Thursday 28 December 2017

Yellow Card Palava, A Traveller's Narrative!

On one of my road trips to Ghana, west Africa, from Lagos -Nigeria, I decided to do 'the right thing', get my "Vaccination-Card". I was not just going to get a "Yellow-card", but was determined to do the right-thing, which includes: following the due process, in obtaining my card. Actually, it wasn't that important, after all, a lot of road-travelers on the west African frontier cross the borders on a daily basis without the Yellow Card. All you have to do is pay the required five-hundred Naira per trip, as cover for the card, and ensure that your passport gets stamped.

Seme Border

Before the journey, I went to the Lagos State General Hospital, Marina, Lagos Island, from where I was directed to go the nearby "Lagos Island East, L.C.D.A, International Travel Unit, Yellow Card Vaccination", located at Broad street. There I was vaccinated, and given a Yellow-card at the cost of two-thousand, five-hundred Naira.

Two weeks later, I embarked on my voyage. Beaming with pride 'unto good citizen's levels, as in, it's not easy. Seriously, a lot of Nigerian youths are eager to do the right thing, but sometimes the System is not encouraging. That would be a story for another day. Back to my story, I traveled to Ghana, without hassles, my travel document was in tact.- a valid International passport, and my newly obtained Yellow card. 

Lagos Island East, L.C.D.A, International Travel Unit, Yellow Card Vaccination office, Lagos Island

"Kassalla", like Nigerians would say, 'bust' on my return trip. On getting to the Nigerian side of Seme border, after the routine check and cross-check, I was among those asked to alight from the vehicle by the Health officials. 

My offense, I was traveling with a fake Yellow card. Excuse me, a Yellow card I went to the Lagos Island East, L.C.D.A, International Travel Unit, Yellow Card Vaccination office to obtain, was vaccinated, massaged my swollen upper-arm for three days, if not more, simply because I wanted to do the right thing, you call fake.  

Obviously burning with anger and regrets of going through all the trouble to obtain the vaccination-card, I explained how, and where I got the supposed 'fake-card, a supposedly accredited vaccination center, yet another government agency, is telling me the card is fake. The good-news at that juncture, was that I had no money on me, even if they turned me up-side down, one-kobo would not have dropped off me. When their initial threats, of detention until I paid five hundred bucks failed, They let me off, with a warning to get another card when next I wanted to travel. I left, fuming and swearing beneath my breath (lol).

The supposed fake-Yellow-Card was with-held and the officers advised that I obtain an original card from their station at Seme border, since that appears to be the only office that issues authentic vaccination cards, in the whole of Nigeria. Can you beat that!.

A couple of weeks lateer, I made a stop-over at the "Lagos Island East, L.C.D.A, International Travel Unit, Yellow Card Vaccination", Broad street to complain about my the Yellow-card incident at Seme Border. After patiently listening to my complaint, an officer who attended to me, said she was sorry for what I went through at the border, adding that the issue of withdrawing Yellow cards from travelers who obtained their cards from their office, has been in contention for a long time. According to her, they had communicated with health officials at Seme border to desist from harassing travelers on the basis of 'fake Yellow cards' obtained from their office, to no avail. Nevertheless, they would get across to Seme. 

My own is that the Nigerian government should investigate this matter, and provide a lasting solution. Unsuspecting citizens, who had gone to a supposedly recognized International Travel Unit, Yellow Card Vaccination office, got vaccinated, all in a bid to do the 'right thing', are being harassed on a daily basis and extorted, by the Yellow card Health officials at Seme border.  

Yes, extorted! or how else can one explain paying twice for a  Vaccination Card to a supposed government agency, and no one is raising eye-brows. 

There should be a clear directive on where and how to obtain a valid Vaccination Card, to avoid undue harassment, and extortion, all in the name of "Oga/ Madam, this one is fake, we are withdrawing it; you have to get the original one here and now".

Thursday 21 December 2017

Fuel Scarcity Wahala: Which Way Nigeria!

Days after Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria  (PENGASSAN) announced suspension of the strike it embarked on, long queues persists in filling stations across Lagos state and some states across the country.

Lekki-Epe express way

Since the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s (NNPC) recent statement that there is no plan to increase the price of petroleum products both at the ex-depot level and pump price ahead of the forthcoming yuletide, what is obtained is far-fetched. 

Gridlock on Lekki -Epe express way around VGC 

Pictures here show long queues stretching from filling stations into highways, stranded commuters walking long distance to the next bus-stop to catch busses at lower rates, or to their destinations. Vehicle owners stuck in gridlock to and fro work. 

Stranded commuters around VGC Traffic light, Lekki Peninsula axis, Lagos

Interestingly, some of the alternative routes that would have made things easier are currently in very bad shapes. 

Ikota - Mobil road alternative route

Community youths rally to control traffic, to ease the situation in their (alternative) territory, but the roads are simply very bad.

Ikota - Mobil road by- pass

Entrance into Ikota/ Mobil rd link alternative route

Entrance into Ikota/ Mobil rd link alternative route

Lekki Peninsula axis by VGC Junction, Lagos

Publications earlier in the week revealed that Oil Marketers blamed the situation on 'yet-to-be-fixed supply shortfalls'. 

Sunday 17 December 2017

Cleaner Lagos Initiative, Your Attention Is Needed At Adisa Coker, Iju!

Attention 'Cleaner Lagos Initiative', and Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Corps, residents of Adisa Coker street, Obawale, Iju, are complaining, that the refuge generated in the area, has not been cleared for over a month. 

Adisa Coker strt, Obawale, Iju

Do investigate & act accordingly.

Thursday 7 December 2017

Man Jumps To His Death After Being Remanded In Prison For 6 Months Over =N=40,000 Debt; Nigerians Question Her Justice System!

Over an incident that looks like the famous George Orwell’s Animal Farm's "All animals are equal, but some are more equal"; in a system where reported National-Fund Looters, are yet to be officially heard in the Court of Law, nor handed any sentences. Nigerians have reacted and questioned the disposition of the Justice System over a recent event at the State Magistrate Court, Ogba, Lagos – Nigeria.

Remains of the deceased being taken away by officials.
Photo credit: Oluwafemi Esq.

According to News break on Wednesday, December 6th, 2017, a yet to be identified man jumped to his death from the third floor of the Lagos State Magistrate Court, Ogba, Lagos - Nigeria.

Information revealed that the man owed a Forty thousand naira (=N=40,000) a little bit over a $100 debt, and has been remanded in prison for the past six months over the said crime. The deceased, it was gathered jumped to his death after his case was heard in Court.

Wednesday 6 December 2017

Return Of Long Queue In Gas Stations Contradicts NNPC Group's Assurance Of 'No Plans To Hike Price/ Enough Stock Of Fuel'!

Despite Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s (NNPC) recent Press Release stating that the is no plan to increase the prices of petroleum products both at the ex-depot level and pump price ahead of the forthcoming yuletide, there have been long queue in some fuel stations across Lagos state. 

Pictures in this post shows long queue of vehicles waiting to purchase the PMS product at a filling station along Lekki express way, Lagos state, Wednesday morning, December 6th, 2017.

Part of NNPC Group's Press Release reads:

The NNPC in a release informed that the ex-depot petrol price of N133.38 per litre and the pump price of N143/N145 per litre have not changed noting that the Corporation has enough stock of fuel to ensure seamless supply and distribution of products across the country.

While enjoining motorists and other users of petroleum products to disregard trending rumours of an impending fuel price hike in some online news platforms, the NNPC said it has the full commitment of all downstream stakeholders including petroleum marketers and industry unions to cooperate in achieving zero fuel scarcity this season and beyond.

The NNPC group enjoined motorists not to engage in panic buying or indulge in the dangerous practice of stocking petroleum products in jerry cans at home.

The Corporation noted that its downstream subsidiary companies namely the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) and NNPC Retail Limited are fully geared up to ensure that motorists enjoy uninterrupted access to petrol throughout the nation.” 

What is seen in reality contradicts NNPC Group’s statement of assurance. Since Monday, December 4th, 2017, commuters have been seen stranded at various bus-stops across the state due to few commercial vehicles available on the roads. Most of the vehicles are seen in queues at Gas stations trying to purchase Fuel.

Robbers Apprehended As They Tried To Strike Around Mobile Road, Lekki!

A thief was on Wednesday morning, December 6th, 2017, caught while hiding under the weeds in the canal along Mobile Road interception, off Ilaje bus-stop, Lekki area of Lagos state.

Apprehended thief along Mobil Road

According to eye witness accounts, the robbers, two in number attacked a lady very early, before dawn, on her way to work, as she made to board a commercial bus by the canal on Mobile Road. The duo reportedly snatched her bag and made to escape. Fortunately, her scream attracted other commuters and passers-by who rushed to the scene. In a bid to escape, the robbers jumped into the swampy canal. 

After about over an hour of search in the canal by the now-growing crowd, one of the robbers, pictured above, was sighted while trying to escape, swimming under the weed. He was stoned, caught and handed over to the Police.

On interrogation, the apprehended robber reportedly confessed that they were two in number, the other young man, believed to be hiding under the weed in the canal, is the gang leader, and that he has the gun. 

The Police driving the apprehended robber and the victim to the Station.

Passers by and keke Marwa (commercial tricycle) riders in particular, saw the apprehension as a relief from constant attacks and stealing of tricycles on that axis. They blamed the ability of the robbers to hid in the canal on the current uncleared state of the canal. "If this canal has been cleared and properly constructed, these robbers will not be able to hid under the weed". they said. The apprehended robber was taken to the Police Station. The victim was also driven to the Police Station to give her report.

As at the time of filing this report, the second 'armed' robber is still at large, believably hiding under the canal weeds.

Tuesday 5 December 2017

Oshodi By The Nigerian Army Shopping Arena Needs Environmental Sanitation!

Filthy state of popular Oshodi, Lagos state, by the Arena, Nigerian Army Shopping Arena. 

Front of the Arena, Nigerian Army Shopping Arena, Oshodi, Lagos 

Front of the Arena, Nigerian Army Shopping Arena, Oshodi, Lagos

Near the Rail-way, Oshodi, Lagos

Near the Rail-way, Oshodi, Lagos

Lagos state Ministry of the Environment needs to visit this area.

Saturday 2 December 2017

Infrastructural Development Projects Around Lagos: Gradual Transformation Of Ilaje Bus-Stop!

Pictures of the gradual transformation of Ilaje bus-stop, inward Victoria Garden City (VGC), Lekki Peninsula axis of Lagos state, Nigeria, from what is used to look like as pictured below in July, 2017, to the new face a portion of the bus-stop currently wears.

Photos with caption below: 

A Portion of Ilaje bus-stop, inward VGC before refurbishment

A Portion of Ilaje bus-stop, before refurbishment

Link to earlier publication:

Construction of a portion of Ilaje bus-stop, inward VGC

Construction of a portion of Ilaje bus-stop

New face of a portion of Ilaje bus-stop, inward VGC

Weldon, Lagos State government, however, the second part of Ilaje bus-stop inward VGC needs to be completed for total refurbishment.

Current state of a portion of Ilaje bus-stop inward VGC.

Thursday 30 November 2017

Libya's Slave Market: What African Governments Can Do, As AU-EU Set To Launch 'Concrete Military Policing Action'!

For some, the journey to what could have been termed- ‘greener pastures’, is the only way to secure a better future; away from the bleak future that confronts most young people living in Africa. Majority of these youths, will not make it over to Europe. 

The ocean’s bed becomes the resting-place for a number of youths, some of who were betrayed by agents, who tricked them out of their countries, with promises of better a future in Europe. Some were arrested, some were kidnapped and their families extorted and some were sold into slavery. It is as the saying goes, different tales-of-woe, for different folks.

Roving Informant took to the street of Lagos-Nigeria, to get the thoughts of some young Nigerians in the Ajah axis of Lagos state. Young people were targeted for this interview, because they are most vulnerable to be lured into this horrendous journey of 'almost' no-return. Whiles  sharing their thoughts about what some of them termed: the rush to better life abroad, the Libyan slave market, and experiences of close relatives who embarked on the journey, they gave advise to other young Nigerians and Africans in general and what they think governments should do to help this situation. 

A large number of the people interviewed said they are aware of the journey to Europe through Libya, and the hazards that envelops the trip. 

Vox pop session

Gloria Udo, a lady in her early thirty's, who works with a consultancy Firm, said the youths who travel to Europe through Libya are simply going in search for greener pastures. According to her: “if it is well in Nigeria, if graduates are getting jobs, I don’t think anybody would want to do that. Most of these people are graduates; it is because the economy has not favored them. On the other hand, for some of them, it is greed, they are not contented.”

Udo’s advise to the government: “The government should create more employment opportunities, create more jobs, and make the economy favorable for investors. The situation is getting worse; I have never experienced what I experienced this year (2017). Things have never been this hard before seriously, and this is not coming from just one person, the whole country is lamenting. I pray it gets better though”. 

Our next interviewee wished to be addressed as ‘Chief, Engineer, Prince Clinton Agu’, a businessperson, has this to say, about Nigerians travelling to Europe through Libya: “I look at it, that they don’t know what they are doing because they don’t value their lives. This is because for somebody to come and tell you that they want to take you through Libya to Europe, you are risking your life. Along the line, anything can happen to you; no security. They can die along the line, and the person becomes a goner, there is no tracer, no investigation. Even your family will not know where the person’s corpse is. However, if you travel legally, there will be evidence, you have your documents, and you can be traced. Travelling through Libya is risky in my understanding. From YouTube videos, I have seen the rescue team save some of these immigrants. Most of them can be attacked, shot, threatened, and sold as slaves. They can even be used for rituals and subject to the worse kind of inhuman treatments. Even the ones that are already dead, we do not really know what becomes of their remains, as the people handling their remains are not their family members. It is risky”.

To curtail this development, Agu advised: “The Nigerian government need to have a re-think and start making things work, if the economy is good, nothing will make our youths to think of traveling out to enslave themselves. If the government can create more jobs for the masses, people will not travel. Instead, the ones that have traveled will start coming back. The system is not working”.

The next person to share his thought on the Libya immigrants' predicament, was a young man, simply identified as Musa, he works with one of the black-market foreign exchange organizations, in Lekki, Lagos.

According to Musa, the challenge is more of psychological. “Mentally, we arrest ourselves psychologically, with the believe that we cannot make it here, until we travel abroad. So most times, we take the illegal means of traveling and risk our lives and our families. I do not really buy that idea of going anywhere to make it because I strongly believe in my country, and that I am going to make it here. To me, being poor is not about not having the cash, it is about not having morals and intellect. Therefore, if you are learned, you have the ability to be rich because you can convert your ideas into use, Nigerians die in Italy and America and other Western countries, it is not only in Libya. It is modern slavery. It is believing that once you travel abroad, you can stand on your feet, only for you to be disappointed. I do not believe it is only in Libya that Blacks are subjected to modern day slavery. It’s the entire West. Young people need to get their acts together, get educated in their preferred fields, because if you are mentally sound, you cannot have that prisoner mentality of ‘travel anywhere".

Musa's opinion on the government: “I think the government is trying, the problem is because we sorely depend on them. I hold a Post-graduate degree, but I do not believe that it is the government that will give me job. I am over here trying to convert my education into money. The United States of America practices Capitalism, whereby the people that holds the money sponsor the people that have the idea. We can do that here. I’m here with my idea working for someone who has the money; with knowledge and persistence, we can work it out together”.

Next, was a 21-year-old man, Gods-will Sunday, who engages on menial jobs, for a living. On travelling abroad, Sunday said: “One of my friends from Benin, Edo state, told me about it. He is planning of generating money for the journey. He told me a particular woman in Benin City, organises the trip, after you have paid her some huge sum of money, I do not know the exact amount. The woman arranges the movement, she take them to Europe through Libya. My friend said, the woman has connections in Libya and even in Europe. He said the woman told him they would cross the Mediterranean Sea on an inflated boat-like big balloon. According to my friend, the woman will bring her people; other agents will equally bring their people. They bring all these people into the big boat balloon and push it into the sea. The big balloon moves with the sea wave, any European country the wave takes it to, that is where those that survived the journey will alight. However, the journey is dangerous because sometimes these people will not get to their destination; accidentally the balloon might burst and all the occupants will be drowned. Sometimes when they survive the dangerous journey, they claim asylum or orphans to generate sympathy from their host countries”. Mr. Sunday’ said he has no idea about the on-going slave trade in Libya, other than what he just narrated. Nevertheless, he said he has been advising his friend against illegal travel to Europe through Libya. “It is very risky,” he said. “If am offered money to embark on such journey, I will not. My advice to other young people like me is that they should not ever think of embarking on such journey. From what we hear, the disadvantage is much more than the advantage. I understand they travel because of the money; due to the high exchange rate of foreign currencies, they travel for greener pastures, to secure a better future and be able to take care of their families.”

Sunday’s thought on government’s efforts: “The government is not doing enough, otherwise the thoughts to travel out for greener pastures, will not come to people’s heads. They travel because they feel the government has not catered for our job needs, so they want to go to where they think the governments will care for them. There is not even an enabling environment for foreigners who have come to invest. The unwritten code of ‘who do you know at the top’ is discouraging investors. The Nigerian government needs to create an enabling environment for investors, because these investors can help create jobs for the teaming unemployed young people. Therefore, my advice is that the government should mobilise the youths. An older man with children will not readily want to embark on the journey to Europe through Libya; it is the young people that are mostly attracted to the journey, because they are desperate to make it. Some young people are not interest in formal education; they just want to be empowered. This can be done through the creation of more jobs and supporting entrepreneurship". 

Chizoba Nwanokpara, bread-seller, a young-man in his early twenties, said his younger brother travelled through Libya.My junior brother travelled through Libya, he tried travelling legally, but it didn’t work, so he decided to go illegally. I think it is about the mind, you have it at the back of your mind that it is a fifty-fifty game. Before my brother travelled, he prayed. He travelled with seven other young people, out of which four were arrested. Only three of them made it out of Libya. I gave him my savings from the meagre job I was doing, to add to what he had, before he left for Libya. On getting to Libya, he was stuck. Again, I sent him all I saved, our father sold his car and sent the proceeds to enable him leave Libya, because the story he told us over the phone, of happenings there was troubling. We sold everything we had to enable him leave Libya. Fortunately, he left Libya. We hear Nigerians stranded in Libya are crying and looking for ways to come back, due to what they are passing through. I wish they did not have to travel; their suffering here in the country would not have been that bad". 

Chizoba's advise to Nigerian government: “I will want the Nigerian government to focus on the youths. Truly, some of us could not go beyond secondary school education level, due to lack of funds and sponsors, in as much as we would have loved to; the government needs to assist us. I am not from this part of the country. I sell bread to survive." I do not even have a house; I sleep under this bridge. It is because we the young people, do not have any other alternative, that most of us, out of desperation embark on these dangerous journeys. We need proper jobs and empowerment to pursue our dreams".

A recent outcry against modern day slavery particularly in Libya, where African migrants are reportedly being sold for as low as $400, was the thrust of the recently concluded two-day African Union/ European Union Summit, held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast-West Africa. About 83 Heads of States were in attendance. 

As a result of the summit, French President, Emmanuel Macron, announced the launching of the EU-AU "concrete military and policing action", to arrest human traffickers and rescue African migrants enslaved in Libya. The EU made a €44 billion "Marshall Plan for Africa" pledge. 

Fayez al-Serraj, Libyan President, pledged his government's consent and assistance into identified camps, where these inhuman acts are perpetrated. Coming days or weeks is expected to witness the evacuation of affected individuals willing to return to their home countries. 


We round-off with this video: