English surrounded by French! That would be the description of Nigeria. Surrounded by five nations that speak French, Nigeria's English not only survived the siege of French but it also survived the host of more than 500 local languages. No doubt, English has become the unifying language of the nation.
When I landed at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport of Abuja, I got a glimpse of linguistic diversity. One of my guests speaking English with Igbo accent was making fun of his colleague speaking English with Hausa accent. I could not get to understand the exact fun part but could guess it very well. In India, the heavy accent of southern English is the subject of much amusement in the rest of India.
While language is fun, religion in Nigeria is a serious matter. Depending on who is responding, and where the respondent is living, the answer to the question of 'which religion is in majority' will vary. Christianity and Islam are co-hosted with equal importance in the country. The skyline of Abuja is marked by minarets, domes and crosses. The biggest dome that one sees from almost any point in Abuja is, however a natural one called: Aso rock, a 400-metre monolith that in fact made Abuja to be known as Rock City.
I have never seen the capital of any country which is so centrally situated. Abuja is a planned city and capital of an oil rich nation that is faced with serious environmental and poverty challenges. Oil spills, deforestation, and waste management and of course climate change and ozone layer depletion… the list is long.
For four days, 39 African countries in face of language barriers, religious faiths and meridas of environmental challenges, explored the opportunities to get climate benefits from the Ozone Layer Protection activities. Such exploration is the emerging trend in the Montreal Protocol community. The event was the joint meeting of the French-speaking and English-speaking African countries represented by their focal points in their respective national Ozone Units.
African Countries are awaking to the new reality that single focused environmental agreement can achieve multitude of benefits not only for the stratosphere and atmosphere but also 'earthly' benefits like economic advantage. From now on Nigerians would be able to see that Economics and Environment are part of the same team in the football game and not in opposing teams.
I am sure that Nigerians understand this 'goal' much more effectively because football is the national game, national language and national religion. It is the solid Aso rock on which Nigerian exploration begins.