Lagos Flood, For The Rich And Poor

By Adeola Aderounmu

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We can still thank the forces of nature for reminding us that there are still work to be done before the political-worshippers convert their beloved politicians to heavenly gods.

The governor is this, the governor is that, the governor is working, the governor is helping…nonsense talks. Who cares? What are the jobs of a governor? Why was a governor elected? Nobody is forced to become a governor or a politician. You become one because you want to serve.

But because Nigerians are used to politicians who steal and do nothing, they end up praising those who do something and steal at the same time.

Has any governor used his family wealth to develop any state? So, why the praise? Governors spend tax payers’ monies to develop a state (that is if they are working) or they spend federal allocations. Any acknowledgement or praise of that is mental slavery.

Anyway, whatever be the case, here are pictures collected from other places that show us how much work we have to do to keep the floods away.

There are floods of water and sewage everywhere in Lagos.

You can also see the connection between flood and bad roads in Lagos.

A simple google search and you can collect thousands of images about how serious and big this problem is in our dear Lagos.

Keep praising the politicians, kontinuuuu

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Internet images

 

aderounmu@gmail.com

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The Boy With The Golden Ears

When l arrived at the hospital, l met the nurses and did the necessary registration for the day. Then l waited. I waited, and waited and waited. When l got unsettled by the unusual long wait, I asked the nurses when it would be my turn to be attended to.

The Boy With The Golden Ears

By Adeola Aderounmu

Adeola_4years_old

Adeola Aderounmu

In 1986 as a 14-year-old boy, I took the bus and went to the General Hospital in Lagos for an ear operation. It was supposed to be the end to a series of visits and appointments at the hospital. When l was born, my ears were not ready. The defects were so obvious that my ear tunnels were usually loaded with yellowish fluids.

My childhood memories would be totally incomplete without the agonies of my mother who sat and watched my infant head decorated with 2 defective ears.

I remember my childhood, during the primary school days. I was always loaded with cotton wools at home and sometimes l took them to school. Soon l learnt how to wrap cotton wool around a broom stick and stuck them into my ears right and left.

On so many occasions we ran out of cotton wools. What did l do? I turned to the cover of my BIC pen. The lid became my best companion for several years. If l didn’t have anything on me, l had the lid of a blue, black or red BIC pen.

I stuck the object into my ears and excavated tons of fluids from them. When l found cotton buds later in life, l used them. They were valuable, like gold.

When l look back now, l am so grateful to my mother for all the efforts she put into cleaning my ears. I can remember she warned me against the sharp objects. Sometimes she just looked at me with pity because in my case, it was similar to living with someone with an addiction.

I mean with my ear problem, when the urge to put in something into my ears surfaced, there was nothing in the whole world you could do to stop me from inserting any available object into it.

I am also grateful that l wasn’t classified as a handicap because Nigeria could have destroyed me totally in that sense. I was lucky not to be categorized as someone who needed special education because of my hearing difficulties.

Prior to that day-the day of the operation, l’ve learnt to wake up at 5 a.m. in the morning, joined the bus and made the journey from our home in Festac Town to the General Hospital situated at Ikeja. We, that is my mother and l usually get off the molue buses at the PWD bus-stop and then trek beside the bridge all the way to the hospital.

It was an inconvenient journey. It was not totally safe because it was always still quiet with few people on the way by the time we walked beside the bridge towards the hospital. My estimation puts the journey at about a 40 km stretch, maybe 50. It could take an hour and a half with at least 2 or 3 bus connections.

On the day of the operation, my mother let me made the journey by myself. She would come after me later on. I don’t remember the sequence that led to the decision but if you are a mother of 6 children, you soon learn to make them independent at the appropriate age.

I would imagine now that l had won my independence by the time the doctors decided that l would be operated to correct my ears.

When l arrived at the hospital, l met the nurses and did the necessary registration for the day. Then l waited. I waited, and waited and waited. When l got unsettled by the unusual long wait, I asked the nurses when it would be my turn to be attended to.

The response l got was a shock, one that l will never forget.

This is the hospital l have visited several times with my mother. I had become a regular customer. In fact, one day l got a tiny piece of fish bone stuck to my throat whilst eating some delicious meal. I could not sleep that night and my mother had to take me to the ENT.

I knew the Ear, Nose and Throat department at the General Hospital in Ikeja like l knew the palm of my hand.

When they told me that they couldn’t find my file and the documentation that stated that l would be operated on that fateful day, l thought it was a “simple” mistake of misplacement. I thought they would find it and my ears would be operated.

When my mother arrived she was very upset. She gave me a correctional slap to express her anger. I cannot remember any other day before and after this fateful day that my mother had slapped me. She never did.

As a child l was very confused.

The nurses could not find my files. Who should have been slapped?

Now when l think back about the entire scenario, l can guess a few reasons why my files were missing.

One, the nurses were probably in shock that a boy showed up for his own surgery. Where was my mother who could pay the tips so my file does not go missing on this important day?

Two, from another perspective, were they expecting that my family would have made advance contact and advance payment prior to the day of the operation? How well did my parents realize that such opportunities must be “assured” by keeping a tab on the nurses and doctors to avoid disappointments?

Why did my file go missing on the day of the operation?

Three, did the doctors chicken out because they were incapable of carrying out the operation? The last statement is quite unlikely because my memories portray an array of competent, professional doctors with tools and instruments checking my eardrums, ear infections and throat as an out-patient.

Still, why didn’t the doctors remember my appointment? An operation should not be something that one should just forget like that? Why didn’t the doctors come to the waiting-room to look for me? Did the nurses tell them that l was no show?

What actually went wrong? My mother slapped me because she found me sitting calm and collected despite the scenario of likely missing my one-in-a-life time opportunity of correcting my defective ears. She probably knew at once that the chance will never come up again.

Many things must have gone through her mind when she arrived to hear the latest bad news about my ears. They easiest avenue to let go of her frustration was the slap l got. She probably thought l just got there and sat down without making any effort?

What can a 14-year-old do when the old nurses had thrown away or hidden his medical files?

I can’t remember ever getting angry at my mother. She was my god. She was the woman who taught me almost everything-how to read, how to write and then how to cook. My mother taught me humility and perseverance even in the face of difficulties and adversities.

So we went home. There was no operation in 1986. I continue to insert everything into my ears to take out the fluids and to “scratch” my ears when they itched. At some point, l used sticks and brooms to pick out dirt that are fastened to my eardrums.

I thought l had become an expert of my ear. If l was an ear doctor, l would be the best in the world.

I remember one day when I was picking my ear with a broom stick and suddenly somebody ran into me. I bled from my ear and of course that was also another opportunity to insert more things to bring out the blood. My addiction was hopeless.

I have been living in Sweden since 2002. I continued to suffer regular ear infection because of the vulnerability of my eardrums. So one day when l visited the doctor, he recommended an operation. I mean my ears were tested over a period of time and the results l saw were heartbreaking.

I have been straining myself almost all of my life to hear what people say.  The results l saw showed the threshold for normal hearing and my hearing. I have been deaf!

In 2007, 21 years after the nurses at Ikeja General Hospital botched my scheduled operation in Lagos, I finally did my ear operation, in Stockholm. One of my ears was already gone at that time! After the operation it became the better of the two. This means that in the real sense of it, the ear that was better before my operation in 2007 was itself gone! They were just deaf to different degree.

The operation was done at Danderyds hospital in Sweden.

At old age, which is fast approaching, l guess l know what my biggest challenges will be.

I have a bad hip from playing football in my teens and will definitely not be able to walk well. I can use some help. I will also be almost deaf on both ears. I will get some hearing aids but their usefulness for my deafness will be interesting to discover.

I decided to write elaborately on my deafness because it exposes a lot of problems in public health in Nigeria. I don’t know how my case was handled as a toddler. Could l have been operated as a baby and healed for life? That is probable.

But with time, I became aware that despite the availability of good health system in Nigerian up till the 1980s, there were lapses in the system that made it difficult to correct my hearing defect. That part was unfortunate.

An operation was botched. One friend told me my death on the doctor’s table was postponed! But I trusted the health system in Nigeria in 1986, even though the nurses were mischievous.  I blame the botched operation on the nurses. I think they were insincere and that is so sad to remember now.

What is the present state of health care delivery in Nigeria? In one word, disaster!

Nigerian politicians and policy makers must think about the citizens and work hard to ensure that health care delivery system is improved and adapted to the demands of a fully-blown rural and urban populations. The ordinary citizens must be given the benefits of affordable health care system where life is a priority.

As a teenager, I risk my life and travelled the miles. Then l walked the roads to the doctors in Lagos, Nigeria. I am the man with the golden ears.

If any Nigerian politician, including the president, wishes to travel abroad for medical reasons, they should be barred from doing so. In a country of more than 170m people, politicians who cannot deliver should be dismissed. They even deserved my mother’s correctional slaps.

aderounmu@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Why Men Should Cook

Cooking can be a form of relaxation. It is surely art. A nation or a country can be built on well laid foundations that start from the family.

Why Men Should Cook

By Adeola Aderounmu

Time in the kitchen is time well spent

Time in the kitchen is time well spent

A nation or a country can be built on well laid foundations that start from the family. I have argued for parental leave for both mothers and fathers in Nigeria.

Unfortunately there has not been any progress in that area. The typical Nigerian life is driven by harsh economic realities and unpredictable socio-political circumstances.

In one of the most complicated situations in the world, the influence of culture and religion in Nigeria provide for a lot of arguments and discussions on the roles of men in different functional and complicated family situations.

All the men in my nuclear family are great cooks. How is that possible?

The credit goes to our mother who complemented our education effectively on the home front. In Western Nigerian secondary schools (during my time) boys are encouraged to choose Agricultural Science and the girls Home Economics.

As I recall now it seemed that the society also played a biased role in determining the roles of men and women. Therefore it appeared that unless the boys took great interest in cooking or their parents especially mothers taught them at home, they always ended up unable to cook.

Many are quick to emphasize that it is the role or even the “job” of women to cook. In traditional African settings that is largely true. The last statement can be expanded even as a topic for an academic dissertation based on the settings of the traditional African societies and the division of labor amongst the men, women and children.

It has always been imperative that women are able to cook, I may state.

My arguments in this essay are towards the men. I think that the men should be able to cook as much as the women. There are many examples of men who are better cook than their wives or the women in their lives.

These arguments are based on the realities of a changing world that cannot be locked up in the past.

Why should men cook? I will draw mostly from personal experiences.

Cooking as I have found out can be a form of relaxation. A wrong notion might be that a man needs a cold bottle of beer after a stressful day at work.

Cooking can relax the mind and body

Cooking can relax the mind and body

If your kitchen is tidy it is one of the best places to retire to after a hard day’s work. It is a place where you can either throw away your disappointments or show your happiness for the day.

Under any of these circumstances above there should be no hindrance to showing love and care to your children or to your visitors or friends depending on the company you keep after work.

Cooking is art. By systematically creating a piece of meal or a nice, tasty diet from essential raw materials, you might forget or relish about how the day has been and cherish the moment when your children, friends or family enjoy the products your serve to them.

A man should cook to ease the strain on the family.

The children should not suffer or eat junk food simply because their mother is working late one day a week. They should not bear the brunt of their mother visiting a friend during the week or attending a ceremony on Saturday.

If the man is at home, he should be able to stand up to the responsibility of keeping the family going and cooking should be the least of his worries.

There will always be situations when the man is alone with the children at home. That time should not be the time to put up the “I don’t care attitude”. It should not be the time to insult the mother of the children simply because she is held up with another activity.

Some men will never accept that they neglected the obligation of learning how to cook when they were growing up.

Men don’t cook in my family is an outdated expression. When I went to the university I always ate from mama-put is the outburst of a lazy mind. Wake up and look around you. Face the reality of your time and brace up for the era you live in!

Many students can cook despite the fact that they ate at Mama-put and other decent restaurant-which one is your own?

Cooking helps the women to appreciate and boast positively about their men. They feel a sense of gender equality without struggling to achieve it. In a functional family this can promote sexual attraction and help the family to stay psychologically healthy.

Pie: cooking is a form of art

Pie: cooking is a form of art

I do not mean that cooking prevent separation or divorce. It is just one of the ingredients that help as long as the relationship exists.

When both men and women take turns in the kitchen especially when the turns are not based on a schedule, it helps the children to understand that they are required to also take responsibilities for many things in their lives.

The act of pushing blames or looking for excuses start from the family and children learn too quickly from their immediate environment.

Cooking helps children to learn in diverse ways. Science, art, creativity and mathematics are all embodied into cooking.

In Nigeria I can recall that we learned how to cook using a lot of estimations in our judgments of what is required or needed.

Now when I cook sometimes with instructions and using units like “deciliter” or other measurements-I appreciate the level of my mother’s mathematics. It is almost unbelievable what our mothers did!

I know some men take to cooking as a hobby. This means that, by looking or by some sort of interest they just got going at cooking and found it easy and lovable.

I am sure this category of men have found cooking as a useful hobby at those times they are alone as bachelors or married men whose wives are away for certain reasons. They are able to step-up and take charge of the kitchen.

Turning this hobby into a responsibility will be useful on the long run.

From the foregoing, the ability to cook can also help men (and women) to live independently if they choose to be single.

In my family the time between the secondary school leaving year and the university admission year was reserved for intensive course in cooking with my mother. Invariably that was the time you take over the responsibility of cooking for the others in the family who are at home or getting back from work.

Long before that time, it was recommended to be an observer as mama dished out orisirisi from different pots on our stove that was powered by the kerosene.

Growing up in my family back in Nigeria, I know that both boys and girls have equal abilities in the kitchen. I mean a balance of culinary skills. What may vary is the creativity that we add as we went our separate ways.

The documentation of my days at Jaja and Mariere Halls of the University of Lagos cannot be complete without the flavor and aroma the boys in the halls added to the hostels every day.

Later on I met a friend (names withheld) who told me that he could hardly make a cup of tea. He was actually not joking that he cannot even fry an egg. He frequents my room at the College of Medicine in Idiaraba and I always try to show him how I cook. His case was hopeless. He is still my friend today.

When I have had visitors at our home in Stockholm, some people were unable to hide their shock as to the long time I spent in the kitchen. I cook and I tidy up after cooking. Then I tell them why men should cook and tidy up. I hope some women are not fighting their men based on my kitchen behavior.

I do not believe it is the role of women to always do the cooking or tidy up. My mother would chase me out of the kitchen if I start to cook when the kitchen is dirty. In some extreme cases that I remember, she will put out the fire from the stove and I have to take it from the beginning.

There is a time to add the salt and there is a time to slice the onions. No stones in the beans or you’ll eat all the beans yourself. The rice cannot stick together and the tomato sauce must be well fried. Oh Mamma!

Today I appreciate those teachings more than ever before. You will never see me in a dirty kitchen. I can get ill in a dirty kitchen and that is not an exaggeration. It is not a function of wealth but common sense and lessons about hygiene well taken from my mother.

In Nigeria, many families will probably be unable to synchronize their meal times but with proper planning breakfast and dinner at home should be a possibility. Depending on the weekend schedules, families should strive to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together.

People should stop giving excuses on why they cannot cook or eat with their family.

Like many other issues affecting the upbringing of children, many men will continue to blame it on “lack of time”.

There will never be enough time for what a man wants to do in his lifetime. The same is true for women. People should be taught how to manage their time using the family (spouse and children) as the starting point.

Parents should help their children to acquire cooking skills at home. Bring the children into a safe and tidy kitchen and show them how to cook.

It will be a long walk for the Nigerian society but it is achievable across all the regions if sensible and capable people take over control of the politics and the economy across all the various regions.

Nothing is impossible when there is a sincere roadmap that is not left in the hands of idiots and complete nonentities who are driven by selfish interests and absolute greed.

In Nigeria, it is imperative that the different regions are allowed to re-emerge.

There is a lot in the identities of each ethnic group that are submerged and lost in the name of unitary government that shows lack of respect to individuals and folk-group.

People should be allowed to tap into their cultural and traditional family values. They should be taught how to plan their homes appropriately with respect to family size and responsibilities.

It is time to lift the positive values within the family through regional adaptive education and merge them with the demands of a global village.

Properly educated children will build strong families and dependable communities. They will form the backbones of viable regions across Nigeria. The future can be bright and better.

My late mother’s teachings at home and an adaptive, undiluted education in Western Nigeria fit perfectly into a functional life at home and across the world.

FAAN Or NAHCO: Who Employed The Criminals Pilfering At MMA?

By Adeola Aderounmu

The theft of valuable and cherished personal belongings from the baggage of passengers arriving at the Murtala International Airport is a big deal.

It is time to call out the management of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the directors and management at Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Plc to answer questions on why travellers’ items continue to grow wings on a daily basis when they arrive at the International Airport, Ikeja.

Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos

Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos

One anonymous Mr. Lagbaja spoke on behalf of NAHCO when Premium Times made enquiries about the pilfering of baggage at Lagos airport. His comment was typical: no passenger had come forward to report the matter to NAHCO!

OK! We are doing so now. I am making a report on behalf of thousands of people who have complained about these criminal activities over the past decade.

The truth of the matter is that there are criminals working at the Murtala Mohammed Airport (MMA) and they are responsible for the theft of items from travellers’ bags daily.

Arik airlines spokesman Ola Adebanji said that missing items from aircraft was commonplace worldwide citing instances from the US. I think it would have been better for this man to keep quiet rather than exposing his ignorance on public relation management.

Then the NAHCO employee continued, our Mr. Lagbaja said that if such incident occurred, the passenger had the right to report the matter to the airline he or she used for the trip. “We advise the victim to formally report the incident either to the airline or the Consumer Protection Unit of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority at the airport”.

Why don’t people report the theft of their personal belongings that occurred before the baggage hits the conveyor belt? The answer is too simple. People don’t believe that reporting the thefts will bring back their belongings. Almost every traveller knows that it is no-brainer to tackle FAAN or NAHCO workers at the Airport on missing items.

The question and answer sessions that will go along with the reporting which may include making a police report can cause a fragile traveller to develop a heart attack. So, indeed nobody will be willing to make any report. No one has the time to drag issues with airport authority on missing items. It is different when the suitcases or baggage do not arrive. Then it’s normal to take up such cases with the concerned airline.

FAAN

FAAN

Somebody or some people at MMA, FAAN or NAHCO should be getting sacked if the seriousness of the matter is to be handled appropriately. The undeniable fact is that criminals open the baggage of travellers and they pick out items that now include hand-held computer tablets. These disgraceful acts take place usually between landing and when the bags hit the conveyor belts.

Some of my friends who visited Nigeria recently (this year 2014) had tales of woes to tell about the items that were stolen from their baggage. I am not talking about one person only; I am talking about a group of people whose items were ransacked between landing and the conveyor belts. Gifts bought for friends, family and even children went missing.

This week, I read how several passengers are also lamenting about their missing shoes, bags, gift items and other accessories that they thought should be saved in their travelling bags. The report was in the Premium Times of June 16 2014. How did criminals get on the employment services at such a sensitive place as the International Airport?

There are so many investigations that need to be done regarding these persistent criminal activities. For example, what is the connection between the length of time it takes for the baggage to hit the conveyor belt and the numbers of items/ goods stolen?

Are the long delays in delivering the baggage to the conveyor belts connected to the fact that these men and women who are off loading the aeroplane need so much time to open and pilfer travellers’ baggage?

NAHCO

NAHCO

Is it part of the employment contract that you must be sticky-or light-fingered to work at that department at the airport? Who takes away all the stolen items? Are the stolen items delivered or remitted to the bosses and directors and shared among all the “criminal” workers?

What is going on at MMA? What is going on at FAAN? What is going on at NAHCO? Who are we going to hold responsible for the missing items? The workers? The Directors? The Board?

When some of us complain about these things, we always hear some people say “noo o!!” that was before! Nobody is stealing again at the airports! We have heard similar stories before at the sea-port; we hear…noo o! No more port rats! Then importers started welding their cars and vehicles like armoured tanks before they hit the international waterways heading to Nigeria!

But the denials on the part of Nigerian airport authority or NAHCO are the usual lies! There are definitely still criminals working at MMA, just the same way the sea-port rats never left.

It is not acceptable when airline or airport officials state that these criminal activities are common around the world. There is a difference between lost and found items or forgotten items and the items that are deliberately removed from travellers’ bags by airport workers. The act of pilfering is not common around the world. In any case there can never be a good reason why criminals should be employed and allowed to remove things from our bags at MMA.

Are there cameras at the terminals to follow the arrival of aeroplanes at the terminals? Are there cameras to follow the progress of baggage until they hit the conveyor belts? At what point exactly do these “airport rats” have the courage to open bags and suitcases and remove items? Who is the head of this organised crime at the airport? Is it something that is approved by the directors of FAAN and NAHCO?

Someone heads the human resources department where these criminals were approved for employment. That person’s integrity is also at stake here. So also are the managers or directors in charge of landing and transportation of baggage from the aircrafts to the arrival hall.

Again, many people are too busy and do not have the time to bring about their cases to the appropriate authorities. This is because once the items are gone, there are no means to trace or find them. People are tired of the way things work in Nigeria. They don’t trust the system and they just “conform” and move on with their lives.

The severity of this painful experience of pilfering cannot be over emphasized. My friends lost so many valuables that they were almost crying when they narrated their stories. This cannot continue and this essay should not be treated as a rant. There is a need for action and I hope that the directors or board members who are tagged in this essay will find a reason to call an emergency meeting to address the embarrassment that the staffs of MMA/FAAN/NAHCO are causing them and their reputations.

Some of us have great difficulties to work out the functions of the various uniform people at the airport. We get totally confused by the several people doing the job meant for one computer or a simple machine!

We need answers (and not denials) from the management of both FAAN and NAHCO.

FAAN is a service organization statutorily charged to manage all commercial airports in Nigeria and to provide service to both passengers and airlines. Its managing director and chief executive at the corporate headquarters in Ikeja Engr Saleh Dunoma must ensure that stealing from passengers’ baggage ends immediately. He cannot claim to be new on the job.

Mr. Wendell Emeka Ogunedo is FAAN’s director of security services. Dear Mr. Ogunedo, how secured are our baggage when they arrived at the airport in Ikeja?

Hajia Salamatu Umar-Eluma is in charge of FAAN’s human resources. Ma, does your office run a background check on those people moving our baggage at the airport in Ikeja? Is it NAHCO’s fault that our things are stolen?

Barrister Ikechi Uko is the director of administration. Can he tell us how security measures will be administered to stop this mess? FAAN must work together with the other agencies at MMA to ensure that they put an immediate end to pilfering at MMA.

NAHCO’s mission is to be the leading service provider in the African market. Unfortunately all the core values of NAHCO are questionable with this permanent trend of stealing from passenger’s baggage. There is no integrity when bags are opened and things stolen from them. There is no respect for individuals when NAHCO workers steal from passengers.

The chairman of NAHCO Mr. Suleiman Yahyah must call his workers to order. Nigerians need to be sure that the stolen items are not ending up on his desks!

The vice-chairman is NAHCO is Mr. Denis Hasdenteufel. How is he working together with the chairman to ensure that criminals are not working for NAHCO AVIANCE?

Altogether there are about 12 directors at NAHCO. Their areas of responsibilities and job descriptions are other areas that would be of interest when some of us look for information on NAHCO’s website. It is clear however that NAHCO is responsible for aircraft handling, amongst other services that it provides at the airport.

An average traveller does not really know the interrelationship between FAAN and NAHCO or their terms of agreement. People just want to be sure that when they travel to Nigeria that their bags are not tampered with. As a people heading to Nigeria we don’t want to develop any panic or heart attack just because some thieves working for NAHCO or FAAN are going to steal our personal belongings or the gift items in our baggage.

Those who manage the Lagos Airport must stop living in denial. They should wake up; smell the coffee and live up to their responsibilities. What is important is for them to educate their workers. NAHCO for example must ensure that its core values do not exist only on papers, but in actions. By all or any means, those whom we entrust with our baggage must stop stealing our personal belongings.

aderounmu@gmail.com

Nigerians, You Lost A Paradise (A Photo Essay)

By Adeola Aderounmu

In several of my essays on Nigeria I have made references to what my parents told me about Nigeria. I remember one story about my mother walking about Lagos in the middle of the night. She told me there was nothing to be afraid of living in the old Western Nigeria. People lived like normal people and go about their businesses round the clock.

There was 24 hours a day form of existence, transportation was uninterrupted and life was full of hope and happiness. The future looked super bright. When she told me stories about Nigeria in general, she brought the good olden days in Western Nigeria to life in my imaginations.

Unfortunately for Nigerians the future is here now and it turned out super bleak-full of extreme hopelessness and frustrations.

Invariably Nigeria was once upon a time a paradise on earth until some people decided to reverse the gear of progress. Greed and outright madness took over the people-both civilians and military-entrusted to manage the affairs of Nigeria. Sometimes these people have not been chosen, selected or elected; they took over governance by force or through violence. Then they enforced their own rules and mode of governance.

Nigerians lost their paradise when they could not take back the control of their regional and geographical areas from the tropical gangsters who strangely are somehow still in control of the affairs of the land until today.

My mother told me that security especially took a turn for the worse after the civil war ended. In general, evil rose after the war as weapons remained in the hands of the people. Greed and selfishness set in at different points during pre and post-independent Nigeria.

In many ways too numerous to describe here, Nigerians lost a paradise

Cross River Conical Stone

Cross River Conical Stone

This conical stone is from Cross River State. It stands in front of the National Museum in Lagos. One of the things that went wrong in Nigeria was the drop in the standard and value of education. How many Nigerians visit the museums to learn about their history? Today the ignorant people who run Nigeria’s education have suggested that history should be removed from the curriculum. Nigerians will forget their history totally and the magnitude of historical distortions 100 years from now will be better imagined than experienced.

Brass smith in Bida

Brass smith in Bida

This is a man doing his work. That was Brass smith in Bida. We always say there is dignity in labour. Today that expression belongs to the dustbin in Nigeria. Several Nigerians just want to be part of politics so that they can steal and accumulate money and wealth for themselves, their families and unborn generation.

Those who are not stealing in politics are also looking for ways to cut the corners in whatever they do. In public and private enterprises the “make quick money syndrome” has taken over almost everybody. People now believe more in “if you cannot beat them, join them”. Such is the low mentality of an average Nigerian today.

Honesty is now a disease in Nigeria. People who are honest and trustworthy in Nigeria have joined the list of endangered species. One day somebody told me that I cannot be a politician in Nigeria. When I asked him why, he told me that people working with me will either kill me or poison me if I prevent them from stealing in politics.

He said they might even cut my head off. He was trying to emphasize that I cannot do politics in Nigeria if I am not ready to steal. From what we see and know about Nigeria today, that illustration is correct. It’s very sad, disheartening and a piece of the evidence that the paradise may be lost forever.

Decorated Pots, Sokoto

Decorated Pots, Sokoto

Here above is an image of a girl selling decorated pots in Sokoto, Northern Nigeria. This must have taken place at those times that my mother described to me and what I will call Nigeria’s golden years. At that time when there was still dignity in labour. Some of the pots are not decorated but they look so beautiful you want to have them for your next party or family cooking.

Old Western Nigeria

Old Western Nigeria

Western Nigeria was part of the regions that made up the Nigerian paradise of the olden days. It is hard to miss the blend of even development and environmental preservation. Look at the beautiful trees among the industrial revolution of old western Nigeria.

One cannot miss the hard work and the quality of the products that this craftsman is making. The image did not say where the man comes from but he was well dressed in native agbada. Interesting I have at least 4 of the items in his production line in my possession.He was not only selling cultural products, he promoted his culture as well by representation.

The woman carried healthy fruits. She was also well dressed in Iro and Buba. She looked healthy and happy. She was probably selling the pineapples or just on her way from the farm. Agriculture was the backbone of the Nigerian paradise. Crude oil later became a curse.

A Market Place in "old" Nigeria

A Market Place in “old” Nigeria

This is another beautiful image from the time when Nigeria was a paradise on earth. It was at that time that it would have been proper to describe Nigerians as the happiest people on earth. Some recent global reports describing Nigerians as the happiest people in recent years when the security is low, the roads, schools and hospitals resemble monuments of catastrophe, the economy is good enough on paper only and at a time when majority of the people are living dangerously from hand to mouth, are not only misleading but also irony of the highest order.

The Famous Kano Mosque

The Famous Kano Mosque

In my recent but last essay I described religion as one of the greatest problems in Nigeria. Religion is one of the reasons why Nigeria went from paradise to hell on earth. These are people worshipping peacefully at the famous mosque in Kano. People worshipped peacefully across Nigeria in the olden days. But the agents of prosperity in the face of dwindling economic fortunes changed the mode of worship in Nigeria forever.

Rather than guide the people to demand good governance and accountability, the foreign religious institutions in Nigeria headed by the new-age Nigerian overseers told people to pray. At the same time the people whose actions and activities contributed to converting Nigeria from paradise to hell were active members of various religious organisations.

The situation remains the same today as looters parade churches and mosques every Friday and Sunday. Nigerian looters are popular faces at religious crusades. Religion became a means to wealth for the religious rulers and many young people today are religious fanatics especially after years of joblessness. Politics in Nigeria got contaminated with religion and the outcomes including terrorism and mistrust in the society remain devastating to this day.

Nigerians love to chase shadows. Oh! How they enjoy denying the knowledge of basic truth! Apart from the resurrection of regional governance (the possibility of which is already being thrown away at the “organised” national conference) another hope for the restoration of the Nigerian paradise will be the total eradication of religion(s) from public service.

Issues like pilgrimages for example need to be taken away from government functions. Churches and mosque in/around government establishments need to be demolished. People need to just do the right thing rather than hide under the umbrella of religion while they ruin the state or country.

People don’t need to pray for good roads, good schools, and good hospitals and so on. What Nigeria need across all her geographical regions are the good and honest people who will use the budgetary allocations to do these things. Prayers don’t build roads or schools when the funds have been stolen or embezzled. That is common sense and application of the knowledge of the truth – that which always set people free.

Meeting of the "WAYs" Water, Rail. Road , Old Lagos.

Meeting of the “WAYs” Water, Rail. Road , Old Lagos.

In this picture we see some of the things that millions of Nigerians today have no experiences of. There was a functional train in service. The roads are clean and motor-able. The cars were in the correct lanes-2 lanes and no mad driver on an artificial third lane. There are no LASTMA people on the road; people had a sense of belonging and responsibilities.

On the right side the area is enough for pedestrians and cyclists and on the left side, there is a bicycle track along the major road and also there is a pedestrian path with adequate distance to the train tracks. Life was good, normal just like in a paradise. The street lights are standing upright and there is a stretch of beautiful garden in the middle adding glamour, peace and tranquillity to the streets of Lagos in the old western Nigeria.

Apart from air travel, all the other modes of transportation are depicted in this image. There are no ferries in the image but the idea was to state that they were all available in the old Lagos.

This is the type of image of Nigeria from the past that some people will never know about. Millions of Nigerians have lived and died within the period that the paradise was lost. This means that they actually, sadly enough, passed through life without the experience of a good life or the taste of the real meaning of life. If nobody talks about these things and if nobody makes reference to the things that existed under regional governments millions of Nigeria will live and probably die not knowing that there entire future and happiness were stolen from them even before they were born.

All of my life time in Nigeria, I do not recall the privilege of taking a ride on the train. One day however I took the “Baba Kekere” ferry service from Mile 2 to CMS. It must have been some time in the mid 80s. But as a young boy I remembered the many rides on the LSTC buses in the late 70s and early 80s. I know the number on the buses and their destinations from Festac Town. Those were the end of the good old days.

In today’s Nigeria the paradise is lost. This lose will be permanent for several millions of Nigerians living in Nigeria unless radical political changes and turnarounds occur today.

The paradise will remain lost if one man or a group of people can steal 20 billion dollars and walk free. In the 1970s we saw a man making brass in Bida, in the 80s we saw a man from Minna who stole more than 12 billion dollars of Nigeria’s oil money. He walked free! How did Nigeria go from promoting dignity to embracing criminals? The answers will shed light on how to lose a paradise in 20 years or less!

Nigeria lost their paradise because they allow military juntas and politicians to handle public services and politics like profitable businesses that is devoid of probity and accountability. The paradise will remain lost in the face of non-sensitive rulers and non-functional political structures.

The negative outcomes that follow a lost paradise are too numerous to elaborate but they are largely visible on a day out in various parts of Nigeria. Nigerians need orientation in almost all aspects of their lives. Social studies, moral instructions and history were part of the foundations and orientation in primary education. They still cannot be overemphasized in a society with solid foundation in education.

In a lost paradise, pensioners are crying, students are not getting the correct education, graduates are jobless and the society is on a free fall. In Nigeria, a country heavily polluted from all angles, good health is a luxury. There are almost no consequences for political and economic crimes. There is no sense of belonging and the first and the last law is the same: the law of self-preservation.

When I think about the issue of electricity in a lost paradise, I can’t recollect much from Obele Odan in Surulere but it has always been a pain to recount what we went through in Festac Town. We got a beautiful town with our own transformers and local power system.

Everything went down the drain right in front of our eyes. Growing up in Nigeria for my generation was a traumatic experience. Yet we were not given any social or psychological help by the state or the federal system. We fend for ourselves.

At that time (when I was growing up) the system was under the management of the wasted generation. These are the words of Wole Soyinka, as he aptly described his generation, my parents generation unfortunately. Until this day in Nigeria, the mis-management of Nigeria remains largely in the hands of mostly crooks, criminals and idiotic people who cannot manage their homes. How they got to the positions where they have to manage public services and government institutions summarises the story of Nigeria as a lost paradise.

A paradise can be reclaimed. Nigerians, you lost your paradise when you gave up your sense of belonging in the various regions and allowed a powerful center to destroy the entire system. You cave-in and followed a “rotten head” all the time. The paradise lost is actually the sum of all your negligence and attitude to work, environment and life.

It’s going to be a hard fought battle, but you need to bring back the paradise for the sake of your children and children’s children. Take another look at the images in this essay; you’ll see there’s a need to do away with the rotten head or any rotten head for that matter.

Do away with the center altogether. Claim back your regions, do the right thing all the time when it comes to public service and dedication to local and regional development. Be selfless and content. Start your charity (in this case your love of humanity) again, from home. It will spread. It will bring the paradise your children deserved.

aderounmu@gmail.com

PHOTO CREDITS

Akwashi Conical Stone (from Cross River Area)

(By Elisabeth Seriki)

Brass Simth Bida

By John Hinde F.R.P.S

Decorated Pots, Sokoto

John Hinde

Western Nigeria

John Hinde

Famous Kano Mosque

John Hinde

Market

Photo by E, Ludwig, John Hinde Studios

Lagos, Meeting of the Ways: Water, Rail, Road

By The Railway Printer, Ebute Metta

My Nigerianness Has Expired

By Adeola Aderounmu

One day in December 2006, I sat in my car for more than 4 hours at a gas station in Festac Town, Lagos. We had queued up for petrol because the commodity had been scarce for some time. That morning when I arrived at the gas station at about 6 a.m, I thought I was going to be one of the first people at the station but to my chagrin surprise it appeared that some people slept over at the gas station.

Adeola Aderounmu 2008_2

As I waited and drove at snail speed to the nozzle where all the attention was, I saw how people struggled and fought to procure a commodity that is flowing freely right underneath their feet. For the first time in my life, I cried out loud, profusely with lots of tears flowing from my eyes. I was alone. There was no chance of consolation and my emotions burst without any hindrance. I had returned 2 weeks earlier from a place where I just drive to an unmanned gas station, fill my tank and drive away in no time. MyNigerianness had expired.

One day I wrote to a friend discussing about my paternal leave in 2007. He was shocked as I explained the process to him and that the plan was to be at home with my daughter who was one at the time. In 2011 I repeated the process taking care of our second child. In this piece titled- An argument for parental Leave,http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/articles/adeola-aderounmu/an-argument-for-parental-leave-13.html, published here in the village square and in the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper I shared the experiences and the benefits of parental leave. But I know how far Nigeria and Nigerians are from such idealism. I know that my Nigeriannesss had expired.

When I’d talked to some people at home and abroad about picking up my children from school and making them dinner, I know the type of scorn and other types of reactions that people show (or sometimes fail to show). But if you grew up with my mother of blessed memory, it was imperative that you could cook. It was our next line of training after high school to take over the kitchen tasks while waiting for admission to the University.

During our younger years, we were required to be at home when the food was made so that we can participate in the consumption. If you were away, your reasons must be genuine and understandable. Unfortunately this family value given to boys and the ability to use it at home in the presence of the female members of the family is not generalised in Nigeria. Things fell apart many years ago and some misunderstanding of cultural values tangled with ego and ignorance.

There was one man I’d met regularly in Stockholm in the early 2000s. He was always late to our meetings and there was always one reason or the other while he came late. My replies were blunt; I always told him that I didn’t believe him. His problem was that he did not know how to shed the African time syndrome. I don’t meet this man again. He had since found his way back to Ibadan.

There are other things that remind me of the African time syndrome. One day I was invited to an event that was slated to start at 5pm. By 7pm, they had not even finished preparing the venue, so I left and when I got home I was able to see one of the football games for the evening. About a week later I heard from other people at another event that the New Yam Festival event went on to start around midnight! I was glad for the call I made-to return home before the evening burnt out. My Nigerianness had expired!

Last summer (2013) I started using my bicycle more often. I biked to the train station and then join the communal transport. When I arrived at work, I would have been on the bicycle, the train and the bus. I thought it would be over by the end of summer. No, it didn’t! I went on to bike to the train station over the autumn and then winter. Around 2008, I’d found the idea of people changing the tyres of their bicycle to winter tyres ridiculous but that was just what I did in December 2013 as winter sets in. My Nigerianness is over!

If someone had shown me this vision in 2001 or even in 2005, I would have laughed. Now I know that myNigerianness had totally expired. I no longer see the egoistic statuses that we went about dissipating when I was living in Nigeria. I know I’m never going to be able to give up that Nigerian sense of fashion and beauty. But for cars, they don’t mean the same thing to me as they did in 2001.

In another essay from July 2007 I’d asked a question: Who Planned Our Lives In Nigeria? Life can be easy or easier if we judge it by the simple things that have self-fulfilling effects.  Life can be more meaningful if we don’t live above our incomes and if we stop setting standards just to meet other people’s expectations or their fantasies.

Life is more worth living if we live gracefully. My hope for Nigeria is that the time will come when the majority of the people will stop struggling just to survive but rather that they are presented with the fair opportunities to let them reach their potentials and accomplish happiness built on contentment and selflessness. That time will be freedom time, a freedom that will be fought for.

I’m feeling that my hopes mean that the possibility of reviving my Nigerianness may have been lost forever.

aderounmu@gmail.com

In Nigeria, Christmas Time Can Be Hell..!

BY Adeola Aderounmu

I wrote Christmas in Hell after my visit to Nigeria in 2006. The story is available in my blog archive.

I guessed some things will never change.

In 2012 Nigeria, the month of december, fuel is scarce and there has been a fire pipeline explosion in Lagos.

These things have become “normal” for Nigerians.

The bottom line is that the Nigerian government as probably the most corrupt government in the world does not care a dime about the welfare and life situations of Nigeria.

Every government, Federal, state and local, is so corrupt that nobody cares if the right things are done or not.

That is why it is possible for stupid and useless things to repeat themselves with accuracy and perfection.

In december 2013 there is a possibility that fuel will be scare all over Nigeria and there will be a pipeline fire in Lagos.

What a country