Friday, November 30, 2007


Tips on Moving Back To Nigeria from a Dude Called Godson Offoaro (not Kwesi Freeman)

I can't believe it, It will be a year on December 4th since I got on that flight back to Nigeria. Bold and risky, but one that I needed to make and get over with quickly and while I still had some youth left in me (SHIIIEEEETTT...I'll be 28 in 3 months and that's dead in 'spring chick' years...literally). Anyways I got this email (I'm sure many of you have read it already) and it fits right smack ino what my December 4th post was going to be about. I dunno who this dude, the writer is or what and how he qualifies to give this advice as he doesn't mention it in his write up (not that he needs to) but he is right on the money on many things in this essay (Reader Ada sent in info on the writer, check it out at this link The original post is at this link
December is usually the influx month when many folks move back, take the festive month to relax and have fun and then in January, we know the ones who stayed when you see them at a hang out (eg. Six Degrees, News Cafe) the weekend after New Year's Weekend is over. You no longer greet them with 'Awww when did you get back?' but rather 'Awwww so how long are you staying?'. Those of us who are still in denial will say 'One year, two years, I'm just in transit' and those that don't ever want to see the borders of another country (more like University because 'bukuru' showed them 'shege') will be very colorful. Kwesi Freeman's post is below. It makes for a great read. I will be back next week with 'ADDY'S PERSPECTIVE'. How am I doing? Is it really as great as it appears? The pros and the cons as I see it and what would I have done differently etc and a few other things that might have you better armed and better informed if you are planning to move to Nigeria. I know I am hardly an expert with only one year under my belt, but it's always good to hear the part of the green because their account is stil fresh andnot watered down by survival tactics. It help's you avoid the mistakes they've made. Again enjoy the article and PLEASE let's discuss it. If you have any 'MOVE BACK' tips and experiences please do share with everyone. I'll be back with more from Ms World later on today (kai!!! free high speed internet sweet o...ahh ahh...the thing is just going fast...pishaun pishaun..anyhow...just too bad.. they are trying in China


101 Things You Need To Know To Relocate To Nigeria
By Godson Offoaro

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First, the down side of Nigeria. Its economy has predominant characteristics of a third world's. It is No. 35th on Transparency International's rating on the list of the world's most corrupt nations. It used to be No. 1. Thanks to the EFCC and ICPC. NITEL has now completely collapsed. Where NITEL failed, mediocre local independent telephone operators dominated by Indians are carting billions to the banks and their banks in India. NEPA is tottering.

The road networks are in a very, very dilapidated condition. The transportation system in Nigeria is in a big mess. Travel by road in Nigeria has seized to be a thing of joy. By air is expensive and froth with danger of air crash due to the preponderance of molue aircraft in the air. Still, it is expensive. A forty-five-minute flight to Abuja from Lagos costs between twelve and fifteen thousand Naira, ($90-$130) depending on the airline.
Crime is climbing because of joblessness, particularly among young school leavers. Politically motivated pen robbery is still with us. Economically induced robberies are on the rise too. Banks are now robbed in broad day light. You cannot open your favorite daily any morning without reading about a robbery incident here and there. Because it is not an election season, assassinations are on the wane - it looks like.

In spite of all, this is the best time to start thinking of relocating to Nigeria. Nigeria is changing. This is very fast. You begin to notice this at the airports - your first points of entry. The air cooling systems now work most of the time. The conveyor belts work too, most of the times that I have seen. Power systems at the airports fail intermittently but not as they used to do.

The people you meet either at departure lounges or on arrival halls are beginning to imbibe the culture of courtesy. Trolleys, though for hire are now available for the jaded traveler to cart away his luggage. Even the toilets are manned by professionals who say hi to you before use and after. (Some times they hide the tissue papers and make you pay for service.) Inside the airports, touting has been kept at bay. There are banks with ATM machines competing for the business of the Nigerian traveler, at most Nigerian airports now. Modern communications gadgets are on display at every nook and cranny displaying wares, arrival and departure times.

Before you relocate, make sure you have the wherewithal to get back to where you are relocating from - just in case. The reasons are too many. But the first you would notice is how far high on the economic ladder your mates have climbed. And as you know, economic progress has a twin brother climbing the same ladder - social mobility. Your contemporaries have moved and they did so slowly but sure-footedly while you were gone. Your mates dine at the most expensive restaurants and drive the latest model cars - not on credit.

Your mates have bought up properties in the choicest areas of the land. Your mates are to be found in, Wuse II, Asokoro and Maitama areas of Abuja. Your mates have occupied the choicest areas of Lagos, particularly the picturesque sites of Lekki, Victoria Garden City - fancifully called the VGC. Of course, your mates now use their Ikoyi and VI previous homes as offices. It is no more fanciful to say I live in Ikoyi or VI. There are new places of abode in the land - from Kaduna to Port Harcourt and from Enugu to Maiduguri, and your mates have taken them up while you were gone.

If you left over ten to twenty years ago and you are planning to be back, know that you have become unemployable. You have to be self-employed for a long while. Be sure you have enough resources to keep you going through the period it would take you to re-acquaint yourself with your "former" home. Things have really changed - changed for good for those who did not jet out and somehow changed for bad for those of us who took the next plane and left the country.

In Nigeria, your mates in the public and private sectors of the economy, particularly the banking and oil industry, have become highly placed. Most earn the equivalent of between 200,000 and 300,000 dollars a year plus other incentives to wit. There was an advert recently placed in one of the papers for a job opening which warned those not earning twenty million Naira and above, per annum, in their present job not to apply. Most have built their own houses in Nigeria. Most have more than two cars in their drive way. Most live in homes that smack of opulence, with every modern gadget ranging from large sized Plasma TVs to Microwaves.

Most have genuinely saved enough to send their children to some of the best educational institutions over seas, including to the Ivy Leagues. Most are share holders in most of the emerging markets that have been liberalized during the eight boom years (and counting) which we that left, have missed. Most of them have savings in liquid cash that run into tens of millions. Most have invested in the now, very lucrative Nigeria stock market. You would marvel when you have a snippet of what amount of shares your mates now hold. You would shiver in self pity.

If your mates joined politics, they have occupied the choicest of political positions in the land and made new friends that will be hard to dislodge. If you happen to have showed off to them in your hey days of "returning" from America, be rest assured they have not forgotten. They call us mercenaries in politics. It is now their turn to show you, that you can't have it both ways. They have built a barricade and insulated themselves from out side interests - you the returnee being an outside interest that must be dreaded. If you have real or passing interest in politics, you must show it with extreme caution. They would like to invite you to political meetings and discussion only to put you to size.

While not accepting everything they say, when making your presentations, or contributions avoid using phonetics. Avoid such phrases as "if it were in America or Europe." They do not like to hear that. One of them surely will remind you "this is Nigeria" to the embarrassing applause of others, there present. They see Nigeria now as a trophy. They labored for Nigeria while you were gone. They suffered the June 12 crises together while you were gone. They suffered the Abacha era while you were gone. While you were gone, you probably had returned on one or two occasions only to scurry out soon after complaining of incessant heat, erratic power supply and mosquito bites. At the airport, you must have been caught criticizing everything in sight. They have not forgotten your new borrowed accent and the phonetics that do not rhyme.

That you need a shelter to live in Nigeria if you planned relocating to Nigeria is an understatement. There are many ways to do this. It's either that you have managed to build something for yourself in the city you would want to relocate or you could find an affordable apartment. With the kind of money we make overseas from genuine everyday livelihood, it is almost next to impossibility that you could build yourself an abode commensurate to what you are used to. If you find yourself in this position, don't worry, if you endured the pains and worked hard and kept a low profile in order not antagonize your former friends, within five years your will build your self, your dream home.

You need to feed well. This too is an understatement. Avoid going to the supermarkets to get your food - raw, processed or cooked. Buy from the local sellers at the nearest mammy market. Go to the supermarkets and shops to buy the essentials. At the malls, you will find that while you spend a miserable amount to buy your essential needs, Nigerians who are not been tos, buy up anything in site both the ones they need and those they do not need.

This people have so much money. How they make it, you will find out if you endured. Closely related to this is your phone habit. It is very expensive to use the telephones in Nigeria. As you know, telephone calls in the western world are taken for granted. Here, while it's beginning to happen as if it is for granted, it is very, very expensive. To Nigerians who are not used to such freedom of expression, they are spending millions everyday to make phone calls - to satisfy their newly found phone freedom. If you are not mindful, telephone bills may cut into your feeding pattern. If this happens, before long, you will become an object of gossip. You will lose your complexion and weight and they will notice.

You need clothing to cover the body you have labored to nurture while you lived abroad. This also, is an understatement. Nigerians pay too much attention to dressing. Your dress mode can shut the door at you or open the door for you. Avoid casual dressing, particularly when you are going to meet with the Nigerian big man. He knows the stuff you're wearing and could place you based on that. Be simple but neat if need be occasionally be flamboyant. Express yourself. Speak good English, where there is a need, do not use slang such as I wana or I gonna….

Do not lend money. Give out only that which you could afford to lose. Beware of relatives and the extended family system. If you manage to set up a small business, never employ those closely related to you. They will ruin you.

You would need to dry clean. Dry cleaning here is too expensive. You pay as much 300 naira (about $2) to dry clean an inner vest. Think then of what it would cost to do a bunch of laundry. Think seriously of having a washer and a drier installed - wherever you may decide to live.

You must have at least two good cars. That car of yours, which you price so much, is not fashionable in Nigeria. Here some people drive the next year's model before they become common in Europe or the Americas. How they make such money to pay upfront is still the mystery I am struggling to unravel. The roads are so bad and the drivers so ill-trained that if you drove yourself, and not being used to their adversarial/ confrontational pattern of driving, your car and you would, in a very short while be a sorry sight. They hit you and beg you. They hit you because you are conscious of driving rules and apply it. They, who do not apply simple driving rules, rule the highway in Nigeria. In a society not used to insurance, and where vehicular laws are not implemented, begging has replaced insurance coverage. Even passer bys would chip in to ask the offending reckless driver to beg you and get on with his life. If they beg you, you must accept. That's your only recourse.

To this end, you must have a good mechanic as a friend. He will introduce to you, a good panel beater (your (n) used car will always need to be panel beaten back to form after constantly being bashed by ill-trained Nigerian road users. Most Nigeria drivers, I hear, buy their drivers license) who will in turn introduce you to a vulcanizer and an auto electrician, here, fancifully called a rewire. You need a vulcanizer because the roads are bad. Flat tires occur very often here than usual. Of all the auto-related experts you will work with, the rewire should be the one you must dread. He is not well trained in the operation of modern day computer induced auto cars. His method of rewiring has set many late model computerized cars ablaze.

Eve of Miss World

Ni Hao (xie xie @anon, that means thanks) from Sanya China. I have to say that this place is beautiful. I am still suffering from jet lag that's why I am online at 2am China time. That flight was no joke at all. A whole 36 hours. At least I can say that I have been to Frankfurt Germany as well considering we had to be there for 16 hours and took a bus ride into town. Now that's conquering two countries with one bird..get it? Bird...plane..ha ha..DRY! Ok without further ado, here are some pictures from the Crown Plaza Hotel where the Miss World contestants are lodged. The buzz is that Ms Dominican Republic and Ms China are top on the betting list of who'ld be the winner. Both have been favorites at the preliminary part of the event. I saw many of the contestants from Africa. The cinderella story is Ms Sierra Leone who is making a first ever appearance at the pageant after years of war. Truth be told, she is still a hot mess (for obvious reasons) but her story is a feel good story that we need to hear at these events. I just wish the organizers had taken her up as a charity case. That or her fairy god mother needs to be sacked. Our girl Munachi was excited to see us. Unfortunately because of the strict visa rules imposed on Nigerian passport holders, her mother could not get a visa to attend. She was clearly tired, home sick and stressed but a little pep talk, hugs and kisses from Guy, Garth and myself raised her spirits up a notch. But for real these pageants are BANANAS and majorly gangsta. It's like the UNITED NATIONS but only this time, instead of brutish men in charge of WMD, you have beautiful young ladies high on hair spray, armed with a hair dryers, curling irons and ready to knock each other off their stilletos. Ok so it's not exactly like that, but you get my point. Plenty international politics at play. I mean when the Chinese government can buy out an entire prelim show to support their home girl, especially on the shows 4th and final year in the country (for now) it means you must deliver and concede at least a top 5 spot to China. ANd it goes on.

Anyways no too much talk dey the tin, we sabi say e go hard before Nigeria and co Africans go get the crown again so make una pam small and enjoy all the foto wey i don snap. True true I suppose go become 'onye-foto'HERE ARE THE PICTURES (uncaptioned cos I have to go sleep). Enjoy and ignore my multiple photos.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


This is the first place that oil was struck in Nigeria. It’s a small village nestled in the creeks, islands and mangrove swamps of the Niger Delta, Bayelsa state to be precise. It took use 2 and half hours to drive down there from Port Harcourt in a hired vehicle that cost us N6000. Oloibiri’s story is a great testament to how both the governments of Nigeria, it’s leaders and the Oil companies have done a disservice to humanity. The story is complex but once upon a time a valuable deposit of crude oil sat undisturbed and untapped in the undergrounds of Oloibiri, but today not only has Oloibiri be sucked dry of its valuable resources, the people have literally had life sucked out of them as they have been left to wallow in abject poverty and underdevelopment. The same can be said for many regions. The story goes like this, Dutch company Shell D’arcy, after being granted an exploration license in 1938, found its way into the small village. That was in 1953. Why did it take them so long to go into the creeks you might wonder. As I learned from a well spoken 73 year old man Pa Foster Inengite, the explorers thought the oil deposit was higher up the Niger and had been searching in the lowlands near Owerri, Oguta and Onitsha and were making their way further south. They came to Oloibiri in 1953, built a well (which is one of the only other source of water aside from the river just behind the house at which the well was built). There are several taps and a water tank that were built in 1973 by the government of Rivers State at the time but according to the villagers not a single drop of water has come out of those taps. At first the locals thought they had come to buy Palm oil, which was their major resource (still is). In 1956 Shell finally discovered the first commercial oil field in Oloibiri. That location is called Oloibiri 1 and it is located along the only operating highway in Bayelsa State, that goes straight from Yenegoa into Ogbia local Government. In1958 Nigeria officially became a world exporter of crude oil and the village of Oloibiri made history as the first place oil was struck not just in Nigeria, but also in West Africa.
At the exact spot where explorer first discovered oil, there’s a rusty funny looking cross-like pipe rising from a field of very tall elephant grass. I believe this contraption (word of the day) is called a Christmas tree. Eerie this was because of the fact that this thing looked like a cross. A cross that was supposed to answer prayers or the poor and bring them hope. Rather this place was over run with shrubbery and raggedy signpost and an aesthetically unappealing stack of marble slabs dedicated by former President Obasanjo, that’s supposed to be a monument identifying Oloibiri Well 1 as an historic site.
Just to give you a mental picture of what Oloibiri looked like…CRAP!! Mud huts, termite ridden thatch roofs, thick jungle, and uncompleted or falling buildings. They finally had electricity because of the new hydro generated power plant, but that’s all the community can say they’ve gotten. It’s hard to believe that a place like that is where oil, black gold that’s building places like Lagos, Abuja and even nearby Port Harcourt. It was supposed to be a gift from Mother Earth that was supposed to bring hope and a future to the town but instead it has become the death of the place.
Pa Foster narrated the story of how he felt the day they found the oil deposit. He said he had worked closely with the explorers, learning from them and running errands as part of his job. He was only 22 at the time and wanted to work with the dockyard, on the ships that transported the oil. He said he was on the rig the day oil was struck and when it gushed out everyone cheered and was drenched by the oil. After the celebration they went into the Oloibiri River and had a bath and then went on with the celebration. He had very high hopes that his community would change and look like the ones he’d seen in the pictures and books that the white men brought with them. Big white houses, schools, clinics and better jobs. Although disappointed in his shack of a mud house, he still feels it is never too late to change the lot of the region because there are still young children in Oloibiri and Oloibiri self exiled youths who need to see a new light shone on their home land. The frail and fragile old man was a great interview, not only could he speak very good English and pronounce correctly (unlike many young people) he was like a library with so much stories about so many things including oral tradition of how Oloibiri was established. (An offshoot of some soldiers that had been on the run from Benin Kingdom). It was so sad because there were hardly any children in the village to listen to his story (I can see days of sitting at his feet listening to tales by moonlight…by the way has anyone seen the new Tales By Moonlight on NTA. Talk about tales under the fluorescent, they are now in some poorly decorated and air conditioned living room. No moon light, no mosquitoes to chirping cricket sound)
Anyways our continued tour of the village revealed too many abandoned projects including a huge general hospital that was finished in 1973 but never commissioned, staffed or even furnished. Then a mortuary that’s never been used. One woman we met lamented that they have to drive the dead many kilometers to a place called Koloibiri, but the roads are so bad that cars get into accidents and the dead bodies end up dying again (her words). It was really sad and I tried so hard to fight back tears. I could also see and understand why so many people in the region could be angry and make unrealistic demands like resource control (we all know that’ll probably never happen) and take matters into their own hands. I guess I just had to see things for myself and know what all the fuss is all about. I eventually went back to PH tired and worn out. The next day I made my way to Asari Dokubo’s fortress like home for a sit down interview with his wife. Unfortunately, I sat on that interview because it was rejected for the particular show that I had pegged it for and couldn’t find a platform for it. But once I can figure out how loading videos work, I’ll load that interview and this documentary online. This post doesn’t give a clear picture but hang tight and I’ll load up the pictures I took while in the Niger Delta very soon. My sister took the Laptop with all the pictures to Asaba for her NYSC (to watch pirated 16-in-1 movies) and won’t be back till the 6th of December. The pictures are also in my email account but don’t load up very fast. May be Internet in China will facilitate that. Anyways, I’ll keep you posted on that Great Wall Climb/ Trek.



For me this was the highlight of this whole trip. Going to Ken Saro-Wiwa’s Ogoni land. We set out from Port Harcourt around 9am in a bus sent to us by Marvin Yobana. My team was made up of a cameraman, Chuks and the local reporter, Edmund. Chuks was highly excited that we were actually going to do a totally different kind of assignment, but Edmund on the other hand was not too thrilled because, according to him, he didn’t want to be kidnapped. We went from Trans Amadi Road to Trans Woji Road and on to Eleme. That’s where the NNPC refinery is located and there it was, the all too infamous and familiar torch that’s been etched into the minds of many Nigerians, thanks to those old file videos that used to run on NTA but have now made their way to all the TV stations in the country. We went past the Unity Road, which was still under construction as part of the governments Niger Delta Development Commissions’ project to link Ogoni, Andoni and Opobo. We drove into Bori, the main pulse of Ogoni and their business center. We finally made our way into Kpean, which was littered with several mud houses with thatch roofs. I couldn’t help but notice that there were absolutely too many idle young men, clustered up under sheds, some playing Ludo, some Whot and others just chatting in between rides on their motor bikes. Many of them had those, not just for getting around, but as a means of survival, providing transportation for the community. We were supposed to call Mr. Yobana and the MOSOP assigned security officer, once we got to Ogoni, but the network was really bad The only network within range was MTN so all our phones were useless because we were on a different network. We had to keep coming back to the teenage girl who was manning one of a few call centers in Kpaen. Our lead guide Jackson Jaja eventually gets a hold of the security officer and gets a go ahead to proceed to the points of interest. Jackson is a graduate of creative arts from University of Port Harcourt. He had been in and out of jail for petty crimes stemming from youth uprising and agitation. After he got out of jail he decided to channel his anger through a positive means and under the guidance of Yobana he’s become responsible for organizing some of the other jobless local boys to serve as a surveillance team for the villages. According to him, Yobana and some other citizens who contribute to keep the initiative going are paying them. Also in our company was the driver, Emmanuel and another guy, Prince Sunday, who wanted to join in on the tour. As we made our way to one of about 100 oil wells in Ogoni and 25 in Kwawa alone, we drove over the Geawa River. We literarily had our hearts in our mouths because the bridge was beyond being on the verge of collapsing. We turn off a dirt road heading towards the Teeraua (terra-way) Oil well (my note say this is the 1st oil well, but I don’t remember if that means first stop or the first well from which oil was drilled) which used to be owned by Shell (FYI: Shell has not however operated in Ogoniland for 14 years. They were kicked out for obvious reasons and are practically persona non grata so even if they had good intentions of cleaning up, it’s fair to say they’ll face some challenges). At this particular wellhead, there was some major filth in the form of fresh crude oil. Apparently during the Ogoni crisis of the mid-nineties, this wellhead wasn’t shut off completely and so oil spills out when the sun’s heat is intense. The science being that crude congeals in cool temperature and melts in high temperature. So basically this wellhead has oil spilling out into the farmlands everyday, according to Jackson. The next oil well was one in Buan (now I don’t recall if this was the one with the natural gas pipe that flares up at high noon as well and burns for days). At this one there’s a security post, which only had its corrugated iron sheets changed two months prior to that day, but had been corroded beyond recognition. We trucked on and met with a farmer who narrated the ordeal they had to go through on their quest for daily drinking water as well as some women on their way to the next village to find water. The women and children had to trek about 3 kilometers from Teeraua to Kwawa, to a well to fetch water. Many rivers, like the Teeraua River were polluted with films of oil floating on top. The villagers can’t even drink rainwater and only use it for cleaning. We got to a fishing hamlet where Jackson and his friends negotiated permission to film. The fishermen agreed at first but later expressed anger and assumed that our guides had been paid to bring us there. They insisted that we pay them before we do any filming. Now, I didn’t have any money to dash away but I had my camera rolling and so I stole the video instead and we left and headed to another village.
Our next stop was a place called Yorla Well-Location 10. There was a vast opening that seemed like the size of two of UNC’S football field. There were charred palm trees, turned over soil caked together by crude oil. There had been an explosion (in 2006) at the site that resulted in a huge fire, which subsequently devastated adjoining farmlands. That to a villager spells hunger, yearlong hard work toiling to plant yams and cassava and the anticipation of a bountiful harvest, all up in smoke. We took a soil sample from that and other locations to test how potent the soil quality was (result pending).
I had hoped to make it to one of the rivers that had the film of oil, but I didn’t bring a pair of rain boots to navigate the swampy riverbank. It was getting late in the afternoon and we had to head back to Port Harcourt before rush hour traffic in order to meet up with Marvin Yobana. I couldn’t make it to Bane but I’m sure I’ll make it back to Ogoni perhaps when Singto goes to her village for Christmas. On our way out, we stopped at Bori and then Eleme to get beauty shots for the story, and then continued on to PH to the Landmark Hotel.

Marvin Yobana as I said is the leader of the youth wing of MOSOP. He’s a petite man but don’t let his diminutive stature fool you. He looked very important with his native attire and two police escorts. I didn’t trust him at first because I had read some disturbing things about him in a Time magazine article that alleged Mr. Yobana was responsible for inciting many of the youth agitation and was shopping for lucrative clean up deals for the region, which many other leaders are opposed to because many of terms that those deals present would concede certain things to the oil companies. It is fact that some deals have been presented but I am still studying that angle so I cannot speak too much about that. Anyways I re-introduced myself and explained my aim of embarking on this trip. We get to chatting and I tell him about how I wanted to go into the creeks, talk to the villagers who have to deal with militant activity, talk to the militants etc (basically I needed a scoop like Jeff Koinange’s report or even half of it. I needed something) He went into action making calls. First he talked to someone from Shell and then someone from Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta. No luck. After a few calls he finally got someone whom he described as ‘one of the militant leaders’. He starts to explain who were and from the response he was giving I could gather that the man on the other side of the phone wanted us to pay some money because he felt that we would go and sell the footage to foreign media (but of course that’s what freelance is about) Yobana pleaded with him and explained the we were Nigerian journalists from a station in Lagos. The man on the other end of the phone asked which station after it seemed like he had assumed we were NTA, the government station. Yobana told him we were not from NTA but rather we were from Silverbird TV. The named rung a bell and it seemed like the man on the other ended relaxed. “Ehen, na dem Ben Bruce people” (Yes, that’s Ben Bruce’s people) For my readers who don’t know, the owners of Silverbird TV etc , Ben Bruce and his family, are from the Niger Delta, Akassa in Bayelsa State and the name is very prominent in the region as it is around the country. The conversation continued, “Make dem come?” (Should they come?) “Ok na you go give them where dem go go” (you’ll tell them where to go) By now my fingers were stiff from crossing them. “Ok make I give dem your number? Ok…you want de girl number?” He signal to me to tell him my phone number, which I proceed to do. “She dey go Lagos on Sunday…Ok bros I go call you later. Thank you.” The intense negotiation-like conversation ended and that was the last we both heard from the ‘militant leader’ for that week. By the time I was done with my interview, my opinion of Mr. Yobana was more different than it was when I walked in. May be not entirely but at least he seemed concerned and dedicated to the interest of his people.

We went to Oyigbo at the invitation of Precious Oforji after we had spent the previous evening trying to catch him in his office at the new State House of Assembly. To say this man is very vocal is an understatement. I only ended up using two or three sound bites from him because he not only indicted the players like the oil companies and military leaders, but he abused and cursed the generations of the then president, Segun Obasanjo, the then governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili, the PDP, local politicians and certain community leaders. My goodness. It made for an interesting listen but I could not use any of it because of lack of evidence over some of the things he said, lack of being able to get Shell’s side and the government too, so I ditched that route. But anyways, there had been a recent oil spill in Oyigbo. It was two weeks old at the time. The oil pipeline that broke was the first one that was laid in 1958 in Oyigbo, which was the second place oil was struck in Nigeria. Apparently the oil kept gushing out of the pipeline for 4 days non-stop and was only put off after several calls to Shell. Imagine that, four days of a River of Oil flowing uncontrollably. Understandable that it was a weekend and that some of these areas are remote, but Oyigbo is just on the outskirt of PH not to far from the Shell Staff Estate. Oforji said that they’d been complaining about the corroded pipes and had been clamoring for them to be excavated and new ones laid, to no avail. In his words, “Shall there be any earthquake or any incidents of thereabouts, the people of Oyigbo ‘suffers’ it….what they want to do is take our blood, mix it with the crude oil, ship it out and make their hell of money.”


I have finally finished my documentary on the Niger Delta trip. Unfortunately I have still not figured out how to get the video from the mini-dv/dvd/ final cut format to whatever format is needed to load it up to You Tube or Google Video. My tech savvy-ness is very haphazard, as you are aware, so some of these things are rocket science. If there's any one who can assist please send a shout my way. The documentary ran at 10.20am, Monday on HOTLENS, the other show I anchor and produce. I could not pre-announce it because I was only able to finish editing late Friday. It was supposed to run on the 11th to coincide with the 12th year remembrance of the murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa but unfortunately my editor lost his father the week before and had to take a few days off from work for the funeral. But we were finally able to finish it and it's run twice. I have not been able to log on to blogger all week for some reason so I could not make an announcement here. Will absolutely try to upload the video when I get to the hotel in China. May be some tech savvy people there will know how. (Yeah Folks, I’m going to Sanya for Ms World and then branching to Beijing to climb the Great Wall…can I get a Ni Hah…..that mean Hello in Mandarin, not Chinese). I have to admit that the delay was not only due to trying to get material together to boost the content, dealing with the hazards of having an under-trained and under equipped team but also trying to get an opposing side. When I couldn’t do that I figured I decided to focus the piece on personal stories from the perspective of the Niger Deltans featured.


I was supposed to fly into Owerri Airport on the 24th but I missed my flight and had to travel out of Lagos the next day. This would be my first ever time traveling within Nigeria by myself and to make matters worse, my American accent was still heavy and would be a dead give away if I got into a ‘fix’. My parents were nervous and just to make them feel better they insisted that my aunt arrange transportation for me to Port Harcourt and that I stay with a family friend in PH. My aunt arranged with a member of their church to meet me at the airport and drive me, two hours down to Port Harcourt. I wish I had not agreed to that. With my blue backpack strapped tightly to my body and handbag getting acquitted with my armpit, I rolled my little suitcase to the rather curious vehicle. It was a some sort of mechanical contraption that seemed to have been a Volkswagen Passat once upon a time and was still masking as one. I certainly was not expecting any AC but the fact that there were no side mirror or a rear-view mirror got my antennas high for everything that was wrong with this so called vehicle. The green screw driver that was holding the back passenger side window midway, the annoying blinking red light that’s supposed to be the emergency light. I guess the button had malfunctioned and obviously the blinkers in the back probably weren’t working either. Not to overlook the broken temperature gauge, the broken windshield that looked like someone had batted a baseball right into it. Perhaps that was a stone or random object on the road that ricocheted from another vehicle. In all this the owner, Sunday, managed to display his aesthetic side by engraving in the raggedy dashboard a yellow waxen ‘I love Jesus’. But my mouth was salivating in disgust at the green and purple avocado that were sitting next to the now naked stick shift (gear) which Sunday’s wife, Tina had offered me. I declined. I hate avocado. It’s only good for one thing, a facemask. We jalopy-ed our way onto the Aba-Owerri Road. I was perched in the back seat already suffering from deep vein thrombosis because my knees were kissing my chest, while Favor, the couples five-year old daughter with her church hat perched next to her mother in the front seat. They were just coming back from Church in Uratta. I just had to manage and endure because these folks were doing me a favor and trying to get me safely to my destination.
The roads, as you know were shoddy in state but shoddier was the state of our car. How do I know this? Well we went past several checkpoints without being stopped even once. Usually Nigerian police will stop you for not having a taillight. But here we were without safety mirrors, backlights or even INNER LIGHTS and yet we were not stopped. We passed the regular police checkpoint, the mobile police checkpoint and even the Federal Road Safety Commission checkpoint. Then there was the fourth checkpoint where the police demanded and was handed money from the bus driver while the fifth had blue barrels, a broken exhaust pipe and a crooked log of wood. One every ten minutes, practically and I am not exaggerating because I checked.
The road split into a t-junction and we turned right toward Aba and Port Harcourt. Going left would take you to Umuahia, Enugu and onwards to the northern part of the country. The potholes were once again unbearable but the mountain of trash in Aba was higher than Mt. Everest. I couldn’t help but notice a stark naked mad man defecating on the side of the road, butt out facing the road. I shook my head. That’s definitely a madman. As we headed towards PH going through Obuaku, we passed one of many signs leading to a mortuary, ‘Gracial Stop Over’. What an oxymoron. Is this supposed to be dark humor or metaphoric. We then crossed the ‘Imo River’ again, this time at Oyigbo (Obiigbo) where it borders Abia State and Rivers. The first time was when we crossed into Abia from Imo. I eventually get to PH, parted with N5000, thanking the family for their trouble. I had just saved myself half the actual fare that it would have cost me, had I taken an air-conditioned airport taxi. I was finally in the crazy city of Port Harcourt where all sorts of crazy things were happening. I had just one week not just to get a bird’s eye view but also to have a greater appreciation for the issues facing the Niger Delta by experiencing and hearing the stories first hand. The next day Monday I went into the Rhythm FM/ STV bureau on Forces Road and spent the whole day making phone calls and setting things up. I talked to Marvin Yobana, the leader of the Youth Wing of the Movement of the Survival of the Ogoni People and he agreed to set us up with a tour of Ogoniland for Tuesday. We also spoke to the then representative of Oyigbo in the State House of Assembly, Precious Oforji, who is very outspoken agreed to talk with us on Wednesday and show us some sites where there had been recent oil spillage. I spoke with Hajia Mujahadedat Dokubo-Asari (Mrs. Asari-Dokubo), whose husband was still in jail at the time and she agreed to an interview for Friday. I talked to Onegiya Erekosima, who acted as Asari-Dokubo’s spokesperson. He was going to be the major player in putting me in touch with the individuals who would facilitate a trip to the creek to meet some militants. Unfortunately for me, that was just when the whole Jeff Koinange story that agitated everybody came out and I was advised not ‘to pursue my mission until things settle down.’ I also talked with several other players who stirred me in several directions to achieve my mission.

Thursday, November 15, 2007



Every year, in November and May, TV stations across the United States unleash an arsenal of great reports in order to win the ratings war. These months are called SWEEPS and most of the time the stories that air tunr out to be award winners in regional and national events. These include investigation stories about tax evasion, fraud, sting operations on sex offenders, gang bangers, prostituton rings etc. Considering the fact that I am still learning this job everyday, I need tools to help me get better. That's where you guys, my ever faithful readers come in. See I don't get to watch much television these days. In fact I can count how many times I have sat down to watch CNN, which is supposed to be my 'J-School-In-A-Tube'. I obviously cannot get American TV news on DSTV and while SABC does an awesome job, I still need the 'umph' effect of local american news. Here's how you can help me out before I miss out. Would ya'll KINDLY record your local news, especially the 6pm and 10/11pm depending on how it works in your market. VHS tape is great but DVD would be greater. I was able to record a few newscasts but I couldn't get into November. I am sure you'll find this is a fun activity to get into. Trust me. If you get carried away and sucked into the world of local tv news (like my friend Ndidi did) feel free to go loco and send me more than just November Sweeps. Here's the address to the station

Silverbird Television
attn: Adaure Achumba
#1 Rhythm Avenue
Lekki Lagos Nigeria

Please do send me an email to let me know to expect the tape. I know this is kinda CHEAP/GHETTO of me taking advantage of my readers but you will be doing me a huge favour and service for which I'll be immensely grateful. Thanks so much in advance, God will bless you with extra xmas gifts and postae stamps. Also thanks for ALL (I mean AAAALLLLLLLL) the comments in the previous post and every post ofcourse. I 'll take note and help the ones I can help and effect changes in areas that are in MY POWER to change. As for the ones that I can't help or change... well if it is as 'bad' as you claim you can always go to the second floor of the Silverbird Galleria and lodge your complaint to Ben Bruce or better yet come to the Station and apply for a position. WE ARE SERIOUSLY CONSIDERING APPLICATIONS ...seriously and jokes/sarcasm aside. That being said IT'S ALL ABOUT ENTERTAINMENT AT STV, SO KEEP WATCHING!!!! ( 7, 8 AND 10 in the morning) By the way I've picked up a new hobby this month, LEARNING MANDARIN!!!! Lord I know I'll need help with that one.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


As the night clouds move in and the stars climb into the sky, I cozy up to my toilet sit. No, I am not doing number two as I type. It’s just that of all the ‘sitting objects’ available this one’s the most comfortable. While on my plastic covered porcelain ‘loveseat’, Mahalia Jackson is blaring away in my CD player, ‘Nobody knows the troubles I see.’ The old negro gospel tune allows for some reflection and I try to soak in the day that’s just been added to my life. Some choose to say it’s been taken away but I always try to look on the brighter side of things. Now don’t get me wrong, there are many days I wish would never come to an end, but today was certainly not one of those days. Neither was yesterday or the day before. Saturday seemed to be on the plus side of things, but even that was not a satisfactory Saturday because I have had better Saturdays. Saturdays with blueberry buttermilk pancakes dripping with warm maple syrup from Aunt Jemima. Saturdays filled with the harsh fragrance of a mixture of Pinesol and 409. Those good old Saturdays, when one would have thought I was Mrs. Clean. My 99-cent-scrubbing-brush from Dollar General caressing the bathroom tiles and bath-tub. Let’s not forget the lazy Saturdays when I just sat by the poolside and tanned, now all I have to do is sit in traffic and I am browner than a brownie. Then there were those Saturdays that were forgotten because someone had a toxic combination of certain beverages on Friday night. Now those Saturdays I can do without but blame it on how Friday went. But that’s all in the past, Saturday is so three days ago because right now it’s the middle of the week and I am plotting for the next day. I am thinking about how to squeeze the lemons God will toss to me. Not just to get lemonade but to grow a lemon tree so that God will have more lemons to toss to others. I am thinking about how I’ll make my journey down a crooked path less bumpy and paving it as I go so those following might have a better go. I am thinking of how to turn some of the Vultures along my path into doves and feed the others their own carcass. I am thinking about those seemingly altruistic acts that are not supposed to be in my favor, and how I’ll turn the tables around. Today is so yesterday and tomorrow will be a new day to tackle, with its challenges and misfortunes, victories and spoils. Tomorrow will definitely be a better day than today. Tomorrows ‘good-mornings’ will be sweeter and brighter than today’s. Tomorrows ‘good bye’ will usher in anticipation for ‘see you laters’. Like Bella said, “Be Inspired!” (Peace in the House of Reps as opposed to the Middle East or Niger Delta…lol)