Thursday, July 26, 2007


I am writing this from Kaduna, a commercial hub of northern Nigerian. I had to travel from Abuja to Kaduna by road and by Nigerian standards, I will call the roads...smoo0ooth roads. This prompted me to reminisce on my first visit to Port Harcourt, Nigeria oil city.

During my days in Management Consulting, the client list of the last consulting firm I worked with included the big names in the oil industry with many of them having their head offices in the oil city, Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Based on this, consultants in the office had frequent opportunities to travel to the oil city.

When I joined the company, I knew I would one day have my chance to visit the oil city. However, I had to hope against hope for a long time before I was even considered to be included on the list of consultants to provide consulting services in the oil city. You know like they say, a man’s gift will make room for him. One day there was a service need in one of the oil companies and I had been the one working on the surveys for which our company needed to present the results to senior management of the oil company.

My immediate boss was just not communicating these results right to the client and so he asked me to help explain to the client better on the phone and alas, they asked that my name must included on the team traveling to the oil city for the presentation.

I was very much elated that my hope had finally come to fruition. I had such high hopes about the oil city. Interestingly I didn’t even ask anyone what the city looked like…..I just reeled away in my dreamland about my expectations of the oil city.

If you have had an opportunity to get treated by the oil companies, you will understand me when I say that my dreams soared higher and higher about what I was expecting to see in Port Harcourt. Right from the airport in Lagos, I was booked on a chartered flight with only fifteen of us on the airplane.

Landing at the Port Harcourt airport, there was already a guide with a placard of the oil company waiting for us at the arrival section of the airport. I followed the guide who led me to a waiting bus. I was ushered into the bus while my luggage was collected from me, I believe that was meant to eliminate any form of discomfort the bag could cause me during the bus ride. I willingly handed my bag over to them which they loaded onto another bus that I will designate the luggage bus.

I sat quietly in my seat as I watched my co-privileged come on the bus. After all the passengers were seated, the driver started the engine of the bus and I also heard the sound of sirens blazing from ahead and behind the bus. We journeyed from the airport to the city central of the oil city in a convoy. First was a police escort pick up van, then the passenger bus, followed by the luggage bus and finally another police pick up van was at the tail of the convoy.

All these special treatments did no less than playing with my mind aa I started dreaming of different descriptive words about the oil city. Words such as wealth, luxury, opulence, sumptuousness.., oil…permeated my mind.

As we moved farther away from the airport, we passed through some local settlements which to me were typical of most airport location to main city routes. I didn’t allow the view of the settlements deter my dream picture of the oil city. I looked forward to traffic lights, mansions, clean long roads with wide junctions breaking out into eight link roads. I held on to my expectations of high rise buildings of oil firms, shopping malls with brightly splashed nomenclatures, digital adverts streaming on the streets, gosh I had big dreams for Port Harcourt. Even the name P-o-r-t h-a-r-co-u-r-t reeked of a glorious city like the ones I had seen in foreign films showing pictures of the beautiful streets in London, U.S and Tokyo.

As we moved along in our journey, I saw scattered stalls along the roads and people speaking to themselves from across the streets as commonly seen in the markets in Lagos. I said to myself, the remaining part of the journey must still be long. All of a sudden, the bus took one more turn, hooted and the gate ahead of us was opened. I asked the person sitting next to me if the oil company's office was located on the outskirts of the oil city and she said… no we are right in the centre of the town. This is the Port Harcourt City.

At that point, all my dreams were shattered; my disappointment knew no bounds… Is this my dream town, P-o-r-t H-a-r-co-u-r-t, the Oil City.

I felt very ashamed and disgraced at the state of Port Harcourt. As if my grief disappointment was not enough, two days later I had the unfortunate privilege to travel by road from Port Harcourt to Warri and then to Lagos. This journey proved to be nothing less than a most nightmarish experience. Saying the roads are very BAD is an understatement.

From the very little my eyes have seen of Port Harcourt and Warri parts of the oil-rich region of the country not to talk of what Bonny, Oloibiri and other parts would look like, the only way I can describe the state of the Niger Delta region is what I have termed the RAPE of the NIGER DELTA.

Additional Notes:
I have been out of the blogosphere for a while now although I have been following other fellow bloggers. I also read about Bellanaija in True Love magazine. I want to say to those that got featured in that edition of True Love including Adaure "Go on girls, the sky is your starting point!!!"