A pot that cooks soup must have a hot base

In 2013 there was a massive work done to the Lagos MMIA departure area, the improvement is impossible for anyone who has ever used this airport to miss, I was elated for this.

To put this in context, MMIA when opened in 1979 was meant to handle 500,000 passengers annually, by the time of the extension in 2013, the yearly passengers has reached 5M+.

To my mind Sleeping Airports ratings of Nigeria airports being the worst in both Africa and the world should be a call to duty rather a call for argument, this is no brainer if one has ever been to other airports either on the continent or around the world, well other airports apart from those on the top ten worst airports list.

In Blueprint for Revolution by Sroja Popovic and Mathew Miller. After so many airport encounters, here is what Sroja had to say about how an airport gives insights to the country’s culture and it’s people.

“…airports are perfect microcosms of their societies, and if you study an airport closely enough, you’ll be able to learn a lot about the culture that built it.” Pg 126.

For example, he talked about the obsessiveness of Americans with airport security which explains the many security checks at the airport. Also their sensitiveness to the need of disabled passengers which is reflected in the low water fountains and washrooms.

Reading about a few other airports that Sroja mentioned, I had a mental picture of what any visitors to Nigeria would think of us regardless of where s/he is whizzed off to in the city, because our airport says volume about us, our collective value.

Based on Sleeping Airport 5 C’s corruption, crowds, chaos, confusion and a total lack of cleanliness. Port Harcourt International airport (PGC) is the worst in the world and Lagos MMIA and PHC made it the top 10 worst in Africa.

Here is my assessment of the MMIA compared to my experience of other airports I have used.

Corruption – At the departure entrance, families not travelling are not supposed to enter the baggage check-in area (not enough room), this area is always flooded with people not travelling, money exchanging hands is not hidden. I was once asked for ‘Easter present’ by the uniformed guys at the entrance if I’d like my sisters to go in with me, I hissed at both and left.

Crowds– The crowd at the arrivals outside of the terminal is insane especially in the evening when it’s dark and not nearly enough lights. At the departure check-ins, we have created this annoying checks that further compounded the problem, we have officers rummaging every single bag to be checked in with their hands. I get the drug/explosives or whatever else they were searching for, but why do we have three people doing the same job on one bag? Why do they have to manually write our names in A4 papers?

Chao – At the arrival terminals, after immigration clearance, baggage reclaim, and declaration points, normally one is free to exit the terminals to the warm embrace of waiting family, friends or a taxi driver. However, in our case not so much. Few steps away is another airport staff asking for the ticket stub usually stuck to the back of the passport. Don’t they share information on baggage, even with all electronic information collected on passengers?

Confusion – The only thing I could think of here is the escalator at the arrivals, is that meant to ever work?

The good old total lack of cleanliness – And Hajia Binta Bello, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Aviation questioned that? Did she think Sleeping Airports was comparing MMIA and PHC airports to Mile 12 market?While our departures toilet facility has improved, the arrivals is still a total mess. Here’s an example, the lady positioned at the corridor of the toilet by the sink, in her hand was a roll of toilet paper, I didn’t notice this as I had a pack of travel sized tissue with me. On my way out I asked why she didn’t leave the tissue paper in the toilet, her response was “Because people waste it” I smiled and left but in my mind I thought “waste it?, Did they shove it in their mouth or used it for  intended purpose?” 

The main entrance glass doors of the departure area is filled with remnants of old public notice, and new ones on top. Often on the floor are empty plastic bottles. bins provided but too much work to use.

Nigeria will get better if we can handle constructive criticisms and make adjustment where needed.

Ikoko tio j’ata, idi re a gbona – a pot that will cook soup must have a hot base. We can never see the change we desire by masking our collective social problems.

Categories: Africa, Nigeria

Tags: , , ,

18 replies

  1. Really sad my President. I don’t usually notice some of these things. Dirt, Filth, Rowdiness Yup…cos I make it just on time and get on the plane and out. I remember once our flight was shifted and we waited for hours. the children lost it and it was so uncomfortable that if you found a seat, you couldn’t get up to go and wee cos as you stood “his place, let another take!” LOL.
    Hmmm…thinking about it now, there were some other things that weren’t right…by the way, it was in your Eko O ni baje airport. Maybe you should go to mine – Uyo Airport (smiling with false pride) – you might have a better experience. When you do, let me know. But knowing you, you will find something to yab me with. Hahahahahaha

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Port Harcourt airport no doubt has to be the worst; my experiences at that airport are horrible. I remember once, my flight was moved from 7 am to 5 pm and I had no idea until I got to the airport. Being a student who doesn’t reside in PH, I had no where else to go so I had to wait at the airport… STANDING!
    There wasn’t enough space in the waiting area (which was the only room with chairs) – so if you weren’t checked in, you couldn’t go in. So I stood out and searched for many ways to engage my legs for 10 hours.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It maybe a bit of a stretch but Jonathan’s cheap talk about Nigeria being in the top 20 economies by 2025, is a joke. When others are performing and Nigeria constantly tries to get away with what is quite frankly sub-standard service, people try to excuse the situation by saying “they are the best in Africa”, – that no longer washes as the rest of Africa is quietly leaving Nigeria behind with all it’s misplaced conceit. (The rest of the world has already left Nigeria behind). This inevitably brings up the question “will people ever learn?”

    Specifically about the running of the airport, why has orderliness been abandoned, without which chaos and confusion rule.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jco, on Egbon Jona, let’s use the frog’s tail adage on things related to him.

      People will learn but it will take a long time to understand one can not realistically think a nation whose wealth is concentrated in the hands of the few is a giant of anything.


      • Hmmm, 50 plus years and counting and still this basic message hasn’t sunk in… How much longer?

        I checked the worst airport listing for Africa. Port Harcourt and Abuja, are two fairly recent airports, yet they didn’t take long to find the way to the bottom of the list!!

        Another inference from that list, is that Nigerians aren’t good at running airports be it domestic or international. If this is a reflection on how Nigeria handles modernity, we can’t hope for a bright future.


        • What? I didn’t notice Abuja made it to the glorious list too! With all the lawmakers passing through? Oh, handfuls of them use private jet and helicopters now so they probably could care less.

          We don’t have maintenance culture, this is very clear. We need a group of people who believed things can be better and take all humanly possible measures to achieve it.

          It’s just sad that all government owned enterprise is always mismanaged. E go better.


  4. Very informative entry. I wonder how Congolese airports are rated on this report…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just checked, you guys are 6th on the best Africa airports list. Not on the worst for the world either so all good!

      Feel free to rub it on me sister, one day Nigeria will learn to keep loo roll in the toilet or give us cocoa leaf or water if we can’t be trusted with tissue 🙂



      • I’m very surprised! For once my country is not doing poorly. I guess it’s because they have recently renovated the airport. I hope they will maintain to a decent standard in the years to come. The tissue anecdote is really funny, I hope your government improves this facility soon. You’d think that because there are so many Nigerians travel in and out of the country (meaning that the authority pockets substantial tax monies), the government would provide a decent airport…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. LOL…. I love the “They will waste” comment. So very Nigerian…. Our people can think they’re being quite smart when they are most stupid.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree with you totally. Hiding the bushels of issues under the rug is not going to make them go away. The heap will only get bigger. The sooner these issue are diligently tackled, the better.

    Liked by 1 person

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