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[Nigeria]Nigerian glossary


Death on the roads

Filed under: travel,VSO — kevin @ 10:48

I’ve been meaning to do some research into road accident fatalities in Nigeria and have finally got round to it. People keep going on about how dangerous it is to fly here but I suspected the roads are much more dangerous.

Of course, statistics are difficult to get hold of and usually unreliable. The Federal Road Safety Commission has a little bar graph with some statistics (below). If you zoom in you can just make out that the deaths figure for 2004 was 5524, 15 people per day.
Bar chart showing road accident statistics

Take Bellview crash in October last year, in which all 117 passengers and crew died. The road deaths (from 2004) are equivalent to 47 Bellview crashes, nearly one a week. Given that it’s not uncommon for pedestrians or motorcyclists killed on the roads to be left lying I’d say it’s safe to assume that the road deaths are under-reported.

As a comparison, in the UK in 2004 the number of people killed on the roads was 3321 (source: Road Casualties Great Britain 2004). Given populations at that time of 59,834,300 for the UK (source: Office for National Statistics) and 128,709,000 for Nigeria (source: Unicef) that means that in 2004 about 1 in 18000 of the UK population and 1 in 23300 of the Nigerian population died in car crashes.

I’ve tried (but failed) to find statistics so I can compare the number of vehicles on the roads in each country.


My goodbye picnic (and mobile phone problems)

Filed under: friends,VSO — kevin @ 10:44

I organised a little picnic yesterday, to celebrate me leaving Abuja. The organisation was complicated slightly by the fact that MTN’s mobile network was barely functioning for most of the weekend. In the end Tim, Dave, Gina, Jasper, Ilse, Diseye, Marebec (behind the camera), Alex and Kate made it and everyone brought lots of food.
Group of people having a picnic on a rock by a reservoir

MTN‘s network seems to be getting less and less reliable, with long periods where it’s impossible to make calls or check credit and text messages sometimes getting held up for days. I’m starting to think about moving to a network that actually works, Glo are apparently good.


New phone kiosks

Filed under: VSO — kevin @ 15:36

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve noticed new phone kiosks popping up around Abuja, lots of them. No equipment has been installed yet, but they seem to have solar-powered lighting. From the name of the company I’d guess they’re going to be using a wireless network for their payphones.
A pair of phone kiosks on a street in Abuja

The city is still littered with old Nitel payphones, none of which have worked for a few years. I’ll be interested to see how the new payphones (when they appear) compete with the many roadside “business centres” (GSM call vendors).


Disappearing cat

Filed under: VSO — kevin @ 11:22

Russell the cat disappeared earlier this week. He spends most of the day outside, wandering around the compound and trying to catch geckos, a few days ago he didn’t come back in.

We checked around the house, looked all over our little compound and asked the security guards and other residents if they had seen him but nobody had.

Yesterday morning Joseph, one of our regular guards, said he had seen Russell during the night, with another cat. Later in the day I heard that a cat had been heard in the (unused) studio building. The studio building was built at the same time as the rest of Radio House, but there wasn’t enough money to complete the inside. These days it’s partly used for storage, piles of desks, dead equipment and stacks of papera litter the bare concrete passageways.

The guard let us into the building and straight away we could hear Russell wailing from the far end of the corridor. He had managed to fall into the empty liftshaft and wasn’t able to climb out. We couldn’t see him in the darkness, so I went back to the house for torches and came back to find Marebec helping the guard manouevre an old desk into the pit. There aren’t many ladders around Radio House, so I had to climb down the desk to retrieve a very dusty but uninjured Russell.

Today he’s at the vet being neutered, we’re hoping that will reduce his tendency to wander off far from home.


Moving to Kaduna

Filed under: VSO — kevin @ 09:05

Some big news for you (although some people know already), I’m leaving Abuja! I’ll be staying in Nigeria, moving up to Kaduna, which is about two hours north of Abuja by car.

Although Radio Nigeria has been a nice place to work and they have treated me well there just hasn’t been enough work to keep me busy (or even close to busy). Projects are endlessly delayed due to internal bureacracy and funding problems and a few people within the hierarchy are happy to just sit at their desk and do nothing all day, having no interest in improving things at the radio station. As an example, a few months after I started we requested for six computers so that we could start training newsroom staff in how to use computers. Those computers have only just arrived, over six months later.


Another Abuja weblog

Filed under: VSO — kevin @ 11:19

Looking for information about the forthcoming scheduled bus services in Abuja I couldn’t find anything official, but instead stumbled across Chippla’s Weblog. It has well-written and knowledgeable commentary on expensive new taxis, what will happen to okada riders if they’re banned from Abuja and religion in Nigeria among other things.


Upgrading software

Filed under: site — kevin @ 10:15

I’ve just upgraded WordPress, the software the manages most of this site for me. There are a few quirks I’ve noticed since the upgrade but most things seem to be working. If you have any problems let me know (one of the problems I know about is that the per-post “Contact me” links are broken).

Update (18 January): The problems were due to another bit of software (EzStatic), I contacted the author and he had an updated version of it ready in about four hours. Well done! As a result the “Contact me” links should be working again and the other static pages, such as the Nigerian glossary don’t look odd.


Old photos

Filed under: family — kevin @ 10:44

Dad emailed these pictures to me today, my Mum found them wedged into a frame behind another picture. They’re both of me at an early age, I think in the one on the left I’m probably around two or three and in the one on the right somewhere around five.
A young me with untidy hair and a fetching blue and red outfit A young me in a cardigan and tie

Hiking above Dutse

Filed under: friends,VSO — kevin @ 10:36

After a series of cryptic text messages (the first was “After 12 then”) Alex came round to take us on another hiking trip in the hills around Abuja. This time it was to be near Dutse and Dave, Marebec, Kate, Eva and Erin were going along.

The Harmattan dust has been quite bad the past few days, as you can see in these pictures looking down on the town of Dutse Alhaji. We’ve also had a few cold nights because of it, which means my shower water is getting pretty chilly in the mornings.
Metal-roofed house shining in the sun just visible through dust, trees in foreground Looking down on a small town with dirt roads


New Year in Opobo and back to Abuja

Filed under: friends,travel,VSO — kevin @ 18:30

After one last day of relaxing in Limbe Pete, Mary, Charles, Kay, Indar and I headed back to Nigeria. This time we took a speedboat instead of the ferry (the ferry didn’t sail on the right day), spending several hours hanging around the harbour waiting for the speedboat guys to bring their price down to something we could afford. We set off at about 1pm and had a mostly smooth ride, it was surprising how busy it was out at sea, even out of view of the coast. There were lots of tiny fishing boats and the occasional oil platform dotted around.

Three and a half hours later we arrived at Ibaka, a port on the opposite side of the river from Calabar. Pete dealt with immigration while the rest of us chartered a car for Ikot Abasi and stood around being stared at by the locals. By the time we got to Utaiwo, where the boats for Opobo leave from, it was dark but we managed to meet up with the group coming from Lagos anyway (Kim, Tammie, Tanya, Kate, Aine and Simon).

Due to our late arrival we had missed the boat regatta, so we sorted out who was staying where (girls at Pete & Mary’s, boys at Charles’s) and dropped off our stuff before going to Lady B’s restaurant for dinner. We moved to another bar for midnight, we had a chorus of “Auld Lang Syne”. The locals didn’t seem to notice midnight, they had been setting off firecrackers and guns all night anyway.

We had heard that nothing much would happen on the first, because it was a Sunday. Instead we went to greet Mr Bell-Gam and then Henry the boatman took us across the river to Ekereborokiri (I’d been before). This time the tide was out so we had to wade through the river mud to get to the village, where we were greeted once more by Steven Jaja.
Crowd of children posing for the camera A boatload of people climb out into deep mud A small group of people meet a local man dressed in s shining white outfit

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