BURNING POT BY PRINCE CHARLES DICKSON, PH.D.
Reservations about Nigeria and Yankari Games Reserve
A crooked eye sees the chicken that walks crooked.
So if you are going to the Yankari Games Reserve once you fly into Jos, Plateau State you should be ready for some 200 plus kilometers of very favorable road by Nigerian standards.
You meet very welcoming villages and people on each patch of the long nearly four hours journey by road. The only hitch at this time of the year was buying fuel at black market rates of almost #200 per liter.
On arriving Yankari, first quick observation is they have generally one of the worst receptions you can get for such a place. So beware! Anyway how many places such as Yankari in Nigeria are any better in terms of reception?
I stayed at the Royal Villa suite, the place for the bigger boys. They have VIP, Luxury Double and Executive Suites. Hold your breath because for four days I didn’t get anything near a change of sheets...there was a table kettle that didn’t work, leaking bathroom and air conditioning that had a remote without batteries.
The rooms were exquisitely furnished with many of the items imported; from the fittings to beddings, doors but they were all showing the telltale signs of neglect.
The TV had only three channels, one stuck on Africa Hausa Magic, which wasn’t a problem except I was stuck with Kannywood. However the real problem was no light to even enjoy the channels, this was after I was forced to pick the remote from the outer lounge. Light came on by six in the evening and off the diesel generator would go by six the next morning.
Let me pause, digress and then share this story with us.
I have a friend who recently participated in a five-mile mud run. Now, this is not one of those “I have a friend who” stories that is meant to mask the fact that I’m secretly referring to me. Honestly, just that first sentence tells you pretty much everything you need to know about why such an event holds no appeal for me. Three words (or four, depending on how you count the hyphen): Five-mile. Mud. Run.
I listened as he described the obstacle course: miles of running over muddy terrain (that’s the obvious part), scaling walls, climbing ropes, dragging boulders, heaving sandbags, crawling under barbed-wire fencing, and jumping over a fiery pit at the finish line. All that for a pretty cool medal and a free banana…
It wasn’t necessarily a stretch for me to picture my friend running this race I know him well: He’s a pretty active guy and in reasonably good shape. He’s fairly athletic, and he’s very competitive. My surprise registered only when he told me he had completed the race right alongside his wife I also know her well: While he is competitive, she is contented. Where he would enjoy taking a risk, she would prefer going on a retreat. He spent four to five days’ week training at the gym; she spent forty-five dollars on her race outfit. She would not have even signed up without his gentle insistence; and she admitted that she could not have finished without his strong assistance. Along with two other married couples, they had run this rugged race and crossed the finish line together.
It occurred to me that maybe that was the whole point of the race. To compete together, to strive together, to celebrate together, and maybe that’s the point of our journey too as a nation
To my original narrative, during my stay I watched the area boys (baboons) destroy furniture and valuables bought with taxpayers monies. The whole place was in a state of abandonment. Such beauty lied waste and desolate and not even the Santa-like visits of a few ‘oga-madams’ could inspire much.
Meanwhile, the warm spring was simply heaven on a higher clime. The scenery; truly magically. The safari drives all through to the marshal caves were mixed grill of how does a nation waste all its Allah-given resources. At what point did we simply refuse To compete together, to strive together, to celebrate together, and maybe try realizing the point of our journey together as a nation.
I learnt the Alkaleri people of Bauchi state the domicile local government area were custodians of the best watermelon, but the kitchen and restaurant still conspired several times to serve us taste-less white melon and fingerlings for fish, doves as poultry and all soups were salt and Maggi spice incorporated.
The spoons, finger forks and most of the utensils were always short, add that to the countless times that we had to wait either for granulated sugar or skimmed milk, or even hot water because the initial servings was not enough. I though to myself Nigeria was meant for Nigerians to run her together.
The whole place simply reeked of ineptitude and inefficiency, like the baboons and antelopes ran amok, the place was being run amok. Facilities were being left to rot away. Who exactly did this to us as a people, this place could be run privately and done properly, and it could also be run be government under the parent ministry and made to run successfully.
The manager of the place sounded nice, but not exactly knowledgably actionable. He was part of the problem that made sure that the place barely had telecom network; how much more simple Internet service, even a small quasi banking station would not have been a bad idea.
Truth of the matter, the place reeked of nepotism, favoritism and mediocrity, a beautiful place like Yankari should have a calabar kitchen, an amala joint and isi ewu centre with the compliments of a masa and kunu bar…Hence everything in a secular state like ours is narrowed down to religion, then a church, mosque should have the accompaniment of a herbalist groove. We have refused to simply harness our individual powers for collective reward.
So, Yankari Reserve is not being run, Obodo Ranch is also not being run, these beauty bequeathed to us as a nation are just left in not here nor there state. Many questions and very little by way of answers, and once more reservations about whether Nigeria can work, was programmed to work, should work or simply like Yankari be reserved to fail because we refused to work together—Only time will tell