visited looked like a park with flowers, a mini stream and cafeteria; and please note this is a public, provincial (equivalent to Local Government) school, not a high brow private city-based school.
Everyone knew what to do, drivers didn't need to be told to obey street signs, pedestrians were always given right of way, citizens were respected by all. The governor of the province came to see the family after Mama's passing. The strange thing was he came without flashing sirens, heavily armed guards or a tv crew to witness his arrival. No children lining the streets pretending to enjoy standing for hours under the baking sun. No police flogging drivers and pedestrians off the road to make way for the Governor. No! He came like the ordinary man he is and people didn't even bat an eyelid at his presence.

Here we pay for what we don't see. Light, water, sanitation, you name it we pay for it, but we never see it. Every month billions enter the bottomless pit called federal account but we see nothing in terms of social amenities and the likes. Even if government does nothing other than adequately provide the basic social infrastructure, I believe the average Nigerian will be content and most agitation will end.

Accommodation is paid monthly unless you want a long lease, and the accommodation usual comes furnished. A self contained (furnished) apartment goes for about N80000 - N100000 per annum. I pay N120,000 for a 12*12 unfurnished self contained, where I'm responsible for everything from plumbing to leaking roofs and my rent gets jacked at will.
We 'hala' left right and center Giant of Africa (person wey get mouth fit use am talk anything abi?) but we only seem to be making giant strides internationally in the arena of advanced fee fraud, trafficking women to Italy, pushing cocaine and embezellment! Isn't it time we had a reality check and did a real audit of the state of the federation. Oil hasn't improved our lot as a nation, we are instead held hostage by OPEC producers, marketers and government alike what with ever fluctuating prices at the pumps. Maybe we should reevaluate our income sources and diversify just the way businesses do when a product is getting old.

I met a lot of Nigerians coming home from jaunts all over the world at the airport and to a one, all were busy bitching about how lousy our country is but no-one saw fit to offer a solution to improve the downright dismal situation. They blamed every Muyiwa, Danjuma and Chukudi for our collective problems but not once did they put the blame on them. As I always say...let's take a little responsibility for God's sake! We are all to blame! A man who sees a murder taking place and stands watching is just as guilty as the murderer. So as we sit watching the murder of our beloved motherland aren't WE culpable?
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