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A Journey Turns Unexpected: Abia State

While traveling, my first indicator of being in Abia state was the road. Immediately the bus started struggling with gully sized pot holes, and totally eroded roads that were half immersed in water, I knew we had left the comfort of Akwa Ibom state, which is the state you have to go through, if going to Abia state from Cross River State.

Everyone was trying to sell something to everyone. Four different guys tried selling the same book to me, almost in turns. Maybe they guessed from my glasses that I’m a reader. But that wasn’t the problem. The books they were trying to sell were obviously printed in someone’s garage or room, with information hastily gathered from the internet. The book was titled “501 ways to inspire and motivate anyone”.

People hawked everything, from eggs to electronics to belts and wallets. And they weren’t worried about how saturated the market for these items are. A wallet I would buy at N2000($13) in Calabar could be gotten here at N700($5), with them even begging you, in a bid to get you to buy their items. Imagine the price slashes? Probably due to excessive competition, and production of fakes.

So, everyone is hawking something, and everyone has a shop. Seriously, I didn’t see any building, housing or not, that didn’t have a stall or kiosk in front of it. All the stalls sold virtually the same things, mostly food items. Made me wonder who buys from who.

A day in Aba is enough to reveal the difference between entrepreneurship and business. There is little to no innovation here, just buying and selling, and maybe little creativity in terms of marketing stunts. I’m very sure there are some legendary businessmen here, who can sell anything to anyone, for a price, irrespective of whether the buyer wants the item or not.

Teach a real Aba businessman entrepreneurship and innovation, and I’m very sure you’d be creating a force to be reckoned with.

Leaving Aba, the next thing you notice is the road. In one word; “Horrible”. For a major express road within town. Maybe the dense population in the state contributes, as hawkers seemed to take advantage of the traffic caused by the road. The hawkers were comparatively OK. The real pain came from billboards; mostly advertising politicians. Especially their current governor “Theodore Orji” usually refered to as “Ochendu” which means “Guidance of life”.

I wonder if the poiticians didn’t think that putting their faces over bad roads would be a constant reminder of how uneffective they are.

I hear their Governor even became a governor while in jail, through some form of God fatherism. Such comaraderie should be enough drive to make him prove his worth, by making the state awesome, and not swindling everything the state has, but that’s no business of mine.

The constant trail of billboards, was at almost every couple of meters. They rarely even advertised companies, always politicians. Not just politicians, but “the politician”, who wants to go into the senate immediately after his tenure.

Eventually, we got to the state capital, and it’s still horrible, at least everyother part that’s not close to the government house. The roads were relatively better than in Aba, but a little rowdy and unkept. Mind you, the bank was around the Government house, which is comonly called “Tower”, and I’d confess that the area is well taken care of, although the average street in Cross River State is still better off.

A few minutes away from the government house is where I spent the night, “Isieke”, In a Government Housing Estate. Funny that in a government housing estate in the state’s capital, access to running water is a luxury available to only those who can afford to drill their own bore holes. When I asked, I heard that in the state’s capital, running water is mostly available to those who live in the government house area “Tower area”.

So much for a state capital, where all the facilities are centralised around the Government House. I wonder about the possibilities of boasting about my state in a conversation with friends. I might just lie that I’m from Cross River State. At least I grew up here, and the Government knows the value of even allocation of resources.

Abia state is of course not entirely bad. The resourcefulness and determination to survive is a huge quality of everyone I’ve met so far, compared to other states I’ve been to in Nigeria. The people are hardworking, and love family, or at least they love showing off to family. Their girls are also something worth mentioning. They’re generally beautiful, but I wonder why most matured women I’ve met haven’t been so appealing. Maybe the stress, or the genes.

In summary, everyone in the state has a hustling culture. And you know the thing about hustling? “Mindset”. The mindset of being hustlers make them remain chained to hustling. So they hustle like crazy, and spend lots of what they make, showing off, in a bid to justify their hustling. The low incomed workers toil like crazy, making their products and services available at very low prices. The higher earning individuals like the politicians still hustle, never seeming to be satisfied by whatever wealth they accumulate, so they go on to coverting the state’s funds and spending it on less relevant things like publicising themselves, and building wonderful Government Houses and Palaces as homes.ile travelling, my first indicator of being in Abia state was the road. Immediately the bus started struggling with gully sized pot holes, and totally eroded roads that were half immersed in water, I knew we had left the comfort of Akwa Ibom state, which is the state you have to go through, if going to Abia state from Cross River State.

Everyone was trying to sell something to everyone. Four different guys tried selling the same book to me, almost in turns. Maybe they guessed from my glasses that I’m a reader. But that wasn’t the problem. The books they were trying to sell were obviously printed in someone’s garage or room, with information hastily gathered from the internet. The book was titled “501 ways to inspire and motivate anyone”.

People hawked everything, from eggs to electronics to belts and wallets. And they weren’t worried about how saturated the market for these items are. A wallet I would buy at N2000($13) in Calabar could be gotten here at N700($5), with them even begging you, in a bid to get you to buy their items. Imagine the price slashes? Probably due to excessive competition, and production of fakes.

So, everyone is hawking something, and everyone has a shop. Seriously, I didn’t see any building, housing or not, that didn’t have a stall or kiosk in front of it. All the stalls sold virtually the same things, mostly food items. Made me wonder who buys from who.

A day in Aba is enough to reveal the difference between entrepreneurship and business. There is little to no innovation here, just buying and selling, and maybe little creativity in terms of marketting stunts. I’m very sure there are some legendary businessmen here, who can sell anything to anyone, for a price, irrespective of whether the buyer wants the item or not.

Teach a real Aba businessman entrepreneurship and innovation, and I’m very sure you’d be creating a force to be reckoned with.

Leaving Aba, the next thing you notice is the road. In one word; “Horrible”. For a major express road within town. Maybe the dense population in the state contributes, as hawkers seemed to take advantage of the traffic caused by the road. The hawkers were comparatively OK. The real pain came from billboards; mostly advertising politicians. Especially their current governor “Theodore Orji” usually refered to as “Ochendu” which means “Guidance of life”. I wonder if the poiticians didn’t think that putting their faces over bad roads would be a constant reminder of how uneffective they are.

I hear their Governor even became a governor while in jail, through some form of God fatherism. Such comaraderie should be enough drive to make him prove his worth, by making the state awesome, and not swindling everything the state has, but that’s no business of mine.

The constant trail of billboards, was at almost every couple of meters. They rarely even advertised companies, always politicians. Not just politicians, but “the politician”, who wants to go into the senate immediately after his tenure.

Eventually, we got to the state capital, and it’s still horrible, at least everyother part that’s not close to the government house. The roads were relatively better than in Aba, but a little rowdy and unkept. Mind you, the bank was around the Government house, which is comonly called “Tower”, and I’d confess that the area is well taken care of, although the average street in Cross River State is still better off.

A few minutes away from the government house is where I spent the night, “Isieke”, In a Government Housing Estate. Funny that in a government housing estate in the state’s capital, access to running water is a luxery available to only those who can afford to drill their own bore holes. When I asked, I heard that in the state’s capital, running water is mostly available to those who live in the government house area “Tower area”.

So much for a state capital, where all the facilities are centrallised around the Government House. I wonder about the possibilities of boasting about my state in a conversation with friends. I might just lie that I’m from Cross River State. At least I grew up here, and the Government knows the value of even allocation of resources.

Abia state is of course not entirely bad. The resourcefulness and determination to survive is a huge quality of everyone I’ve met so far, compared to other states I’ve been to in Nigeria. The people are hardworking, and love family, or at least they love showing off to family. Their girls are also something worth mentioning. They’re generally beautiful, but I wonder why most matured women I’ve met haven’t been so appealing. Maybe the stress, or the genes.

In summary, everyone in the state has a hustling culture. And you know the thing about hustling? “Mindset”. The mindset of being hustlers make them remain chained to hustling. So they hustle like crazy, and spend lots of what they make, showing off, in a bid to justify their hustling. The low incomed workers toil like crazy, making their products and services available at very low prices. The higher earning individuals like the politicians still hustle, never seeming to be satisfied by whatever wealth they accumulate, so they go on to coverting the state’s funds and spending it on less relevant things like publicising themselves, and building wonderful Government Houses and Palaces as homes.



This is a post in the A Journey Turns Unexpected series.
Other posts in this series:


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