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Port-Harcourt International Airport


“My dear brother. I understand you were on the Dana flight that overshot the runway while landing at the Port-Harcourt International Airport”.
“Hmmm…Let us just give thanks to the Almighty God for His mercies. What would I have said?”

“But the real story is that, if there was an emergency situation or a fire outbreak, the Port-Harcourt International Airport still does not have any firefighting service unit stationed at the airport. There are no trucks or firefighting personnel at the airport to respond to emergency situations. One would have thought after the last air crash in Port-Harcourt that lessons would have been learned and critical infrastructure such as this put in place to avert national tragedies”.

Port-Harcourt International Airport has consistently been ranked one of the top three worst airports in the world. From the lack of cooling units to tents, absence of infrastructure, the whole airport is a national joke”.

“There is some construction going on. The minister has assured Nigerians of its commitment to improving the Port-Harcourt International airport. The tents will soon be a thing of the past. I am sure there is a committee working day and night to ensure that the terminal is ready in the second quarter of 2018”.

“All these rhetoric sound familiar. But do we need to wait for the second quarter to get firefighting equipment at the airport?”“But do you know for a fact that there are no firefighting trucks stationed at the airport? It sounds too ludicrous to comprehend. Be careful of spreading unconfirmed rumors. In any event, if there is no firefighting unit at the airport, getting such equipment takes time because it may need to pass through the Senate and budget approval. But your questions are becoming too much. Do I look like a FAAN official?”

“Look everything is a joke in this country. You want to use the toilets at the airport- it is a whole new style of revenue collection. The personnel working there, they roll the tissue for you and direct you to the toilet that flushes properly. When you come out, they hold the dispensing pump of the liquid soap to help you wash your hands. Na wa! All the while they are telling you how beautiful you look and all sorts of small side chit-chat. They guide you to clean your hands. After these ceremonies- “Happy weekend sister, anything for us? One cannot even exercise his inalienable right to go to toilet in peace because financial hawks are everywhere”.

“Ha! I personally find it amusing and irritating all at once. And to think our airports are the first windows into the soul of the nation and indeed a precursor of what to expect in the country”.“In Abuja airport, custom officials have given a new spin on the interpretation of the constitution with respect to custom duties. They will tell you to open your suitcase, rummage through it and begin to direct you to where to go and pay duty on baby clothes, shoes, name it, anything you buy”.

“Incredible! Who does that? And why is the rule only enforceable in Abuja airport? Duties on children items and personal effects?”“Worse still, there is no receipt, neither is there any evidence of where the money is going to. As if, we are not saddled with enough wahala”.

“Ah, they wanted to do the same thing to me. But God pass them! I latched on to a serving Senator I saw come out of the plane and pleaded with him to allow me follow him out of the airport. Nice chap. He obliged my request. You know such rules do not apply to big men. So they could not ask to search my suitcase! I love this country”.

“Really sad. We should petition the Senate. It is not done anywhere and it is just another obtuse layer for revenue generation or should I say personal gratification”.“The Senate is too busy to be bothered about such trivialities and sharp practices especially as they are not directly affected. Right now, they are discussing weightier matters. I understand animals have invaded the financial sector now and are swallowing our sovereign national wealth. If we continue like this, our lives would literally become extinct”.

“Honestly, this country is a Nollywood script. When I heard about the snake that purportedly swallowed millions of Naira, I was flabbergasted. While I was still mulling over how we got to this stage as a nation, the story about a monkey swallowing some more funds came up. Which way Nigeria”.

“Be speaking phonetics and talking through your nose. I went home that evening completely upset with my dog. To make matters worse, it was wagging its tail at me. But its mates are bringing raw money home. So rather than waste my money on dog food and bones, I have decided to now start rearing monkeys. They are nimble and can act fast. I will be putting naira and dollar in front of them so they know the difference. My dog is a waste of space”.

“What are you trying to do? You are part of the problem. You are turning everything into a huge joke. It is not funny. We ought to do some sober introspection. If we continue like this, there will be no nation to call our own”.“When my monkey gets into CBN, finds its way into the coffers and brings forex home, I will join you in your introspection. For now, let me get serious with training and getting speedy results”.

“Recently, it was alleged that the sum of nine million dollars was found in someone’s house. Ah! Will it be bad, if they find that sort of money in my house? Hian! Who did they even say I offended in this country? Will the country break up if they write that about me? Nine million? That can build a world class hospital. It can provide electricity in the rural areas. It can transform a Local Government. And yet it is in the house of one man. I want to take a trip to my village and ask questions. If a deity has my name as one of those that should not see such monies, let Amadioha intervene”.

“It is actually a good time to work in S.S.S and EFCC depending on which of the agencies go to these houses to find these monies”. Abi, I will just be laboring to count nine million and not go home to show my family what dollars looks like?”“These people do not strike me as normal people. Why not even keep the money in the bank? Buy properties? Why just stash all that amount in the house?”

“The ways of big men in Nigeria are not easy to decipher. The more you look, the less you see and understand”.“Give it two weeks, all the dust would have settled down and we will move on to something else. He is not the first individual. Nothing happens to them. They just take a bow and leave. Nigeria is an unending tragi-comedy”.

“Sadly, no meaningful socio-economic development can take place and youths do not want to go through the rigors of education if one can make a couple of millions through phony means”.“Education? Have you seen the state of some of our public schools? No roofs, broken down chairs, it is just appalling. My heart bleeds for the nation. What do we tell our kids?

“Eh, Pele! Bleeding heart. You better get a grip and let us discuss strategically on how we can improve our lives. This country is not for faint hearted people. It is not for small children. It is for the grown up and sexy. If you are not battling diesel and PHCN menace, you are battling ritual killers. It is one thing after another. Fulani herdsmen are doing their own. We are ironically a nation not at war but bitter internecine feuds have come to characterize and dot our entire landscape. And so all the “development” we tout as a nation pale into insignificance as the foundation is shaky and at best a farce. VAIDS, accelerated tax and revenue generation- all of these are mere sophistry in the face of current realities, the average Nigerian passes through. Until the average Nigerian is empowered and has access to basic human needs-food, shelter and clothing, we are going nowhere as a nation. Worse still, as the disparity between the haves and have-nots is getting wider and wider by the way. Ogaa gan!

“Well a bit of cheering news-the Dapchi girls have been released. That is a very commendable feat”.“But what is your take on the whole Dapchi episode? Social media has not helped matters with stories of conspiracy and outright deception”.“Such people are not aware of the hate bill. The new bill before the Senate prescribes death sentence for hate speech. As you see me, I do not want to die. And I advise you, young man, to also think like me. We still have young children to take care of. Who conspiracy theory “epp”? So just control your vocal cavity before you end up where you should not be. A word is enough for the wise”.

“I understand one big man said most of the killings are just another word for ethnic cleansing”.“What did you call him? Big man abi? It seems a matchstick is stuck in between your ears-Laws in Nigeria are not made for big people. I am just advising you”.“Hmmm. Let me come and be going. The journey is far and the road is riddled with potholes”.“A committee on road recovery and reconstruction has been set up. Your road is receiving the highest attention right now as we speak”.“Jisike. The Good Lord will guide you”.
• Onagoruwa wrote from Lagos.


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