Thursday, 10 May 2007

Nigeria: A vision of hell

Your Savant has just returned - shaken - from a visit to Nigeria. Numerous visits to that benighted Continent could have prepared me for the experience. Filth, violence, omnipresent corruption (every transaction is a fight to guard against a swindle) while a cloud of noxious pollution blocks out the sky in Lagos and Abidjan. Cities and towns are disorganised collection of shanties (milk crates being particularly popular building material), seemingly without sewerage or water, and unbelievably dirty.

Nigeria is one of the world's leading oil producers, and its oil is of the sweetest kind, requiring minimal refining. Yet almost all its refineries have closed down due to neglect, incompetence and corruption. So now it imports almost all of its petrol! As a result petrol stations are besieged when the fuel is available, and, I was told, queue-jumping disputes are frequently settled with guns or knives. After oil the leading foreign currency earner is the '419 scam' whereby Nigerians dupe greedy Westerners with more money than sense.

The chaotic road conditions lead to non-stop accidents, but nobody stops. At one stage we saw a body lying at the side of the road - nobody seemed to notice or care. Wild animals are paraded on the leash, a favourite being hyenas (see picture). Nobody seemed to care about the outcome of the recent elections, other than the participants, who fought bloodily to purchase access to the spoils. All politicians are fabulously wealthy, almost all civilians fabulously poor.

Despite all of this a recent World Happiness Survey found Nigerians to be the world's happiest people. Well, good for them. Just one question - if they're so happy there, why the fuck are they swarming all over Europe, where they dominate the drugs trade and other criminal activities? Make that two questions. Is there any reason to believe that the people who turned gold into a sow's ear in their own country are going to perform any differently in ours?

Any suggestions?


Steve the roughneck said...

I spent the last 2 years there. Take my word, its MUCH WORSE than you paint it.

SAVANT said...

Steve - I don't want to even think about it.

Tiswas Palmer said...

I always thought the Irish got on well with black people, better than Asian peoples.