As much as people from the outside world want to portray Nigerians in bad light, some of our people help them to conclude we are really bad. The rush at airports when we want to travel is a result of the usual rush to get into cabs or the fast-disappearing molues on Lagos roads.
A visit to the departure lounge of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport will make you think there is war in Nigeria and everybody is making haste to leave. The airport officials make it worse as they keep driving people, including those who have business to do there, away, as usual, citing security reasons.
If we however limit this attitude or behaviour to our country, it is understandable as foreigners may accept it as our way of life. However, transfering some of our bad attitude outside our shores is very serious and embarrassing.
Imagine this, a Nigerian traveller on Board ASKY, a Togolese airline transiting in Lome on a journey to Abidjan, after waiting for close to one hour thirty minutes to connect to Abidjan at the Gnasingbe Eyadema International Airport in Lome, decides to do a crazy thing.
All through our stay at the departure lounge, this dark guy wearing an afro hair with a dressing that makes him look like a polished babalawo, leaves the queue at the tarmac and attempted peeing on the lawn close to where the aircraft was packed. But for the quick intervention of a ground staff who blocked him like one of those bouncers hired by the Super Eagles of Sunday Oliseh era, he would have done it in the open, the Nigerian way. Naija man must be Naija man, some of us on the queue chorused.
Antidote for Ubani, Ojeikere
Before the ADC air crash I was experienced enough to know about, I never feared flying in Nigeria. Not anymore especially when the plane experiences turbulence, no matter how small. The aspect that makes me really scared is when the aircraft suddenly drops in altitude, to avoid some terrible storm.
When I say I’m scared, that could be an understand statement when compared to my boss and friend, Tony Ubani and Ade Ojeikere, another good friend and Sports Editor of the Nation newspaper.
While mine is just to grit my teeth during turbulence, Ubani could go as far as grabbing the passenger sitting next to him, while Ojeikere lets out a loud scream of JESUS that could make other panicking passengers more uncomfortable.
On my way here to the Afrobasket 2013, I flew a Togolese Bombardier propeller aircraft belonging to ASKY from Lagos through Lome to Abidjan. As a small aircraft, it did not fly above 14,000 on the Lome leg which was just 30 minutes. The little turbulence, as usual scared me.
But guess what, the second leg of the journey from Lome to Abidjan was a wonderful experience. It was because I suddenly developed some kind of confidence, sat calmly even when the aircraft jerked on end. Why? I had a glass of red wine after the meal on board. The wine really calmed my nerves.
In Nigeria during local flights, wine is never served so one must be ‘normal’ and your body worked up during any turbulence. I will recommend a glass of wine for Ubani and Ojeikere when they fly locally but will the airlines allow us carry our wine bottles on board? Even if they allow, what will Ubani do now that he has abdicated his position as president of the Vanguard newsroom bar and drinks only water?
Shame on our leaders
As I write this fellow Nigerians, I have spent three days in Abidjan and that means 72 hours. And in those long hours, light has not blinked in the Ibis Hotel abode of the Nigerian basketball delegation. No buzzing of generators anywhere near the area.
Some people may say that the hotel is in the highbrow area of Abidjan but I beg to disagree that it has nothing to do about the steady power supply here. Recently I was at the Eko Hotel and Suites for an event and in a space of two short hours, light went out twice, in Victoria Island, not in Ajegunle mind you. The fact is that Ivorian leaders are just better managers than our leaders who have enormous resources, far much than their Ivorian counterparts have, but yet don’t know what to do with it except siphon it into their private bank accounts.
We say we are giants of Africa, yet our smaller brothers all over Africa manage their small resources better than we do. Yes you could say there is corruption everywhere in Africa but I make bold to say that ours is of monumental proportion and nobody cares. The people are helpless but can’t they really do something?
Remember Russia just made it a crime for any public officer or his relation to own a foreign bank account in their bid to check official corruption. And the very day it was announced, a junior minister whose wife had one, had to resign from the cabinet.
Can that ever happen in Nigeria where public officers celebrate their first one billion Naira with private jets that dot all the airports in the country? Go to the local wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport and see how Nigerians are competing to park their private jets. And this is in a country that can’t boast of steady power supply for three consecutive hours, at least in Lagos where I reside.
It is really a big shame to our leaders.
Drama in the Lift
At the Ibis Hotel where the Nigerian team are lodged, six other teams are here. They are Egypt, Burkina Faso, Morocco, Central Africa Republic, Mozambique and Mali who are incidentally Nigeria’s only group mate in the same hotel.
The hotel has three Lifts with one reserved for the workers of the hotel who visit each of the floors regularly to ensure that everything works well for the teams. Each of these Lifts is supposed to take eight persons or carry loads not more than 630kg.
That means that each of these eight persons shouldn’t weigh more than 79 kg approximately. But on this day, four Nigerians including myself had entered one of the Lifts but suddenly two Egyptian players sauntered in, making us six which was not more than the stipulated requirement.
As one of us pushed the button to get going down, the Lift jerked and started making a funny noise. The two Egyptians looked at each other and decided to step out, since they joined last and pronto, the lift started moving down.
These Egyptians were really massive and tall. The lift in which Olumide Oyedeji, one of the tallest Nigerian players stood without bending, these Egyptians bowed a little to be able to fit in. From my calculation, both of them could have had a combined weight of more than 320kg, more than what we the four Nigerians weighed for the Lift to scream.