Tuesday, January 12, 2016


The hotel I lodged in the first night in Rivers was one I was very familiar with at Obigbo. It wasn't a five-star but it met the basic conditions that I want in a hotel, especially for someone like me to whom anonymity means a lot to. I know how to find such places, trust me. I should've insisted on the room I always took, but I didn't mind when I was given another. Somehow it felt smaller than the one I was used to though it cost the same amount, and the intercom wasn't working such that they had to accompany my visitor up to see me rather than call on the intercom to intimate me of such, only to tell me that they had been trying the intercom to no avail. It also meant that I had to go to the lobby downstairs to make requests each time I wanted something.

I had known earlier that they didn't have hot water, unlike what you'll find in many two-star hotels in Edo State where hotel business appear to be second to none. It feels like every street has one there. The difference between the Edo Hospitality sector and the Rivers States' is that you will get better for commensurate amount in Edo State than in Rivers State. You need to get to a three or four star hotel, especially in Port Harcourt to have the full compliments at a pricey sum, while even as far a destination from the Edo State capital Benin, in a place like Igara, you can get a bungalow two-star hotel that is fully complimented, viz split unit air conditioner, hot water, spacy and well tiled room, with your usual Gideon's International Bible on a desk for your reading pleasure and spiritual upliftment.

Interestingly, as for what is on offer for the two or three stars, not much. TV is just CNN and some Ghanaian stations which show Ghallywood movies that look more like soft porn with a story line. Their ads are also quite hilarious though I doubt they are really that funny in the real sense of comedy, save for the way the Ghanaian accented English sounds to the ears of the Nigerian. There is some discretion when it comes to "escorts" in hotels in Rivers State, especially in Port Harcourt though, unlike anywhere in Edo, where approaches may be made to you if your body language suggests that you may require such a service, especially when potters are aware that you arrived alone.

I normally don't eat the hotel food, for the four and five stars because they could be very expensive, and I have a very large appetite. Once at Sheraton Abuja during a conference, the only food by the hotel I had was the buffet by the conference organizers, while I headed out to eat outside in the evenings, to save me my money, and also to eat foods that I am very much familiar with. With the two or three stars, that I can relatively afford I tend not to trust much besides the appetizers like pepper soup when I go to drink, in the days when I used to so indulge. The last thing I want during travels is to have a stomach upset, and the surest way for me to avoid such is to stick to my tinned foods, bread, kebabs and the likes from the streets adjoining the hotel.

The next morning, with the help of an acquaintance I was able to find a food vendor at Timber Bus Stop, Obigbo where I paid so little for so much food, I had anticipated a long day and junk could take me only so far.  I still had till noon to burn so I remained at the hotel, even after eating and taking my bath. I tried to listen to RADIO BIAFRA but again couldn't stand the presenter's voice and made do with the local radio stations like Rhythm FM, while watching the TV without audio. I gathered that peace had returned to Onitsha though not without the loss of a life, injury to others and destruction of several property. I was beginning to doubt if I will still fulfill the part of my itinerary that included going to the Southeast at this point.

On my way to Port Harcourt, and thankfully without the cab driver listening to Radio Biafra, I noticed that there hadn't been much improvements in the landscape of Rivers State since last I was there less than three years ago, and coming during the harmattan also made the whole place appear rustic and totally unkempt. Some repair works were been carried out on a few roads, which appear to be more of an act of the governor to endear the people of the state to himself, ahead of the possibility of elections should the Supreme Court goes on to affirm the decisions of the courts before it, that cancelled the elections that produced him in the first place, than it is of one borne out of necessity.


I was soon at the gate of my destination, in front of Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC at Bishop Crowther Memorial Secondary School, Rumuobioakani, in Port Harcourt where stern looking, gun totting "mobile policemen" were standing to frisk visitors intending to pass into the school grounds where a mini fair had been organized for staff of the SPDC using the many credit and thrift societies they belong to. My host soon came around with my pass and we walked into the expansive school compound. Almost everything one could think of buying during the Christmas period and beyond where on hand for sale.


Interestingly, recent layoffs and news of more impending layoffs remaining ever fresh in the air of the oil industry, even at Shell, appeared to have done nothing to dull the atmosphere or dampen the mood, with Shell Staff turning up in their numbers from their office across the road, not only to just sightsee but to pick up items on display, from the little pins and needles to the large like cars and SUVs. I just stopped short of envying them while waiting for the slightest opportunity or window to grab the attention of my host away from business (on display, attended to by her subordinates) she had to attend to, so I could put up before her my business proposal. The reason I had come to Port Harcourt in the first place.

Once a deal, which incidentally didn't take long to agree upon was struck, without need for more persuasive effort on my side like I envisaged, I stayed around to watch events going on around me. Shell staffers and the families were treated like royals for that day, as they waltzed from one tent to the other going through the items on display. I had intended to change my wallet while I was in the North of Nigeria, in the early days of the tour but it totally skipped my mind, and when I saw what looked like the leather I would've gotten from the North I jumped at it, but bounced out almost as quickly as I went in when I was informed of the price. I had forgotten how things can be very expensive in Port Harcourt. Earlier that morning, I had paid premium for an earphone to replace the one I forgot in Keffi, Nasarawa State when I was there days before, as I left the hotel that morning and should've known better than to come to that fair to buy souvenir.


I spent the rest of the day feeding my eyes with what the exhibitors had on show, while also watching progress on the reward aspect of the fair, where shoppers were encouraged to fill and submit a form for which a draw was carried out in the latter part of the day and prizes doled out to successful participants. By the time the fair closed, and a dinner date with my host over, it had become unreasonable to return to Obigbo that night, so I lodged at another hotel in Rumuomasi, as you make your way off Aba Road into Uyo Street, in Port Harcourt, in a very obscure part of town (the kind of hideaway I cherish) that my host showed me, but yet a three-star, with spacious room, hot water but same TV stations including CNN, one foreign movie TV, Emmanuel TV (showing Pastor T.B. Joshua's "miracles") and the Ghanaian TV (showing the usual). The intercom in the hotel worked unlike the one at Obigbo, and they had armed security as well, which may be embarrassing for a visitor coming to see a guest at the hotel, when they have to be interrogated by security before they are allowed passage to see a guest. The mattress was better than the one in the hotel at Obigbo, and the duvet was such that once under the covers, the chilled air from the air conditioner stayed out.



  1. This was a great tour indeed. Thank God that the original intention of the tour was attained. PH is a place to be. I hope to make it there one day, sooner than later (I've friends and extended family members who reside there) and will capitalize on your treatise about the city. Nice write up.

  2. You should visit Port Harcourt. It's got something for everyone, however it is a very politically charged place, hence not suitable to visit days before, during or after elections.