On the road…. again!
Afghanistan to Zambia
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek
N is Nigeria
One of the stopover countries, Nigeria will always come to mind because of the stories associated with it. As we ate dinner at the home of a newly arrived USAID program officer in Cape Verde, the conversation took on the tone of war stories about bizarre things that happened in the countries we had served in. The newcomer told of the graft and corruption in Nigeria and how, even when Nigerians were stationed in diplomatic missions in the United States, they were not to be trusted. He gave an example of a Nigerian diplomat who made arrangements to sell his Mercedes cheap, a few days before leaving the USA to go back home. The problem was: the diplomat asked for a small advance of a few hundred dollars, to cover last minute travel expenses, and told the buyer that if he would give him a ride to the airport, he would then turn over the keys. The Nigerian had actually “sold” the car to three other people and left without turning over the keys to any of several buyers of a cheap Mercedes. That happened in Washington, D.C. When the newcomer to Cape Verde finished his story, he asked us other dinner guests what we thought. A visiting mission director from Guinea-Bissau, who sat opposite the Footloose Forester, a man who had barely said a word, spoke up and acknowledged that the stories were true. He had just completed an assignment of four years in Nigeria.
Abuja is the new capital of Nigeria
Footloose Forester was wary even as he deplaned on a stopover for fuel in Lagos, the Nigerian capital, on his way to Kenya. The airline authorities reluctantly announced to passengers that it was inadvisable to leave their seats. They even handed out brochures describing the high level of pick pocketing, theft of cameras and other personal items and possible scams that awaited passengers who chose to go into the terminal building. Footloose Forester ignored the scam artists and avoided the pickpockets, but that did not prevent him from being victimized. Upon arrival in Nairobi, he noted that his favorite pipe was stolen from his locked suitcase. Going back to the States and again landing for fuel in Lagos, his suitcase was again broken into by Nigerian baggage handlers for a second time. Footloose Forester watched helplessly as they entered the plane’s hold to do their jobs and see what else they could steal. Anyone owning a Samsonite suitcase was vulnerable to having it opened by anyone else with a Samsonite key. The Footloose Forester knew that and had already used his own Samsonite key to open an identical suitcase to his in Viet Nam to find out who it was that took his suitcase by mistake. A few years later, he also learned how to open his own suitcase with a fingernail file.
About the author
Ahhhh. Nigeria, home of the "I am in need of an American to hold my millions of dollars, please contact me because you can help" scam and many others. The truth is I'd actually enjoy going just to see if they are all this way by nature. I imagine they aren't but some are the cleverest in scam history.
Needless to say, many, many Nigerians are nice people. I've known about a dozen or so over the years and all of them have been proud, upstanding people. The problem is, the scam artists seem to have become folk heroes who rejoice at the gullibility of their marks.