A Minute at The Phantom United Arab Emirates

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By Zacchaeus Ozovehe.

ON a fateful Sunday morning while struggling to disengage myself from my ever indolence-induced mattress, I switched on my Archos tablet device. I was determined not to miss first service scheduled to commence in my church at exactly 7:30 am, at least to get fresh anointing for the week. Surreptitiously amidst early morning lethargy, I connected my mobile data to keep myself abreast of what might have happened while I was asleep in our ever dynamic world where lots of news break at every second.

I was not taken aback when I began to receive message alerts from our mainstream national dailies because most of the stories have become part and parcel of our national life. In short, most headlines centred around how one Abdulrasheed Maina who was allegedly enmeshed in pension scam, dismissed and was stealthily reabsorbed into the Federal Civil Service by some powerful individuals and later sacked on the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The item that caught my attention which later took me to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was the one sent via WhatsApp by a very senior person and boss in the pen profession. My boss had in his message asked me to click on a link to complete an online registration to win a free ticket for a week in Dubai, including a 5-star hotel room.

My boss has never one day hidden his love and compassion for me. He must have secured his ticket and would not allow me to miss this golden opportunity to have respite from the ever scorching sun of Lokoja, at least for a week in Dubai. Procrastination, they said, is the thief of time. Let me quickly secure my flight ticket before I place a call to my boss to appreciate him for remembering me at a time like this, I whispered.

A click on the link within a twinkle of an eye placed me on the website where I would  answer a question and provide personal information for easy processing of my ticket. I was at this point dumbfounded by the question I was mandated to answer. How on earth will someone ask me just what the capital city of the UAE is to get flight ticket. Piece of cake! This Arab people thought we are numskulls in this country, Nigeria. I will let them know the stuff we are made of when I get there!

Wow! I am going to leave this country at last! For the first time in my life, I will witness a week-long uninterrupted power supply. I will be in a country where corruption allegations and counter allegations, secessionist struggle, issue of restructuring of the country, kidnapping, bad roads, starvation and others would be nonexistent. Above all, the Dubai economy knows not recession. I must appreciate my boss for this rare privilege!

Phew! I clicked Abu Dhabi as my answer!

I will not intimate my mother of my impending journey to the Arab nation. She may decide to give me one hundred and one reasons why I must be in the Confluence state. I will definitely tell my fiancee who is struggling with her

Community Health Programme in the far Southern Kaduna of how God has answered my prayer through my boss. My first task when I got to the Arab nation would be to convince the consulate on why my stay should be extended beyond a week, after all, I am a good boy! It would be a sheer wickedness to quickly return to the tales of epileptic power supply, fraud in the NNPC, PDP, APC, IPOB, MASSOB and the pythons’ macabre dance in the South East.

Yes! My fiancee will be very happy about my emigration. My forthcoming wedding programme in December could be done in Dubai when I finally convince them to extend my stay. Yes! Annie and 2Baba Idibia of this world, Tiwa Savage and Tunji Balogun, Toolz and Tunde Demuren and host of others had their wedding in Dubai, why should mine be different when my boss has given me the key? I soliloquised!

I was helplessly engrossed in these thoughts such that I did not quickly realise that I was directed on the website to invite at least 30 people to undergo the same process of obtaining the Dubai ticket before my request could be confirmed! I momentously welcomed this idea since I was left with the discretion of choosing whoever I wanted. Guess what! My Queen was the first I sent the link to before some thought-provoking questions crept into my mind.

Does this mean that my boss is in a hurry to leave this country too? Wow! It meant he must have secured flight tickets for all his family members. If each applicant is to invite 30 people, won’t all Nigerians in the next one week be set to migrate to Dubai? Why was I (and thousands other Nigerians) ready to leave the country? Who will build our country if we all migrate?

Then my Tecno P5 rang. I quickly became conscious of my environment. I was jolted from my dream land and found myself in Adankolo area of Lokoja in my face-me-I-face-you apartment. My fiancee had called to remind me of church service. How would I tell her that I have been filling some online forms for a phantom Dubai trip?
At this point of my journey to the Arab nation, I remembered how a ponzi scheme, Marvrodi Mundial Moneybox (MMM) exactly this time in 2016 took charge of the psyche of an average Nigerian that wanted to get rich by hook or crook. Unfortunately, the scheme crashed and participants began to count their losses. Again, the year 2017 is coming to an end and ‘sharp guys’ out there are bent on making money from unsuspecting members of the public.

Beware! There would be plethora of Facebook accounts with names and pictures of notable political figures, business moguls and even clergy men asking for your friendship. You should neither accept such questionable friend requests nor divulge your personal information. Be careful of your interaction with faceless individuals on the internet! The free ticket to Dubai is a hoax.

Nigeria is our Jerusalem and Dubai. Together, we will build it if the positive change you want in Nigeria begins with you. Dubai which has become a sort of mecca was built by people.

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