BY OBIORA ILOANUSI ||
‘Things Work Over There’
The title is the summation of the way I felt when I left Dubai to lodge in at a hotel in Abu Dhabi. Of course anyone coming from my country would think the same. You’d have to be very oblivious not to see the constant electricity and good roads and hospitals and taxis that don’t aim to kill you whether you’re in or out of the car. I saw people leave their bicycles on the road side without chaining it down to something. A cab driver said to me, ‘people do not really steal here, I leave my car with the key inside and shop and still meet it where I left it’
‘Wait till you see who I put in there’
Is the punch line yet another joke I heard as a child where Nigeria found herself to be the butt-end of. Like everyone else I laughed and in time repeated the joke. Usually, the Nigerian jokes I hear are all self-serving insults but this one went home.
‘This is how you use oil money’
Was what my friend told me his father said and I could not agree more. More than just building roads and generating constant electricity, the people there seemed content. I was fortunate enough to visit not only the city centre but less affluent areas such as Deira where many Nigerian resided.
‘They have pride’
This is perhaps the cornerstone of why things work over in the United Arab Emirates. Due to some unusual circumstances, I found myself in the Al Raffa Police Station to file a report, the Judiciary, Criminal Investigation Department and Immigrations office. Everywhere we went it was the same: these people had pride in what they built. Whilst in my country you could ‘discuss’ you’re way out of anything, the lowest ranked officer told you how things were done and fully expected you to do what he said.
It was the law.
One of the residents of the country said to my father: ‘The poorest man in this country feels he is better than you. He is in his country so he feels that way’. I took his word for true because he lived both in Nigeria and Dubai; Twenty odd years in the latter. He knew what he was talking about.
‘This is how we do things here’
That was what one of the men at the judiciary us, the Travelling Trio. In those seven words, he conveyed to us the very meaning of culture. Anyone can say these words, not everyone can have it carry so much weight. Maybe it was my starry-eyed admiration for how much their president had achieved and my disdain for how much further I believed my country could be which made me believe the gentleman. Either way, if he turned around, there was evidence that they got something right.
Was the phrase they left us with every time they asked that we come back the following day.
‘God wiling’, it will be solved tomorrow.
My country is one with many faiths; Muslim, Christian, traditional worship or people who just believe in the supernatural. You will find them there. With so much faith in the country we should have things working smooth as greased lightning. However it is one thing to say God willing and sit down in the sand twiddling our thumbs and another to say so and do what you have to do to make it possible.
We have to many butt prints in the sand.