Wednesday 30 December 2020

From a Nigeria 30 years ago

The outlay

I really thought I will not write a blog today, but Brian said, I could do it and it will be an auspicious thing because it commemorates the day I have not forgotten.

It was a Sunday, the 30th of December 1990 that I took a delayed flight with Nigeria Airways from Lagos to London and that was my departure from Nigeria. Things moved quite quickly in the space of 7 or so weeks.

I was a partner in a desktop publishing firm we called NextStep Limited when we decided on updating our equipment by making a trip to the United Kingdom. The activity would have been performed by a former business partner of the principal, but at the last minute, I was added to the trip, somewhat to protect our interests.

The situation

On the 18th of November, I had arrived in England for a business trip that was to last a week, however, that stretched to two weeks because some of the kit we had acquired was to be delivered later than our previously scheduled stay. That night, Chris Eubank beat Nigel Benn in a boxing match.

That former business partner once worked for Nigeria Airways and knew his way around, all the VAT returns for our purchases of over £4,000 went into his UK account. Laden with our kit, I returned to Nigeria on the 2nd of December, by which time John Major had supplanted Margaret Thatcher.

Whilst in the UK, I learnt that I had the skills for a thriving computer technical support market if I ventured the idea, I got a copy of my long birth certificate as it was not obtained my parents when they got the short version. With that in hand, I applied for the Certificate to the Right of Abode which only had a 3-week processing time compared to the 18-month waiting list for a British passport.

The execution

The interview was a breeze, more the exchange of banter about failed interviews and with my special visa to hand, I bought my one-way ticket to London for the price of NGN 3,200. I was ready to go even if very few believed my plans would be executed. I had determined I was going to leave before 1990 was over.

My 25th birthday was given prominence at the Christmas party for the staff of Deji Sasegbon Publishers, a legal publishing outfit for which I was a consultant and through whom I had the bulk of my airfare to travel to the UK, as part of our contractual agreement signed some 14 months before.

The memory

The exchange rate then was NGN 15 to £1 and though I have left for a generation, Nigeria has not left me, I am impacted and affected by many things in Nigeria, most completely out of my control by inimical policies that take no consideration for the people. I cannot report that things have improved for the majority even as some have prospered.

On the matter of returning, even for a visit, I am undecided, and the passage of time has made it quite unlikely regardless of the event or the occasion, I think and dream of Nigeria, it is not home, just a place of memories, attachments, and influence. My hope is still that Nigeria finds peace and prosperity and hopefully at the hands of people who know what they are doing and will not squander the rare opportunities to do so.

My boarding pass from the 30th of December 1990.

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