Yes, we have accepted that Nigeria is a developing country and hasn’t even been in existence as long as some of the greater world powers we compare ourselves to. However, does this mean that we should remain in our developing state forever, does this mean we should be in a state of stagnant growth? If we see or notice a problem, shouldn’t we try to do something about it, if not by ourselves, then we can alert an organization about it. This soliloquy is brought on by a personal experience last night through this morning that really portrayed what goes on in Nigeria today.
It was 7 pm already, the usual time when the generator in my hostel came on. Sure enough, it did. Jennifer, my roommate bakes and she looks forward to the moments of assured electricity so she can bake her cakes in peace on an electric cooker in a big aluminum pot filled with salt…..creative or what? Anyways, this was a cake baking evening, and although I didn’t exactly like cake, I looked forward to perceiving the aroma and biting into Jenny’s fluffy cakes. This was however not to be as at 7:30, moments after the first batch had just gone on the fire, we were left in a state of utter darkness. Shouts could be heard from the windows of various rooms, ‘amethyst, put on the gen’. Really, what was this, I thought to myself as I put on the very dim lamp which had not been charged all day and went on arranging my locker. Jenny burst into the room and just landed on her bed, this was not the first time that the generator was going to be messing up her cakes. I could see through the dim light that she was seething with anger, I felt sorry for her.
We went out to ask the porters what the problem was, the usual story, the gen was bad. Really, you don’t say, I thought to myself. They had been preaching this for the past one month, however, we will find out in the wee hours that girls had had enough. Things were calm, tensions were building. I could see people taking out extensions so as to charge their phones at the gateman’s post. Apparently, this is what the high amount of money we were paying got us. I couldn’t care less, I thought. My reasoning being that they must have resolved the issue by the time I got back to my hostel from Yomi’s birthday party.
The party was dead (no offense Yomi). Probably because it was billed to start later, however I came earlier because no music is worth my sleep. For some reason, I took two packs of food, instead of one to console my bored senses. I couldn’t eat before leaving, so I ended up taking the two packs to the hostel. We took an okada to go back to the hostel. Before I knew what was happening, there was a danfo in front of us and people telling the okada man to stop. Stop for what, I thought. They were police men. Mschew, I thought, what do these ones want now? Apparently, okada’s are not supposed to operate after 10.
In a country where the rule of law obtains, should anybody be above the law? Equality before the law is after all what the rule of law preaches. To my uttermost surprise, the driver of the okada, was a soldier. Apparently, being a soldier is the answer to any problem in Nigeria. As in, the way the guy said it self, like being a soldier meant a total disregard for laid down rules and regulations. I was glad they didn’t arrest him, I was however also sorry for the guy who was not a soldier and was sitting hopelessly in the back of the bus, holding his okada to prevent it from falling out the boot.
On getting to the hostel, it was still plagued with darkness, with the occasional beam of a torchlight in one or two rooms that one could see from the road. More people had even kept turns to charge their phones. My door was very welcoming to all the mosquitoes and all sorts of creepy crawlies as my roommate had left the doors and windows wide open. There were about 3 other people in the room with her, guess the first thing she asked me. Eniola, did you bring food? Ha……I thought in my mind. This must be the reason I suddenly developed roguish tendencies. She and her friends shared a plate while I ate the other plate with Tomi. Then I started hearing amethyst’s national anthem; ‘porter no water, porter no water, porter no water ooo’ in a crescendo-like fashion. I loved hearing it because water never seemed to finish in my room. Last night was not an exception. I even took a shower on the advice of the Afro kid; totally worth it. Usually, the hostel doors close at 12:30, today; exception. Girls were still trooping around, getting in sync with nature and all. Little groups here and there with rechargeable fans. By 1 am though, the girls had no choice as there was an alarm of the presence of a snake; false or not, I knew not.
As I drifted in and out of my reverie as I couldn’t figure out whether I was awake or asleep, I could hear people airing their grievances still. 5:30 AM ushered in the party goers and all those in that category; people who unlike me, didn’t have a close relationship with sleep. In their sleep deprived state, they were livid that there still was no light and water was still a problem. Tensions erupted, and an alarm of fire was raised that pierced even through the deep sleep of Ismailia in the room across from ours. It felt as though there was an earthquake as I could feel the vibrations from people scampering to tie their wrappers under their armpits and for the ones that could bear the heat and wore clothes; lucky them I thought. If I was in doubt as to whether it was a false alarm; the next words confirmed my suspicions. Early morning activists had come to preach their gospel. It didn’t go so well.
Later in the morning before I went for my meeting, as I sat on my bed facing the window that looked outward towards the walkway, I got wind of the rancid smell that was the sewage. Heck, it smelt like they hadn’t emptied it in ages. As though the feaces was complaining of overcrowding. They were having a revolution of their own. That, friends is the genesis of this whole write up. Why would the management wait until things are in a total state of disrepair and we start to inhale toxic chemicals? Why would they continue to be-labor a generator set that had obviously outlived its life span? Why would they want to fumigate on a Saturday? Do they really think that we go to school throughout the week only for us to be kicked out on the weekend also? It’s really amusing, who thought about doing that?
This questions draw my attention to the state of our country and in particular our maintenance culture. Why does the government not feel the need to take care of things while they are still functioning? They would rather wait till it spoils then try to repair the spoilt thing. This a culture that has got to stop. If we all wait for things to be in the worst conditions, then we will not be practicing sustainable development; and Nigeria will really not come out of the developing stage. Sustainable development will begin in our country when people start to realize the long term effects of their actions today on society tomorrow. Yes, it’s good to build bridges and construct roads and build hospitals and universities, but how sustainable are these projects, what measures have been put in place to ensure that this structures are kept in a state of use till they reach maximum utility. Capitalizing on the just concluded elections, the incoming governments both at the federal level and state level have their work cut out for them. If they identify the maintenance problem of this country and decide to fix it, they will be pioneering this development and because they have nothing to build on, they would have to start from scratch. Planning, strategizing, proactive actions, engagement of experts. When contracts are awarded, the same company should be charged with the responsibility of coming up with a maintenance plan. Start small, start somewhere.