Posts Tagged ‘Nigerian naira’

Over the last few days I’ve trained my eyes to tell distances from my fuel gauge, no thanks to the scarcity that means cars congregate on fuel stations like they’re sharing something else there. Of course I went to fewer places as the dial danced closer to the ‘E’, and then last night, I knew I had to humble myself and queue.

Why use the word humble? Well, I braved a black market purchase the last time there was a queue. It not only cost me double the normal thing, but the fuel was bad so there was the cost of changing the injector and something else when the car refused to run properly the next morning.

So this time my darlings? I finished all the work I had to do, and at 9.30pm, I joined the queue at Forte Oil, opposite Transcorp Hilton. While I was there, I started tweeting a few things I’ve had on my mind for a few days, starting all the tweets with ‘shout out to…’. Did you catch them? Lol…

About 10.15pm, it was my turn, and typical me, I started chatting with the attendant. Apparently, the station is open 24 hours, and they run shifts. Which sounded nice till the guy said he resumed at 4pm and wouldn’t get off till 5am the next day!

What!! That’s 11 or 12 hours! So, two shifts, and these attendants are on their feet the entire time. And this is a very busy period, because very few stations have fuel, and so the lines are like the never-ending lists we tale before God. Daily.

It gets even more interesting. Guess how much these guys earn? Attendants – N10, 000 per month. Not per shift, or per week. Every 30 days. No wonder they’re trying to fleece everyone every chance they get. No wonder they connive with their managers to fiddle with the meters and sell you N500 fuel even though you pay N1000. Am I excusing theft? No. Stealing is wrong. All shapes, forms, and sizes. Even the Bible says a thief who stole bread because he was hungry should still be punished. However, the same Bible says that if eating meat (or paying a deplorable salary) will cause your neighbour (or staff) to sin, don’t do it.

How do you pay a man (or a woman) N10, 000 in Abuja where everything is triple the price? Not in any of the really cheap states where money goes further? How are their bosses able to sleep at night? In their million dollar houses and bourgeois lives? What are their staff supposed to do with N10, 000?

I didn’t bother asking if they had health insurance or a pension contribution from their management – didn’t want to waste my time. Or his.

Interestingly though, he was very excited with this job because it was hard to get, and it was only because his brother knew someone who knew one of the managers that he got it. So, I also didn’t talk about leaving this or applying for any other jobs. Again, I didn’t want to waste his time. Or mine.

It’s like one multi-millionaire I used to know… who would owe his staff for months on end (and he was paying the exact definition of chicken change) yet they would see him flaunt his wealth on his children and associates. And expected loyalty and honesty, feigning surprise that they were pinching sums whenever/wherever they could.

Again, for absolute clarity, theft/fraud/misappropriation/add other synonyms in all forms is wrong. Wrong, and should be punished.

However… Think about it. What are you paying your hired help? Not saying you should pay beyond what you can afford, but would you accept that with joy and gladness if the positions were reversed? Even if you had no option and the job in itself was a favour?

To paraphrase a saying I’ve heard several times about racism and slavery… there is the bad thing the government has done to its citizens, but there is also the bad thing that citizens have done to themselves.

This thing about the golden rule sha…

 

PS: I got home a few minutes to 11pm. Exhausted, but with high spirits. I have fuel!

I haven’t blogged about a flight in a little while, and since my Christmas holiday series looks like it might be forever I thought,”why not chronicle a standalone activity?” Why keep my faithful readers starving for gist? Yeah?

So, here’s about my 72-hour trip to Lagos for the Social Media Africa Awards. I had a blast! From the welcome event for panelists, to hosting the morning summit and learning so much, to the fabulous awards event in the evening, I had a great time! A couple photos below.

My girl Emilia and I!

My girl Emilia and I!

Pre-Summit/Awards party. Left to right Japheth Omojuwa, Emilia Asim-Ita, and me!

Pre-Summit/Awards party. Left to right Japheth Omojuwa, Emilia Asim-Ita, and me!

Hosting the morning Summit. Whoop!

Hosting the morning Summit. Whoop!

Presenting awards with Omojuwa...

Presenting awards with Omojuwa…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, let’s talk about the bit that gets me the most, the flight! Now, I’d bought a Dana ticket for 11am for Abuja – Lagos but due to circumstances beyond my control (when last did you use that phrase) I couldn’t make it and therefore had to look for something else to fly with.

Settled for a 5.50pm Air Peace ticket, and that automatically meant I had 4 hours to wait at the airport.

By the way, here’s one way all these airport touts defraud the gullible. So, while I was walking between the ticketing buildings trying to get the earliest possible flight, two guys came up to me and said they had a ticket for a 1.30pm flight. Time check? 1.42pm. And I’d just left the airline’s counter, where at 1.25pm I was told I couldn’t get on the flight because they’d completed boarding. I said so to this ‘official’ and he said he knew but that the flight had just been delayed (he showed me a radio, as in he’d just been told and all) so to give him my ID and phone number and he would go print off a boarding pass; also said to follow his colleague to their office.

Office ke? Everything had sounded legit up till here, especially since this colleague started heading towards the car park. I said I’d wait there, so he stayed with me. 6 minutes later this ‘official’ comes back and acts like he’s in a super hurry. Asks me to give him 30, 000 naira and then go with his colleague to board the plane. I didn’t know when I started laughing. I asked for the boarding pass, dude said it was with their other colleague who was by the plane. So I asked if he would release 30, 000 naira to two random men who’d promised him a seat on a plane without a boarding pass, without a receipt, and outside the ticketing hall. Silence.

Still smiling, I asked for my ID and when he hesitated, I said I’d ask the army guy close by to collect it for me if he didn’t want to give me back. He handed it over. I smiled, and went into the hall where I procured a ticket.

Anyway!

Sitting in one of the lounges was worth the 3, 000 naira to be honest – I got to charge all my devices, had a bite to eat, and worked off their WIFI cos SMILE doesn’t have coverage at the airport yet. Was a really good idea.

Before I forget, not to be mean or anything but if we’re going to take our shoes off can the screening areas have a queue for people who feel/suspect their feet might be smelly? Biko! It’s very unfair to make everyone else go through the torture of inhaling the gunk. Would anyone high enough in the system think about this please? #ThingsThatBringWorldPeace

Back to the lounge. There was this older man talking so dirty to a lady (or a guy – these days you don’t know) loud enough for people outside the airport to hear him. So disgusting, like super vulgar stuff. Ear phones to the rescue, thank God for Sennheiser’s noise cancellation that actually cancels out noise!

Then it was boarding time – yay! By Nigerian standards, the flight was early. We took off at 6.09pm instead of 5.50pm. Not bad if you asked me.

Flight was alright. The pilot gave his announcements in English and then in French. Nice touch, reminded me I have lessons to take!

Why do I, who is greatly affected by scents, always get the ‘not-so-nice-smelling’ people when I fly? Who did I offend? Of course I took the window seat, and this gentleman with a ‘stale + nixoderm (I had eczema in secondary school so I know that smell) + something else I can’t place, wouldn’t stop peering slightly over to look through the window. Did I mention he had curls in his hair? Yuck.

Anyway. Hello Lagos – first time here this year. We got in ok. Grateful as always for safe travels.

Do you have obnoxious friends? People who think it’s their God given preserve to be the life of the party, the ‘e’ in entertainment when you guys are together? Do you have friends who crack jokes and even if they delivered the punch line over and over again, it still wouldn’t be funny? I mean, even if you wanted to laugh because the person was your buddy, you wouldn’t find it in you! In all my fairy years I’ve had quite a few like that; these days I don’t feel bad when I dodge them.

Today, I have a joke; it’s fairly long so I’ll need you to concentrate; no use making me deliver the punch lines more than once. Agreed?

My friend’s father who is closer to 60 than he is to 50, told us that when he was in secondary school (about 35 years ago), General Obasanjo and co visited his school and told them they were the leaders of tomorrow. 35 years after, and people are still thanking God the 3rd (and maybe lifetime) presidency Obasanjo was denied him.

In a few months Nigeria will be 50 years old; there is no national carrier (land, air or sea); there is nothing that has not been sold, privatized or liquidated. Ethiopia’s Ethiopian Airlines is the largest single employer of labor in the country, paying salaries of more than 5300 staff.

In the last 10 years, industries like Coca Cola, Dunlop, Michellin, etc have removed their factories from Nigeria to smaller African countries because there is neither light, water nor other enabling infrastructure to run these businesses. Nigeria on the other hand is spending millions on international media begging or foreign investors. We’re had presidents who spent more time outside than inside the country, all in the name of wooing foreign investors. Foreign investors like Halliburton and Siemens?

Our government says education should be/is free and compulsory for primary and secondary, noble. What kind of education are we bequeathing to our children if they have to sit on the floor in windowless and doorless classrooms where they get beaten by severely underpaid, frustrated and sometimes inefficient teachers who keep hearing their reward is in heaven? And yet, our rulers send their own kids to daycares in Europe and the Americas! What can the kids here possibly learn; they don’t even wear socks to school!

Between 1960 and today, reports show that over 400 billion dollars has been embezzled by our rulers. In a country of approximately 150million people, 1% of the total population has pocketed has squandered that amount.  Write it out, count the zeros, and let’s see how funny that is.

By the way, one of the most over flogged phrases in Nigeria today is, ‘we are fighting corruption’. We’ve been ‘fighting corruption’ as a nation since 1960 but up till 2005 when the EFCC was founded (and I must add that not because Obasanjo wanted it but because Nigeria had been given a deadline to set up a financial crimes agency), not one person had been accused, tried and convicted (in that order) on corruption charges.

The minimum wage was recently increased to N7500; that is N30, 000 in four months. I remember the governor of the state that had the godfather of amala politics saying that his state couldn’t afford it. Yet our representatives at the National Assembly are bickering because they want their salaries (or allowances) to rise to N42, 000, 000 in four months.  42million naira or doing what, Royal Rumble? Or maybe some of them moonlight for World Wrestling Foundation.

Let’s take the jokes up a notch shall we? Nigeria plans to spend 10billion naira on the Nigeria @ 50 celebrations this year; I couldn’t find out if the logistics or the 155 people Mr. President took to the United Kingdom for a Nigerian summit came from that budget or if it came from the money-we-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-so-lets-waste-it fund. 10billion naira…. that money can easily put a brand new laptop in the hands of every undergraduate in Nigeria; that money can sink boreholes in every community in a state, build them functional hospitals, standard primary schools, and still have change! 10billion naira is 100million naira multiplied by 100! I’m laughing my heart out!

Still on money, Nigeria wants to be like America; as a matter of fact, we want to be like everyone else but ourselves. Of course it’s all talk but that’s not the funny part. The President of America earns 250, 000 dollars in a year, that’s 1 million dollars in four years. A Nigerian Senator (not the President), earns 1.5million dollars in one year; that’s 6million dollars in four years (and more if they stay a second term). Six million dollars is the Gross Domestic Product of some small West African countries! In the hands of one man? Haba! Then we get surprised when they misbehave?

The jokes get even funnier, but they’re on us now. Do you know the name of the councillor o your ward? The name of your local government chairman? The name of the person representing your constituency? How many no’s did you get?

Do you have a voter’s card?  How many people in your family do? Which politician is offering your people money to rig the coming elections for him?

How can we hold our leaders accountable if we don’t even know who they are? How do we change the cadre of leadership if we consciously exclude ourselves? How can enough be enough if we cannot (and of our own making) vote? Why we do we scream ourselves hoarse complaining about everything going south and deny ourselves the opportunity to change it?

What’s your plan, are you going to register, scrutinize, vote, and protect that vote? Are you going to do something? Because the truth is, this 50 year old joke has gone stale, and we are no longer laughing.