Small chops and big wahala in Nigeria

March 2, 2016 OPINION/NEWS


Prince Charles Dickson

For the uninitiated and those that prefer to remain old school in terms of food; Quickly let me explain, finger foods are popularly referred to as small chops.

They are appetizers served mostly at parties and special events. They are basically the classic Nigerian snacks made into bite sizes. Back in the day, these were limited to Battered Fish, Mini Sausage Rolls, Snails, Peppered Gizzards, Barbecued Goat Meats (Asun), Puff Puffs and the like.

But these days, some imported world recipes have joined the Nigerian Small Chops family. At first read, I am sure you must be in thought…is this a culinary column or some essay on how to prepare ‘small chops’?

Well this is the thrust of my admonition this week; I am on one long track of official assignments that will see me crisscross a couple of African capitals and then Obamaland. And while en route I busied myself reflecting on several small chops and the wahala in Nigeria.

I do not need remind us that when the appetizer is bad, one loses appetite completely, in many cases a bad small chop makes for plenty wahala with the small house inside the big house, so let me quickly share with you the following ‘small chops’.



Battered Fish and Arik Airlines

So, for those that do not know, the Jos Airport still functions, but operators have come and gone, from Aero to Arik, name them. However, the Arik guys have kept faith, they fly the route once every day, but sadly hardly ever fly it on time. Most times a 3:10 flight leaves at about 4:30 and the day the Lord deserts one, it leaves at 5-6pm, and God help you that you are connecting to another flight which is not Arik–This small chops will purge you!

However, nothing prepared my mind for the terrible thing that was about to happen on the fateful day, after my tickets were bought via their e-ticket platform. The boarding pass was completely written in pen, handwritten in ‘BIRO’. Maybe I should add blue biro, although the lady writing was pretty, it did not remove the fact that small chops look beautiful but can also be a source of pain.

How did we get to such a level of inefficiency or ineptitude, what kind of joke was this? The first Arik staffer said, “na so we see am, we don complain” he even added “maybe na dollar.” I don’t take such a slip kindly so I even asked a member of the crew, is it this bad…her answer “maybe their printer is bad.”

Well the flight may have been okay but where are the authorities, those responsible for seeing that every aspect of flying is taken seriously?–Well I simply shrugged, why bother, thank God that you did not disembark from the plane in Lagos via a ‘LADDER’.



Peppered Gizzards, Abba Moro, and US

While on my sojourn I hear that the former Internal Minister, and best men to one time Senate President was quizzed, and arraigned for the Immigration jobs scam, where a few paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Let me state, many won’t disagree, I dare say it was one of the factors that led to Jonathan losing the General elections last year. Sadly a source told me that they simply bought houses with the proceeds of the money.

Now this is the koko of the small chops, those in authority (and here I mean, immigration, the minister, consultants, government and related agencies) knew that they had barely 2-5 thousand applicants to pick; yet they sold forms in excess of a million.

Abba Moro and their likes should have a long lease in Kikiri if found culpable. However in a double speak, what did Abba do wrong, when currently the Nigerian Airforce, Navy, and others are doing the same…dishing out applications in 5 and 6 zero figures when all they require is a handful.

It’s unfortunate that a nation, rather than get a working social security system, exploits its unemployed via an established small chops racketeering structure; simply put there is big wahala, in cracking down on established corruption.



Puff Puffs, NASS, DISCO, plenty wahala

So I was equally intimated on the order of the National Assembly ordering the Distribution Companies to revert to status quo on electricity tariffs. Our legislators can be clownish, to imagine there are lawyers amongst them…first there is nowhere they have all that ordering right. All these shakara do not cut it!

The DISCO coys are simply crooks, several years ago I stated that a lot needs to be done in our electricity sector, not all these changes of name and sales of assets to friends and cronies.

Because the government is not really interested, they don’t understand that it is practically impossible for a man who earns a N18k salary to commit N10k to paying for unavailable electricity.



Finally all na dollars

Even garri sellers are blaming the dollars for rises in price. And emergency patriots are preaching #buynigeria, #madeinnigeria and all sorts of ad hoc sloganeering. Well the good news is that the price is coming down, and the economic gurus, financial whizkids and witches continue to debate devaluation, revaluation of the Naira.

The dollar is not our currency, so next time anyone tells you na dollar, tell the person to shut up! We need to find a way out, and we need to cure Nigeria, before we can think Nigeria. This once big giant of Africa is no longer sleeping, it is only pretending to be big, and also pretending to be asleep, for how long—Only time will tell.








Prince Charles Dickson

Currently Prince Charles, is based out of Jos, Plateau State, and conducts field research and investigations in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria with an extensive reach out to the entire North and other parts. Prince Charles worked on projects for UN Women, Search for Common Ground, and International Crisis Group, among others. He is an alumnus of the University of Jos and the prestigious Humanitarian Academy at Harvard and Knight Center For Journalism, University of Texas at Austin. A doctoral candidate of Georgetown University

Born in Lagos State (South West Nigeria), Prince Charles is proud of his Nigerian roots. He is a Henry Luce Fellow, Ford Foundation grantee and is proficient in English, French, Yoruba Ibo and Hausa. Married with two boys, and a few dogs and birds.


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