What A Black Friday It Was

Yesterday, I felt a very great disappointment in our government; badly let down, in fact. I am not one to complain about the government and their ills; all I do is shake my head at their antics and sit back and watch for the next season, while going about my business. Because yes, to me, the Nigerian government is run like a seasonal movie that never ends. Unnecessary drama, year unto year. Dear people, this here post is a rant. Pardon me in advance, for I intend to vent my spleen on here. 

In the past week (a total of 168 hours) I have had electricity for a total of 3 hours. Yes, three. As in ato in Igbo, meta in Yoruba, uku in Hausa, just in case you thought that was a typo. I normally would not feel so bad about this as it is the trademark of our Power withholding Companies, but for the circumstances that surrounded this blackout. You see, we do not depend on the Water Corporation for our water supply, because we know just how reliable they are. Therefore, we pump our own water; but today, there was not a drop of water left. That was not the problem, really, you know we Nigerians have such tough skins. Now, almost every gas station in Lagos is closed down because of the senseless fuel scarcity going on right now. And so we had no power, no water, and no petrol to generate the both. You may have to experience this personally to understand the feeling of utter helplessness and anger that it brings upon you.
I mean, how do you explain why an oil producing country has no petrol in its gas stations? Our electricity gets taken away, we divert to generators. Now our fuel has been taken away and we are left stranded. Its funny how there’s no petrol to sell to consumers, but the guys who sell in the black market always have petrol to sell. At 200 Naira a litre! Who are we kidding? Where do they get theirs from? Thin air? I am certain that there is constant power in the homes of our national leaders who feed us with propaganda instead of giving us results. This, to me, is the mark of an insensitive government.  Everyday we are told that we are fighting corruption, while we suffer deprivation left, right and centre! Ha! The irony is laughable. Why will a hungry people not choose the corrupt route when the very leaders they look up to are the epitomes of it?
My generation and I have been heavily let down; so do not blame those of us who are apathetic towards the government and all it stands for, or those who simply dance to the tune of corrupt politicians in the hope of getting crumbs from their table to make their lives a little more bearable. Everyone is going on and on about black friday, and I’m here in the dark like,”Yeah, its a really BLACK Friday for us over here”. No pun intended. 
Are we the generation to effect change? Maybe, but first, we need a complete overhaul of…. many things. My fury is not spent yet, but I have to pick up my gallon and continue my hunt for petrol. This girl and her family must survive. See you soon.
“No matter the era, no matter which side you are on, and no matter where you live, the government will find ways to break your heart….” – Kurt Vonnegut

Monday Humor – The Change Race

I know Mondays are our worst day of the week, abi? I personally have nothing against Mondays, being the workaholic that I am, but for those of you who do, I’ll be having a little something from now on, to make you smile through the day. If you like, don’t laugh, God is watching you in 3D.

Source

On this clear morning, I decided I was going to put on a really nice dress. Not because of anything special, but because I just felt like it. With a nice dress, of course, came nice shoes (with heels), and of course, nice make up. Looking in the mirror, I grinned. I was set. I stepped out, expecting everyone else to be ready to go, but alas, the gods had other plans. I received crisp instructions to “go on.” Obviously I wouldn’t be “chauffeured” today. “Chai. What a waste of dress!” I thought to myself. I began the trek from the house to the bus stop, walking as carefully as possible to avoid any mishap.

I boarded the first bus, alighted at my stop. No problem. I boarded the second one, alighted at my stop. No problem, except for a few mildly interested stares. This is Lagos anyway, everyone stares at everyone else. The last bus was one of these large coaster buses in which everyone sits butt to butt with each other, without even an inch of space between. I happened to be one of the first to get in so I took up a nice seat by the window and promptly plugged in my earphones.
Passengers began to troop in, and owing to my position, everyone had to see me before getting into the bus. There were quite a number of appreciative eyes, especially male ones. I sat straighter. The open and unabashed “lookery” was quite unsettling. I remembered I took good time with my dressing that day. Chai. See unnecessary attention. Who send me message?  A certain “gentleman” couldn’t bear it any longer and decided to change his seat to sit beside me and initiate toaster-type conversation. I snubbed him since “no be boyfriend I come find for inside molue”. We sped on. I answered a phone call in my most “tush” voice to match my “tush” appearance. When I got to my bus stop, instead of the default “Owa o!“, of course I had to say, “Driver, I’m stopping here please”. Hehe. I alighted like I imagined Queen Elizabeth would alight from a carriage. As the bus moved, I heaved a sigh of relief. Chai! Shakara no easy ooh! I had taken only three steps when a loud alarm rang in my head, making me halt in the most dramatic way. “Yepa” I thought, “No way did I forget my change on the bus!” 
I deserve Usain Bolt’s medal for the race I ran that morning. I ran, soteey everyone had to stop to find out what could be making such a well-dressed lady run so fast on a weekday morning, on a busy Lagos road. I could already imagine the black lips of the conductor as it would stretch in a smug smile over his tobacco-stained teeth while counting my change and preparing to pocket it. Heck no! I ran faster. Finally I spotted the bus, stuck in a little traffic ahead. For the first time in my life, I thanked God for Lagos traffic. The agility with which I swung into the molue is better imagined. I was panting heavily, caring very little about the 30-something pairs of eyes that were riveted on me.
 I sat down to catch my breath before demanding,”Oga conductor, wey my change?” When he tried acting like he didn’t know what I was talking about, I saw red. In my most Agbero tone, I lashed out at him in fluent pidgin and Yoruba, while standing up to my full height. “If you nor arrange ya brain shapaly make e remember say you never give me my 900 Naira change ehn, you go know say weere pass weere! Oloriburuku oshi! Ole! Fun mi l’owo mi nsin nsin, or else, ma se lese ooh! (translation: If you don’t quicky remember my 900 Naira change and hand it to me, you’ll know that madness has different levels! Jerk! Thief! Give me my money immediately, or else, I will do something terrible to you!) I hadn’t even finished my tirade when he hastily counted the 900 Naira into my hands. The fury in my eyes couldn’t be banked. The other passengers then joined me in raining insults on the man, knowing that he deliberately tried to swindle me. Then the toaster-passenger remarked,” So fine geh like you fit run like Okagbare on top high heel shoe, come speak correct pidgin on top the 900 Naira matter? Shoo? Na wa ooh. With all the supri supri wen u bin dey speak for this bus before, who for believe say you dey even shit?” Everyone on the bus laughed and I had no choice but to join in. I looked a mess.
On getting down from the bus and walking back to my destination, I received so many stares, this time in amusement. One of the heels of my shoes was about breaking off from my run, my hair was disheveled from the run and I was sweating profusely; the exact opposite of the girl who stepped down from the bus minutes ago. I laughed at myself. I’m still laughing at myself as I write this. Hope you laughed while reading this too! If you didn’t, you really do need to see a doctor. *mishievous wink*  😀

Before I dance out, let me wish you a great week ahead, friends!

“A man who can laugh at himself is truly blessed, for he will never lack for amusement” – James Carlos Blake

“The Mainland” Versus “The Island” Issue: What’s Your Take?

Anyone who lives or has lived in Lagos must have heard the debates and constant (unnecessary) comparison of these two parts or “divisions” of Lagos called “The Island” and “The Mainland”. I’ve heard people make statements like “I can’t live on the mainland oh! It’s too rowdy for my taste”, or, “These Island peeps sef. Always feeling like they don’t shit like the rest of us”. So that I don’t confuse those of us who don’t live in Lagos, here’s some info to help you understand this post better.

Lagos Island at night
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FACTS ABOUT LAGOS
  1. Lagos is, and has been, since before its creation in 1967, Nigeria’s commercial centre and one of the most populated cities in the world with more than 10 million residents according to the last census. The city houses the country’s main ports and is home to the headquarters of major organizations like banks and other financial institutions, IT and telecommunications companies.
  2. Lagos is made up of three islands and a mainland. The islands of Ikoyi, Victoria Island and Lagos Island are located on the Lagos Lagoon, separated by creeks and connected to each other and the Mainland by bridges. Each Island has its own unique characteristics with Victoria Island being home to five star hotels, high class commercial real estate, big businesses, high class private schools, trendy cafes, night clubs and bars. Most foreign professionals,i.e, the “expats”(expatriates) live on this here piece of Lagos.
  3. Ikoyi isn’t as noisy as Victoria Island and is the main residential area for the upper middle class elite and the expatriate communities. Extravagant mansions built during the colonial era still stand amidst more modern ones. Residential real estate in Ikoyi are some of the most expensive in Africa. And when I say, most expensive, I say it with a hushed tone of voice, because the kind of money we are talking about should not be mentioned in the presence of children. Mbanu. Other parts of the island are Banana Island, Eko Atlantic, Onikan, Lekki and the Marina.

  4. Lagos Island is really just a mishmash of poverty and wealth living side by side in shocking contrast to each other. The Financial district, Nigerian Stock Exchange, Broad street and Obalende, which is one of the slums of Lagos are all situated on Lagos Island. Other landmarks include CMS cathedral, Tafawa Balewa square and the popular Balogun market.
  5. The Mainland is where the majority of Lagosians live, and this area includes Yaba, Oshodi, Surulere, Agege, Mushin, Ikorodu, the capital Ikeja, amongst other areas. Ikeja is home to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, and is the administrative seat of the Lagos government as well. As a matter of fact, it is quite an exclusive area, competing with the Island in terms of polish. It is home to local industries and businesses(think Computer Village and Ikeja City Mall), and actually has many companies having their headquarters in it. 
  6. There again is Yaba, home to the prestigious University of Lagos and Yaba College of Technology, two of the most well known citadels of learning in the South West. Yaba is also home to the popular Tejuosho Market, brimming with trade.

There are a lot of stereotyoes associated with this Mainland – Island tussle. In a nutshell the Island is assumed to be the home of the rich and the very rich, more secure, and better for clubbing(Can’t help but LOL here), while the mainland is assumed to be the exact opposite. Let me tell you brethren and sistren, this is quite false.



Now to the issue at hand. Is any one really better than the other? My candid answer? A conditional No. Here’s why. The Island, in my opinion, is a great place for work and fun, but when it comes to residential living, given the situation of the economy, is it really worth it to be paying for the area and not for the house? In case you didn’t know, to an average Nigerian, everything on the Island would be overpriced. The Mainland, in my honest opinion, while not so ostentatiously luxurious, has a good portion of relatively quiet and well maintained residential areas. It has a good number of entertainment spots too. You can say I’m putting in a good word for the Mainland, but then again, why not? *big grin* #proudmainlandgal. The Island is for the most part, more beautiful(especially at night), I admit, but mbok, we go chop beauty? If you have the resources and desire to live there, by all means, go ahead! I do not dislike the Island, I actually find it attractive in the way that you would rather admire something beautiful from afar.
Lagos Island
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The main error people make in comparison of these two areas is the assumption that if you live on the Island, then you are of the upper middle class, i.e, you’re rich; while if you live on  the Mainland, you’re from the raggedy part of town, i.e, you no get money. This is so wrong, and I don’t really blame the proponents of this idea since such a conclusion was obviously made out of ignorance and due to the fact that in Lagos, class and social strata are extremely exaggerated. 
Lagos Mainland
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My answer is so because it all depends on what you want and what you’re comfortable with. Most professionals in Lagos live on the mainland and work on the island, and while this isn’t a very easy commute to make every day, it has become a way of life. Being the person I am, I believe it is impractical to aspire to live on the Island just for the heck of it, or because that seems to be where the creme de la creme of Lagos society live, without putting into consideration the absolutely ridiculous cost of living on the Island and whether one can keep up with it. By the way, the main factors that should concern any reasonable person instead of proof of status are proximity to work, school and availability of basic amenities. In this regard, the Island and the mainland are plagued by the same ills. Bad roads, lack of water, erratic electricity, traffic and security problems plague the two areas almost equally. The reason it may seem higher on the mainland is because of course, the mainland is more populated than the island.


I personally feel that life on the mainland is more “real”, as opposed to life on the island which seems like something of a performance. Everyone is working, not just to live comfortably but to remain in vogue, so having the latest brands of cars becomes a must, having the highest class of everything becomes a thing of importance. I personally can’t abide that, so maybe this is just me. Its easier to live within your means without the pressing need to impress anyone on the mainland. We don’t have to wonder why the mainland is called the “Real Lagos”.

Finally, if everyone lived on the island, who would live on the mainland? The island is only so big. My two cents: wherever you live, make it your own paradise, be it the island or the mainland. 

Fin.

“The activist is not the man who says that the river is dirty; the activist is the man who cleans up the river”. – Ross Perot

The Nigerian Factor – Aren’t We Supposed To Be Improving?

Nigeria, my dear Nigeria. When will our people change? Months back, when I heard that the deadline for the registration of the Bank Verification Number had been moved to October 31, I was happy. At least, people wouldn’t have an excuse anymore.  Boy, how wrong I was. Imagine my shock when the news making the rounds on Friday was that crowds had blocked the entrances to various banking halls nationwide. I wanted to choke. Really? Like, REALLY??? I wasn’t sure I heard right. After four months, this was what we could come up with? I’m exasperated.

Little wonder the phrase “African Time” has come to stay. Nigerians sha. We push the limits sometimes. And talking of deadlines, did you hear what was also in the news last week? MTN Nigeria was fined for not disconnecting the lines of people who hadn’t registered their sim cards. Now, that isn’t the real issue here. The real issue is that they were fined 1.4 TRILLION Naira to be paid up by November 16th!!! What was NCC thinking when they decided on such a punishment? I mean, Nigeria’s economic situation isn’t one to write home about at the moment, and NCC pulls such a stunt?

          The implication of this imposition is that ultimately, foreign investors will be afraid of coming in to invest in Nigeria. We’re all about economic improvement, but in this case, we just shot ourselves in the foot. Imagine! Nigeria doesn’t even have a Minister of Finance yet! At the India-Africa Summit, I believe PMB said something about wanting foreign investors to come in and develop the country. Why then would a part of his government impose such a jaw-dropping fine on one of Nigeria’s top investors? I respect PMB and most of what he stands for, but on this one, I believe he should put his house in order and let what he says be commensurate to what his government agencies do. You cannot say one thing and allow your underlings do another. Granted, what they did what irresponsible and a blatant show of insolence; still, the punishment isn’t commensurate to the crime. That’s my opinion though. 
          Another problem I have with this imposition of fines is this: where does the money go? MY PEOPLE, WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO?? The same question goes for the so called “recovery” of looted funds. Where is all this money? In as much as I’m happy with the recent anti corruption policies being put in place, I’m not so optimistic about the disposal of these recovered monies. I earnestly pray we’re not pouring stolen water into a leaking basket. What’s your opinion though? Say your mind in the comments!!
Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence. – Vince Lombardi