Articles

A salesman

In Uncategorized on December 19, 2010 by grahamharrowell

A passenger transiting Heathrow to Los Angeles told Radio 4 that the organisation at Heathrow was worse than that at Lagos Airport. Now I think that such a ringing endorsement could only have come from someone who had failed to declare an interest. Was he the general manager of Ikeja? (The airport’s name has changed, possibly to distinguish its hangars from those of the well-known Swedish furniture retailer.) So, how many snow-ploughs, snow blowers, snow brushes, highway and footway clearance machines, aircraft de-icers, how many litres of de-icing fluid and how many tonnes of grit and salt do they hold in readiness at Murtala Mohammad Airport? Don’t tell me, that’s not what I want to know. What I really want to know is the name of the person who sold them all this stuff. Whoever managed to persuade Lagos Airport authorities to cough up the cash to be better equipped for dealing with an unexpectedly heavy snowfall is the marketing man Alan Sugar is looking for as an apprentice.

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One Response to “A salesman”

  1. The joke goes like this: A businessman in Nigeria puts a construction contract out to tender and attracts three bidders: a German, a Frenchman and a Nigerian. He explainswhat he wants. The German speaks to him at length, views the site, comes back and quotes $50,000 – $25,000 materials, $25,000 labour. The French contractor goes through a similar process and offers to do the work for $40,000 ($20,000 for materials and $20,000 for labour). Without even going near the site and not needing any further information other than the bare outline the Nigerian contractor suggests $240,000. The Businessman is surprised and asks how he reached this quote. “$100,000 for you, $100,000 for me and we get the Frenchman to do it!”

    I’ve spent rather more time than I’d care to think about at Murtalla Muhammed International (and Domestic, for that matter). The rumour was that the airport was an exact copy of the one built in Sofia during the time that Bulgaria was a Peoples’ Republic. The Nigerian Minister responsible in the seventies had seen it, was impressed and wanted the exact same thing. Taken at his word – and with a hefty kickback to ensure he didn’t change his mind – he duly signed the LPO and got a copy of Sofia airport – including snow ploughs, de-icers etc. There were claims that this equipment lay gathering dust in a shed somewhere. This last bit was clearly rubbish. If ever these things had been procured, they would long ago have been stolen by the mid nineties when I first heard this.

    That’s was the technique though in the days when Nigeria had cash sloshing around: ensure a good part of the quoted price reverted to the person responsible for agreeing to the purchase.

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