The End of an Assignment in Nigeria

Okay, so now I’ve got a post about Melbourne out of the way it’s time for me to say a little something about Nigeria.  With the exception of a week in October when I need to clear out my apartment, I’ve pretty much left Nigeria.  My assignment there officially finished on 31st July, although I will have to return for business trips over the course of the next 3 years because the project I am on in Melbourne is for Nigeria.

Somebody once said that there is much to write about Russia, but when one tries you can never find the words to write the first line.  Nigeria is much the same, and indeed there are many similarities between the two countries.  I have tried to describe Nigeria to people who have never been there, and failed on most occasions.  A colleague of mine stopped telling people back home about the place because he was getting a reputation as somewhat of a bullshitter, even though he didn’t exaggerate anything.  I was at a seminar in Paris some time ago and I was describing the working life in Nigeria to a group of Frenchmen.  One of them quipped that I was exaggerating and that “it couldn’t be that bad”, which prompted another Frenchman, sitting beside me, to nudge me in the ribs and remark “wait until he does his Nigerian assignment”.  He was based in Port Harcourt.

Nigeria has a reputation, and I knew about it before I arrived.  Most of what I’d heard proved to be completely true.  Almost all of it, in fact.  To get a general picture of Nigeria, just read the news, and you’ll not be far wrong.  It isn’t a place like Russia, the US, or France which surprise visitors when they see the contrast between what they’ve imagined (based on exposure to their tourists or foreign policy) and the individuals they encounter.  But beyond the general picture, there are some subtleties worth mentioning.

It’s first important to understand that degree is as important as form.  Russians, faced with criticism of corruption in their country, often retort that corruption is found everywhere, even in the UK.  Which is true, but in many countries it does not infest every authority, office, and institute like it does in Russia.  It is the degree, or extent, of corruption which makes Russia different from the UK, not the form.  Understanding this concept is important in describing Nigeria.

There is no getting away from the fact that corruption in Nigeria has infested almost every aspect of life, work, and society.  I can’t think of a single area where I didn’t encounter a scam of some sort.  Some of them were pretty normal – policemen hassling motorists for bribes, for example – with others being less common elsewhere.  Filling brand named alcohol bottles with local hooch was widespread practice.  Not so bad in itself, but these were being sold through supposedly legitimate suppliers and turning up in established bars.  Others were unique to Nigeria.  I knew a guy in charge of oil shipments for a foreign oil company who received a call from somebody in the authorities saying he was not going to release the multi-million dollar cargo until somebody had bought his cousin $10 worth of phone credit.  My acquaintance found himself going to the shop, buying a phone card, and handing it over to some scruffy bloke who showed up at his office in order to allow his crude oil out of the country.

The corruption, theft, and graft can take many forms: falsifying a CV (I don’t mean enhancing, I mean pretending you’re a Lead Piping Engineer of 12 years experience when actually, until yesterday, you were a fisherman); selling positions in a company; stealing diesel from the storage tanks you’re paid to protect; issuance of false material certificates; impersonating an immigration officer to access an office, from which you then tap up the people within to fund your latest venture; selling land which isn’t yours; deliberately running down the country’s refining capacity in order to partake in the lucrative import of fuels; falsifying delivery notes of said refined fuels in order to receive greater government subsidies; deliberately restricting the country’s power generation capacity in order to benefit from the importation of generators (which must be run on imported fuel); theft of half-eaten sandwiches and opened drink containers from the office fridge; tinkering with fuel gauges at petrol stations to sell customers short; conspiring with company drivers to issue false receipts indicating more fuel was supplied than actually was; supplying counterfeit safety equipment; falsifying certificates related to professional competence (e.g. rope access work); paying employees less than stipulated in their contract (or not at all); cloning satellite TV cards, meaning the legitimate user gets their service cut off when the other card is in use (the cards are cloned by the same people who issue the genuine cards); the list is literally endless.  There is no beginning or end to corruption in Nigeria, it is a permanent fixture.

Nepotism is rife: family members are employed and promoted before anyone else.  Outright theft is rife: from a pen lying on a desk, to billions from the state coffers. Dishonesty is rife: from the state governors to the street urchin, lying to enrich yourself is the norm.  You name the scam, it is being done in Nigeria.  Eventually, nothing surprises you.

As I said before, you’ll find such practices everywhere, but to nowhere near the extent found in Nigeria.

Apparently it wasn’t always like this.  There was a time, probably from around the 1970s to 1990s, when Nigeria had a reasonably diverse economy.  Besides the oil and gas, they had agriculture, manufacturing and assembly (Peugeot set up an assembly plant in Nigeria in the mid-1970s), brewing (there is a both a Guinness and a Heineken brewery), refining, construction, and pharmaceuticals.  Some of these survive today.  There were decent universities, and students wishing to graduate had to apply themselves.  Security wasn’t much of a concern to the average citizen.

I don’t know the details, but at some point in the 1990s one of the military dictators decided to flood the place with oil money in order to buy support.  This had the effect of drowning every other form of enterprise and ensuring that oil and gas was the only game in town.  This is bad in itself, but by no means unique to Nigeria.  What was worse is that this quickly instilled a mentality across Nigeria that there was a lot of money up for grabs, and getting your hands on it wasn’t in any way related to honest efforts or applying yourself to something constructive.  Nigeria became a place where if you’re not getting your hands on some of the oil money, either directly or indirectly, then you’re going nowhere.  With oil money washing over the whole country like a tidal wave, soon everyone was trying to secure their own piece of the action, using fair means or foul.  Imagine throwing a huge box of sweets into a playgroup shouting “Grab what you can!”, and the chaos that ensues will be similar to what happened to Nigeria on a national scale.

At least, this is what I gather happened – I may be wrong – but for sure, the current situation reflects what I’ve described.  The economy is funded almost exclusively from oil and gas revenues, and everything else is merely feeding off that.  The new hotels in Lagos, the growth of capital city of Abuja, the importation of luxury goods, the Audi and Porsche dealerships, the sky-rocketting real estate prices, the money earmarked for infrastructure projects, the increase in flight passengers, all of it is directly or indirectly linked to the oil money.  Okay, maybe there is some hyperbole in there.  Agriculture still makes up the lion’s share of GDP, and the services sector is booming.  Advertising is a big industry in Lagos, although the most common thing you see advertised is advertising space.  But nobody is going to get anywhere herding cattle, picking pineapples, or working in a sawmill.  Even the owners won’t be earning that much, not if that’s their only income.  There is very little opportunity to get rich, or even advance, unless you are somehow connected to the supply of oil money.

One of the results of this national free-for-all is the formation of groups, societies, associations, and unions whose raison d’être is to obtain as much money and benefits for their members as possible.  This isn’t much different from Europe in respect of trade unions, but groups and subgroups form at micro-levels with sometimes comical precision.  The Lagos Association of Road Maintenance Engineers, Roundabout and Lay-by Division, 4th Department.  The Nigerian Association of Water Truck Drivers, Lagos Chapter.  Membership of one or more of these associations is both essential and compulsory: essential because an individual would get trampled very quickly in the general melee of Nigeria, and compulsory in the sense that you have almost no chance of being allowed to quietly ply your trade without paying dues to some group or other.  It’s not clear what the legal standing of a lot of these groups is, but it’s often hard to tell how they differ from a standard extortion racket.  One of the most powerful unions in Lagos, the transport union, used to shake down any okada (motorcycle taxi) driver passing through their checkpoints, claiming the money was used “to protect them from the police”.  I doubt the money was used in such a manner, but people do need protection from the police in Lagos.  Not that the okada drivers had any say in the matter: membership was automatic, and the union muscle would beat any non-compliant driver or confiscate his vehicle.  The power of the oil and gas workers unions is legendary, ensuring their members enjoy pay and benefits which are the highest of any local staff in the world, and often outstrip those of the expatriates.

This in itself might not be so damaging, but ubiquitous to all competing factions is a rapacity the likes of which I doubt can be found anywhere else on such a scale.  There is a culture so prevalent that it is a defining characteristic of Nigeria whereby no amount is ever enough, and no sum too small to be pilfered.  There comes a point in the career of most people who have gotten rich, either legitimately or otherwise, where they stop chasing the small stuff and are only interested in adding to their pile if the increase will be substantial.  The police chief of a sizeable Thai resort town has his fingers in many pies, but he’s not interested in shaking down street vendors.  His minions might in order to supplement their salaries, but generally once the boss has his cut of most of the action, he’s not interested in sweeping up every last baht.  As a result, commerce can continue relatively unmolested.  The same is roughly true amongst the Sheikhs of the Middle East.  Bung the Crown Prince a few million for the contract, and he’ll allow the project activities to go ahead pretty freely.  He’s not interested in making an extra $10k by insisting you hire his brother’s lorry fleet to transport the gravel.  Such restraint may also be practical: the dodgy official in the UK isn’t going to be interested in taking pennies if he risks getting fired or going to jail, he’ll have a minimum price he’ll work for.

But Nigeria has the same problem I saw in Russia: an almost pathological insistence of securing for yourself 100% of everything that is available, and not a kopek or kobo less.  I have observed before that Russians would rather have 100% of nothing than 50% of something, and the same is true – but on a far greater scale – in Nigeria.  The inequality in Nigeria is horrific.  The middle-classes are tiny, those who are neither stinking rich nor mired in poverty.  As it happens, most of the Nigerians I worked with fell into this category: lucky enough to have well-paying jobs, but not ordering Porsche Cayennes for each family member.  Statistically, almost all Nigerians are dirt poor.  A very few are stinking rich.  Again, a manageable problem in itself, but the rich haven’t finished yet.  Indeed, they’re only just getting started.  I spoke to a couple of Angolans in a seminar once, and they said that although their ruling classes had enriched themselves immeasurably, they were at least spending some money on the country, and improvements were noticeable.  The reason the Russians accept with a shrug the siloviki helping themselves to millions is because they (rightly) feel this is inevitable and – more importantly – life is actually improving in Russia and has been doing so since they came to power.  Sure, it’s a slow improvement and life is still hard, but they are at least moving in the right direction (for how long is a discussion for another post).  There have been improvements in infrastructure in Russia, the new Sheremetovo airport to name one example.

By contrast – and I challenge any Nigerian reading this to disagree – there have been no discernible improvements in Nigeria in the past decade (outside of Abuja, where all the politicians happen to live).  The infrastructure is crumbling, electricity shortages abound, Lagos airport is a national disgrace, project after project gets sanctioned but rarely started, never mind completed, before the funds disappear, and unemployment is rocketing.  I heard somewhere that 2m people are added to the workforce every year in Nigeria.  To do what, exactly?  There are no jobs.  One source of employment for young men was to drive okadas, until they abruptly got banned in Lagos last year.  The roads are now much better, but you now have tens of thousands of young men with no source of income and no hope of a job.  Since the ban came into effect, crime – robberies, car-jackings, burglaries – have increased by an order of magnitude, even in the rich neighbourhoods of Lagos previously thought to be safe.  It’s not difficult to see why.

Meanwhile, Nigerian senators – of whom there are 109 – enjoy an official package worth $1.5m per year, which they recently requested to be increased to $2.2m per year.  By contrast, the US President gets an annual salary of $400k.  Given the unofficial incomes of a Nigerian senator through graft and backhanders is probably 3-5 times that, we can probably estimate most of these guys are taking home something in the order of $4-5m each year.  Yet they put in for a 46% increase, in a country where 45% of the population lives beneath the poverty line.  This is hardly surprising for a group of politicians, and far from unique to Nigeria.  The problem is, this behaviour is repeated through every strata of society from the very top of the government to the lowest street urchin: whatever is there, I want all of it; and I want more.  I saw wealthy middle-class Nigerians move to ensure drivers did not enjoy a fringe benefit worth about $10 per week.  If you threatened to report a low-level official for corruption, he would usually tremble with fear of his boss finding out: not because his boss shuns corruption, but because he will want to know why the proceeds of this particular scam haven’t been coming to him.  We already had the example of a multi-million dollar oil cargo being held up until somebody’s relative received a kick-back worth $10.  If any amount of new money arrives in the economy – due to a new oil project, for example – those who are already wealthy, via their societies, organisations, unions, and political connections will ensure 100% of that new money will go to them.  Insofar as sharing and dividing the spoils goes, it is between groups who are already of the same wealth.  If any trickles down to the next layer, it is almost by accident, and to be corrected at the first opportunity.

I came to the conclusion about 2 years into my assignment that Nigeria is probably the only genuinely classless society I have seen.  Class is very different from wealth.  Upper class people can be dirt poor (bankrupt dukes) and lower class people can be fabulously rich (Russian oligarchs).  Class is about behaviour and attitudes, not wealth (a point made very well in Kate Fox’s excellent book Watching the English).  And insofar as behaviour goes, I didn’t see a shred of difference between the top politicians, down through the officials in the national authorities, through the middle class professionals, through the service providers, right down to the area boys.  The behaviour was identical across all strata: I want more money, and I will do absolutely anything to get it.  If you were to replace the politicians – let’s say our 109 senators from before – with 109 random people from the Nigerian citizenry, you would get no change in behaviour.  You could repeat the experiment a thousand times, and you would get no change.  There is no ruling class in Nigeria, there is just a set of rulers.  Where any change is expected to come from I don’t know.

I believe one of the root causes is the bizarre situation where being dishonest is not socially frowned upon.  Not really, anyway.  If somebody is caught with his hand in the till, he is not shunned by his peers.  The whole situation is treated with utter indifference, and sometimes admiration (if the scam is particularly imaginative).  Societal pressure plays an enormous role in shaping the behaviour of a population, probably more so than the brute force of the law, and whilst all Nigerians complain about the crime and dishonesty so prevalent in their country (it affects them far more than the expats), they remain utterly silent when a perpetrator is identified from within their peer group.  At best, you’ll get a shrug and a statement to the effect of “that’s just how it is”.  If you’re a Nigerian caught running a scam against your employer, your colleagues aren’t going to think any less of you.

In fact, the only behaviour I managed to identify which would cause a Nigerian to be shunned by his peers and made an outcast, is if he decided he wasn’t a believer and therefore wasn’t going to be showing up in church (or mosque) any more.  I don’t think I met a single Nigerian who didn’t attend either church or mosque, and religion plays an enormous – possibly the key – role in Nigerian society.  I’m not going to go into this topic, mainly because I’m not reflexively anti-religion, but I do suspect that a lot of Nigerians justify unsavoury behaviour during the week by going to church on Sunday and washing themselves of sin.  In this respect, the place is very similar to the Gulf States.

Now a reminder of what I said at the beginning of this post.  Degree matters.  You will find every type of individual in Nigeria, including the kind, funny, generous, honest, and everything else that is good in a person.  You’ll find lots of them too.  I had the pleasure of working with some great individuals, who were genuinely skilled, could apply themselves, held positions on merit, and were extremely well-mannered and respectful.  The team of Nigerians I managed was one of the nicest bunch of people you’d ever hope to meet, and easy to manage as well.  (My theory is that engineers are often like this: if you’re bone-idle and want to earn money dishonestly, there are easier things to do than an engineering degree.)  The problem these decent people have is that they are vastly outnumbered by those who are not.  For every Nigerian who is honest, well-mannered, and diligent you’ll find a hundred whose only goal is to get some money whilst expending the minimum amount of effort possible.  If they can use personal connections, lies, or trickery in lieu of learning a useful skill and applying it, they’ll take that option every time.  It’s a numbers thing: if 50% of Nigerians were more like 10% of them, the country would be okay.  And that’s the fundamental problem of Nigeria summed up in one sentence: way too many dickheads.

When I was bored in our morning meetings – which was on most days – I would canvas my team’s opinion on certain things, often the state of the country.  They were by and large in despair.  Nigerians are famously optimistic, but this is often through desperation.  Nowhere was this better demonstrated than on the occasion when a bank put a Christmas tree up on a roundabout with “presents” at the bottom, and the next morning all the presents had been ripped open.  If somebody thinks a box under a tree on a roundabout contains an X-Box, then you’ve gone way beyond optimism and into desperation or delusion.

My lads were a happy enough bunch – as Nigerians usually are – but had no hope of things getting better any time soon.  I ventured the suggestion that a return to military dictatorship might be on the cards, and I got no objection.  One of them explained that during the times of military dictatorship, it was only a handful of people at the top creaming off money.  Now, with democracy, it’s tens of thousands.  And during the military dictatorship, crime was much lower, and few had concerns about personal security.  Democracy is all well and good, but I’ve often said that it is a means to an end, not an end in itself.  I am sure the world will howl with outrage and impose sanctions should Nigeria undergo another military coup, but few can deny that democracy is failing to deliver peace, prosperity, and basic services to Nigeria.  I remain far from convinced that many Nigerians would not welcome such an event.

So what did I think of my time in Nigeria?  In truth, I didn’t like it, but not for the reasons you might think.  The worst thing, by far, was not being able to go anywhere and do anything at the weekends.  The security situation did not allow us to travel beyond a very restricted area of Lagos, and even if we could there wasn’t much to do.  I like walking about with a camera, camping, exploring by going to a town and drinking lots, skiing, driving around, visiting people, riding a bike, and hill walking.  There was no scope to do any of that in Lagos, for reasons usually related to security.  That meant for weekend after weekend after weekend there was nothing to do but watch sport on TV, go to the gym, and lie by the pool.  Those with families did whatever families do; the single guys went to bars and clubs and picked up Nigerians girls; guys like me – married, single status – didn’t do very much at all.  I used the time well, learned French, read countless books, improved on the guitar, and got fit.  Nigeria has excellent weather, and even better pineapples, but I would much rather have spent my time doing something else in another place.

Those restrictions were by far the worst aspect of my Nigerian assignment.  Insofar as the daily life in Lagos went, with all its challenges, that was manageable.  You get used to anything eventually, and at some point I was able to shrug off almost everything Nigeria had to throw at me.  I never quite got used to the traffic, so used to plan my day to avoid the worst of it.  Dealing with the Nigerians took some getting used to, a process that was eased considerably when I figured out they weren’t the most difficult factor to consider.  There’s rarely any point in getting upset about locals anywhere, because they are the raw material you have to work with.  If you go to Nigeria, you will have to work with Nigerians, so deal with it.  Some aspects of it were frustrating no doubt, but what can I do?  Nothing.

What infuriated me more was that some of the expats I encountered were hopelessly unqualified and too inexperienced to be there.  Nigeria is a difficult place to attract talent to, and as such – like a lot of oil towns worldwide – those who end up coming are usually way below the standard that should be demanded.  Unbelievably, incompetence and stupidity seem to be imported at great expense into Nigeria.  This annoyed me considerably, as it did when I encountered a similar state of affairs in Sakhalin.  If you are going to come into somebody else’s country on the basis that you have skills they don’t, you’d better make damned sure you have those skills and they are on full view.  If I had a quid for every time I’ve seen somebody fail this basic test in the oil business, I could retire and bump yachts in Monaco with Roman Abramovich.  I’m pretty sure I upset a few people in Nigeria, and maybe there were a few who didn’t want me there, but nobody could accuse me of not adding value.  Nobody could point the finger at me and ask “Why, exactly, do we keep this guy?”  If nobody else, the lads in my team didn’t mind me.  I gave them direction, support, and cover and got somewhere close to the best out of them.  What infuriated me more than anything was coming across a Nigerian with a reputation for being useless, and on further investigation learning that they’d never been given a job description, never been given any meaningful direction, had no understanding of the context of their job in the department or the department in the company, and had just been plonked at a desk and expected to do something.  I came across this far more than I should have, and it pissed me off.  Fair enough, if somebody is useless then call them useless; but first you have to give them every opportunity to succeed, and only then can you call them useless if they don’t perform.  Hey, you could even call this practice management!  There was a serious lack of it in Nigeria.  How many half-decent Nigerians are shoved in the corner of an office and written off as useless in this manner I don’t know, but I’ll bet it’s a lot, and it does the place a serious disservice.

As final proof that I didn’t dislike the place that much, I signed up to another 3 years of involvement when I had the opportunity to get away from Nigeria for good.  I learned some things during my assignment in Lagos, and that knowledge is useful.  I know Nigeria, and what it’s like to work with Nigerian companies and Nigerian people on a Nigerian project.  A lot of people don’t.  I’m used to it, it doesn’t hold any mystery or reason for fear as it did when I first arrived almost 3 years ago.

I’ll be back there at various points in the future, but honestly I hope I don’t have to live there permanently again for the reasons I stated.  I don’t consider it 3 years wasted – far from it – and I didn’t hate it.  There were moments, plenty of them, where I positively enjoyed it.  And as assignments in Nigeria go, that’s not too bad.

UPDATE

In attempt to address some of the reoccuring themes in the comments to this post, I’ve written a follow-up here.

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206 thoughts on “The End of an Assignment in Nigeria

  1. Well, to be candid, the writer was spot on as it concerns a lot of things in Nigeria.
    But then I ask myself…to what purpose is this write-up? I find the content of this article annoying and the temptation to consider his views a bit lop-sided remains exceedingly overwhelming. A lot of what he has spoken about borders on ignorance
    He went all out to attack our nation and the people instead of adopting a more objective approach. This shows how weak he is standing in this discussion.
    I just wasted my time reading this

  2. I largely agree with this article and I can see how the Tim Newman made every effort to be balanced in his account of his experience in Nigeria. I can say the writer simply spoke the truth… the bitter truth about our dear country, Nigeria. Although, an unsuspecting person will be tempted to believe this is the entire story there is to tell. It certainly isn’t.
    I see people criticizing those of us who agree with this article, and calling us unpatriotic. The state of Nigeria as a country saddens every Nigerian both at home or in the diaspora. The worst part is that our country is not moving in the right direction. What obtains is a semblance of moving in the right direction, a deception. When we look critically at the situation, you’ll see that its all deception. We continue to see acclaimed corrupt politicians still being offered juicy government positions, and we want to say we are moving in the right direction?? Someone mentioned here that Nigerians in the diaspora and others who continue to criticize the country are unpatriotic. Please tell me more about your conclusion. Where does patriotism start from? I really won’t fault any Nigerian born in the late 70’s to 80’s onwards if they choose to be unpatriotic. They’ve grown up in a society where the government totally neglected them. No evidence of commitment by the government and yet you expect the citizens to continue to be patriotic? The government is not even trying to be committed to its citizens. All they are interested in has been aptly described in this article. Nigerian government knows how to copy ideas or sayings from developed countries for their own benefit. Often quoted is the saying by JFK: “Think not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”. The Nigerian government conveniently uses that as a reason for expecting patriotism from its citizens, forgetting that JFK making that statement already presumes that the country is keeping up to its responsibilities to its citizens!

    The only thing I fault about this article is the author largely ignoring the boldness with which many expatriates in Nigeria take advantage of the lawlessness in the country to do as they like. They do things in Nigeria and other similar countries that they dare not do in theirs. Many of them even involved in the corruption that goes on. In the end, I can’t blame them so much. It is up to the Nigerian government to enforce their laws, which of course, they don’t. They say when you’re in Rome, you act like the Romans.

    Sadly, Nigeria is structured in such a way that if you are a person who wants to do things right all the time, you’ll remain at the back of the line forever. Sad, but true. Especially if you come from a disadvantaged background. The temptation is always there to join the bandwagon. Hardwork & honesty is not rewarded at all; rather, dishonesty, stealing, etc is glaring rewarded. Of course, there are lots of people who remain honest and hardworking; who bear the pains of a sad economy but yet choose not to compromise their integrity. A big kudos to them.

    Hopefully, some day everything will be alright.

  3. Wow…spot on analysis of Nigeria. Anyone who disagrees with this piece is simply in denial.

  4. Whilst I will accept a lot of what has been said about corruption and the way it has permeated Nigerian society, I would also say that Lagos in particular can be very enjoyable if you are’nt too paranoid.. In most metro cities in the world there is a fair share of crime and slums and areas you should know better than to go into, even as a local, a lot of employers put the fear of God into expats coming here and lock them up in compounds.
    There are great beaches accessible by road or boat, there are great local and modern bars, open air bars with live bands, restaurants, cinemas, gyms, and family membership clubs all within the “safe zones” that are swarming with an eclectic mix of people who are not afraid to move around Lagos. I met someone, now a friend, who came in from Ireland to do some work every 3 /4 weeks on a short contract in Lagos and had been locked up by his employers, he was introduced to me by mutual friends cos he was going stir crazy, over a period of 2 weekends I took him to several beaches, clubs, bars and he swore he would bring his family to Lagos for a holiday.. and he is not the first.. I think its about who you meet and how you mix with the Nigerians you work with that determines if you will enjoy your stay.. to conclude, I know some young European ladies who came out to do some work here and have fought tooth and nail not to be posted out of country because they enjoy it so much.. Nuff said

  5. The writer position was true and straight to point. However, many Nigerians are still very good. The major challenge of the Nigerian state is institutional corruption which has killed social confidence of the ordinary Nigeria. Like in times of war, many things seems right. However, hope abound as new generation of Nigerians shall take ownership of their country.

  6. I loooooove this guy! He has said very eloquently, the very things which I have been stressing time and time again to my fellow compatriots! I have never been interested in cover-ups or whitewashing of the state of affairs in Nigeria – we are in a deplorable state as a nation and there is no point trying to hide that! Anyone that dislikes looking at his/her own image in the mirror has two choices – either you actively engage in a program to change your looks or you can jump out of the window!! (Hopefully you are on the 5th floor)

    Nigerians are fond of refusing to accept their own failings! They always seek to point fingers or seek others to join in accepting responsibility for their own failings! There is a saying (carved in a plaque) that has hung in my father’s living room for 35 years. It says “You can never become what you want to be until you accept what you are”. Nigerians are famously optimistic and are also famous for persisting in denial, even in the face of overwhelming evidence!

    I have since come to the conclusion that the only time a Nigerian can bear to hear the unalloyed truth about himself/herself is in the few moments before death and the final extinguishing of life! This peculiarity in itself may partly account for our extremely deplorable and detrimental attitude. No nation is more religious and yet no society is more decadent than the Nigerian society, ……and if anyone cannot see this, then I feel sorry for such a person! The Bible says “You shall hear the truth and the truth shall set you free….” Perhaps the candid observation of a foreigner, which has been so eloquently expressed here, may serve to unshackle and free a few more enslaved minds from the dungeons of self deceit and moral delusion.

  7. You spent every weekend in VI or Lekki or Ikoyi…. You met the same circle of people, irrespective of strata of society – people working in/ for/ around oil & gas

    This is like going to the UK, working for the Banks, only meeting Bankers and people who work and facillitate things for them and using that insight to describe the whole state of affairs

    Your opinion isn’t worth anything really – you came to nigeria, made lots of money, made some trite observations, then headed off elsewhere. All you did was oil the machine you spend a 1000 words denouncing

    Grow up

  8. well said, nice research. but I’d have advised you learnt Yoruba instead of french, that will help you more around here

  9. Ugoeze N., Na wa you o. 🙂

    If you can, close your eyes and forget the race and orientation of the author. Then critically assess whether what he said is true. If your answer is “no, it is not true” then and only then can I forgive your comment above. If indeed it is true, why are you calling him and people that agree with the write-up names? Why? Weak Nigerians? No way. It takes a lot of courage to call a spade a spade, when all around you are calling it a spoon. We can blame colonialism all we want, but Nigeria is not the only country that experienced it. Others have since moved on.

    Nigeria is a resource (human and natural) giant but a developmental dwarf! And that will continue for as long as people choose to be as insular as I can tell some people are, from the comments they’ve posted here.

  10. Hi Timi

    Thank you for this important but distressing perenial news.

    This man is absolutely right. He is sport on.

    That is just a tip of an icebag.

    Everywhere you visit in Nigeria today for one thing or the other, they always want something from you before they even served you.

    This is despite the people being on a regular salary with the establishment they work for.

    Another shocking example? Have you been to a bank in Nigeria recently?

    You will be patronised from the moment you stepped into the banks’ premises from the main gate. First by the security officers working for the bank. And second by the banking officials. They do not ask you for money directly. But they would constantly and embarrasingly say: “welcome sir; welcome sir; welcome sir; welcome sir ——-. While their song of welcome sir, welcome sir; — carries on, they would equally follow you until you dipped into your pocket and gave them something.

    It does not end there. If you visited the same bank 10 times in one day, then it is the same protocol on each visit.

    Such hopeless practices do not restrict to banks alone, but it is the norm at every business place you visit in Nigeria. If you failed to give them any money, you get a cold shoulder and never a goodbye. As far as these naive people are concerned, you simply have not paid them for that.

    Oh lest I forget, I had a bank security man at a bank Fin Bank to be specific in Dugbe – Ibadan who even refused to stop traffic for me and my brother for us to drive out of the bank’s car park. This is simply because we have not paid him the second time around for the job he is already being paid for on a monthly basis. That was about 4 years ago.

    What about Murtala International AirPort in Lagos? On your return to Nigeria, as you checked through the customs, there are couple of females on twenty four hours service. These females would meet and welcome you. They would needlessly touch your luggage pretending to be helping you to push your trolley. You told them not to worry as you can manage. The next thing they would tell you is, “You need to give us something”. “It’s about 5 of us in the office, therefore it must be of a tangible money”. To crown it all, they would not leave your side until you gave them something. If you gave them five hundred naira, they looked at you as if you are mad. They want more.

    What about queueing up at places while you are waiting to be served in Nigeria? For example Banks, Fast Food Retail outlets such as Mr Biggs; Tantaliser to mention but a couple etc, etc? As a man who has spent over 30 years in London, I always want to queue as it is an orderly way to be served. It equally makes a great degree of common sense and it is civilised. Lord of mercy — people just edged me out of the queue and asked to be served. What about the attendants who should encourage orderliness? They are just as bad as the people they are serving. Queue has never been part of their training nor parts of their common sense. It is the animal in the bush way of life.

    I can carry on and on ——.

    What a weired people.

    The country is spanking brilliant. But the people —-?

    Does that mean things cannot change? Of course things can change. It will begin to change when me, you and other exposed people set up businesses in our Great Nation – Nigeria. We should educate our employees as to what we want from them as good customer service and not what they – the employee want.

    We should never forget the legacy left with the Nigerians by one of those extreamly few great leaders of our Great Nation – General Tunde Idiagbon? We must not forget his Environmental Policy. What about his queueing legacy in Nigeria? It is still being practiced in some parts of Nigeria till today. There we are. Where there is life , there is hope.

    We need two things to get their: First we need sincere prayer to God/Allah to change us for the better. Second we need good leaders.

    Warm Regards

    Solomon

  11. The complexity of Nigeria did not happen 3 years ago
    It would have been interesting to see people’s view if the author had been a Nigerian living abroad but only working in the country as an expatriate
    The writer was making factual observation to which unfortunately his conclusion was as if he was an authority of some sort engrained in understanding a multiplicity of cultural values and orientation that makes up the country.
    The deterioration of a country that should be at par with most western countries does have more than a hint of colonial mastery craft of the west and slavery mentality of the country herself but unfortunately this has become an excuse used by prominent indigenous authorities in clouding important fundamental values required for the country to develop.
    Even in UK people get tired of black people shouting racism every time they are stopped by police, even thought the same racism still does exist.
    I bet the author did not mention that when arriving at the Lagos airport the immigration officer attending will make sure he is given preferential treatment over Nigerians returning home just for a few pounds or dollars that he will give them so why did’nt he tell them he is no superior than others in the queue.
    Nigerian who live in the western countries and have returned home soon quickly get use to the way things are done and forget the depreciation of social strata (in their mind it is a question of .. “was there one in the first place?”)
    There is one thing that is common in the midst of impoverishment – the need to survive, making everyone look after number one even though no one dares admit it.
    Economists use all sort to measures market growth , employment and capitalism but what they don’t often explain is the honest measuring of economic growth which, more often than any other is the level of corruption in a society. Nigeria corruption will not diminish as long as poverty prevails, poverty will not slow down as long as greed is widespread, greed is the other of the day when you have to survive, survival is often due to lack of care for others. All these issues are unfortunately relative in terms.
    Welcome to the country of complexities!!

  12. There is nothing new about what Tim has written here. The article is a paltry offering of information with no originality, an absence of wit, and an abysmal lack of self awareness.
    Everything he has written has been said before by Nigerians and foreigners alike, more eloquently, more succinctly, and with far better clarity. Of course, this in no way negates the fact that corruption is rife in Nigeria – I cannot deny it, neither will I defend it. But I expected a bit more from the writer, who obviously considers himself as quite intelligent.
    Tim, perhaps you could have talked about why the system of an Expatriate workforce has become so entrenched in Nigeria? No? Hmm. Okay, what if you discuss the factors that would make someone like you want to come and work in a country you so despise and among people you have little or no regard for? It is a form of moral corruption don’t you think? More so since you chose to sign up for a second tenure; but of course, the motto is “if the price is right” is it not? Another option Tim is that you could have given suggestions or solutions to address the points you made. But then that would require incisive and expansive thinking, and creativity.
    One of the comments above said the article was accurate and objective. I beg to differ. It might be largely accurate but definitely not objective. The underlying thread of the write-up was that of separateness, a feeling of disconnect caused by a sense of not just being different, but also of being “better”. This mind-set is of course the reason why it seems right to Tim to make jest of an entire nation with his French friends. It might not exactly be racism, but it certainly is discrimination.
    This brings me to the point I made about the lack of self awareness of the writer. Tim, I’m sure, would claim to have many friends – some of them Nigerian. But I doubt it simply because of how he comes across. The mere fact Tim that your “lads”, as you referred to them did not interact socially with you and you were forced weekend after weekend to spend time on your own watching “sports on TV, going to the gym and lying by the pool” buttresses this point. You were almost always bored during morning meetings and rather than doing something to address that situation, you thought it more appropriate to have a panel discussion on the state of the Nigerian nation. How noble of you. Please tell us you honourably declined the salary accruable to the time you spent on these discussions since you were not doing any work as it were?
    The only reason you did not enjoy your time in Nigeria was because you did not allow yourself to. Your mind was closed, your thinking dim. You lived in a self inflicted prison of prejudice, arrogance, hypocrisy and ignorance. You learnt nothing of Nigeria’s culture, its languages or its peoples’ aspirations. Rather you learnt French – not a bad thing in itself, but still. You were self-seeking, self-serving and self-centred.
    Please, you really must stop saying you lived in Nigeria – because in the 6 years you spent here, you did nothing that can be termed “living”; say rather that you existed.
    It has not been a pleasure for you being here and I’m sure it’s been less than that for those who had to endure your condescension. Good riddance. It is sad though to indulge in controversy for the simple reason of flogging a blog.

  13. Dishearteningly true.

    But a fairly myopic in my view; forgetting the fact that his people led the nation into the quagmire it is today (who even knows if he is another Jacques Foccart). Some foreign powers would never allow competently qualified and dignified Nigerians take over the rein of leadership because of the enormous loot they enjoy from the country (Elections are beyond polls, I hope we could know that). Our education is deliberately killed, social facilities broken down and government feet crippled, so that those “underground canker-worms” in the US, UK and the prying eyes of France on the energy wealth of the nation.

    I only hope the undefiled generation of committed and faithful Nigerians (those who have been stained but not soiled) will remain steadfast and hopeful for the new dawn.

    I see hope and I see light for Nigeria.

  14. This guy has spoken the truth about Nigeria. I know that the truth is bitter and hence I am not surprise about those that have come forward to criticized the critic. However, I am sure the primary objective of this writer is to point out what he sees as the truth about our country and the power that be to have a change of heart in the way they govern the country and especially bring corruption to the minimal. Many may not have seen it in that light. Nigerians are the worst enemy of themselves. May God help us as a country.

  15. I grew up in Lagos and back then, as a kid, we had electricity and water coming from the taps. We had phone booths on the streets and I could go for a ride on a bus around Lagos Island and Ikoyi… just for the fun of it. Back in the seventies, Lagos was calm and organized. The problem I see now, is that my generation are probably the last generation to have known electricity and running water to be normal and expected. The younger generations don’t. No light, no water, no fuel, no anything, just chaos, is now the norm. The standard of expectation and acceptance has now dropped to zero. . Zero! So, I am not surprised if this generation who have not experienced anything better and don’t know any better will not have any better. It’s sad but I think conditions may actually get worse.

  16. abeg, make una go siddon. see some of your writing another 50 chapters repeating what oyinbo don talk already. eghn so he didnt enjoy hinself in Naija. was he there for free? yes its unfortunate that alot needs to be changed in the country, but one of the first things that needs to be changed is this expat nonsense bringin oyinbos with little or no respect for black people into the country. he was probably treated like a demi-god in lagos and Abuja. abeg make him go siddon, yet he says he wants to come back. we are sick and tired of oyinbos coming to patronise us. Nigerians are intelligent enough to man their own affairs with the right government and management in place.

    Please mr writer, dont come back to naija..we dont want you, nor will you be missed. BYE

  17. Pingback: A Follow Up | White Sun of the Desert

  18. I have responded to His Royal Ugliness Tim Oldman earlier, but this one is for all you Nigerians who have come out here to show your allegiance to a man who definitely has mental issues. Finding time in his madness to write all the scathing remarks He has made about My Beloved Country Nigeria (and I repeat My Beloved Country Nigeria).

    Una open una mouth like people way mouth diarrhoea dey do, call wetin this madman write about Naija spot on. The only thing I consider spot on is that he definitely released his evil cry for his fellow mates like all of you to come out and air their gloominess, grumpiness and hopelessness.

    This empty head who considers himself a somebody to sit and make his supposedly “accurate analysis” on other countries state of affairs based on his time of incubation in whatever part of the country he imprisoned himself suffering from acute depression should know that he’s a nobody to Nigerians.

    The whole writeup reeks of his ego and total lack of respect for even his “lads” (as he referred to his colleagues seeing he’s grandpa grey head). Tim Oldman, once again you have clearly insulted yourself and not my country. My advise for U is to get all the contacts of your grumpy crew members and U guys can continue your conversations in your covens and leave Nigeria out of it. Please do not come back to Nigeria again for any reason you arrogant and self conceited fellow. Leave us alone to sort out our issues. Go sort out your mental problems Ok! You really are not as important as U insanely think U are upstairs.

    If these so called Nigerians who have acclaimed your writeup were doing anything in the least to better the Nation, I’m sure they would have mentioned it rather than come here to continue your tale of woe and doom.

    Please all of U, leave Nigeria alone. Keep your doomsday forecast and all to yourselves. Become citizens of the countries where U are and if possible do skin grafting too to change your skin and whatever else needs to be changed so U become completely non-Nigerians. Don’t come back againooooooooo spies. You all and your new found love and mate Tim Oldman should leave us alone. Abeg una! E don do!

    If una get mind like una team leader make una write three negative lines about the country where una dey. Then publish am with una real names and address. Na flog, dem go flog all una bomboms, ship una come back Naija. Yeye dey smell!

  19. I read every line and I was wowed by a detailed description that only could have come from an intelligent person, who didn’t just do his job but was observant especially in his interactions and contacts with the society.

    You couldn’t have been more apt, exact and precise. You hit the nail on the head, sucked out the juice from the bone marrows and even when it hurts, you’re factually honest and blunt. Even I as a nigerian always look for a getaway no matter how much love I’ve for my country! It is a place where values are exchanged for an absurd way of life, where merit is killed for demerit, where opportunities are snuffed out from the grasp of deserving individuals. A country where leadership of any kind is a reason for individual liberation and group enslavement!

    A country where there ain’t a connection between the country and its representatives at the helms of affair! Where there is a reckless disregard for youth investment or development. One that priorities are placed on purchasing presidential jets and servicing government house generator rather than invest in education or power supply!

    Indeed my country is one though you are a bona fide citizen, you lack the basic conditions to enjoy those benefits. A country that gores the heart and constantly brings shame through its relentless commitment to corruption balanced by a strange resilience by its people to suffering by smiling!

  20. To Pelu & Ugo …I was pleased to read your reply.
    Tim is just writing stuff… expressing himself, which should be encouraged, I guess.
    Still, I want to add that Nigerians have to live and provide for their families under very serious mitigating circumstances. Unfortunately, one must think outside the box to get that edge you need to do the basics in everyday life. After a while, for all you know is …a permanent existence outside that box. I think this is the reason why Nigeria still exists today; without corruption at this time, we cannot continue as a relatively peaceful country. Nigerians are very intelligent, resourceful, ambitious and hopeful people, and given half the chance have great potential.

  21. True talk Mr Expatriate;can you disclose your salary and other monuments during your stay,Do you earn that much where you came from?Are you certain that you are more qualified than all those you worked with or better still the most qualified?Nigerian is a place of Gold so you signed another three year contract.All that you said is true,we Nigerians know so for you to take our money makes you a partaker of the so called corruption(either directly or through your managing company)yet you wrote about corruption.Mr expatriate if every body is throwing punches at Nigeria and Nigerians you are not suited to do so.making yourself known at our expense…

  22. Neanderthals like Ugoeze N, Akabosa, Pelu, Hetty, Ugo and their ilk are shackling Nigeria. You idiots prefer to shoot the messenger as your comments show simply because he is not Nigerian. I suspect your snouts are dripping crude oil as you gorge yourselves in the trough of the national cake. Is there any part of Tim’s message that is factually inaccurate? Open your eyes, blind troglodytes. Nigerians are their own worst enemies. You refuse to see the truth.
    Ayo, Jude, Concerned Nigerian Saginho and other right-thinking commentators, thanks for your objectivity.

  23. You all that decided to agree with him are sadly fools. So u agree with him that being a nigerian bestows upon you the privilege of being a dick head. Init?…in his word
    s “And that’s the fundamental problem of Nigeria summed up in one sentence: way too many dickheads”…Unpatriotic bastards!!!
    As for you Mr British oil and gas professional…I would like to know your contact details or know u 1 on 1
    Stewpid dim tweet!!! U don’t ski in nigeria (except water/jet ski)…
    “And that’s the fundamental problem of Nigeria summed up in one sentence: way too many dickheads”….You are a bAstard of gargantuan portions. Your father and all their progenitors alike are DICKHEADS! If I knew your real name, I would see to it that u got sacked (trust me, I can) from you job (if truly u work oil n gas that is), and I could see to it that you never gain entry into nigeria again (should your organisation decide to send you again).
    By and by, is britain any better?!?
    I could go on and on with being caustic, BUT you my dear are not worth the time….Scum of the earth.
    Again….F*CK U my good sir

  24. Any Nigerian who disagrees with tim’s description of the problems with our dear country is obviously in denial. They are ”spot on” like one commenter already said. However the problems are not all there are to Nigeria. I think tim could have enjoyed an entirely different aspect of the Nigerian society and the people but for his pre-conceived opinions about the country and the people. As bad as the security situation is, we still have expats who experience the good things about Nigeria without getting in harms way. Your paranoia really denied you the opportunity of getting to know how good Nigerians can be. As a result, you are not in a position to make comments about the Nigerian people. Though I agree with your description of the various ills in the society.

  25. REGARDLESS OF THE DEGREE OF CORRUPTION IN NIGERIA OR AFRICA IN GENERAL, THE AUTHOR OF THIS PIECE HAVE NO MORAL RIGHT TO SPEAK OR WRITE. DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHY NIGERIA OR AFRICA IS THE WHY IT IS? THEN READ WHAT YOU AND YOUR FOREFATHER DID TO AFRICA.

    http://wysinger.homestead.com/berlinconference.html

    OR HAVE YOU NOT READ THAT UNITED KINGDOM OR BRITAIN AS YOU WILL CHOSE TO CALL IT WHEN IT PLEASES YOU, RIGGED THE FIRST NIGERIAN DEMOCRATIC ELECTION IN NIGERIA?…READ THE HISTORY OF AFRICA BEFORE THE COMING OF THE IMPERIALIST AND COLONIAL MASTERS, AFRICAN CULTURE AND ITS PEOPLE WERE CLEAN OF CORRUPTION UNTIL YOUR FOREFATHER CAME AND INFECTED US. WHATEVER YOU HAVE IDENTIFIED AS WRONG WITH NIGERIA- BRITAIN TAUGHT NIGERIA!!

    http://wysinger.homestead.com/berlinconference.html

    1884-1885 – Berlin West African Conference carves Africa into spheres of control….

    In the second half of the nineteenth century, after more than four centuries of contact, the European powers finally laid claim to virtually all of Africa. Parts of the continent had been “explored,” but now representatives of European governments and rulers arrived to create or expand African spheres of influence for their patrons. Competition was intense. Spheres of influence began to crowd each other. It was time for negotiation, and in late 1884 a conference was convened in Berlin to sort things out. This conference laid the groundwork for the now familiar politico-geographical map of Africa.

    In November 1884, the imperial chancellor and architect of the German Empire, Otto von Bismarck, convened a conference of 14 states (including the United States) to settle the political partitioning of Africa. Bismarck wanted not only to expand German spheres of influence in Africa but also to play off Germany’s colonial rivals against one another to the Germans’ advantage. Of these fourteen nations, France, Germany, Great Britain, and Portugal were the major players in the conference, controlling most of colonial Africa at the time.

    The Berlin Conference was Africa’s undoing in more ways than one. The colonial powers superimposed their domains on the African Continent. By the time Africa regained its independence after the late 1950s, the realm had acquired a legacy of political fragmentation that could neither be eliminated nor made to operate satisfactorily. The African politico-geographical map is thus a permanent liability that resulted from the three months of ignorant, greedy acquisitiveness during a period when Europe’s search for minerals and markets had become insatiable.

    The French dominated most of West Africa, and the British East and Southern Africa. The Belgians acquired the vast territory that became The Congo. The Germans held four colonies, one in each of the realm’s regions. The Portuguese held a small colony in West Africa and two large ones in Southern Africa.

    After colonial rule was firmly established in Africa, the only change in possessions came after World War I. Germany’s four colonies were placed under the League of Nations, which established a mandate system for other colonizers to administer the territories.

  26. I have to give it to you. Your article was objective and your description is spot on.

    But it surprises me that with all your objectivity in writing you did not give a thought to the fact that learned Nigerians will read your blog.

    If this is all you have to say to a place where you are a guest, I wonder how you have made it this far in your career. Oh sorry, you don’t understand basic human relation so they gave you international assignment to teach you something and you still will not learn.

    If you like Nigeria that much enough to return for another assignment, then there must be something good there. You refuse to say what those are.

    And that my lad brings me to my conclusion:
    We don’t want you back. Stay away. We only want people who have solutions not those that label the whole country as dickheads.

  27. Tim for you to really understand nigeria- you need to speak the language and learn the culture – That is the key to unlocking the place- armed with pigin and yoruba – you could go to most places in lagos-at least with less nervousness. Nigeria is a multilayered place- all what Tim has described in his piece is the corruption- and unfortunately this has prevented you from discovering the place. have you attended any nigerian parties?, attended chieftaincy title ceremonies, been to the beach, been to the theatres. have you experienced a yoruba or igbo funeral- there is a lot of cuture in these events- Nigerian do not consider them as important but for the expartriate- it will give you an insight into the culture and tradition of the place. i left Nigeria in the 90,s and came back after 25 years- trust me while you are right about the level of corruption- Nigeria is a far better place that it was 25 years ago compared to now and the economic indices indicate it-

  28. rebuttal -1
    I actually think it time someone tore this article apart … because it is written with the expectation that no Nigeria understands the English or English society ort UK economy and that sotto voce comments will not be heard … I will stick to identifying total falsehoods…

    1. ‘ The inequality in Nigeria is

    horrific. The middle-classes are tiny, those who are neither stinking rich

    nor mired in poverty….. Statistically, almost

    all Nigerians are dirt poor. A very few are stinking rich.’\

    Inequality in Nigeria is LESS than in UK ..and this is from offical figures i.e. World bank/IMF/UN etc.

  29. rebuttal -2
    2. ‘Meanwhile, Nigerian senators – of whom there are 109 – enjoy an official package worth $1.5m per year, which they recently requested to be increased to $2.2m per year.  By contrast, the US President gets an annual salary of $400k.’

    This is a lie… the US President has a package of benefits that is in millions of dollars and this goes on FOR LIFE .. long after his Presidency . $400k p.a.? Who are you kidding!

  30. rebuttal -3
    3. ‘There is no ruling class in Nigeria, there is just a set of rulers.  Where any change is expected to come from I don’t know.’

    This is sociological nonsense…. the rulers come predominantly from certain places … the Northerners come from a ruling aristocracy …. basically, the ruling class people would probably stay as far away from the likes of Tim Newman as they can … they consider people like him to be foreign vultures…

  31. rebuttal -4
    4. ‘I am sure the world will howl with outrage and impose sanctions should Nigeria undergo another military coup, but few can deny that democracy is failing to deliver peace, prosperity, and basic services to Nigeria.  I remain far from convinced that many Nigerians would not welcome such an event.’
    Brain dead foreigner … if he does not know what a military dictatorship is like …
    As the Tao Te Ching states …’ a soldier becomes a ruler … misfortune.’

  32. rebuttal -5
    5. ‘The term “lad” in British English is not derogatory, and nor was it used with such an intent in my post.  The term “lads” in this context is a term of endearment used to convey friendship and warmth, and is a common term of reference in the UK.’
    I grew up in UK …went to boarding schools and know the subtext of words intimately …lads is not a term of endearment…. it is a term of contempt for anyone other than a teenager … it is used by the army officers for the lower ranks and by senior people for the witless junior staff … yes it is affectionate, but in terms that you might feel for witless, gormless layabouts … (army cannon fodder)

  33. rebuttal – 6
    6. ‘Class is about behaviour and attitudes, not wealth (a point made very well in Kate Fox’s excellent book’ …..
    junk analysis … there is social snoberry and there is proper class, i.e. social class and economic class. As Americans correctly state … class is more apparent than real in Britain and more real than apparent in US. The creation of British public schools helped create the notion of class as a function of learnt behaviour …which is not invariably accepted elsewhere and is a bit of a con… but the empir eneeded a class of ‘administrators’ who could all work together regardless of their parents background …prior to that the ruling class were educated ‘privately’ and that meant ‘AT HOME’. You had a governess and your own tutors…. Try taking an undergraduate course in either economics or sociology …

  34. rebuttal- 7

    7. ‘Nowhere was this better

    demonstrated than on the occasion when a bank put a Christmas tree up on

    a roundabout with “presents” at the bottom, and the next morning all the

    presents had been ripped open. If somebody thinks a box under a tree on a

    roundabout contains an X-Box, then you’ve gone way beyond optimism…’
    This assumes the behaviour around xmas trees is universal rather than learnt… presents at Xmas was invented by the anti-slavery lobby to ais emoney =for their cause … why every ‘poor’ Nigerian with no UK experience should know the social rules of Xmas trees etc (the majority of the country is Muslim) is beyond me.

  35. rebuttal -8

    8. Apparently it wasn’t always like this. There was a time, probably from

    around the 1970s to 1990s, when Nigeria had a reasonably diverse

    economy. Besides the oil and gas, they had agriculture, manufacturing and

    assembly (Peugeot set up an assembly plant in Nigeria in the mid-1970s),

    brewing (there is a both a Guinness and a Heineken brewery), refining,

    construction, and pharmaceuticals. Some of these survive today. There

    were decent universities, and students wishing to graduate had to apply

    themselves. Security wasn’t much of a concern to the average citizen. I

    don’t know the details, but at some point in the 1990s one of the military

    dictators decided to flood the place with oil money in order to buy support.’

    How about doing some history …. the change came about because of the SAP (structural adjustment program) imposed on Nigeria by the IMF … if you don’t know this you should not be writing a word about the Nigerian economy…

  36. The writeup paints a bleak picture of Nigeria, a picture that is unfortunately true. nothing unpatriotic about acknowledging this ugly truth. It is the admission of it that makes way for the possibility of change.

  37. Pingback: [General] The End of an Assignment in Nigeria

  38. I’d really love to say that your post is over exaggerated, but I can’t. Although I have not been to Nigeria in over a decade and I left when I was young, I know that my country can be frustrating for even a Nigerian, so for someone coming from the outside, I can only imagine your frustration.

    Things are horrible in Nigeria, I know. I, too, wonder how many people are condemned as being useless, all because they’re not even given a chance. There is no doubt that Nigeria is not operating at its fullest potential. It’s quite sad.

    Per the money the Senators make, honestly, I can live with that. But let them at least do the work. Take care of my people. And everyone is happy. In spite of the terrible state of Nigeria, somehow, I believe – against all odds, by the way – that Nigeria will get better. Somehow, I believe that Nigeria will be great again. Greater than anyone can imagine.

    *sigh*

  39. I feel ashamed of some Nigerians who are applauding the story of this one eyed man. He may be having two eyes physically but when you can not see from a balanced perspective you are not better than a man with only one eye. I do agree that some of the things he wrote are very true…and as true as they may be for Nigeria so true are they for other countries including his own country of origin. This man lived in Nigeria with a population of about 170million people, yet he could not see anything good in any Nigerian. He could not talk about the hospitality and the welcoming attitude of most Nigerians. All what he saw throughout his stay was evil and yet he was able to stay in the country throughout the period of his assignment. Three whole years!!! and still planning to visit the ”evil country” I see him as a bad guest who must not be allowed to come to Nigeria again.

  40. Any Nigerian criticizing this write up does not wish Nigeria well or is not living in Nigeria. it is the bitter truth about my contry that he just said

  41. Ugo or whatever your name is,

    I believe you have been paid for this ranting you post attacking Tim.

    Please go and look for job and stop venting your anger without thinking. If you dont know, you have insulted yourself and not the writer, you are a disgrace to this generation.

    By the way, how much were you paid by those who contracted you to waste your self acclaimed knowledge you should have used in writing articles our leaders will read and change the way they have ruined this country.

    Shame on you Ugo.

  42. Dapo,

    Please use your skills in writing something good rather than using it for shedding tears on another man’s blog.

    Can you please tell us what you do?

    Come home and stop washing plates in the UK.

Comments are closed.