A CORPER GIVES HIS SIX CANDID VIEWS OF ENUGU AFTER SERVING THERE

As stream 2 corps members are settling down in their PPA in various states of the federation to serve their fatherland, I would like to use this opportunity to share my experience in the coal city state.

1. IGBOS ARE INDUSRTIOUS: hate them, belittle them, and call them names. It is an undeniable fact that our dear brothers from the east are very industrious and resourceful; from Gariki Market to New Market to Ogbete Market where young men with little or no formal education in mobile phone technology dissect phones with precision and finesse. Impressive stuff! (As Nigerians) in our bid to become a power house in science and technology, we must look towards the East

2. Water is a big problem: As a Lagos born, bred, ‘teaed’ and ‘jamed’ young man; scarcity of water was what adversely affected me the most. Pipe-borne water is arguably the cheapest thing in Lagos (?) where a 25 litres keg goes for as little as #10. In some places in Enugu, the same 25 litres keg goes for as much as #50. I served and lived inside the Military Barrack (103 battalion of the gallant, noble and professional Nigerian Army), corps members suffered a lot of hardship during the dry season, as the price of water is usually jacked up by those that sell inside the barrack.

3. Okpa is Enugu’s gift to mankind: the first time I saw Okpa, I was bemused as it looked like an Aba-made version of Moi-moi. (Please stop eating Lagos Okpa it’s a terrible version). I was never a fan until I bought Okpa from a woman in New-Market. Limolalikamalisalikalibo (speaking in tongue). I ate it with a mortuary standard chilled bottle of Coca-Cola. I almost denounced Pounded Yam and Egusi Soup as my favourite food. That Okpa is what the Yorubas call “elemi-meje” (loosely translated as seven lives); it was well garnished with orisirisi kai! Simply for the quality of that Okpa, I might visit Enugu again.

4. Igbos are not the spiteful, Yoruba-hating bigots that NL paints them as: I was scared when my call-up letter read Enugu. Chineke! However, after a couple of weeks among the indigenes, I realized my fears were unfounded. I made many wonderful loyal and kind Igbo friends. I never missed an opportunity to introduce myself as an “onye-ofenmanu”. The laughter that normally accompanied that declaration was hugely and deeply satisfying. We all need to pack a sense of humour in our luggage all the time.

5. There are really NO COMPANIES in Enugu: this is hugely disappointing given the previous status of Enugu as the capital of the old Eastern region and more importantly the capital of Biafra. Unlike neighbouring Anambra state (where I visited and wouldn’t mind marrying from if beauty is the only criterion, those girls are hot! No ugly girl in Anambra. Anambra men, how do you guys remain monogamous) where there are thriving industries. Enugu has no notable company or even serious start-up, hence, corps members hardly elect to stay behind after service. The State Government and rich indigenes need to tap into the abundant and stupendous human resources in the state.

6. There is a lot more to be done in the Education sector: the only part of Enugu that truly disturbed and disappointed me was the public school system. The secondary schools owned by the state government need serious intervention. The problems are just numerous. The teachers are grossly unqualified (a Grade 2 certified teacher teaching SS2), the senior secondary school where I served has only two degree holders. The teachers are uncommitted; rather than go to class, they would remain in the staff room gossiping, transacting or breaking melon seed. The schools are wholly under-staffed. The school where I served had 50 corps members (while I was serving) to cover for the inadequacies. It got so bad that they had to retain two corps members to handle Physics and Further Maths (there is a dearth of science teachers among schools in the state). There was a case of an English teacher teaching English using Igbo language. Finally, examination mal-practice has been institutionalised without exception. Candidates with the connivance of invigilating teachers pay visiting supervisors who turn blind eye while they indulge in exam malpractice.

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