I note that everyone is talking about the church building collapse in Lagos where dozens of South Africans died, as well as a lot more Nigerians. Since I am known to have lived and worked in Nigeria I had to fend off a lot of questions about the place from ex-family members to friends of my mom.
Firstly, I like Nigerians and Nigeria, and am on record saying that in my legal books. Yes, I get it that if you are a South African you will now point out that they are accused of (and often found guilty) of all sorts of criminal activity in this country. If you are a non-South African, you probably know just one phrase about Nigeria - "419 scam." That is where you receive an email from some "Dr" or equally impressive sounding employee of that wonderfully incompetent organisation called the United Nations. The scammers also like to pretend to be banksters for some reason dealing with late estates. Yep, they have x-millions of USD just waiting to be placed in your account and then you get to keep a portion and you are instantly rich. Now please, it is nonsense and besides, you will never legally get away with it. The moment any large amount of money is placed in your account anywhere in the world the banksters, by law, have to ask you where it comes from - the account is automatically frozen. SO even if it happens, and it never does, you will be arrested for money laundering. Just delete such messages or if you wish to be eccentric reply and say you are Mr Giraffe and live in the town of Zoo in the FU State of Lalaland - I often do that to amuse myself.
A new and dangerous form of this scam is to offer you a job, and then they want your resume where all your details are - especially if you have the popular grade 3 one consisting of name, place, and degree so popular with recruiters who do not have the intellectual capacity to read a better resume. (They say they are flooded and don't have time to read all of it - what a shocking excuse! Imagine I say to a client, "Yep mate, bit flooded with work here - cannot really read the summons against you and now you have lost your case because I am too mentally restricted to read it properly.")
However, once past the above scams and it is relatively few of them from a population of 150million people, you find the real Nigerian. They are inherently good people, loyal, clever, and eager to please, physically impressive - men are frequently taller than 6 feet and built like Tarzan. The educated ones boast Master (and PHD) level degrees from British and American Universities and like all Africans, they smile a lot. So what is wrong with Nigeria?
Capitalism run mad if you ask me - it is a place of each for his own and up the rest. Survival without life rafts like in the UK where you can easily live on the dole without working a single day in your life - the so called "benefit people / cheaters." In Nigeria, no work means starving to death as it does in most (tempted to say "all") of Africa. So you have the extremely rich and powerful who are above the law - and the very poor. And it is a mad scramble to make money. For some to eat and for others to be even more filthy rich.
The houses the rich build are something to be seen. Certainly I have yet to see a house that large in South Africa or any other place in the world. It is not uncommon to have 9 bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms. Each with air conditioning (otherwise you won't sleep - too humid and hot). They use extraordinarily large cement blocks to build it with. Hence it goes up in record time. I have also noted they use sea sand to mix the cement with to make these blocks - that is fatal. It will never last long and dramatically weakens the structure and as little as possible of the cement is used.
The quality of the buildings, despite the huge size, is pitiful. It is not uncommon for window frames not to fit properly so the rain (and it really rains there) flood the rooms with every storm. They also use whatever cheap and horrible quality furniture, fittings etc they can import from China. It never lasts and then there is the electricity - power cuts are common - five times a day. You never plug in your laptop or anything electrical into the wall but first a voltage regulator (be aware of fakes), then UPS (beware of fakes) and then only your laptop (beware of fakes). And it still gets blown every now and then with spikes. All in all, nothing impressive about it.
I also never flew on SAA back to South Africa and most certainly never on a Sunday night. Reason for this was not that SAA used (in my time) the oldest Boeings 747's they had in the fleet, but the wheelchair brigade. As you may know Nigeria is in the south Christian and the north Muslim (Boko Haram etc). Down south where the Christians are you have hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of churches and preachers. They all claim to have the power of spiritual healing. In fact none do and I say this as a man on record as a Believer and I do believe in the power of prayer. But let us look at this logically and from personal experience. As a white person you are seen as an ATM (yes the teller machine - you dispense money for them to grab) and treated quite well at such churches. You sit in the front (which should bother you if you know your Bible). I know I am cynical but everyone who flew on those flights will tell you of the disappointed dying passengers who came to the churches for healing and found nothing - wasted money and time. They are then loaded on the wheelchairs and fly home to die. It is a scam - why would God heal you in Nigeria but not where you are? He is perhaps not capable? Think about it. The answer is in prayer and prayers are available everywhere for free. No fees involved, no long flights, no taking of money from desperate folk. It is madness and evil.
Koos Kotze is a former member of the South African Police Force. He served between 1985 and 1991 primarily as a sergeant in the Pretoria Flying Squad. During his police years, he was awarded the South African Police Medal for Combating Terrorism twice besides lesser awards. After leaving the Police Force he obtained the law degrees B Iuris & LLB at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa) and was a commercial law attorney for eight years. These days he is the owner of JKLS Africa and Associates, a specialist legal consultancy which specializes in reducing legal risk in sub Saharan Africa. He wrote several books on business, law, counter-terrorism and security issues. At times he is asked to participate on the Voice of America regarding legal forensic matters.