My barber and I
Eze Eze Ogali
Head of Productions, BBC Media Action in Nigeria
My name is Eze. Eze Eze Ogali. I’m the head of productions for BBC Media Action in Nigeria and if you ever meet me, one of the first things you'll notice is that I like to have my hair close shaven. Not because I'm growing bald – or maybe I am! – but because I don’t have any time to comb my hair every morning. Maybe I should wear dreadlocks again like I did way back in university. But I know my wife and three young daughters wouldn’t like that! So my only option is to visit my barber, Big ID, every week.
Big ID! I don't know why he's called that. He’s not physically big. But perhaps it’s because his dreams are: he believes that someday, he’s going to hit it big.
He's like many other Nigerian 20-somethings: unable to secure any well-paid employment in a country where PhD holders struggle to secure a job as a truck driver. So he opened a barber’s shop. But he gets so few customers that he can barely afford to pay for the electricity supply his shop needs.
Big ID in his barbershop in Abuja.
"It's so frustrating," he said to me one day, as I wondered why he had suddenly increased his fee. "I only get electricity supply three days in a week, and even at that, the voltage is so low that I can hardly do anything with it and I pay my electricity bill every month!"
In spite of the country’s natural resources, Nigeria still struggles to generate a reliable and powerful enough supply of electricity.
So to ensure he stays in business, Big ID, like every other Nigerian, has had to invest in an imported power generator. He buys fuel from the black market – at a high price of course – to power his noisy and smoky generator because fuel pumps at the petrol stations are usually dry.
Big ID tells me that he knows his problems are caused by the political class and while he votes at every election, he tells me he doesn’t see any evidence that those who he votes into power care about him and his barber shop.
To help the likes of Big ID, our production team for BBC Media Action in Nigeria work hard every day creating programmes like our dramas Story Story and Gatanan Gatanan Ku (which means Story Story in the Hausa language). The shows aim to both entertain and inform people across Nigeria about how the country is governed and what people can expect from those in power.
We have also started to make a new programme called Talk Your Own – Make Naija Better (Make Nigeria Better), otherwise known as TYO. A ‘magazine’ radio programme, it packages together discussions, interviews and investigative reporting to hold leaders in the country accountable.
So in one recent episode of TYO, we took up the issue of Nigeria's electricity supply. We interviewed Nigeria's Power Minister, Prof Chinedu Nebo and he told us that Big ID's case will soon be a thing of the past as the present government is working hard to stabilise the power sector.
For Big ID's sake and for the sake of millions of Nigerians who listen to our programmes, we are going to follow up with the minister to ensure that he does what he said his government is going to do.
After all, Big ID tells me, that is why he voted them into power!