•Nigerian delicacies, jokes thrill ex-freedom fighter
By Magnus Eze
Eritrean Ambassador to Kenya, Mr. Beyene Russom, was recently in Abuja as a delegate to the Africa Regional Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development.
It was his first time in Nigeria, though he had longed visiting the country.
“I love Nigerian cuisines because they are hot and spicy like ours. I love your pepper soup. This is not my first time of tasting Nigerian food”, he said.
His love for Nigeria goes beyond the country’s delicacies. The ambassador is also thrilled by Nigerian jokes. In addition, the sprawling aesthetics of the nation’s capital held the envoy spellbound.
He said, “this is my first time in Nigeria. I really wanted to visit Nigeria and it happened this time. I have heard a lot about Lagos and the Nigerian jokes. I am very happy to have come here. It’s the most populous; the most diversified country in our continent. And I think Abuja is the most beautiful city in Africa. Africa has many beautiful cities, but not as planned as Abuja, I don’t know about Lagos.
“Let me tell you my impression. I remember when Abuja was being planned as a new city I never thought that it will grow this much, not really in the growth, but in the planning. I really appreciate the planning; the beauty of the city.”
Amb Russom believes Abuja would have been more beauty to behold if the planners had included in the design a way of harvesting the rains.
“I asked a question, does Abuja get enough rain and I was told that it has six months of rain. But my only comment to the planning and orderly traffic also because it has orderly traffic compared to other African cities, is that it can be a more beautiful city if you can trace the rain; harvest your rain in water reservoir and store throughout the year. This is the outward expression which I have seen touring Abuja. Truly speaking this is far greater than my widest expectation”, he said.
The Eritrean, who said he was a revolutionary fighter in their long struggle for independence, wishes to visit Nigeria again and see other parts of the country.
“Don’t forget that you are the most populated country in Africa, 170-190 million; it’s not a joke. To harness, feed and govern such number of people is a very huge task. I have not heard that Nigeria went hungry because some of our neighbours who claim double digits growth have announced that they have 18million people hungry.
“I never heard such thing about Nigeria; maybe there is inequality, which is everywhere. Maybe there is unequal distribution of wealth as the common man desires; but I think with good administration, Nigeria would be very great in future”.
Amb Russom identified corruption as the bane of development in Africa; stressing that the future looks bright for the continent if the funds siphoned to other parts of the world are returned and used in developing the continent.
“The root cause of the problems in Africa is that we don’t use our resources properly. More than 80 per cent of our resources are stolen. We shouldn’t have been beggars by now, but our leaders stashed our resources in banks in Europe and America. And because of the unequal distribution of wealth, poverty, many of our social groups are marginalised. And this leads to the radicalization of the youths in some countries.
“But if we can deal with corruption, and do what we have in our constitutions, Africa would be great”, he enthused.