Day 3: Organised Chaos…
Hot, hot, hot….
36C and its not yet 10am - even the locals are saying it’s too hot.
The drive into Abuja central is not for the faint-hearted. To the uninitiated the manner in which people drive is chaotic, yet somehow all the dodging and weaving works – it would be fascinating to watch from above. The way the cars, trucks and vans move as if in a swarm, synchronised to allow the maximum capacity of vehicles across the breadth of a road – any white lane markings have long disappeared.
The initial feeling of anarchy I had has quickly given way to a sense of respect. Each driver appears to anticipate other road users and the friendly use of horns that at home would sound so aggressive, instead meaning ‘I’m here in case you haven’t seen me’.
First stop is UNICEF, now housed in a heavily guarded compound since the bombing of their last building several years ago. Gaining entrance takes time, but it’s a friendly experience with lots of laughter – it’s becoming a familiar theme.
Our meeting with UNICEF gave us the chance to find out what they’ve been working on since we were last here. It was clear that finally there is a sense of momentum in the fact that federal and state government are recognising children’s rights issues and are committed to protecting children. Now they need to implement the Child Rights law, but frustratingly there is very little capacity to do this on the ground.
Still a long way to go but it feels like a milestone.
Our time here will certainly help focus our discussions with partners over the coming days and help us understand how we can best support the practical implementation of child protection units and services in the areas we work in.
Afternoon is spent with Amnesty International: after a difficult and very public decentralising of their International Department out of London it’s really great to see they’ve prioritised opening an office in Nigeria. Even more so as our meeting is with an ex-intern of ours now helping establish Amnesty here in Nigeria.
On the way back we pass one of the iconic sights here in Abuja: the central mosque. Captured against the haze it’s a beautiful scene.
I'm tired now, it's been a long day and I can't wait to escape the fumes and pollution and have a long, cold shower!
Have a flight in the morning and we’re heading south.