Sunday, September 15, 2013

Dear Aviation Minister

Dear Aviation Minister,

I was at the International airport (if we can call it that) in Lagos last month, and I can’t say anything has improved since the last time I passed through. There are still a lot of hangers-on albeit dressed in customs/immigration uniforms asking travellers irrelevant questions like – “Where are you travelling to?”, “Where do you work?”, “Are you carrying any money?” As if these senseless questions aren't annoying enough, they waste your precious time flipping through your passport to ascertain the number of visas in it. Is this what they're paid to do?

When officers spend their time asking irrelevant questions, one shouldn't expect them to be mindful of their actual duties. For instance, I was informed my visa hadn't been verified at the boarding gate, even though I had passed the immigration officer whose duty it was to do just that; I was made to wait for the entire queue to pass through the gate before being attended to. The delay was irksome for obvious reasons, but also because all the seats at the gate had been taken by the time I was granted access. As an aside, can more seats be added to accommodate travellers?

Incidentally, why can't more luggage scanners be installed? I'd rather have those than people violating my suitcase with their hands while asking, “Anything for me?” In addition, why inconvenience travellers donning slippers and sandals by asking they remove their footwear, even though their feet are in full glare of the public. Isn't this a waste of time?

For the past 2-3 years or even more, Murtala Muhammed Airport has been undergoing a series of renovation, but I'm confused as to what renovations are being made: carousels are still rickety, the airport hasn't been expanded to adequately accommodate daily traffic, and there’s that one little escalator leading to the ground floor, which you'd be lucky to find working. Essentially, what I saw last year, and two years before that, still remains, so what improvements are being made?

I could advise that you travel the globe to get some inspiration from modern airports, but that would be redundant since Nigerian ministers always have reasons to travel abroad. So my question is this: what’s holding you back from actually doing a good job? Why are you short-changing Nigerians? Is it really that difficult to summon a group of engineers and architects to design and build a 21st century airport? 

I beseech you, on behalf of Nigerians, to do what’s necessary. Stop slapping on Band-Aid, because it’s pretty obvious that’s not working, and transform the airport into what’s expected of an oil-rich country – Dubai airport anyone?

Yours sincerely,

A disgruntled Nigerian citizen.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Random Thoughts from a Wandering Mind

As the heading of this post suggests, these are just random thoughts, so there isn't any rhyme or reason to this entry. It's all a topsy-turvy.
  • Why do we destroy forests and desecrate water bodies all in the name of development, yet we somehow want to breathe fresh air, lounge on beautiful beaches and point at dolphins? In Africa, people are tirelessly working day and night to poach rhinos and elephants out of existence - the very animals that could yield enormous revenue from tourism, just so a few men can pocket peanuts and someone in Asia can admire their bloody ivory carvings. 
  • African leaders love to spend their time in developed countries, but it boggles my mind as to why they can't fix theirs to look just like those countries they seem to love. Is it really that difficult to sit, think, plan and act?
  • America and France, where the Statues of Liberty stand tall as a beacon of freedom, aren't really free except for a certain demographic. There’s enough prejudice and discrimination to make Lady Liberty weep, lower her torch and walk away. We hear a lot about fraternité, liberté et égalité, but do they exist in the country that espouses this notion? I’m not sure minorities in the banlieues are feeling the love. Likewise, isn't it ironic that America, a country seemingly synonymous with freedom, is the world’s biggest jailer?
  • What makes it permissible for some countries to do pursue certain policies, but not for others? Why are some countries allowed to possess nuclear bombs and others aren't? Why does America, the only country that was foolhardy enough to use an atomic bomb, have the right to decide which country should and shouldn't possess WMDs? The world sat back and watched while America invaded Iraq, but when Iraq invaded Kuwait all hell broke loose. What makes one invasion right and the other wrong?
  • Some men love to think that women are beneath them and have no place in the work environment, but they're quick to forget that a woman gave birth to them and nursed them. Incidentally, why are women their own worst enemy? Instead of those in power to coach and mentor their underlings, they'd rather make their working life a hellish experience. If women don't support one another, gender equality will remain elusive regardless of how great the support we receive from men.
  • We thought technology was going to bring us closer to one another, but somehow we've further drifted apart than ever before. We now have more virtual friends (than real friends) whose opinions matter more to us.
  • Food is meant to be for nourishment, but man with his evolved brain has managed to turn it into some poisonous gunk. In the not so distant past, people ate to live; now people live to eat themselves to death.
Life is fraught with contradictions and ironies, and the way I see it, we humans are only too happy to keep it that way.