There won’t be any more pictures on this site until I get home, because some scumbag stole my camera. I may still be able to add the odd blurry and poor-quality picture from my phone though.
I had to travel to Abuja for a meeting with the new country director, so it was the usual early start to get to Kawo motor park. The Abuja car was almost full, so while we were waiting I hung around watching my rucksack in the boot. Thefts in motor parks are quite unusual but today I was being a bit more careful because mine was the only bag in the boot.
As soon as the last passenger appeared the staff from the NURTW (the National Union of Road Transport Workers, one of the major obstacles to effective transport in Nigeria) hurried us into the car and closed the doors. They left the boot open for a few minutes, during which time I couldn’t see my bag but could see uniformed union officials at the back of the car.
The journey to Abuja was uneventful, there was the usual morning delay at the expressway junctions for Kubwa and Dutse and the car was even more of a wreck than is normal.
Once I got to the VSO office I discovered that my little Sony Clié PDA was missing from it’s usual home in the top of my bag. I distinctly remembered putting it in there before leaving the house, so I was worried straight away.
A bit later I checked inside the bag, in case I’d put it there instead, to find an empty baby lotion bottle, an empty bottle of perfume and a broken Ericsson mobile phone! When I checked my camera case in the side pocket my camera had been replaced by an empty bottle of deodorant.
I spent the rest of the afternoon and the whole journey back to Kaduna fuming. I’m finding that living in Nigeria is making me an angrier person, today I was struggling not to give in to outbursts of rage. It didn’t help that all the union officials had cleared off home by the time I got back to Kawo.
As there’s a police station inside the motor park I thought I might as well report the theft, not expecting much from the Nigeria Police Force (except possibly an attempt to extract money from me). I was pleasantly surprised when the officer at the front desk was immediately sympathetic and helpful, hand-writing a form for me to write my statement and going out to try and find the union chairman.
It’s one of the problems of living in Nigeria, you hear so many bad things about the police that it’s a surprise when they do their job. The officers at Kawo have to put up with almost no resources and a crumbling, mosquito-infested station that has been half-demolished to put up a block of shops. The officer took my number and said he’d talk to the union officials and get back to me tomorrow.
Getting such a helpful response has calmed me down. I’m still angry but no longer snapping at people and growling.
The worst thing isn’t the loss of the camera or PDA, both were quite old and the camera was becoming unreliable and needed replacing. It’s the fact that the PDA contains my address book, so the thieves have access to that. If you get strange calls from Nigeria I apologise.
This coming after yesterday, when somebody tried to bribe me (can’t give any more details here). It’s like all the bad things people tell you about Nigeria have been waiting for my last month. At this rate I’ll be getting kidnapped next week!
I don’t hold out much hope of ever seeing my camera and PDA again but on a positive note I’ve discovered that at least one policeman in Nigeria is prepared to do his job without a dash.