Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Traveling for a Cause: A man's Solo Trek

A journey of a thousand miles start with a single step. That single step taken from Lagos has landed 33 year old Hashimu Suleiman in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital where he hopes to meet with the president-elect. He had promised that as a form of celebration, he would walk from Lagos to Abuja if General Muhammadu Buhari gets elected as president of Nigeria in the just concluded March 2015 presidential election.
And now, after 13 days of solo trekking and using 5 pairs of canvass shoes, 33 year old Suleiman has make good that promise.

For those who do not understand the landscape of Nigeria, according to google map, Lagos to Abuja is 662km and 135 hours (5-6 days) on foot, 747km and 9 hours by driving and about 1 hour by air.

Detractors have said he couldn’t do it, people have mocked him, he has been called a liar and labelled a cheat, skeptics didn’t give him a chance, but he has remained focused to his task and cause.
He has raised the bar, challenged himself, challenged Nigerians and challenged the president-elect to keep his own promise to Nigerians.

Many have questioned if he truly walked, some even contested if it was humanly possible. On social media, I read comments like “what point does he want to prove”, “is it humanly possible”, “I don’t believe a man in his right sense will walk from Lagos to Abuja”. These are just a few of the comments. But I have seen Fulani cattle rearers traveling down from far north to the south with their cattle. I think it would be unfair to downplay his efforts and rub him off his success.

Some people may not understand the enormous nature of this feat, but when you view it from the background of the Nigerian situation…the insecurity in the country, the perils of the road, then we’ll begin to understand and appreciate what he has achieved.

Kings have welcomed him, people has walked and marched with him, he is fast becoming an internet sensation, his story is going viral, and his arrival in Abuja caused a traffic gridlock.
For those of us who constantly believe it is not possible, take a cue from this man, he has defied the odds.

Dear TravelArmy readers, followers and well-wishers, don’t just sit there doing nothing, don’t just sit planning and imagining…start doing! Be your own one man army today …start writing that book, get back to that blog, start studying for that exam today, practice more, rehearse longer, enroll in that program, start that business, apply for that admission…take a step today, just start NOW.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Update on the UNAOC Summer School, 2015.

The 75 participants of this year’s UNAOC-EF Summer School will be announced tomorrow (April 8th). 

Stay tuned to the blog to discover the youth leaders who will be engaging in a life-changing week in New York from 13th - 20th June 2015.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Tourist guide: How to stay vigilant

+Travel Army 
The tour guide boasts as he informed us during a road trip that the Dubai International Airport has now surpassed Heathrow as the busiest in the world. He also talked about the high safety profile in the city. A point I silently agreed with based on a YouTube video I saw of a Caucasian with a secret cam who pretended to drop his wallet by mistake in the streets of Dubai, and each time for over two hundred times, somebody called his attention to return the wallet.
Dubai is perhaps one of the most cosmopolitan cities I've come across.. Indians, Bengalis, Filipinos, Chinese, Pakistanis, Sudanese, Africans, Arabs and endless number of Europeans and Americans.

You can move around and with these vast mix of complete strangers while feeling safe from harm or molestation.
However I was saddened and appalled when saying goodbye to the city, I forgot my backpack in the taxi that dropped me off at the airport. It was right beside him in the front seat where I sat. This is Dubai I told myself, he'll return it. So I waited at Terminal 3 where he dropped me off confident he would turn around to return it as soon as he saw it.

After two and a half hours of waiting, running late for my flight and reporting to the airport police and calling the rta (dubai road transport authority), I had fears I might not find my bag again.
I have still not found my bag, I had my laptop and a tablet and other stuffs in it.
How to stay vigilant:
1. As much as possible, use the certified or authorized and registered state taxi. I did.

2. Take a second to take a glance or stare or snap the taxi number or plate number before getting in. (note: Taxi number and car plate number are different) The  rta asked if I knew any of these numbers, it would have been easy to track him. All I know is its a Toyota Camry.

3. Try and engage the taxi driver in a talk, a simple greeting is fine. I'm not asking you to go all chatting-chatting. This gives you an opportunity to see his face and make an impression of it on your mind. My taxi driver was quiet, clean shave, in his 30's, not Arab, not Caucasian, not black. I don't want to mention where I think he's from before you people accuse me of racial profiling.

4. An airport security asked me "did you collect a printed fare receipt from the taxi?"  this would have had the taxi details. I didn't even know they issue receipts. Most of these drivers don't issue it.
5. Preferably, ask the hotel you're checking out from to get you a taxi, they would usually know them. My hotel actually got the taxi for me, but I was there when they just waved him down off the street.

6. This is probably not exclusive and you guys might disagree, but I think the more Elderly Taxi drivers have more conscience.

7. In this case, speaking exclusively for Dubai Airport, Terminal 3: ask to be dropped off at the entrance of the Terminal. This area is covered by the airport security street camera. The police could not locate the driver on security cameras because he dropped me off on the No Parking, temporary road stop outside the security camera coverage. (most of them do)

8. Always install security on your devices. Many of them have tracking apps in case of loss or theft. My tab was new, still in the pack, I wish I had installed a security app. When you buy a tab or smart phone, make it first priority to install security, or activate a pre-installed one. You just can never tell.
Any other ideas on how to stay vigilant as a tourist ? Please share.
The taxi driver did not report my bag to the authority, he didn't report to the rta, nor to the police, nor to the hotel where he picked me from.

What do you call a taxi driver like that?

Nigeria Elects New President: The major highlights

After much tension to the build up of the Presidential elections in Nigeria on March 28th, the main opposition party the All Progressive Congress APC won the ruling party the People's Democratic Party PDP.  The new president elect is former Military Leader, General Muhammadu Buhari.

The following are some of the major highlights to remember from the election.

General Buhari won after three failed attempts. He had participated and lost in the last three successive elections.

This is the first time the incumbent party will lose to the opposition.

An election that had massive social media participation.

The Peter Orubebe drama at the collation center. He attempted to disrupt the election announcement and collation center.

The maturity and cool of the INEC president, Prof. Atahiru Jega is conducting the process.

The novel introduction of the permanent voters card and card reading machines.

The doggedness of Nigerian electorates to exercise their civic responsibility and casting their votes despite all hitches and glitches.

President Jonathan's exemplary and exceptional gesture in conceding defeat early on by congratulating General Buhari. This goes a long way in dousing any post election violence that may have been brewing.

In Nigeria, the air of change is evident.

Do you have any other highlights from the election. Please share... Post pictures on our Facebook page too.

Congratulations Nigeria to a peaceful conduct of election.