he popular saying that "home is home" is not far fetched for any Nigerian who has lived abroad for substantial amount of years that makes one feel awkward or different whenever he/she visit home; some of these activities are signs that tells you that you are no where else in the world but NIGERIA.
WELCOME TO NIGERIA....our great nation !
You know you are in Nigeria when things start looking and sounding dysfunctional, the moment your plane is about touching down at Murtala Mohammed Airport MMA and you look outside only to see cloud covers and smoke and still descending, you keep noticing smoke, otherwise known as air pollution from emissions. If you are arriving at night, you can't help but notice, massive darkness and sometimes, one side of the settlements below from the plane window has light and the other, is pitch dark. On getting to the arrival hall you are feeling over 40 degrees C or 110 F because the AC is bad or still under repairs. Once you scale through immigration and after probably getting through the customs without being asked; 'oga/madam wetin' you bring for us ? of-course dropping something between your passport; you are approached by different people all at once but your relatives and friends, who are trying to sell you recharge cards, carry your bags etc.
The first things you observe leaving the airport is the un-kept landscape on both sides of the road and if arriving at night , the street lights that glow very much like old 17th century street lights in London and before arriving Oshodi oke, you may have been stopped by three or more police checkpoints. The officer looks at your luggage's and smiles telling you "tokunbo" abeg find us something and you foolishly deep your hands in your bag or pocket bringing out the note, handing it over and realizing that you just gave him 100 dollar note or 50 pounds sterling or Euros and you cant say to him; give me back the money....you may have to bribe your way through everything.
You speak the truth about the poor state of things and peeps look at you like you are crazy, you ask for change in any transaction and they laugh at you, you have peeps praise you only to realize that its the money that they need not what or how you are perceived. You never experience one full day of electricity and continue to alternate the main KVA and i "pass my neighbor" in order to save gas., also dealing with the generator noise around the homes that makes it sound like you are in a carnival and all the neighbors competing on who can make the most noise with their gen. Yes when Baba Kasali put on his gen, you now realize the difference between military artillery and shelling as oppose nija police shooting. You realize at the end of the month that you have spent more on gas (fuel) for generator than what you use in feeding your family.
The roads are so bad that every body buys SUV to avoid advocating for good roads and when you try to find a street, you have to ask because there are no street signs, while your GPS or Tom Tom is useless if you have one. Mr kasali next door refuses to carry out drainage or pave the street but built the largest mansion on a plot of land, which is still being disputed by the ever notorious land speculators (omo oni le) after selling the plot to more than three people. Every neighborhood is now called estates, you find estates in Mushin market, Oshodi market , Makoko and so on and they all have landlord associations, who collect monthly fees and no corresponding works being done on the street but the chairman and other excos are busy upgrading their lives. The streets to every estate are in the worst conditions and yet the people say they leave in an estate by just putting gates at the entrance and having some clowns wear blue and black with sticks calling them security...you better have yours at home than trusting your life and property to group of people poorly trained on security.
Taking a trip on a good day in Lagos, you see a guy hawking pure water with Gsm phone wort 300 pounds sterling in hand and yet he would collect the last 200 Naira on you but not give you change waiting for the bus to move in traffic. You find all type of things being hawked and if you look well you may as well find your missing DVD or stolen handset sold back to you.,
If for any reason you are "privileged" to go to hospital, be ready for the surprise of your life; if its a govt owned hospital , pray your sickness is not life threatening because that may be a one way trip inside the hospital and no return. You are asked to buy everything thats needed to treat you including surgical gloves and cotton wool but if you have the money then go to private hospital; you will be charged a arm and a leg just to get treated for malaria because you are in an hospital with air-condition. You keep treating yourself for malaria like someone on permanent medication.
Looking back at home you keep feeding and giving your driver pocket money and at month end he still gets salary for sleeping most of the time in the car while you are in the office or taking care of business, your house helps keep nicking everything you have in the house and if you complain they pack-up and leave like saying to you; your life depends on them but really , after being so dependent on them what do you expect. You prepare every morning with change in your pocket to tip police checkpoints like toll plazas and if you do not have the money , police man could delay you knowing very well that you are running late for work. You take a case to the police station and you become the culprit; you are asked to make payments and taxed surcharges before and after only to realize that they have taken money from the other party too.
On a social level you attend monthly meeting of your ethnic group and marvel at the dramas occurring within the group, so much argument and at the end of the day, you guys have drank , eaten and danced for more than 6 hours and arrived at no logical conclusion for having the meeting. You attend parties only in the day now because everyone is now self security conscious and you notice that when they are serving food, your table is skipped a few times because your host do not know who you are and when they are given out tokens or favors, its only those who bought "aso ebi" that are giving such and you wonder WHY ?........Hello ! you did not buy ASO EBI.
You go to the market; for the ladies and the market women can smell that you are from abroad without even saying one word and trust me , your price will be different. God help you if you speak in queens English or Yankee slangs and see what you get. Most items sold like spare parts by my Ibo brothers have different grades; grades 1-5; 1-Taiwan to 5 USA and if you ask where is nija made, they look at you and laugh saying, nija no dey make this one ! There are boys loitering the market to beckon on you to buy parts, telling you they have shades and if you dont buy from the first guy, you may as well not buy because the next guy is connected to the next guy and so on as such , your price keeps going up and God help you the type of vehicle you bring to the market determines your price also.
On business, i pray you dont have to visit any ministry or govt agencies for business or contract ; you will regret ever coming there because from the gate, the security guys would torment you thinking they are doing their job but realizing that when you bring out naira, all that was just a show. You keep filling out forms because you are going in to see Obama. As you proceed inside, the secretary of your host, he/she greets you not with a smile but a bold face like saying" wetin this man come do here sef" and you take a sit and that position you are seating may well be your sit for the next 6 hours. Ohhh sorry sir, oga is still busy and from time to time shes answering the phone; speaking with low tone and proceed to tell the other person who came after you to go inside to see oga. After a few sessions like that you realize that the guy does not want to see you and looking at the time its already 6pm. You arrived at open and helped to close for the day. The contract session continues because you are not giving up; after-all , i traveled from Europe or America to come for this and you are told that you need to drop over 50% of the contract amount in an account before you are awarded and by your calculations; you may end up with two options; take the contract and dont execute it because you will not be making money if you do or simply refuse it based on principles. Now you are frustrated and speaking all types of languages and cursing yourself for coming or simply start comparing nija to the west , were you came from......
You have now completed your sojourn in Nigeria after two to six weeks as a tourist in your fatherland and going through all this pleasant experience and many more, you are forced to ask your self; is it wort it ? this Nija is really dysfunctional and you now become an advocate overnight. You are amazed that most people do not see any difference in your observation as it all seem normal to them but yet you see it differently. As you board the plane and its taking off, you blow a sign of relief, tuck into your seat , buckle up and go to sleep, still dreaming of your encounter in the largest single black nation on mother earth called home.
Moments later , your attention is called by the flight attendant , who ask you what you want to eat , like you have many options..beef or chicken ? she says...ummmmm ! . Well when done eating , you relax to watch movies, 7-10 hours into flight the announcement comes from the captain that you are arriving your destination and your heart and head starts pounding, what is wrong with me ? you ask looking through the window...yes nothing is wrong, its just that the reality of the white mails(bills), rat race, piles of work in the office, and others which you are coming to meet , sets in and alas, you momentarily start appreciating Nigeria again and saying , i will be back home as soon as i can work to save the money for the next trip....then you submit yourself back to the faith that awaits you in your borrowed country.
E go better ! E go better ! you say to yourself as your friend, relation , wife, husband or cab takes you home ! Nigeria in-spite of all its drama is home anytime; any-day..WE must try our best to savage her and it starts with YOU and I.......cheers