Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dinner From A Dustbin In Lagos

By Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye
It was a very beautiful evening in Lagos. I was in the car, waiting for my wife to get her bag from her office so we could go home together.

*Impoverished Nigerian: Feeding From The Dustbin While His Leaders Squander 
Billions Of Naira  Of The Common 
Wealth  With Reckless Abandon
Then, I saw him, as he passed, looking very hungry and haggard. The general consensus here is that he is not mad. At least, not yet. He is clearly traumatized by the impossible condition in which he struggles to exist each day. 

Suddenly, his hungry eyes caught the dustbin, outside the office complex, a few meters away from where my car was packed. He appeared so elated at his find. His face creased into an awful gesture, which he probably meant to be a smile. 

Then, with a quickened pace, he made for the dustbin, and began to desperately rummage in it, among its decayed, putrid, stinking contents. He seemed afraid that someone might come out to drive him away before he was through. 

An idea occurred to me immediately. Nigerians ought to share this heart-rending image with me. Yes, my camera was at the backseat, I remembered. I quickly reached for it, and with a greater part of me hidden behind the windshield, I took two shots of him while he was still busy searching and collecting some items triumphantly.  Then my third shot caught him as he made to move away with his booty.  And within a few minutes, he went down the street and was gone. 

A Meal For Today From The Dustbin

This, too, is a Nigerian. Like you and I. Like Umar Musa Yar’Adua (Nigeria's president at that time). Like Senate President David Mark. Like House Speaker Patricia EttehLike former President Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo (the founder/father of Modern Nigeria).  Like National Assembly Members. Like former State Governors. Like former ministers and Super Special Advisers. Like some Local Government Chairmen. All now incredibly wealthy after just a few years of “self-less service to the nation”! 

If this hapless Nigerian had heard that houses are renovated and/or upgraded in Abuja with a mere “ paltry sum” of N628 million, he didn’t show it. He was just content to invade the dustbins, to fill his stomach with its putrid contents, until life, his life, reaches a T-junction, where, his candle would be cruelly extinguished by the violent wind of the unspeakable callousness of Nigerian leaders. 

By the way, is Umaru Dikko reading this? Where is Olusegun Obasanjo? Shouldn’t he come out to see an undeniable evidence of the marvellous success of his economic reforms?  That is the reality of present day Nigeria. And make no mistake about it, there are several others like him out there, who would never have anything to eat today, until they are able to find a dustbin rich enough to yield them a meal. 

Perhaps, this fellow voted in the last election. Perhaps, he did not. But those who are supposed to take care of him are out there in Abuja and other points of power engaging in unspeakable profligacy, with the commonwealth, from which they have carefully insulated him. While he dies slowly, and miserably. 

What a nation.

November 2007

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