Sunday, April 21, 2013

In Nigeria, You're on Your Own

I was rudely reminded a few days ago that in Nigeria you're truly on your own in terms of the Nigerian government not being in the business of providing assistance to its citizens.

On arriving at Murtala Mohammed airport, I proceeded to the Arik check in counter for my boarding pass. In a bid to present my ID and ticket, I placed my laptop bag (containing my laptop and some documents) on the metallic platform attached to the counter so I could search my handbag with my free hand. Just as I was about presenting the documents to the lady at the counter, she advised that I move to the next counter as she was presently occupied. So I moved to the next counter, but forgot to take my laptop with me, and it wasn't until I arrived at the metal detectors that I realized I'd abandoned it on the counter.

Immediately, I made a quick dash to the counter, and to my consternation it was gone! In a matter of less than 5 minutes! What still baffles me is the time frame within which the incident happened.

I asked all the so-called security men patrolling the check-in counter if they'd seen it, and of course they said they hadn't. I asked if there were security cameras, but again they answered in the negative. In actuality, there are cameras in the airport, but like most things Nigerian, they weren't functional. As I stood there trying to comprehend why the cameras weren't working, someone advised that I speak with the NAA (Nigeria Airport Authority) representative stationed by the airport door.

At that point, I had lost all hope of recovering the laptop. 

After narrating my ordeal to the NAA rep, I asked if she could make an announcement for the missing laptop, but she balked. Even after my boss suggested that a reward would be offered and no questions asked if the laptop bag and its contents were returned, she still refused to make the announcement. Her reason being it would paint the airport in a bad light. As if that reason wasn't ludicrous enough, some security officer stupidly said that it was impossible to lose a laptop in the airport. In essence, he meant we were looking for something that didn't exist. Really?? Like we didn't have better things to do other than look for a laptop that wasn't really missing?!

Needless to say, after talking to all those who could have supposedly helped, the laptop still wasn't found before I boarded my flight. Although I filled out a complaint form before departing, I know there's not a snowball's chance in hell of recovering the laptop and the documents.

Going back to my first point about the Nigerian government not providing assistance, wouldn't it be in the best interest of everyone in the airport for the security cameras to work? What if it were a bomb I had placed on the counter? Isn't it strange that none of the so-called security men patrolling the counters called me back to pick up my property? The NAA should be ashamed of trying to paint a picture of a safe, functioning airport when in fact it isn't.

Update: Three weeks after the ordeal, a colleague of mine received a call informing her that the missing laptop and documents had been found. I was astonished to say the least. I guess miracles do happen.