May
26
2012

A Short Comparison between Nigerians and Kenyans

Life & Living

In my last post, I told you about what I was doing in Mombasa. We’re now back in Nairobi, having successfully ended our Corporate Governance training course in that coastal city yesterday afternoon.

We had a 3-hour written examination on Thursday. Yes, three hours! At a point in the course of the exam, I took a quick look around the silent room to see how my fellow “students” were doing. Holy Spirit! It was a big competition. But I observed that some of the older men and women paid frequent visits to the toilets. Other than that, everyone coped quite well.

Our “teachers” had told us at the beginning of the training that we would be writing an exam but some of us simply laughed it off. We thought it was a joke. But it turned out to be a reality. Wow! When last did I undergo that kind of a thing? That’s to tell you the level of seriousness around here. Can someone please tell me if our big shots in Nigeria can still write a 3-hour exam at a stretch?

I find the weather in Mombassa much better because it is not too different from that of Lagos. It is a world of difference from what obtains in the cold city of Nairobi.  The Indian Ocean that runs around Mombassa is also a quick reminder of the Atlantic Ocean in my lovely Lagos. The difference, however, is that Mombasa boasts of so many beautiful hotels, beaches, resorts and spas everywhere. I could also see Fort Jesus far off from my room while in that city. How about Lagos?

On Wednesday, we had an interesting session on Corruption: Causes, Effects and Solutions. Expectedly, we considered a number of Kenya case studies, and the contributions from the students were quite gripping. I couldn’t help thinking that ‘So Kenyans also steal money!’

Everyone in the country is now worried about the spate of cyber crimes in Kenya. That’s an arm of the notorious 419 that has become a common phenomenon in Nigeria. But listen to the kind of money they talk about around here to be shocked! They talk about some few thousands or millions of shillings stolen by some bad guys. They seem not to know that our own people have since graduated into stealing billions and trillions of naira.

Oh yes, bad things are happening in Kenya. They have their “Al Shabaab” wahala just the way we also have our Boko Haram stigma in Nigeria. The only difference is that the “Al Shabaab” guys throw grenades at people and run away, while our “Boko Haram” plant heavy bombs and die along with their victims. Can you spot the difference? Yet, the government of Kenya is not leaving any stone unturned to fish out the grenade-happy boys of the country.

In spite of the bad things that are happening in this beautiful East African nation, I am thrilled that the citizens are so proud of their country. In fact, they are celebrating a number of things. For instance, we were told that:

  • The Kenya Police authority can now be contacted via Twitter  and they will respond swiftly;
  • Kenyans now obtain their passports electronically within a period of seven days;
  • A number of government offices now open from 7am to 7pm;
  • Farmers now obtain information about crops and soil condition in their areas electronically;
  • And many more…

Almost every Kenyan also has confidence in the country’s legal system. You only need to listen to them discussing labour law, tenancy law and others. They believe that any issue can be satisfactorily resolved at any court of law in their country.

As concerned as Kenyans may be about the corruption level in their country, they waste no time in putting up a defense that “No, it is not that corruption is increasing in this country. The point is that corrupt practices are actually being reported the more…which is a good thing for our country.” Just look at that:  Sounds like wonderful patriotism.

A copy of the STAR newspaper was given to me on Thursday morning. On its front page is a big story titled “SH900m NHIF Cash Wired To Jersey.” Below is an excerpt:

  • “The mystery surrounding the National Hospital Insurance Fund civil servants’ scheme has deepened after it emerged that Sh900million was wired to an account in Jersey, UK. The money is part of the Sh1.2billion that NHIF was to release to health service providers across the country for the first three months of this year…”

Read that paragraph again.  Can you spot some similarities with our big cases in Nigeria? Yes, this case is a big one in Kenya and I understand that heads have since been rolling because of it. But how much do you think Ksh900 million is in naira terms? It is just about N2 billion. Now you can see why Nigeria is different. Our people don’t deal in such “small” amounts any more.

I don’t know exactly what Kenyans have been learning from their Nigerian brothers and sisters. But this newspaper, the Star, contains another article advocating that some training should be obtained from us Nigerians. It is an interesting piece on Page 22 with the caption: “What Uhuru Can Learn from Nigeria.”  The article says, among others:

  • “Based on the comments we read in the media, we can make two generalizations about how Kenyans view Nigerians. And these are that while Kenyans have profound respect for Nigerians in matters touching on arts and culture (Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and even ‘Nollywood’), when it comes to the management of economy and the conduct of politics, Kenyans have nothing but contempt for the way in which Nigerians manage their affairs…”    

You can read the entire article online through this link.

Anyway, whatever the case may be in Kenya or somewhere else, I am a Nigerian and I’m proud of that. We are the giant of Africa…the heartbeat of the continent. Aren’t we?

Before I go, let me announce to you that I took the second position in our Corporate Governance exam of Thursday. Yes o, mo gbe 2nd out of 28 candidates. I feel so good about that. E no easy! 

Have a wonderful weekend.

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