Lagos Chronicles, Reflection


Is it human nature to prey on one another’s desperation?

So on my way back from work on Friday, I got stuck at Oshodi. There were simply no buses and there was a crowd of people who were all struggling for the few buses that deigned to grace us with their presence. It was survival of the fittest. It had rained earlier that day, Continue reading “Selah…”

Lagos Chronicles

Confusing Street Names

For a Lagos JJC like myself, I have gotten lost one too many times majorly because I am terrible with directions and I sleep off in the bus and pass my bus stop (thou shalt not judge me). But I don’t appreciate when external forces contribute to it. Okay, let me explain… Some months back (yes, months because this has been sitting in my laptop, unfinished, for a while now. Sigh*), I had to attend a bridal shower in Surulere. There was a mix up with the timing and I should have gotten my facts straight before I left the house but I didn’t so I set out on this journey (factor in traffic) all the way from Egbeda.

So after wading through traffic, I got to Ojuelegba. I called to get proper directions to make sure I was right on track. I was told I was going to Muritala Animashaun Street, so I should take a bus, stop at Masha cross to the other side, take a Keke (tricycle) and stop at Muritala Animashaun and then walk to the end of the street. Pretty straightforward, yes?

No. That was the beginning of my woes on this bright, sunny Saturday afternoon. So I got to Masha, told the Keke guy where I was going and after waiting for more people to fill up the keke, we set off. After driving for what seemed like a century, he announced that we had arrived. I got down and looked up to see Thomas Animashaun written on the arrow pointing towards a street. I started to wonder why this said ‘Thomas’ instead of ‘Muritala’. Maybe it’s the same thing? So I called to inform them that the keke dropped me at Thomas Animashaun.

“I doubt I am at the right place o”, I said. “Or are they both the same thing?”

“Ah, you are definitely at the wrong place o. I don’t even know where that is. Try to see if you can get a bike and ask if they know Muritala Animashaun. It’s around NYSC secretariat”, she said.

I was a bit upset that I wasn’t told this additional info about the street being around NYSC secretariat earlier. At this point, I was already having the mother of all headaches. My head was throbbing like there was a carpenter at work in there. So I stopped a bike and asked if he knew where the street was and he was looking at me like I had suddenly sprouted another eye in the middle of my head and was speaking in an unknown language. I stopped another and then another, until I finally found one who knew where NYSC secretariat was but didn’t know where the street I was talking about was.

“I no dey go dat side but I go drop you for Mobil filling station, you go see keke wey dey go Bode Thomas, dem go fit carry you go dat side.” He said.

Tired of standing, I hopped on and he dropped me at the filling station where I saw a cluster of kekes. I proceeded to ask, for the umpteenth time, if anyone knew where I was going. The Keke guy, who was very nice by the way, had no idea what I was talking about. He then took his time to explain to me that there’s a Babs Animashaun street, which is the one after NYSC secretariat, there’s another Animashaun Street and then there’s Thomas Animashaun. (WTH!) I told him I was just coming from Thomas Animashaun Street.

“Are you going to get to the NYSC secretariat?” I asked. He said yes. So I got in since I had been told that the secretariat wasn’t far from where I was going.

We got to the secretariat and I called to ask what next.

“Are you at the secretariat?”

“Yes, we are parked opposite it. So where am I going next?”

“Just keep coming down_”

“Down where? I don’t know what direction you are referring to as ‘down’…”

“Did you pass any open market?”

“What open market? I wasn’t looking out for any open_”

“Yes there’s an open market. We just passed it two minutes ago.” The driver said

“Apparently we passed it two minutes ago.”

“Okay, walk back towards the market, you’ll see bike men parked there. Take a bike to Muritala Animashaun. It isn’t far from that place at all.”

So I paid the keke guy, thanked him for being super helpful and walked back towards the market, crossed the road to the other side, hailed a bike and told him where I was going. I asked if he knew where it was and he was positive. Finally! I thought.
Then he said the fare was hundred naira and I was like for what? So I told him fifty naira. (I was operating on the knowledge that it wasn’t far).

“I go park for the gate o, because bike no dey enter inside.” He said.

I didn’t understand that because I felt of course you will park outside, I’m not expecting you to drop me in the living room. But at this point, my head was aching unbearably so I just got on the bike and I kid you not, that was the shortest bike ride in the history of time! And the dude wanted to collect hundred naira simply because he knew I didn’t know where I was going, so he wanted to take advantage of that. Shame, shame on you people who prey on other people’s ignorance.

Anyway, I gave him his fifty naira and lo and behold, the famous Muritala Animashaun was an estate. Not a street people, an estate! It was boldly written there: “Alhaji Muritala Animashaun Estate”. I then understood why the bike guy said he couldn’t enter inside. I stood at the gate, shook my head and walked in. Guess what? The showers had ended. I had journeyed seven mountains and seven seas, battled obstacles only to discover that the whole thing had ended. Sigh*

Would a prior knowledge that the Muritala Animashaun Street was indeed an estate have prevented me from getting lost? Maybe. But my question is; why are there so many bloody Animashaun streets within Surulere though?!




Lagos Chronicles

The Tale of the Sweater.


Based on true events.

Isimey had this beautiful lemon green sweater, with short sleeves and buttons down the front. It was given to her by her aunt who had come visiting from the abroad two years ago. She loved the sweater so much because it had journeyed over seven mountains and seven seas just to get to her was soft against the skin and was a perfect shield against the cold as well as pesky air conditioners at public places where you had no control over them and more recently, at work. Well, nobody cares if you are freezing.

Isimey recently moved to Lagos and it has been one huge culture shock that keeps smacking her in the face every time she visits another part of Lagos, so much so that even after being in Lagos for months, she still gets smacked in the face almost every time she steps out of the house.

So on this fateful day, she needed to go get some stuff from a friend at Ikotun but could only go after work. At 5pm, she picked up her backpack and draped her sweater across her neck and set out on the journey to Ikotun from Ikeja, where she works. An hour thirty minutes later, she was at the last bus stop at Ikotun. Someone should have prepared her mind for what she would meet at Ikotun. The place was packed with people, buses and kekes everywhere, people shoving their wares in your face, guys pulling your hand to come check out their shoes as if the shoes will save your life.

People. Everywhere. To say it was chaos would be the understatement of the century. For a few seconds, Isimey couldn’t figure out how to navigate through this throng of people. She just kept moving forward because she had to find where to take a keke to Cele egbe and she would still need to take a bike from Cele egbe to get to her final destination. Talk about going to the end of the world. So she braced herself, held on to her backpack and started walking briskly, warding off the hand pulling her towards “fine fine jeans for sale”.

She got to a point where there was a cluster of kekes and asked, “Where I go see Cele Egbe?”

“Cross to the other side you go see keke. No enter bus o, na keke you go enter.” The driver said as if he knew she was a JJC. Sometimes, Isimey feels like they can smell the JJC on you or maybe you give off some signal that screams, “JJC alert!” So, sweater still draped on the shoulder and backpack held tightly, she headed towards the road. She crossed the lane for the oncoming cars and while she was standing on the pavement in the middle of the road, she felt her shoulder bare, like something had slipped off. Oh, my sweater! She thought and in that split second, she looked back thinking the sweater had fallen to the ground. To her surprise, it wasn’t on the ground. It’s a green sweater, if it was on the ground, she was bound to see it. She retraced her steps and crossed back the way she had come thinking she would find it. The sweater was nowhere to be found. She stood and was looking around but no sweater and no suspicious looking person around. Everyone was going about their business.

To avoid looking like she was lost, she just crossed back and kept her eyes on the road, clutching her backpack ever so tightly.  She didn’t understand it, couldn’t explain the disappearance of the sweater. It just vanished! She had heard about Lagos and had been a victim of a stolen phone at Oshodi; they had carefully unzipped her bag and taken out the phone barely three weeks after she got to Lagos. Her friends said it was the official “welcome to Lagos” treatment. But a sweater? She couldn’t understand why anybody would want to steal a sweater. She couldn’t help thinking how ridiculous and weird the whole idea of it sounded.

Isimey was sad she had lost her sweater. Her precious sweater. But she made it to her friend’s and got back home in one piece. And like a friend pointed out, “thank God that was the worst that happened.”



It’s a jungle out there.


Lagos Chronicles

Who Do You Think You Are?

If I have a naira for every time that statement has been thrown around along with its elder brother, “Do you know who I am”, I would be lounging on a beach on some exotic island sipping tropical drinks or flying around in private jets. But you know what they say about wishes…

Anyway, I was at the bus park on Wednesday morning waiting for the bus to start moving, and I was already getting antsy because I was running a bit late. This young man was about to take the seat closest to the door when he was told that there was someone there, so he moved to the other seat. Then I overheard this policeman, let’s call him Mr cheap, telling the driver that he must “carry him”. Apparently the seat was reserved by the policeman who wanted to ride the bus for free. The driver then responded saying, “You can’t force me to carry you. Don’t think you can ride me. This is my property.” At this, Officer Cheap leapt out of the bus and started barking shouting, “who do you think you are! Who do you think you are!” the driver stood his ground and matched Officer cheap pitch for pitch, “It’s my property, you can’t force me. Don’t think you can come and ride me because you are wearing uniform.” Officer Cheap was getting really aggressive at this point, screaming and hitting the bus, “this bus will not move today!”

At this point, the passengers in the bus erupted, “what do you mean by this bus will not move? Na you buy the bus? Shameless man. All these policemen sef, be doing agidi on top meaningless things” etc. The other drivers and agberos had intervened at this point, trying to calm the driver down. Officer Cheap was already pushing the driver and the driver was pushing back, he wasn’t going to be anybody’s fool. Amidst all of the shouting and shoving, Office Cheap was about taking off his belt when the other drivers and agberos restrained him. Somehow, they were able to steer the driver into the bus and we zoomed off, leaving Officer Cheap being held back by an impressive number of drivers. My battery was low, I would have taken a picture or recorded a video or something.

It was a sorry sight: a policeman, well dressed in his uniform, fighting with a bus driver, being held back by other bus drivers and agberos, uniform all rumpled, at 6.45am on a Wednesday morning. Why? Simply because the driver refused to carry him for free? What was the driver thinking, he is a policeman, and therefore is entitled to the preferential treatment i.e. free bus ride, yes?

No.  News flash sir, it is not your God-given right to ride the bus for free. It is not an entitlement that automatically accrues to you because you are a police officer. There’s no written Law anywhere that stipulates that you ride the bus for free. In all fairness, the welfare package of Police officers leave little to be desired, but there’s such a thing as carrying one’s self with dignity. Even if the driver would carry you for free, it should be his call. He should want to do it out of a deep sense of regard for you and the uniform you are wearing. Not because you demand that he must. And if you, a police officer, have no respect for the uniform you wear, how are others supposed to have any regard for it?

Isn’t it one of the  responsibilities of an officer of the law to maintain peace and order? Instead, they are the ones caught in the middle of the chaos. We have heard so many stories about police brutality and how so many lives have been lost when a policeman murders in cold blood accidentally discharges his weapon (At least that’s the official term that is used) at the slightest provocation.

As a police officer, your duties do not include lording it over ordinary citizens who are just going about their way, trying to make a living and make do with the resources they have as best as they can. So what if you are wearing a uniform? What uniform anyway? The same one that has lost all significance and is synonymous with mediocrity, ineffectiveness and corruption. That uniform? I am not saying there are no good men in the force, but it is men like Officer Cheap that give the force a bad name. I couldn’t help thinking that if he had had a weapon on him, he would have used it and damned the consequences (if there would even be any).

If these are the types of lawless men who have been sworn to ensure peace and order in our society, then may God help us all.


Lagos Chronicles, Reflection

Minimum Wage and Moving

Transportation is one of the major problems the average Nigerian living in Lagos faces. It is right up there with electricity. This informed my decision to move. I was living on the island and working at Ikeja. This meant that I had to leave my house super early (as early as 5.30 am) if I wanted to make it to work by 8 am.

Now, the sad part was the amount of money I had to part with as transport fare. Initially, I had to spend 400 naira to and 550 naira from work daily. That amounted to 950 naira; 50 naira shy of a thousand. In one day. On transport. Hian!

Then I started following a neighbor in the mornings. He would drop me off at Costain where I would take a bus for 200 naira to Ikeja. Although, I still had to pay 550 naira coming back which would then amount to 750 naira. That was still too much, to be honest. Not to mention the hours of mind numbing traffic I had to endure; I’m exhausted when I get to work and completely useless when I get back home. Now that’s no way to live, no? So I decided to move. And getting a place to stay in Lagos is no walk in the park. So I decided to move in with my friend and her mum at Ikotun, thus saving me money for rent that I could not afford. I had inquired about the route to Ikeja and if it was better because I really wanted to avoid a situation of “from frying pan to fire”. And luckily for me, it was. I could leave the house at 6.30 or 6 (because the road could be unpredictable) and still make it to work on time. Now you can NEVER try that if you have to leave from the island.

So I moved last weekend and on Monday, I left the house at 6.20 am and got to Ikeja along at 6.50 am. The road was so free, I couldn’t believe my luck. And the sweetest part? I spent 150 naira to get to work that day. How about that! Now I spend 250 naira to get back home and that’s a total of 400 naira. Comparing this to what I was paying two weeks ago, I was in heaven. It is such a relief, a breath of fresh air. I can hear my pocket thanking me. I am excited because I don’t get paid nearly enough to spend 950 naira on transportation. Speaking of which, I saw this tweet recently. I couldn’t help laughing at the irony of it.


I recently came across this young lady who has decided to step out of her sheltered life, to live on the national minimum wage of 18,000 naira, for the next one month starting on June 20. She decided to take up this challenge as a way of creating awareness of the failing living standards in Nigeria.

You should see her analysis of what that 18,000 naira amounts to, just to give you a little perspective (feel free to draw up your own analysis as well, if that helps). And I can totally relate with her experiences because as someone who earns just a little (and when I say ‘a little’ I mean that as literally as it sounds) above 18000 naira, I understand the hardships of navigating day to day living on such meager earnings. Having to think twice about everything you do, everywhere you go or want to go, what you buy or don’t buy; not because you don’t need it, but because you have to cut your loses.

The sad thing is there are whole families who have to survive on 18,000 naira monthly. Monthly. For a whole family. This is supposed to cover feeding, transportation, health care, school fees and a myriad of other needs to be met. It is just ridiculous. Then you hear that crime rate increases (now I am not justifying it) and it’s not hard to see why. With the dire straits our economy has been plunged into, people are getting desperate and desperation causes people to do crazy things.

So I salute Ifeatu Nnaobi who has decided that rather than stay silent and turn her back, like we often do in this country especially when it doesn’t affect us directly, she would give a voice to a problem that has eaten deep into the fabric of this nation. People are already voicing out and hopefully more people do and it gets to the right ears, so we can start tackling our many problems.

Lagos Chronicles

Catcalls and Dead lines

You are walking down the road and you hear guys whistling and calling out to you. (What are we, animals?) Even okada men will be calling out to you while speeding past you. And it’s unbelievable how shamelessly they do this. anigif_original-grid-image-9260-1396296826-4

You would hear things like “baby”, “fine geh”, “heys!”, “my colour” (huh?), “why you dey frank your face na?“(shoot me now!) etc. Now, the funny part for me is when they demand that you respond. Then you begin to hear things like; “answer me na”, “na you I dey call na” etc., then when you don’t respond, their tone changes, they get angry; “mxcheeew, you no even fine!” “wetin dey do am sef, abeg waka!” At this point, I’m like; I was kuku walking.

A friend of mine once told me she went to get something at computer village and some guy grabbed her a**. For the love of all that is good and pure, why? Why so aggressive? She said she was so scared that she couldn’t wait to get out of there. That’s just annoying and disrespectful. People need to have sense o.


So, I was in this bus on my way to Ikeja, one fine afternoon, when this young man got on the bus. He sat down beside me and I just kept typing away on my phone. Then, I heard him say something. I was hoping that what I heard wasn’t actually what he said. So I pretended not to have heard and I kept looking at my phone. This time, he said; “Excuse me,” I turned to look at him and he goes; “Do you know you are beautiful?” Duh! I just rolled my eyes and gave him a “Please.just.stop.talking.” look and thankfully, he was wise enough to shut up. I just couldn’t deal. Ain’t nobody got time for that, fuel is cost.


At the Obalende bus park where I was in a bus going to Ikeja (I was actually going to Ikotun but I Had to take a bus to Ikeja first. Yes, Ajala much!) While waiting for the bus to get full, this young man entered the bus and sat on the seat in front of me, so that he was directly opposite me. He called out to the woman selling cold drinks and bought Cway peach. Then, he looked at me and asked; “how was school?” in my shock, I echoed, “school?” and he nodded. I just shook my head and turned away.

Or the one that gives you unsolicited advice; “You know you are pretty, you shouldn’t be frowning your face”

Oshey special adviser, who ask you?

It is fascinating the length at which guys try, and fail, if I might add, to start conversations with the opposite sex without spewing unappealing lines. I thought we have evolved. Isn’t it 2016 again? Or someone has been able to perfect the time machine that has sent us, without our knowledge or consent, into years gone before?

I can be really terrible at small talk. The entire concept of it just tires me out sometimes, but people of God, there are a lot of conversation starters you can employ to get conversations going. You can’t go wrong with; “This traffic ehn…” or the winner; “I wonder what this government is doing… ” or say something clever, and take it on from there.

“Do you know you are beautiful” is just plain lazy. That line is tired, let’s move on.


Lagos Chronicles

When It Rains, It Floods

I woke up on Wednesday morning at about 4.30 am to the sound of the wind blowing against the windows, warning of the impending rain and in no time at all, it had started to rain. Now, the clouds had gathered the previous day on my way back from work and I had prayed that I would get home before the rain started because I was tired and I didn’t want to have to deal with the rain as well plus I had my laptop with me and it would have just been a very messy situation. So, the rain that was supposed to fall that Tuesday night decided to fall the next day and it was bloody.

Here I was standing in the middle of the room, an hour later, already dressed up and ready to head out but the rain wouldn’t let me. It was beating ferociously against the roof, the windows were shaking and I could hardly hear myself think. Let me put this in perspective for you; I stay on the island, temporarily if I might add, and it has been raining consistently in the past week and you know what happens when it rains consistently in Lekki? Yep, you guessed that right, flood!

Swimming gear, anyone!

Water everywhere. For the past one week, the roads have been flooded and thanks to this amazing neighbour, I have been escaping the regular morning swimming exercises. But on this Wednesday, he was sick and he wasn’t going to work. Ah! Imagine how I felt that morning. I was so confused. How was I going to get out with this heavy rain? I looked outside and the water level had risen. I waited to see if the rain would subside but no such luck. It rained all day and I stayed indoors because really, I cannot come and go and kill myself away. I just relayed my predicament to my boss and thankfully, he understood.

Apparently, this is a common problem with the islanders and has become the butt of so many jokes judging from this hilarious tweet that was all over twitter. This problem is largely due to the poor drainage system. For example, in the estate where I stay, I realized that the gutters were shallow, some streets didn’t even have gutters. So it rains and where the road should be becomes a large pool of water, and for the (un)lucky ones, the pool is right inside your compound. Your very own private, indoor pool! How fantastic.

The people that live in this estate can actually afford to fix this problem if they all come together and work it out. We cannot keep waiting for the government because we would be waiting a really long time. It is in situations like this that we need to take matters into our own hands for our own safety. God forbid you wake up one day to realize you are floating away on water and then, it might be too late.

A popular quote from John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech in 1961 is rather instructive on this: “Ask not what your country can do for you- ask what you can do for your country”. Selah.


Lagos Chronicles

Broken Down Buses


This is a tiny part in the series that I have tagged, “Lagos Chronicles”. I wrote an introduction of some sort two years ago and you can find that here.
You know how they say the more you write the better you get at it? I have decided to adopt that as my mantra going forward and write till my fingers bleed! (Okay, now that’s a bit of an exaggeration but you get the picture) and what better way to do that than to chronicle my experience in this very interesting city. So I am going to break them down into instalments and make sure I stay committed to it. I might probably need divine help!

Okay, moving on to my concern for today -broken down buses- I still do not understand this and I hear that it happens like every other time at the worst possible times because everybody I lament to go, “ah, that one is a normal something, welcome to Lagos”.
Well, it has happened to me more times than I can count and it is infuriating how often this happens. Is it too much to ask that danfos (yellow commercial buses) don’t break down at 6am when you are trying to beat traffic and get to work in good time? Or at very weird places where you cannot get another bus, hence, you are stuck with the broken down bus in the middle of the highway or one of those interior routes (pardon me, everywhere is interior to me as I don’t know road very well) the bus drivers usually take to avoid traffic. (Ah, traffic. That’s story for another day).

This fine morning, after waiting forever for the bus to get full, only to start moving to realize that the bus was struggling to gain speed. Like, maka why? And to top it off, it was smoking. As in thick black fumes seeping into the bus through the windows and choking everybody. It was almost like the bus was coughing! The driver kept driving, ignoring the shouts of everyone on the bus. Now that’s another thing that pisses me off with these bus drivers and their conductors. They have perfected the art of ignoring you or giving you annoying sarcastic answers when you are talking to them. Sometimes, when you are talking to them, it’s like you are talking to a brick wall. Especially when they have to fix their buses when it breaks down or they branch to buy fuel. *sigh*. No apologies or anything they will just ignore everybody and start tinkering away, doing a quick fix that will definitely not last. At this point, one should just get a personal car! Now the problem with that plan, besides the fact that I can’t afford it right now, is that I have to perfect my driving (I haven’t driven in over a year and when I say “driven”, I mean a couple of months armed with my learner’s permit and a big ‘L’ on the car. So when I say “perfect”, I mean learn, all over again) and with this whole fuel conundrum at 145 naira, a hole the size of the Atlantic would be drilled in my pocket. And don’t even get me started on Uber. Let’s just say it’s not time yet.

This is just very frustrating because I think that they can afford to maintain their buses and keep it in good condition. I mean, this is your source of livelihood. You put this vehicle on the road every day. The least you can do is make sure it is in proper condition and not allow people suffer because of your inability to step up and do the right thing. This is another indication of our poor maintenance culture in this country. Everywhere you turn, you see things in one form of disrepair or the other. Places left to rot, national monuments, parks, locations that should be tourist attraction sites now stand in the shadow of their former glory.
I just want to be able to get around without the bus breaking down or being dropped half way to my destination and carted off into another bus simply because we are just four left on the bus and apparently, the same bus stop they had been threatening to make you deaf with is too darn far to carry four people to. this happens more times than you would think.


So, guys, I am a bit unsure about “Lagos chronicles”. So what do y’all think: Yay or Nay?