Saturday, December 15, 2012

Two Years Later...

Returned to Nigeria 11 months ago after two years in absentia, and not much has changed – not that I expected it to, although a part of me hoped for some improvement.

My first Nigerian experience after so long was on the plane from Dubai. The young lady sitting next to me found it so taxing to say ‘thank you’ after being served by the air hostesses, even though she’d heard me say ‘thank you and yes, please’ on several occasions. I suppose she thought, ‘Hey, it’s their job so why should I say thanks?’ Well, how about a little courtesy and a show of gratitude? It wouldn’t hurt now, would it?

Meanwhile, somewhere in the next aisle was a truculent man who had been asked nicely by the air hostess to pull his seat to the upright position before take-off. He attempted to do so half-heartedly and proceeded to go back to sleep. After she had asked him to pull up his seat a second time, she went on to get it done herself because he’d ignored her.

Someone needs to inform Mr. Anonymous that there are safety procedures that need to be followed especially during take-off and landing, so when an air hostess/host asks him to pull up his seat, they aren't doing so just for kicks.

Another trait I noticed Nigerians have stubbornly refused to shake off is their inability to obey instructions. Shortly before landing in Lagos, the pilot announced passengers shouldn’t stand until the plane had come to a final stop and the seat belt signs were turned off.

Strangely enough, the announcement was forgotten instantly, because two minutes later, as soon as the plane touched down, people started getting up and opening the over-head lockers!! Was there something in the recycled cabin air that made virtually everyone forget the instructions? It was mind-boggling and embarrassing to watch Nigerians being impatient and overly excited about nothing. Needless to say, a flight attendant had to reiterate the pilot’s instruction before everyone came back to their senses and sat down - so much for re-branding Nigeria.

Upon deplaning, I was hit by the warm, muggy air as I proceeded through endless, long corridors to customs. As a fairly active person, I'm not one to seek out escalators, however on this particular day I made an exception as I was sweating, in pain, and irritable from the oppressive heat. However, there were none in sight, and to make matters worse, I had to climb down the crowded stairs at a snail’s pace to get to immigration.

Need I say that Murtala Muhammed Airport is in dire need of revamping and updating; it is a shameful eye sore. 

If the airport and the ride home weren’t enough to convince me I was back in Nigeria, coming back home to no power did it for me. For reasons unknown to me, Nigeria has not found a solution for the epileptic power supply, which I suspect isn’t difficult to resolve. Evidently, the powers that be, short-sighted as they are, have decided to remain oblivious to the benefits of constant power supply to the economy and lives of ordinary Nigerians.

Am I glad to be home after being away for two years? Yes, I am. Am I disappointed that in the two years I've been gone there has been no significant progress made? Double yes.

Re-branding Nigeria is more than saying those words. It requires us shaking off our old ways of acting and doing thing. If we don’t change our bad habits, re-branding Nigeria is going to remain as real a notion as the cow jumping over the moon.

PS: As for the excruciatingly slow internet connection I am trying to come to grips with, only Heaven can bestow the patience I need to stop me from pulling my hair out.