How to cope with Traffic on Third Mainland Bridge

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Mindfullness_angry_driverDear motorists of 3RDMB,

When I see you in traffic every evening during the week I see the frustration in your faces. I see the hurt in your bloodshot eyes (from staring too long at brake lights). I feel the pain in your arms (from latching unto your steering wheels for 2 hours). It’s insane to say the least. On 3RDMB rush hour in the morning is between 5.45 and 10am while in the evening it’s typically between 6.30 and 9.30 pm. After 7 years of being a victim of locomotion (loco as in ‘crazy’ in Spanish) and getting high on ‘secondhand exhaust fumes’ I believe at this point it is my civil duty to share how you can cope with the menace that is the traffic on 3RDMB:

Rule 1: Wise up

I hate unpleasant surprises; 3RDMB being in my top 3. That’s why I log in to GIDITRAFFIC, TSABOIN TRAFFIC TALK and TRAFFICBUTTER APP on Twitter for the latest updates on all my routes out of the Mad Arena more commonly known as the Marina. These info sources are a Godsend if you have access to the Internet and want online real-time news about the state of traffic on all major Lagos routes. If you’re more of the radio listening type you can tune in to 96.1 Traffic FM and get the scoop there. Even if all your other alternative routes are experiencing traffic at least you’ll know which one has that broken down trailer blocking two-thirds of the three-lane road!!! Don’t drive off without getting your traffic information right or you’ll be singing ‘Bumper to bumper’ @wandecoal

Rule 2: Snack up

If you’re driving a brand new car and your rule of thumb is never to eat in it then think again. Motorists would agree that by the time you’re motionless on 3RDMB at about 9.30pm and you start nodding off to sleep on the wheel, you’re gonna need more than your stereo to keep you awake. But help is on the bridge. They roam the tarmac with multiple bags of popcorn, cartons of plantain chips and other munchies. I call these heroes Teenage Hell-bent Ninja Hawkers. Have you seen them run after motorists to make that sale? Usain Bolt aint got nothing on these guys and I say that boldly because he’s not running between the narrow spaces of moving trucks and danfo buses. If you haven’t noticed them by now then they’re better ninjas than I thought. The first set of hawkers when you get close to the UniLag waterfront section of 3RDMB sell Popcorn. A few 100 metres down the bridge you begin to see plantain chips and the occasional coconut chips and chin-chin. If you still haven’t made up your mind about what snack you want after this point then get ready for…(drumroll)…Rat poison. I still don’t get the connection and I’ve debated this severally with my passengers. Why have snacks, drinks and rat poison sold in that order? Don’t ask me. Ask the Teenage Hell-bent Ninja Hawkers. I’m yet to see a rat invasion at the end of 3RDMB so for now I ain’t buying.

Rule 3: Wind up

Last but not least, switch on that air conditioning and wind up your windows. Why? Because this is Lagos where open car windows are an invitation to robbery attacks. Some of the hawkers I mentioned earlier are informants and robbers in disguise. That said, keep your windows low enough to let your snack have easy access into your car and then wind up immediately you’ve paid the hawker. This is no time to be a cheapskate with your fuel consumption. ‘Ember’ months are in and the armed robbers are out. So unless you’ve got a car with external gadgets to apprehend or maim your attackers, EVERYBODY’S WINDOWS GO UP!….AND THEY STAY THERE! AND THEY STAY THERE! AND THEY STAY THERE! NOT DOWN, NOT DOWN, NOT DOWN or all you do is SCREAM, SCREAM, SCREAM lol.

Even as I type this article on this fine Saturday I’m already dreading 3RDMB blues which set in round about 5pm every week day. Well, it is what it is. Remember, Wise up, Snack up and Wind up.

Till Monday when I see you on the bridge, this is the Crazy Nigerian zooming off!

There’s always a right time to do the wrong thing

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Morals…some people have them and some others don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. This is currently the situation in Lagos, Nigeria where I reside: In the daytime you find most motorists obey the traffic lights (because they don’t … Continue reading

Why my mechanic should be jailed!

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Looking around the city of Lagos alone, one could argue that Lagosians lack a maintenance culture. Though, the federal government in August 2012 decided to maintain/repair expansion joints of the heavily strained Third Mainland bridge – the longest bridge in … Continue reading

The Nigerian Way 101

Are you thinking of travelling to a place where you can sunbathe in scorching temperatures close to 40 degrees centigrade this Christmas? Are you looking for a place where you can enjoy delicious African cuisine, ice-cold beer, and transportation for less than $1? Are you looking for a place with zero snow, zero earthquakes, zero hurricanes, zero volcanic eruptions and zero riots? Are you looking for a haven where everyone who serves calls you Chairman (or Madam, as the case may be) and treats you like royalty? Then look no further – Nigeria is your ideal travel destination!

Nigeria is a vibrant counrty which is located in West Africa close to the equator and boasts of a population of about 150 million people – but never fear, there’s plenty more room for tourists! One of the great things about my country is the warm reception you get when you arrive at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, literally. There is no air-conditioning. Whilst you wait for your luggage on the ‘sushi’ conveyor belt, the blistering heat helps you to burn a few calories and to prepare you adequately for the sunny outdoors.

When you exit the international airport don’t be alarmed by the eager unlicensed taxi-drivers who grab your luggage – they’re only trying to help ease your burden. They may want to test whether you’re familiar with the Nigerian way by charging you like they would an aristocrat. All you have to do is to start your negotiation at half his price and work from there. They may also want to engage you in some ‘small-talk’ because we’re generally very chatty people. Do take advantage and get to know the hotspots around town so you can plan the best way to enjoy your stay. There’s a whole range of hotels to choose from, depending on your taste and your budget.

After you’ve had a good night’s rest in your air-conditioned room and enjoyed a generous helping of yam and egg-stew at your affordable hotel, you will be ready to hit the road (or hit the bed again if you had too much yam). Make sure you carry along a bottle of cold water to hydrate yourself during the course of the hot day. Getting from A to B is easy. Go to the nearest bus stop and listen carefully to the destination being screamed out by the bus conductor – otherwise, your 3-minute journey into the next town could become a 3-hour journey into the next state.  Alternatively you can save a lot of money by just waiving your hand at the oncoming commercial motorcylists and shouting ‘Okada’. You’ll soon be whizzing through traffic jams whilst enjoying the humid breeze.

The first sensible place for you to go to would be one of our many hospitals. Why? You would need to get anti-malaria treatment so that you’re rest assured of not having a restless holiday. If your’re squeamish about taking injections then there’s tablets that the doctor can prescribe. Pre-treatment is far more recommended than buying a couple of Baygon or Raid sprays and fighting an uneven battle with the non-relenting population of mosquitoes. Wear long trousers at night when you’re outdoors if you want to keep those legs spotless and to avoid being mistaken for a former military officer with an involuntary reflex – ‘Attention!’.

There’s so much to see and to do, especially if you’re in Lagos. If you’re in its capital, Ikeja, there are many malls and eateries that could entice you. If you decide to go to Victoria Island you could tour The Third Mainland Bridge – the longest bridge in Africa. You could also see the magnificent toll gate structures at Lekki Phase 1 and these should be operational by the time you make your way over to Lagos so get your petty cash ready. The are so many shopping complexes and food markets boasting of unique bargains so I’m very confident you’ll find something worthwhile to buy (Remember the 100:50 pricing rule!).

There is a sense of security in Nigeria as you will notice the unprecedented number of checkpoints virtually every 5 miles of your journey by road. We even have a saying, ‘Police is your friend’. They may stop your vehicle but all you have to do is smile, stay calm, lock your doors and ignore any requests other than producing your driving licence and vehicle particulars. That said, some habits you may want to abstain from (but are by no means limited to) include: Walking in dark alleys late at night whilst talking on your mobile phone; Arguing with a gang of drunk Man U fans when you’re clearly a fan of the opposition and; urinating on walls that have ‘DO NOT URINATE HERE’ boldly printed on them.

You would be surprised to learn that our internet connectivity has gone from ‘good’ to ‘good grief!’ but recently the introduction of Wi-fi has elevated the browsing experience by a big notch. Just ask your hotel receptionist for the password and you’re wired in. And for those Blackberry users most of our telecom providers have made affordable BIS available to the pubilc. You don’t have to carry so much foreign currency since there are Mallams in the black market who could strike a good deal, although I would recommend dealing with banks as they do not exhibit normadic behaviour. Most of the retail outlets in the city have Point of Sale terminals which accept foreign credit cards…point of correction, foreign VISA and Mastercard credit cards. Sales assistants call the attention of supervisors and delay you when they see an American Express card. 

Do try any of our renowned beaches which include the critically-acclaimed Bar Beach, the breathtaking Tarkwa Bay, the mysterious Alpha Beach and the mesmerizing Eleko beach.  Nigerians know how to party too. You have a choice of painting the town red at any of the nightclubs on the island or mainland – yes, we uphold the ‘Happy hour’ tradition but not so much the ‘Dancing on the bar’ tradition. But if you’re more interested in souvenirs then you can find ethnic memorobilia in City Mall, Ikoyi if you want to leave Nigeria with a traditional caftan or blouse and wrapper. Our array of woven head gear is also a must if you are going for that regal look. By the time you’ve maxed out your credit cards, gained a tan and picked up a bit of the lingo, also known as ‘pidgeon english’, you’ll be sad that you had to leave.

This is the unique experience that awaits you. This is the life that so many expats enjoy but may be keeping from you.   

This is My Nigeria 😀

Big Flood in Little Lagos

Yesterday could be summarized by one word – Wet. But I wouldn’t be doing a tenth of justice to Sunday the 10th of July 2011…the day Lagos was soaked in over 12 hours of non-stop torrential rainfall.

Apparently the heavens opened on the island in the early hours of the morning. By afternoon some of the streets were covered with over 3 feet of filthy water. Many homes were flooded, with tenants put under house arrest. Some cars lost their second-hand value as water got as high as the side windows in some cases. This rainfall stole the front page of all the local newspapers today and it was a stark reminder of Mother Nature’s awesome power (and sick sense of humor).

I decided to share some of the horrors of yesterday:

The sea-level has risen and so this as well as the poor drainage in some areas could account for this biblical flood (Where’s Noah’s ark when you need one?). In other news, sale of umbrellas, raincoats and wellies have skyrocketed overnight. That’s odd isn’t it 😉

Life is a beach

Last Saturday I got a taste of what I wanted early retirement to feel like. I was whisked off by speed boat to a secluded beach house not far from Ikoyi motor boat club in Lagos Island. My party of friends were a crazy bunch whom all had busy, demanding jobs. This was our chance to let loose and party…hard.

We had a DJ onboard and there was enough alcohol to open up a mini bar. There was spicy barbecue turkey with a variety of sauces for dipping. We were about 20 people in total, both men and women, and most of us came prepared with swimming gear to test the nearby pool.

The beach house had two floors all made of solid dark chocolate coloured wood. Nobody stayed on the ground floor though. The action was upstairs where the DJ set up shop and blasted tunes from Hip hop greats to Local legends. The top floor had a mini bar (empty on arrival of course) and a balcony with five single foldable beds to savour the ocean view. There were also two open bedrooms with single beds. There was a centre table with colorful plastic chairs. The toilets and shower rooms were downstairs next to the beach house, along with the barbecue stand. It was indeed a sight to behold.

We commenced drinking at about 1.30pm and danced for the first hour before some of us decided to disengage for other activities. Some went to play volleyball in the swimming pool, some went for a walk along the beach shore, and some others went to check out swords being sold by a scary looking Northern Nigerian warrior (bizarre, I know).

There was dancing, drinking, laughing, swimming, jumping, singing, hugging and posing. We took so many pictures and recorded quite a few crazy videos which I would only upload if given general consent. I made some new friends and got a few more blackberry contacts. Something tells me this won’t be the last encounter. Enjoy the slide show!

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Entry #76 – Three words

In the course of work and life in general I have come across some statements that are concise yet powerful. The implication of such verbal statements is usually what deters the recipients from challenging them in the first place. I have been at the receiving end of some of such statements and I have also gotten accounts from friends about short statements that can send shudders down the spine of the average Nigerian. I took it upon myself to dig deep into my past experiences plus those of others and decided to share some of my observations with a few illustrations:

1. The economy is still suffering the aftermath of the global meltdown and everyone is struggling to make ends meet. You arrive at the office one day and notice that all your colleagues looking deeply worried about something. You dare to ask and then one of them whispers to you and says ‘They’re sacking staff’. Now you’re not sure whether your precious job is going to be yours much longer. Everyday is like a game of Russian Roulette and you consider joining some of your colleagues in ‘Brown-nosing’ your boss.

2. Imagine you are driving back late at night from work and you are stuck in traffic. You decide to wind down your windows for some air (because on this particular day there happens to be a petrol strike, remember?) but you failed to notice a motorcycle coming from behind with two suspicious passengers on board. The next thing that happens is that the passenger at the back of the bike grabs your neck through the window opening and says ‘Bring your bag’ or ‘Bring your phone’ or ‘Bring your chain’ or ‘Bring your wallet’. In your presumed state of shock you have no choice but to comply. You look around for someone to come to your rescue but all the other drivers in the traffic jam are busy winding up their own windows (as they are actively learning from your ongoing experience). After your ordeal those are three words you’d never forget.

3. You are just arriving in London after a succession of disappointing runs with the British Embassy in Lagos whilst trying to obtain a visa. You are standing in line with the other passengers waiting to check out of the Immigration point. You are already thinking about all the gear you’re going to spend your traveller’s cheques on when suddenly a hefty Immigration officer sneaks up to you and says ‘Step aside, please’. It’s embarrassing. It immediately puts you on the defensive since you are 100% certain at that point that you are not guilty of anything. What’s worse is watching some of the ‘holier-than-thou’ passengers shake their heads as you are escorted off to a nearby interrogation room for some grilling.

4. You’ve had a long, hard day at the office and you’re looking forward to closing time. You decide to call a colleague whose had a head start on the road and you want to get a traffic update since he/she is on a similar route home. The response you get is ‘There is go-slow’ (Go-slow is a popular term in Nigeria which is a substitute for the word ‘Traffic’). You’re mood changes. You become restless because you can already feel the body aches and tense muscles from 3 hours of driving nowhere fast.

Please note that not all the experiences are mine but they are all true. Also, this is by no means an exhaustive list so if you have any dreaded ‘three-worded statements’ which you or others wouldn’t like to hear then you can share them here 😀

Entry #75 – Fuel my hunger

I barely slept last night. Why? Because my subconscious was worrying about the low fuel level in my car tank. I could see the fuel gauge (in my dreams) hovering above the ‘E’ until my journey came to an unexpected halt in the middle of Third Mainland Bridge at 8pm when 3 ‘Samaritans’ offered to assist me then brought out guns, robbed me and threatened to make me swim with the fishes…I think that’s the point when I woke up at 4.27am (Note to self – Don’t eat sugary cereal just before bedtime…ever!)

Just 2 days ago a 7-day nationwide strike was announced by the ‘association of corrupt fuel tanker drivers’ in the country which meant such tankers would not deliver fuel to Petrol/Diesel filling stations, which in turn would not sell fuel (or would sell at an inflated price if you were desperate enough). Today the strike was abruptly called off and I was relieved since I had sped past 30-something queuing cars at 5.15am around a filling station on my way to work. My fuel tank just made it to the office without putting me through an embarrassing ordeal of ‘pushing an automatic transmission car’ (yeah, think about it). 

My fuel gauge is now resting firmly on the ‘F’ and my air-conditioning is back on full blast!Needless to say that whilst I had fed my car I was tempted to feed my belly too as I drove past the best surprise that is now 2mins from my street – KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN (KFC)!!!!. The ‘Colonel’ arrived in Nigeria earlier this year and opened 2 outlets – one in Ikoyi and the other in Victoria Island. Now I’ve got one within walking distance from me in Ikeja! I think its time to grab a bucket. MMMmmmmMMM!  😀

Entry #74 – The Job Lottery

Never before have I seen so much excitement on the faces of the Lagosian workforce other than a time when an oil company decides to announce that it is recruiting – well, that time is upon us. As at last week, the Nigerian  National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) published vacancies that cut across just about every academic discipline known to man. The buzz has been nothing short of electric! I wish PHCN had the same spark!

In the papers, in the office, in church, on the radio and even on my Blackberry as broadcasted messages, the NNPC vacancies have been the talk of the town. Applications are being accepted online until 31st December 2010. The link for the online application is here. Assessments will be carried out from January and successful candidates will probably be offered postions anytime from June. I predict a significant shift in the ‘couch potato’ demographics during this period and and a surge in Internet/Broadband purchases as they’ll be getting off their lazy asses to apply for the NNPC jobs.

But let me call this what it really is – a job lottery. At the end of the day only a small percentage will be selected out of the hundreds of thousands whom are applying nationwide. Some may still be able to use ‘political’ means to get these lucrative jobs, some diabolical or ‘juju’ means, others might just have a stroke of goodluck or better still, divine intervention. 

A job in any oil company in Nigeria is (and has always been seen) as the ultimate job to attain in order to be catapaulted into bougeorsie status. The term ‘he/she has arrived’ or ‘he/she don hammer’ (for my Nigerian counterparts) comes to mind when people make reference to lucky oil company recruits with fat salaries. Everybody here wants to live the Nigerian dream…and that dream varies significantly from one Nigerian to another.

Entry #67 – The Banker’s diet

Gone are the days when I used to enjoy the luxury of living only 15mins away from my office. I would wake up at 7.00am, take a shower before leaving my flat at 7.15, and then I’d be in my office by 7.30am (resumption time). With my new job I live about 1hr away…when there’s no traffic, but 3hrs when I’m on my way back home during rush hour. A couple of things have suffered with this recent change: My biceps and triceps got smaller; my alarm clock and I are no longer on speaking terms;  my blog developed cobwebs; and more importantly, I have developed an eating disorder…well, let’s just say I don’t eat in any particular order anymore.

3-square meals are usually the norm when it comes to daily food consumption. However, the diet of the average banker in Lagos is rather different. Most bachelors eat at least twice a day – one outdoor meal from the local canteen and a home-cooked meal. Married men however may eat just one heavy meal at night since its in their best interest not to piss their wives off. The result? Pot belly.  I currently fall into the bachelor category (phew!) but dare I say the content of my meals may raise a few eyebrows:

Morning – Rice, beans and plantain (as early as 8.30am!)

Afternoon – A sausage roll (The Superbite brand)

In between – Fried Yam with pepper sauce, plantain chips

Evening – Bowl of cereal and/or a packet of noodles (Indomie Chicken flavour, of course)

I am well aware of the fact that this diet (eaten 5days a week) is not a balanced diet. It is a banker’s diet. Once in a while I throw in the odd stewed vegetables and an apple with some almonds but generally there’s little time to eat. Eating outdoors all the time is very risky. Bankers in Lagos could probably tell you a few of their food-poisoning stories. There have been instances of stooling and even Typhoid inflicted on unsuspecting bankers who patronized canteens with suspicious water supplies. The cost of such food is part of the allure. At 100 Naira (less than 50 pence/75 cents) you could have a meal of rice or beans that could keep you going for the next 4hrs. And don’t get me started on the inevitable addiction to energy drinks loaded with abnormal amounts of caffeine. Coffee is so 80s now…

I’m trying to find the balance I once had so I’m faced with 3 choices – Get yet another job and location OR Get familiar with just one outdoor meal source and stick to it OR Get married! (at least the fear of getting a pot belly would probably encourage me to do more exercise, which would equally restore my biceps and triceps to their former glory :D)

Entry #56 – Hit and run

The (Black) Chery A520

2days ago I was driving back home in my black Chery after work in the evening when I encountered an overzealous motorpsyhcolist motorcyclist  at a roundabout. I was well on my way to detour into my street when the bike decided to cut across at the last minute. It was a very close shave. I braked suddenly and the motorcyclist also swerved to avoid a head-on collision. However he scampered unto a nearby kerb in the process and lost balance – both he and his male passenger stumbled to the ground. I, on the otherhand, sped off!

Technically I didn’t hit the bike or its passengers so could this really be called a Hit and Run? I think the appropriate expression would be Brake and Run – that’s what I did. The reason why I ran is that Lagos motorcyclists can be notorious for their guerilla justice i.e. ganging up with other motorcyclists and then outnumbering Poor You. Before you know it, stories are being fabricated against you and everything you say is a lie. Your car could be vandalized and you could even be picked up by LASTMA (these road marshalls are the equivalent of the Gestapo around these parts).

Sincerely speaking, if I had made contact with the bike I would have stopped and parked off the road to attend to the pseudo-casualties. I had the right of way and the bike cut across, jumping a red light. Well, I’m sure the motorcyclist and his passengers were okay. It’s not like they lost balance on the main road and got trampled upon by uncoming motorists. Now that would have been a sight…yikes!

Lagos Life – A guide to choosing stuff

Grab your trolley and lets go shopping around for…stuff in Lagos, Nigeria. I’ll show you the top choices of the average Lagosian but note that the list is not exhaustive.

Mobile phone network/line:

  • MTN
  • Zain
  • Glo
  • Starcomms
  • Visafone

Bank account opening:

  • GTB
  • Zenith
  • UBA
  • First Bank
  • Stanbic IBTC

Eateries:

  • Tasty Fried Chicken
  • Barcelos
  • Nandos
  • Big Treat
  • Mr. Biggs

Alcohol/Beer:

  • Star
  • Guinness
  • Gulder
  • Heineken
  • Satzenbrau

Malt drinks:

  • Malta Guinness
  • Maltina
  • Amstel Malta
  • Maltex
  • Power Malt

Chinese cuisine:

  • Jade Garden
  • Golden Gate
  • Mr. Wang’s
  • China Town
  • Flamingo

Flat Screen TVs:

  • LG
  • Samsung
  • Sony
  • Phillips
  • Panasonic

Cable/Satellite Television

  • DSTV
  • HiTV
  • MiTV

Cinemas:

  • Silverbird (V.I & Yaba)
  • Shoprite
  • City Mall

Generators:

  • Honda Elemax
  • Tiger
  • Hyundai
  • Mikano
  • Suzuki

Domestic airlines:

  • Virgin Nigeria (soon to be ‘Eagle Flyer’)
  • Aero Contractors
  • Arik
  • Dana Air
  • Chanchangi

Recreational centres:

  • Ikoyi Club
  • Lagos Country Club
  • The Beach (Island)
  • Shoprite, Lekki
  • Metropark

Bars/Nite Clubs:

  • Soul Lounge (News Cafe)
  • Club Towers Prive
  • Black Pearl
  • Bacchus (formerly ‘11.45’)
  • 10 (JJ Okocha’s)

Okay, that’s enough shopping for one day. Let’s proceed to the checkout! Show me the monaaay!!!

Entry #30 – Rumour has it…

bridge2that there was a madman on Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos who kept shouting to himself everyday. He was shouting out the number ‘Thirteen!’ repeatedly. Motorists used to drive past him but one curious passenger asked a driver in the bus to stop so he could ask the madman what he was shouting ‘Thirteen’ all day for. The driver obliged and parked to one side of the bridge. The passenger got down and approached the madman with caution but he kept some distance. He asked the madman, ‘Why are you shouting Thirteen?’ The madman stopped shouting and politely answered to the passenger’s surprise, ‘It’s a secret but come and I will tell you.’ The passenger saw no harm in this and was anxious to finally unravel this mystery once and for all.

 

The bus driver and the other passengers looked on in horror as they suddenly saw the madman strugggle with the stray passenger before flinging him over the bridge into the ocean. As soon as he he did that he started shouting ‘Fourteen! Fourteen! Fourteen!’ 🙂

Entry #13 – Supermarket Search

I went through my blog stats and noticed someone had done a search for ‘big supermarkets in Nigeria’ – I don’t know if the visitor wants to do a tour of the country for the best bargains or if the visitor is collating info for some research project or thesis. I only know of 2 big supermarkets in Lagos (where I reside). They are Shoprite (along Lekki, at the first roundabout) and Park ‘N’ Shop (Victoria Island). I hope that helps…and I hope this information is not a case of ‘too little too late’

Thanks for stopping by, stranger 🙂

Entry #9 – ‘Knock his lights out!’

The electricity supply in the country has been abysmal. Some areas have had only 4 -12hrs of power supply per day while some have even less or none at all. Lagos has become a noisy commercial zone with all the domestic and industrial generators blaring away. There are reports of some companies even moving their operations to neighbouring countries in order to enjoy constant power supply and save on their diesel costs – It has come to that. I can’t afford to run a generator all night while I sleep so I toss and turn most nights and many times I’ve considered sleeping in my air-conditioned car. Boy, am I pissed with the spate of things…

 

It’s therefore no surprise that I put a sheepish grin across my face when I read today’s news headline in The Punch – ‘Yar’Adua (my president) sacks PHCN MD over poor power supply’. IT’S ABOUT F@?#ING TIME!!!!

What can N100 buy you in Lagos?

As at Feb 27, 2009 here are a number of things N100/$0.68/₤0.48/ €0.54 could buy you in Lagos:
  1. A 100ml plastic bottle of Coca-cola, Fanta, Sprite (but bottled water can be N60)
  2. 11 medium tomatoes from your local ‘Sunday’ market
  3. 1 Mr.Biggs’ sausage roll (previously N80 at the start of February)
  4. A recharge voucher from Zain telecommunications (talk time may vary)
  5. 10 Puff-Puff balls (like a donut, only without the hole)
  6. Parking space (pretty much anywhere) when an opportunist with space sees you’re desperate
  7. 6 oranges
  8. 1 apple
  9. 5 packs of ‘PK’ chewing gum (the ones with only 4 capsule-like pieces)
  10. 1 hair cut for men or tomboys (costs more if a generator is put on when NEPA/PHCN strikes)
  11. Approximately 1.5litres of petrol (currently sold at N65 per litre)
  12. 6 sheets of brown paper…
  13. 1 music CD (mostly local artists, and some amateur compilations of international artists)
  14. Toll gate ticket to get into Murtala Mohammed airport (getting out will cost you another N100!)
  15. Some selected local newspapers (The PUNCH will cost you an extra N50)
  16. A cashcard from selected banks unto which you can save & withdraw money
  17. Loading cash unto the cashcard each time you deposit money
  18. A copy of Every Day With Jesus by Selwyn Hughes (with N20 to spare)
  19. Have at least 3 pairs of your shoes polished or mended by the local mobile cobbler
  20. A medium ‘breakfast bowl’ size full of rice, stew/sauce, meat from street-side caterers (may cause diaorrhea) 

..xTx..

Junior High – 1st year…

I was 11 years old when I started Junior Secondary School at The International school, Ibadan. I felt like a prisoner sent to Alcatraz to do time. As I walked through those gates and saw the boys in their turquoise short sleeve shirts with grey shorts, and the girls in their blue/white striped dresses, I couldn’t help feeling that I was just ordinary. How the hell could I stand out in this crowd? I thought.

I started feeling homesick almost immediately. Saying goodbye to my primary school friends of 6yrs was hard enough. I moved to a different state (from Lagos to Oyo) and left my Mum , Dad and 2 sisters behind in order to stay with my Aunt. Her children (i.e. my cousins) made the whole traumatizing experience bearable for me and so I gained 2 brothers I never had, and yet another (sarcastic but lovable) sister. On holidays I would be ‘deported’ to Lagos to see my family.

My uniform didn’t make my first day experience any easier to get through. The shorts were tight – not as high as hot pants but not as long as regular boxer shorts either (so it was a good thing I was still wearing Y-fronts then). I felt I was walking funny – you would if your shorts were climbing up between your buttocks! Speaking of which, and to make matters even worse, I had er…okay my bum was er…not the ‘average’ size for a boy…it was kinda out there…just a bit – not sexy, not cool. The shirt material felt cheap and caused my skin to itch sometimes. I wasn’t accustomed to applying lotion to my legs so my flaky, chapped chopsticks were glistening white for all students to jeer at that day.

I dared to look at some of the beautiful full-breasted girls in the school – they were all my seniors, damn! I made my way to my class after the school assembly and scrambled with my mates to get the ‘best’ seat. A complete nerd would sit right at the front in the first row. I was a partial nerd so I chose a seat in the second front row. I glanced at the girls in my class: a lot of them were pretty…(pretty flat-chested, that is). I couldn’t get it through my thick afro-head that girls of age 11 were meant to look like that. I was going to get my own big surprise in 2years time though.

I made friends quite quickly with a few of the boys but I was still shy talking to girls – not all of them, just the ones I thought were so breathtaking. It was fun at break time when everyone ran out to the food stalls or playing field. The seniors boys in SS1, SS2 and SS3 did not seem to like to see the junior boys having ‘FUN’. It was an abomination for junior boys to smile in their presence or even let your eyes meet. This was hard because they were everywhere. I had to learn to walk with my eyes just glazed – not really focusing on anyone but still making sure I didnt bump into anyone. In an innocent era when 2 junior boys could walk along, holding hands and sharing a joke, senior boys were quick to descend upon them and exercise capital punishment. I guess they knew something we were still oblivious of. 

Breaktime was an uncomfortable period also because you didn’t want a senior to call you and send you on an errand. For instance, I recall one of my best mates being picked from my clique one afternoon on our way to buy lunch:

Senior: HEY YOU come here….I’m talking to YOU! Come here!

Best mate: Yes sir

Senior: Don’t look at me when I’m talking to you!

Best mate: I’m very sorry, sir.

Senior: Why were you ignoring me when I called you?

Best mate: I wasn’t ignoring you.

Senior: Oh, so you’re saying that I’m lying, right?

Best mate: No I didnt say that I…

Senior: Kneel down there!

As my mate surrended to this 6ft bully, one of my other friends suggested that he’d go to the senior to beg for my mate to be released. This was the dumbest idea I had ever heard because it was a sheep prancing its way to the slaughterhouse. But I felt my best mate’s pain as girls in my class walked past him pointing and giggling. We watched as the unsung hero went to negotiate with the senior. It appeared to be going well. The senior reached into his own pocket and even gave the braveheart some money. He walked back to the rest of us but to my surprise my best mate was still left kneeling down on the sandy ground.

Me: What happened?

Him: The senior said he’ll let him go once I buy his lunch for him.

Me: Okay, lets go buy it then.

Him: But he didnt give me enough money.

Me: How much did he give you?

Him: Five Naira.

Me: and what did he ask you to buy?

Him: 2 meatpies, 2donuts, 1 bottle of Coke, 1 Okin biscuit, 1 pack of Sprint chewing gum…and he said I should bring back his change!

I remember trying to stifle an outburst because that absurd senior wasn’t too far off from where we were standing. I refused when I was asked to contribute towards this greed-feast – my pocket money was limited. Let my best mate continue to kneel down there…we only just met anyway…its not like we’re brothers or something, I thought. But just then a teacher walked past and asked what was going on. In the end my best mate was allowed to go and he sluggishly came back to us looking really pissed.  

The following day when we went to enjoy our breaktime, a familiar bully started beckoning us to come to him. I remember how we looked at each other briefly and quickly scurried off in different directions, running for our dear lives. Those were the fun moments. Life in Junior High inevitably became a game of hide and seek with the seniors. We wore the shorts, they sported the trousers. They abused their power, we were at their mercy – a word which was probably omitted from their childhood and English Language tutorials. This was only my first year and I still had a lot to learn about surviving high school. 

 

..xTx..

Housing/Accommodation

Before you return to Nigeria it is important that you weigh all your housing options: ‘Do I have relatives I can lodge with for a while?’ ‘Do I have a friend who could accommodate me for at least 6months?’ These are cheaper options than finding a hotel or guest house. Ideally, you want to land a job and save enough to pay 2 years rent before you consider moving out.

 

With regards house rent in Nigeria most landlords or property agents ask for an upfront payment of 1-2years rent. In some cases you can pay down for a longer period if you so wish. The good thing is that for this length of time you do not have to worry about rent. Ensure that you get a stamped official receipt as proof of payment and/or a letter to that effect.

 

Do your research if you are unsure of what part of Nigeria to relocate to. Lagos is a commercial hotspot so the tendency is for people in neighboring states to apply for jobs there. If you think you want to work in Lagos then consider the travel distance between your (prospective) home and the office. If you work on the Island i.e. Victoria Island (V.I), Lekki, Ikoyi, etc and you live on the mainland i.e. Ikeja, Apapa, Ogba, Festac, etc then you have to travel through Third Mainland bridge or Carter bridge. There are varying levels of traffic depending on the time you venture unto these routes.

 

Generally properties are more expensive on the Island compared to the mainland. You also tend to get better value on the mainland. For instance, a 1-bed apartment in V.I could fetch a 3-bed apartment in Ikeja. Also consider living in residential estates so you can be part of a community. They are usually more secure and well-serviced (e.g. street lighting, security guards, etc.)

 

When choosing your new place, also make sure that you are close to key locations. For example, pharmacy, hospital, mini-mart/shop, supermarket, etc. This would mean you could make those emergency stops and save money on your transportation costs while you’re at it.

 

..xTx..

Freighting

This could be your biggest and most expensive house-move (unless of course you don’t want it to be). You don’t have to take everything you own back to Nigeria. You will find that a lot of is actually…how can I put this nicely…junk! Start a jumble sale or car-boot sale. Don’t see it as a way to make a profit. Your focus should be on being able to freight as little as possible to Nigeria. Having to pay for storage space in any country is like paying for rent…only, you don’t actually live there! For the professional ‘Netzines’ among us, you may want to try auctioning some of your goods on sites like ‘eBAY’. You could also list your items on social network sites/forums or even in the classifieds (Physical and Online newspapers, magazines, etc).You may end up doing some free giveaways – painful, but you’re off to a fresh start back home. You’ll have more than enough opportunities to acquire new junk over here. As a precaution, ensure that all confidential documents i.e. bank statements, utility bills, cheque books, etc. are either all destroyed or brought back with you.

..xTx..

Making your decision

It’s really important that the decision to relocate is wholly yours. As a suggestion, go there on holiday and get a good feel for the environment – that’s what I did. Can you adjust to the change of lifestyle in the long run? Public transport comes in the form of BRT buses (Government-owned, long buses), Public vans/’Danfo’, Public taxi, Car hire, Motorcycle/Okada and Hooded, 3-wheeled scooter/’Keke’. Electricity is not constant yet so alternative sources of power will be required e.g. Generators, Inverters, etc. These days a lot of goods seen abroad are usually available in big supermarkets at home. Lagos is very metropolitan, for those who are used to the busy city life. Abuja, on the other hand, is relatively quieter and has more of a countryside feel to it. Start getting used to the value of Naira and see how much you are likely to spend on average on a normal day. Other people’s decisions to return may influence you but still go with your gut instinct and pray for God’s guidance. 

..xTx..

Live @ The MADAwards 2008 (Oscar spoof)

Good evening ladies & gentlemen and welcome to the MAD Awards where one celebrity will be honoured for being the Most Annoying Dude(tte) to infuriate ‘ T ‘. I am your host T.P reporting to you live from Oceanview, V/I, Lagos where the stars have started arriving.

Over here the paparazzi & mamarazzi are in a frenzy as the big names in the industry walk the red carpet. Coming unto the scene is the Chief Operator of PHCN (NEPA) with his beautiful wife, both their clothes fully ironed unlike most of the other guests. I can also see Ramsey Noah whose due to release his latest movie The Princess & the Pauper. The entire LASTMA crew just went in and I just missed T’s boss. Wow! This promises to be a star-studded event. Just before we go into the auditorium lets hear from last year’s winner…Hey, Aboki!

Okada man – ‘Salam Walekum’

T.P – ‘Er..yeah, hi! Please tell us how you won last year’s award.’

Okada man – ‘Oh, is very easy. You see, when T go to work in the morning I drive bike in front of him and slow down. Then I do not use my trafficator, not even my hand so he no know if I want to turn left or right.’

‘T.P – ‘Really? So what do you do when you want to turn left or right?’

Okada man – ‘I just turn my head left if I wan go left and right if i wan go right, hehehe. T is always horning for me to greet me, hehe.’

T.P – ‘Wow, that would make T really mad. Do you think you will win this year?’

Okada man – ‘Yes, yes. I win it no problem. Wa lie ta lie.’

T.P – ‘Thank you. Enjoy the show.’

This glamourous event is about to start and we’ve got special performances from Konga, Majek Fashek, Blackky and Charlie Boy. As they get ready to tantalize our eardrums, lets go behind the scenes and examine clips from the nominees for this year’s MAD Award:

Kelly D

‘Hi! I’m the caterer that cooks and delivers food to T while he is at work. I think I should win this award because I have upset him on numerous occasions when he has asked for pounded yam and I tell him there’s none left. You know what they say, A hungry man is an angry man. Anyway I’ve tried to remember reserving some for him like he once requested but I keep forgetting. Maybe one day, just one day… (sigh)’

Emmanuel Adebayor

‘Hey, whats up? T is an Arsenal supporter and he has not been particularly pleased with the way we played last season. He is not a die-hard fan but he gets irritated when his co-workers (mostly Chelsea & Man U fans) taunt him after each loss. I personally think I should win the MAD award because I have given him more tantrums than anyone else in the Gunners squad. Ever since I shaved off my dreads I don’t know what happened to my game. Kinda like the Samson story. It’s a new season tho so lets wait and see.’

Anonymous Candy Bandit

‘How far my guy! Don’t mind me jare. I’m rocking this Lagbaja-look because I don’t want T to know who I am. I work in his office so I can’t tell you my name. If you want to see T lose the plot just let me take the chocolate he keeps in the branch manager’s fridge. I wait for T to go out and then I strike! I don’t even take one or two – I take it all and leave no trace. This is why I think I will be the undisputed winner of the MAD award. And if they don’t give me the award na wahala be that o!’

T’s Company driver

‘Good afternoon sir. I dey drive T to im clients anytime he wan go out. But I wan win this award tru tru. So far I don disobey dress code and resumption policy. When I suppose wear white shirt to work on Wednesday I come wear white traditional – na Friday I suppose wear that one. Another time I come wear pink shirt which the bank no dey allow but I come wear am. Oga query me small but nutin dey happen, hehe. In fact, I no come work last Friday sef. Chei! I suppose win this award sha.’

<back to you T.P>

What a shocker! The Okada rider didn’t make the shortlist. It’s now up to the public to decide who will be the new MAD award winner. The results have already been collated and the voting lines are officially closed. The lady going unto the stage to present the award is a previous winner17 years ago. In fact, she won 3 years in a row between 1991 and 1993 whilst T was in Junior Secondary School. She is T’s high-school Yoruba Teacher. The crowd is giving her a warm reception and the Security officials are keeping their eyes peeled for any foul play. The Yoruba Teacher is holding the envelope and she is about to address the audience:

‘Ah E ka san! Se dada ni?…Oh se o gbo? Pele, let me speak in English. The nominees for this year’s MAD award are – Emmanuel Adebayor (applause), T’s company driver (applause), Kelly D (applause) and the Candy Bandit (applause). But before we announce the winner of this award, a quick word from our sponsors…
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“There’s a rumble in my tummy going boom-bata boom-bata boom. It means that I am hungry and Mimi-time is near! I am so excited that I can hardly wait! My mouth is getting ready to sing the Mimi song – Take me, Make me, anyway you like me, mimi NOODLES mimi NOODLES boom sha sha MIMI!…Any way you want me, any way you like me, mimi NOODLES mimi NOODLES mimi NOODLES MIMEEEE!…Boom sha sha!!!”
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Ahem, and the winner is… (drum roll)
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<Envelope>
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<is opened>
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…T’S COMPANY DRIVER!!! <unprecedented uproar and applause>
Oh my God!!! It’s complete pandemonium here! Never before has a new comer caused such a stir in MAD history. The ecstatic driver is going up to the stage to collect the beautiful golden award in all its glory. He has given T’s Yoruba teacher two pecks and he is smiling from ear to ear. He is punching up in the air with the award in his hand. No one can contain this man’s joy right now. Oh oh! here comes the thank you speech…

Company driver – ‘Tenk you, tenk you, tenk you. First of all I would like to thank God for making this possible. It was not easy at all to win this award. I don suffer, no be small. I want to thank my papa and my mama wey born me. All the other drivers wey support me I tenk you. And last but not least I want to thank my Oga, T. All this wahala I don cos for am he never sack me commot. Na good oga…very good oga. Tenk you again.’  

And there you have it, a night of entertainment, bewilderment and a new MAD winner – T’s company driver is the Most Annoying Dude for 2008! Special thanks to the guest performers and to Mimee Noodles for the light refreshments. Till next year’s award ceremony, this is T.P signing out and saying Goodnight and God bless.
Copyright © Anger Inc. 2008  All Rights Reserved

Lost In Translation

The English language is not as complicated as some of us think it is – of course HUMANS make it complicated just like everything else; relationships, gender, sexuality, etc. But getting your point across (in English) to an English speaker couldn’t be that difficult, could it?

I remember once when I was travelling on London’s underground I encountered a loud-mouth sitting opposite me. She was screaming down her mobile phone whilst the train was still overground. She was trying to get an alpha-numeric code (excuse me, letters and numbers) across to the recipient but she may as well have been a Scottish stammerer stuttering through a mouthful of hot potatoes…

‘…t! t! I said T not D…T! T! T! Can you hear me? I said T o! I DIDN’T SAY D…No! we are not saying the same thing! T for Tayo…Eh heh…yes…Wait o, did you say Dayo?…NOT D! T-T-T- HELLO…HELLO?…’ – She lost reception just as I was beginning to lose my mind.

Anyway I’m sure most of us who’ve booked airline/railway tickets are not bemused by the coded lingo the sales reps smack unto our eardrums i.e. R for Romeo, G for Golf, T for Tango, S for Sugar, F for Freddie, etc. You could save yourself a whole lot of saliva if you tried. After all, isn’t the important thing to be heard and understood?

The Internet has captured the shorthand generation of SMS pundits who now marade chatrooms with their lol, lmao, rotf, rotflmao, brb, gtg, ttyl, wtf, tgif, l8r, gn8 and the ‘not so popular’ myob. These codes have transpired into everyday use and MUST be understood by all.

I only have one instance in my life where the English Language did not prove useful – my JSCE…in Yoruba. I still remember the way my paper remained blank whilst I stared at the Essay question which said something about writing on my first day at secondary school (I think). I looked to my left and I looked to my right but no one was ready to let me sneak a peak. I did the only thing I could think of at that point…do a written plea (in English) and hope that the examiner would be sympathetic enough to let me sail through. It was way back in 1993 when I was 13 but it went a lil something like this…

‘Dear Sir,

I am from Rivers State and I speak Ijaw. You can even look at my name. I do not understand Yoruba at all and the teachers always taught us in Yoruba and I did not understand what they were saying. Please I am begging you to please take pity on me and let me pass this exam. I would be so grateful and I am sure you have a kind heart. Thank you so much. God bless.’

I still laugh about the whole thing and even now in Lagos I’m speaking Yoruba at a very basic conversational level. Even when I struggle to speak some people choose not to hear – I’ve been referred to as Tanwa and Tomiwa and I deliberately chose not to respond. If you were born ‘Kehinde’ and you allow people in Jand to refer to you as ‘Kenny’ then dont complain!

In conclusion, the English Language is still evolving and a good grasp of it could make all the difference in nailing that job interview, courting your future partner, getting picked to be the Best Man, receiving a standing ovation for a speech, and not to mention, writing a damn good persuasive letter…which reminds me – I almost forgot to state my Yoruba JSCE result…

 

I got an F9.

 

…yes, you guessed it! I failed.

 

..xTx..

F.E.A.R (contd.)

…Maybe it was the Bad cop’s AC that was malfunctioning or the prospect of having to (effectively) sign my life away. But whatever it was, that heat was hotter than N1000 Suya consumed at 12noon inside a jam-packed Moluwe…in stand-still traffic.

Where’s a lawyer when you need one? I had practised all damn night for this interview and even went online to study common interview questions. I was now in a 1-2-1 situation with a guy who invariably wanted to do a 1-8-7 on my 4-1-9, lying ass. There was no way I was going to commit to bringing N200m during my 6 month-probation! Even armed robbers were not making that kind of salary, were they?

In those last few seconds, as I stared at the contract and the BIC biro lying next to the dotted lines, I imagined what my life would be like on a daily basis – it sure beat any scary movie I’VE ever seen! You wake up in the morning…stressed. Drive to work…stressed. Sit at your desk…mega-stressed because you sure aint going to get N200m just by staring at your laptop. You shudder at the mere sight of your boss because you know what’s coming next: ‘T’! How much have you brought??? – Thats how your boss responds each time you say ‘Good morning’, ‘Good afternoon’, ‘Good evening’ or just when he sees you in the office and not outside begging marketing. I snapped out of my daydream. This is not how my life would end, I thought. What would the conman in Thomas Crown Affair do? I had to think and think sharpish. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks (EUREKA!)

Me: Wait, I still have another interview with your Regional Director so maybe after…
BC: It doesn’t matter. Just sign.
Me: But what if… he gives me a higher target? (giving my ‘I told you so’ facial expression)
BC (Ponders) Ok, when you finish come back and see me.
Me: Phew! (I think I’m going to be sick…)

I went across to the RD’s office and to my surprise the interview, just like the AC, was pretty cool. He didn’t mention anything about ridiculous financial targets or death warrants commitment agreements. We had a nice chat about the responsibilities in the new role and how I was expected to drive my end of the business – consumer products of the electronic variety. At the end of the interview I timidly asked if I had to see anyone else (knowing full well that Bad cop said I should see him when I’m done).

RD: No, our HR will get in touch with you soon.
Me: (In my mind, yaaay!) Thank you.

Now it was time for the hard part – my getaway. You see, there was only one staircase that led downstairs but it was right by the Bad cop’s office. The office had large windows so I knew he would see me if I tried to bypass him. I wish I could say that I summoned about 20 other guys who dressed like me and had agreed for us to all wear bowler hats to confuse Bad cop (Thomas Crown Affair) but sadly, I’m not that well connected. Instead, I waited in a corner and took a deep breath…then I walked past…head down, really fast.

BC: (Door opens) Wait! …Hey-ssssssss! …wait! ….Oga! Abeg, help me call that man…Wait! …ssssssss!!!

As I exited the building with supposedly deaf ears I looked across to my dad’s driver who was parked near the bank’s gate. As I began to jog to the car I prompted him to start the engine (just in case Bad cop was making his way behind me). The driver must have been thinking 1 of 2 things when I jumped in shouting, ‘GO-GO-GO-GO!’ – Either I had come to the wrong bank and was late for my interview elsewhere OR I had just stolen millions (ahead of my intended target). We fled the scene and like Sodom & Gomorrah I didn’t dare look back.

About 2 weeks later I received a letter from that bank. I opened it, prayerfully, hoping it wasn’t one of those ‘Unfortunately…’ letters. I breezed through the first paragraph which was purely introductory. By the time I skipped to the second paragraph and read just 4 words, ‘We are happy to…’ I went ballistic. I vaguely remember popping open a bottle of wine after going through my remuneration package and jubilating with my family. Everything conveyed in my offer letter was more than satisfactory. I still did about 3 detailed searches on the letter for any dotted lines linked to the dreaded ‘commitment agreements’ until I was absolutely certain that there was no hidden catch.

Consequently I accepted the offer. I was to resume in March 2007, allowing me enough time to get myself together with regards freighting my stuff, evading gym and internet subscription payments, applying for last minute UK loans, a last glance at the Red Light District, etc. I was looking forward to grabbing this unique job opportunity by the neck and asking it ‘Who’s your daddy, b**ch?’ I had faced my fear and God rewarded me with my F.E.A.R.
…In 2009, however, I have come to terms with a new fear…

 

F.E.A.R.S – Finding Eligible And Religious Spouse

The saga continues… 

..xTx…

F.E.A.R

Of all the fears in the world there’s only one I dreaded the most. It was not bankruptcy, failure, death, a terrorist attack or even the future invasion of flying cockroaches. The only thing I really feared when I left London and arrived in Lagos (Dec, 2006) was my F.E.A.R (First Employment After Return).

On boarding the Emirate flight from Heathrow I experienced worrisome levels of anxiety. I was fidgeting and twitching like a drug addict looking for his last Ecstasy pill – I was a nervous wreck. As I fastened my seatbelt I only watched the air steward’s safety demo so that I could pinpoint the location of the nearest emergency exit…and make a desperate run for it.

It was a long shot, I thought: Quitting my banking job, abandoning my friends, clubs, bars, restaurants, gym, constant electricity supply, and all for what? A chance to settle down in my motherland and make my own little impact, that’s what. I guess the initial panic I encountered stemmed from the subconscious comparisons I was making – McDonald’s…Mr. Biggs, Quaker’s Oat-So-Simple…Golden Morn, Oxford Street…Shoprite, London Energy…Bi-monthly electricity supply, British Gas…Half-empty Gas cylinder, Starbucks…Nescafe + Three Crowns milk, HMV…Street Hawkers, …etc. Some passengers around me were praying so I prayed too. Sadly my prayer wasn’t answered – the plane still took off.

‘There goes my emergency escape plan’, I thought. I sat back and meditated during the long flight, trying to reassure myself that everything would work out for the best. Once I landed it seemed peculiar that I initially boarded alone but on getting off there was 3 of us: The Optimist, Me and the Pessimist. It was a struggle, bumping into each other amidst the luggage. But soon after checking out of Murtala Muhammed Airport I felt really positive with my return. The Optimist and I got into a car-hire and drove to the family home (I had earlier handed over the Pessimist to Immigrations…no bribe required).

Back at home, my dad had arranged a couple of meetings through some of his clients in the banking world. He had handed the baton over to me and the rest of the race was mine to win. Damn those bank interviews! One of them was actually an Endurance test – at least that was all I stuck around for. After an exhausting bench-warming marathon, despite being told to come for interview at 10am, I got up and just walked out. I gained nothing. Instead I lost 3 strands of scalp hair, 5hrs of Nintendo gaming time, and both my ego and my ‘yansh’ were deflated. That bank called 1.10pm to tell me that ‘the panel’ was ready to see me. I remember hissing though it wasn’t meant out loud.

The other bank I went to for interview gave me a more interesting experience. It was the ol’ Good cop-Bad cop routine (with a Naija twist of course). I walked into the good cop’s office, suited and booted, only to be asked 2 questions: ‘What do you have to offer?’ (Pretty normal question) and ‘Why on earth would you want to come back and work in Nigeria?’ (Wetin consign you sef!). Notwithstanding, I answered. He scribbled. I gave him my best smile. He gave me a squinted look then he scribbled some more. Note to self – No more Eddie Murphy smiles.

The Bad cop held true to the title. He made me wait 30mins in his (Prison cell-sized) office. Well if your office was half the size of the Good cop’s then you’d be mean too. Anyway, being mean is still better. This guy was brutal:

BC: What is your CABAL size?
Me: I beg your pardon sir?
BC: Ah-ah! Your CABAL in your last banking job?
Me: Sorry sir but could you please explain what you mean by ‘CABAL’?
BC: Ah-ah!?…(looks at my cv) Oh ok, you worked in LONDON, I see. So, what was the volume on the accounts you managed? Give me the naira equivalent.
Me: I don’t have the exact figure…but it was a lot.
BC: How won’t you know? You should know! It is your responsibility!
Me: Okaaay…?!@#
BC: So how much are you committing to bring to this bank?
Me: ‘Committing’ sir?
BC: Eh-now…give me a figure.
Me: (2-minute silence) what figure is reasonable sir?
BC: (Laughs) you should be the one to tell me. What level are you applying for?
Me: SBO (Senior Banking Officer)
BC: So you should be able to do at least N200m…that’s even too small, but you just arrived, abi?
Me: (Gulp followed by adjusting my neck-tie for air supply) Y…….es.
BC: So how are you going to achieve this N200m target?
Me: Er…I…have…connections…
BC: eEEehn! Like who? (Gets out his pen and opens his diary/notepad)
Me: I have like 5 top clients, Nigerians, whom are planning to move their accounts to Nigeria (bullshit). They have thousands of pounds (more bullshit). They also know contacts that I can speak to in order to get more funds for the bank (…bullshit overload).
BC: Mm-hmm. (Scribbles) So you should be able to bring N100m within 3months, eh?
Me: I…should be able…to do that, sir.
BC: Whats the problem? Are you okay?
Me: Nothing…Is it hot in here?
BC: No. You’re just not used to Nigerian heat yet. Sign here…
Me: Er…Sign what?
BC: Your commitment agreement.
Me: (In my mind, ‘F**********K!!!’)

To be continued…

..xTx..