21 October 2007

Two Faces of the New Nigeria

Last Friday week, we were at the International wing of Murtala Muhammed Airport by 0640 to catch the 0740 Virgin Nigeria flight to Calabar in Cross River State. The occasion was the launching by of one of our clients of their new vessels. By 0905, we had touched down in Calabar.

Calabar stands out as a reference city in Nigeria. The streets are clean, tree-lined with covered drains that also double as sidewalks for pedestrians. We did not encounter any potholes or dirt on the roads. At times, I felt we were driving through the leafy suburbs of England.

We also visited Tinapa http://www.tinapa.com/ which until recently was reckoned to be the largest construction site in Africa. Located on the Calabar River, the vision for Tinapa is to integrate business and leisure in a single resort and also serve as the business distribution hub for West Africa. Along with the revolution in Calabar, Tinapa was the brainchild of Donald Duke, ex-Governor of the State. Still not fully operational, Tinapa has the potential to place Calabar firmly on the world map.

Importantly, Tinapa and the Cross Rivers State administration of Donald Duke shows that Nigeria is creating a new set of visionary leaders capable of transmitting their visions into long-term projects that will regenerate their communities.

After the launching which was well planned and attended by amongst others, the State Deputy Governor and the Obong of Calabar, we had an impressive but hurried lunch before making our way to the airport to fly back to Lagos.

Thirty minutes into the journey, the pilot announced that he had detoured to circumvent the bad weather on the way. By the way, one of my uncles has a theory (hypothesis) on the turbulent Nigerian sky. In his view, there are too many people trying to ‘catch’ the rain because of weddings and parties. This in his opinion builds up a huge tension - (a ‘should I fall,’ or ‘should I hold’ kind of dilemma) - in the clouds which in turn makes flying very turbulent.

We landed at MMA2 - the new domestic wing of the Lagos Airport. It has a very large and immaculate reception area complete with a multi-storey car park. Just like Tinapa, MMA2 is a public-private initiative. Two faces of the New Nigeria in one single day. PostCardfromLagos