Who would want to be president of Nigeria? Well, once upon a time, me. When I was 19, I set out my manifesto on the BBC Africa website. Some of my campaign promises included quality education, constant electricity and running water for all. I planned to use my honest smile as my most efficient tool to win votes and secure the presidency.
By 21 I’d set my sights a little lower. After some research, I discovered that local government was the most effective place to implement real change. So I decided that by 30 I was going to be a local government chair in Lagos, my home state.… Seguir leyendo »
The news that the Nigerian government and Boko Haram had reached a deal that would secure the release of the Chibok girls was received with excitement all over the world. I landed in Nigeria the day the news broke, and my phone was flooded with texts and messages to the effect of “Have you heard?”. Then, as the days passed and the girls did not materialise, anticipation cooled into watchfulness and watchfulness soured into cynicism. “They’re always releasing false statements,” a relative of mine said the other day. “Just let us know when they get home.”
The Chibok girls have become a symbol of everything that is wrong with Nigeria.… Seguir leyendo »
Half of a Yellow Sun, Biyi Bandele's new film adaption of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's novel, explores the effect of the Nigerian civil war on the lives of four characters. It is a subtle movie of a large war, intimate and revealing of the personal tragedies that took place from July 1967 to January 1970.
As I watched those four lives turned upside down – their houses bombed, their children starved, and their mothers killed by the advancing Nigerian army– I began to wonder if my country was ready for such a piercing glance into its past.
In Nigeria we are afraid to look back.… Seguir leyendo »
"I just got back." It's a phrase that allegedly peppers the conversations of Nigerians who have returned home to live and work. When confronted with the erratic power supply, or the four-hour traffic jams or the day-long petrol queues, they sigh and say: "I'm not used to this. You see, I just got back." So often do these returnees utter these words that they have come to be called IJGBs.
After Home Office vans began patrolling London's streets telling illegal migrants to "go home" – making legal migrants of all backgrounds feel unwelcome too – some in Nigeria now wonder if this will mean a new wave of IJGBs.… Seguir leyendo »
A few weeks ago, I met a Briton who works in Nigeria for an international aid organisation. He was young, enthusiastic and knowledgeable about my country, a combination rare in these isles. We spoke of Nollywood and Third Mainland Bridge traffic, and finally of a project that had taken years to plan and research. Now it was under way, his organisation was working with the Nigerian federal and state governments, but remained reluctant to do so with grassroot cadres because of a fear of offending cultural sensibilities. In his view, meetings with local leaders were fraught with the danger of unknowingly offending cultural norms and thus scuppering this carefully planned project.… Seguir leyendo »
On my last trip to Lagos, I drove past a new supermarket in an upper-middle-class part of the city. It was a huge concrete thing with sliding electronic gates, CCTV cameras and the sleek live wires that have replaced barbed wire in all fashionable districts. I remarked to my cousin, who was driving, that the building hadn't been there a year ago.
"You have to see inside then," she said, swinging her car around. Hidden inside this building, which looked like a small military base, was an exact replica of Tesco, she explained to me. There were wide aisles, Dairylea and the greatest joy of all, trolleys.… Seguir leyendo »
If I were to write a book about the almost perverse will of Nigerians to find a way, I would call it What to do when Nigeria Happens. In chapter 18 – What To Do When There Is a Power Cut During an Operation – I would advise you to follow the example of a surgeon who asked his attendants to turn on their mobile phones and point their lights at his scalpel.
In chapter 10 – What To Do in Times of Fuel Scarcity – I would suggest sleeping in the petrol queue for three days with provisions and a pack of cards to divert you in moments of extreme boredom.… Seguir leyendo »