Thursday, July 26, 2007

RAPE OF THE NIGER DELTA



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!!!"

20 comments:

ademola said...

Hello

I felt the same way you did. I visited Port Harcourt in 2005. To say I left town depressed and disappointed in our government is an understatement.

I finished my meeting early and had my taxi driver drive me round town for 3+ hours before it was time to..catch my flight back to Lagos.

All I saw was criminal negligence of infrastructure and a betrayal of the people.

We should all pray for good governance!

Nice blog .. Cheers

My Thots said...

Thanks for the comment Demola.

I also think that the people living in Port Harcourt need to make demands of not only the federal government but of their state and local government offices also.

Dan-Borno said...

Titilayo, I took my time carefully going over your post, but you kept me agape at the end. I must confess that I will immediately cancel my this years' vacation which i intend to spend at Portharcourt. I was told that Portharcourt is one of the best cities in Nigeria - that was before i read your post.

However, whose fault? you didnt talk much about that.

Be nice

Beauty said...

Rape of Niger Delta, Nigeria & Africa is one of the reasons I joined the blogshere. The reports out of home does seem bad but the root causes are kept of out of mainstream media. Your evidence shatters the incorrect "it is getting better" image that some people are spreading. May I use "RAPE OF THE NIGER DELTA" in Newsvine?

"One of the major reasons Africa has not developed as fast as other areas of the world in the last 40 years is that it has received very little foreign investment. Bad news mongers are one of the biggest causes of this. It is even more infuriating when the bad news mongers have no basis for their bad news campaigns." so ended one the rubbish being put online. http://handshake.newsvine.com/_news/2007/07/10/829023-african-corruption-on-the-wane.

Thank you for the excellent insight.

My Thots said...

Dan-borno, you may find Port Harcourt exciting only if you will be styaing at one of the five star hotels and not mingle with locals at all.....then your vacation might turn into some other thing..

You can try Obudu Ranch in Cross River State and endaevour to go with another friend so that you get maximum enjoyment from the trip.

Dear Beauty, sure, you can use Rape of the Niger Delta in Newsvine with necesary credit.

NIGERIA GO SURVIVE!
ALUTA CONTINUA; VICTORIA ASCERTA!

Ejima said...

I was born in Port harcourt. I had all my primary education there and was very fortunate to serve my National Youth service in Rivers State.
My family owned a house at Potts Johnson Street. We lived there for years before the civil war.
To say that I am depressed and disappointed as some you is also to say the least an undertatement. I am writing from New York but I do visit Nigeria and travel to Port harcourt every year. I am very proud of the city of my birth. It was a beautiful city. Port Harcourt in the early sixties and seventies was known as the "Garden City"
This downward trend started with the deprivation after the civil war of homes built by some well known Nigerians. The curse of that criminal mischief (that is called abandoned property)cannot be overlooked in the context of what "Garden City" is now. Until we have in place a situation where you are given the neccesary condition that you are a Nigerian first and foremost and not judge you by the tribe you are from, then people will start investing in Port Harcourt. Those of us whose parents lost a lot from that criminal act still hurt.
Another thing hurting Port Harcourt is the Niger Delta problem. Or how can one explain the fact that the Niger Delta where most of the country's revenue come from is underdeveloped. There are no good roads and hospitals and the necessary infrastructure is in decay. It is a different story in the north. Why don't those in authority get this.
I pray that Port Harcourt will one day reclaim it's Glory as The Garden City. But Until then, the State and Federal Government need to address and mend fences with those people who are hurt and continue to be hurt in Rivers State.

My Thots said...

Ejima thanks for this new insight. I never knew Port Harcourt used to be a beautiful city before the civil war.

I believe everyone that has read and contributed to this topic will be glad if you can provide us with pictures of Port Harcourt in its days of glory. I will be most glad to publish those pictures on this blog.

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I am an Indian and i just need a little help in finding out if its a good option to come here or not.
Please help me out
Thanks

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