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!

Fight the power!

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It feels like just yesterday when I was told by my guardian in Lagos that I was being shipped off yet again but this time to my new owner. I was excited. I was finally going to be out of my carton box and into the hands of the next doctor, lawyer, architect, or Nobel Prize winner. I expected so much but I equally had so much to offer. You see, my parents (Hewlett and Packard) sent me out to make a difference in someone’s life. Among my friends, SONY, Dell, Asus, Samsung and LG I was the ENVY of the pack: with my soft touch backlit keyboard, chrome finish, Beats Audio, fingerprint scan, 12GB RAM and 1 Terabyte of storage.

The hot climate of Nigeria has been nothing like the cool US climate I’ve been accustomed to from birth. I’ve even heard rumours before my arrival in that the Internet connectivity in Nigeria was slow and that data bundles usually got depleted quickly. I even heard that WiFi wasn’t common in a lot of urban areas – that’s unthinkable. I wondered what my new owner would be like. After I arrived at a high-rise building on the Marina skyline I wondered if I was on my way to the CEO!

My first impression when my carton box opened and I saw this bald guy with glasses beaming down at me I thought, ‘Who the heck is this bald guy with glasses beaming down at me?’ ‘Does this guy have big teeth or is he just really happy to see me?’ ‘Is he handling me with extreme care or is he touching me inappropriately?’ ‘Look at his desk?’ ‘I hope this guy is the one who’s only going to charge me up and hand me over to my true owner’. Alas, after the whole ceremony of his colleagues coming to pet me (and congratulate him), I realized that wherever this guy was taking me after work would be my new home, whether I liked it or not. But I had a backup plan.

There was this thing one of the other laptops in my former warehouse told me – If you didn’t like a particular owner fight the power button. Basically if someone tried to press the power button after a full charge I would simply resist and keep my monitor screen off. After several failed attempts what usually happened was that the irate owner would call the local supplier and ask for either a replacement or a refund. I had never subjected any potential owner to this ordeal before but I was bracing myself just in case.

We got to his apartment late in the evening (not that I had a curfew in the first place) and he unwrapped and mounted me on his dining table. His place looked quite neat and decent but I didn’t want to get sentimental or weak right before possibly having to ‘fight the power’. As he went into his bedroom perhaps to get out of his work clothes, I scanned the dining table and noticed a few business cards, a note pad, tissue box, cuff links and this colourful little book lying on its front cover. I noticed the name on the book binder and I recall it was an unusual name I heard earlier in his office when his colleagues asked who owned the laptop. This was beginning to seem a lot better than I had hoped. I read the synopsis on the back and confirmed that he was indeed a writer. For me, that meant I wouldn’t be neglected. I would get more attention than his TV, social media or his girlfriend(s). I would be his first thought in the morning and his last thought at night. Life was going to be bliss.

Fast forward 3 months later and this facade couldn’t be any further from the truth. He hasn’t touched me or so much as even looked at me since he started his new job role. It seems to be taking so much of his time. He comes back later than usually and goes straight to bed. Even with the WiFi on prefers to browse on his smartphone and not on me like he used to. I’m suspecting that desktop I saw when I first arrived at my owner’s office. I think he’s cheating on me. And if he doesn’t typing something on his so-called crazy blog I WILL fight the power for real this time.

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

A narrow escape from Xenophobia

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It’s been almost a week since the Governorship elections took place across Nigeria and quite frankly it’s been a relief – the tension that once filled the air is slowing evaporating. However, I want to point out that Nigeria was … Continue reading

10 Voter profiles to expect in Nigeria 2015 Presidential elections

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Nigerians all over the world would have had mixed feelings about the controversial postponement of the 2015 Presidential elections last month. V-Day activities formerly set for February 14th have morphed from Voting Day back to Valentine’s Day. Businesses have since been slowing … Continue reading

Everyday Words that irritate Nigerians

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It’s the start of a new year and the Nigerian economy isn’t necessarily better than it was in 2014; power supply has gone from epileptic to epically lacking, Boko Haram terrorists’ have orchestrated more explosions than all the fireworks set … Continue reading

Explicit content: Why my unborn kids will wear headphones

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I popped down to my local eatery (as we shameless bachelors regularly do) and sat down at a table while my ‘usual’ was being prepared. A few tables away from me was a toddler sitting on his mother’s lap and … Continue reading

There’s something about Naija soul food

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Naija soul food (better described as street cuisine) is the backbone of the Nigerian workforce…the unsung delicacy whose ghetto-like location has had middle-class workers turn up their noses but whose aroma is quick to seduce them. Many have driven past … Continue reading

The Tipping Point

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The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” ― Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference   Whilst I haven’t read what … 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 😀

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 #78 – Prelude to Christmas

Last year the build up to Christmas was the dullest I’d ever seen in Lagos. There were all the usual antics of course: Some shop owners hiring breakdancing clowns (complete with the colourful make-up and the ridiculous jumpsuits) and strategically placing them right outside their shops in order to lure in/annoy customers (I don’t know); Street hawkers in the scorching sun wearing red & white santa hats and selling the same to drivers stuck in traffic (as if seeing ‘red’ would help in that heat); A few live rams and goats seen stuffed into (but still hanging out of) half-opened car boots on their way to being slaughtered (Animal Cruelty laws don’t apply in Nigeria); Battle of the Banks as each compete to put up the most blinding Christmas light display on their respective bank branches (more glare for night drivers means possibly more accidents); Christmas hampers including such items as Non-alcoholic wine, Digestives, St.Louis Sugar and a bottle of groundnuts all packaged for N20,000/$133/80GBP (rip off!!!) etc. Like I said, just the usual antics you’d expect to see in Lagos around this time.

 Well if you’re not in Lagos you’d probably be curious to know how things are faring so far this year. For starters, the public’s attention has been diverted to the upcoming National Elections in March 2011. Campaigns are being aired on TV 24/7, usually featuring some Nigerian artists or actors singing some cheesy jingle e.g. “No vote for Bad Luck, vote for GoodLuck!” (N.B- that’s the last name of our current president). As a matter of fact, I can’t recall hearing any Christmas song on the local TV stations till now. 

And in the race to extinction I don’t know who will make it first – Koala bears or Christmas cards. I’m not talking about cards online (more commonly referred to as ‘E-cards’) but the old-fashioned, cardboard/paper-based ones. I remember when I still lived with my parents we’d get up to 200 Christmas cards, 3 gigantic hampers and a live turkey. A few years later the turkey dropped off. A few years after that the hampers stopped coming and then the Christmas cards being issued dropped gradually – as at last year my parents got about 20 cards between them. It seems the new trend is the use of impersonal text messages to send Christmas greetings/prayers. I say ‘impersonal’ because the message is usually a forwarded message from another contact (and your name is usually not included in the message so that proves my point). Last year I got more Christmas text messages than I got cards and phone calls combined. Besides that, most homes didn’t bother to put up Christmas decorations or trees. What is this city coming to???

Don’t even get me started on Christmas presents! I once heard a wise man say, ‘You have to give in order to receive’. My take however is that the wise man is probably not respected in Lagos because I didn’t see a lot of giving last year. Truth is, I saw a bit of rationing. One of my past employers, as a Christmas bonus, would give employees bags of rice. In my first year of employment I got a full bag of rice. In the second year I got half a bag. Last year nobody was given rice. What was to blame? The recession? That excuse is getting pretty lame.

Thank God I’m an optimist. It’s been a great year for me – more good news than there has been bad news (knocks wood). I think I’ve been a good boy too this year so Santa might just send me a few prezzies this season (crosses fingers). But unless I don’t see a drastic change in the Christmas spirit in Lagos which appears to be fast fading into oblivion, then I’m afraid I’d have to go to Ghana or something (at least there will be constant power supply, Woo-hoo!) 😀

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 #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 #63 – SA 2010: The Worldcup of Upsets

Before I proceed to clog up  this space with my usual banter, I feel inclined to put things right with The Crazy Nigerian first. Er..erm:

‘Forgive me O blog, for I have sinned. Its been a month and 2days since my last posting. I can’t wait for this (World) cup to pass over me…aaahhh…Bafana bafana Vuvuzela bafana bafana…MessiOzilAsamoahVillaVillaKakakakakaSchneider! ‘

Ok, I’ve got WC fever and I still haven’t managed to pick up my dropped-jaw since watching the recent knock-out stages. Who would’ve thought that Brazil would be out in the quarter-finals??? Who would have thought they would have been beaten by the Netherlands??? Who could have predicted that Argentina wouldn’t make it to the semis??? I love a ‘Winning’ mentality but did the Germans really have to annihilate the Argentines with a 4-0 score line? Did Suarez (Paraguay) suddenly forget what sport he was playing and decide to pull-off what appeared to be a Volleyball lay-up in obstructing Ghana’s goal??? Have the poor decisions of the referees and linesmen in this tournament been as a result of the distracting chats on their Blackberries???  Is England ever going to make it to the Finals???

There are so many questions left unanswered but its obvious that nothing in life is certain (except Death and Taxes of course). In Tennis, Roger Federer got the shock of his life when he was ousted by Tomas Berdych (a great underachiever) in the QF at Wimbledon, bearing in mind that Roger has previously made it to the Finals 8years in a row.  But back to the WC, I would love to know what kind of Energy drink the German squad is drinking – It sure as hell makes my Red Bull seem like 100% decaffeinated coffee. At the very least I wonder if they would fail a drug test…or has that been overlooked in this tournament like England’s disallowed goal? I must say that the Germans have shown that Youth is very key in your game plan. Experience goes a long way too but that can be inserted in little bursts (in the guise of the older professionals) during play. All the critics who said the German Coach was insane to bring a bunch of ‘inexperienced’ players to the WC are still recovering from indigestion as a result of eating their own words. You can never write-off the Germans in any WC. They are clinical in their execution of set-pieces, passes, and free kicks. Scoring 4 goals, each in 3 matches, is no feat that Brazil, Argentina, Spain or Italy could achieve. Germany is the hot favourite to win the WC this time around I pray I’ll have some fingernails left after their match with Spain.

I’ve seen a lot of grown men cry over the last few weeks…both on and off the football pitch, and in severe cases some have died from heart attacks. It has been emotional indeed. On the other hand, what baffles me in Nigeria is that an estimated N900m (close to $6m) was spent in preparing our team for the WC. I didn’t see where that money went though (kinda like the Blair Witch Project (1999) which took in $140m at the box office but only costed $25,000 to make!). Like Nigeria (and the no.1 Fifa-rated Brazil) the English team needs a complete overhaul. Young blood and raw talent moulded by a focused and experienced Manager (of any nationality but whom is ready to learn English if necessary) could probably help England end their 4-decade WC drought.

Well, it won’t be long till the WC final and then the world’s nerves can be steadied (only for another 4years by the way). May the best team win! 😀

Mosquito and Me

It is the year 2010 and 3 things are definitely set to rise in Nigeria: The sale of generators, the tension over our missing president (over 4 months now and counting), and the population of mosquitoes. Yes, these good-for-nothing insects have swarmed the earth since the time of the dinosaurs and specifically the anopheles mosquitoes have been responsible for carrying the deadly malaria parasite which kills thousands of africans up to this day. Well, I decided a few days ago (after a couple of extremely itchy and sore mosquito bites on my arms and legs) to get lethal.

I stopped by my local supermarket on my way back from work and roamed the isles looking for the most effective insect repellent (especially the triple action variety to suit my usual uninvited guests – mosquitoes, ants and cockroaches). My choices were: Mobil (I thought these guys specialized in oil exploration!); Rambo (just because it sounds lethal and has a red bandana on the letter ‘O’ doesn’t mean its a one-man one-can killing machine!) Raid (Now here’s something thats a proven hit but the smell is absolutely horrendous…think Nail Varnish Meets Burning Incense!); Baygon (Oh yeah baby! Effective with a clinical but bearable smell…this is definitely the bees knees. Time to cop me some mosquito heads).

I arrived my flat with a sinister grin as I walked up my flight of stairs. I walked through the corridor into my living room and proceeded to the mosquito zone; my bedroom. If Stanley Kubrick was still alive he would probably agree that my barging into the room (brandishing a trusted can of insecticide) was a Shining moment indeed as I blurted out ‘Heeeere’s Baygon!’. I shook the can a few times as instructed and sprayed every last inch of that room till the can was almost empty. And there was silence. The air was misty. Strangely enough I heard a tiny but distinct cough coming from under my bed so I pulled out a nearby torchlight and went on all fours. To my surprise I it was a mosquito…a dying mosquito.  But how was I able to hear it cough? Or did I just fly over the cuckoo’s nest???

Mosquito: ‘Is it not enough that you suffocate me with these poisonous fumes? (cough) (cough) and now you want to finish me off with a torchlight? What are you going to do? Blind me to death too? Look I don’t have much time left…but there is something you should know. There is a deadly toxin coursing through your veins. The antidote is in my belly but you have to extract it with a syringe before I die or else…game over!

Me: Er…isn’t that something you just made up after watching the SAW movie?

Mosquito: You got me! Good movie, isn’t it?

Me: Huh?… Tell me, what is your purpose on earth?

Mosquito: We were put on earth by God to control the population levels, I suppose. Do YOU know what your purpose on earth is?

Me: Hey, I’ll be asking the questions here. You spread diseases, leave itchy bites and hum in my ear while I’m asleep. Quite frankly, you suck!

Mosquito: You said it, Einstein. I suck…blood, that is. And fortunately for you mosquitoes can’t harbour the HIV virus. Your species would long have been wiped out. But there’s something else we’re planning…

Me: We? You mean the rest of you mosquitoes?

Mosquito: Aren’t you the smart one, eh!. We are many and we will soon descend on you all like a plague. There will be nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. There will be blood…

Me: That’s it. I’ve heard enough.

There I was being threatened by a sarcastic, little insect about a possible mosquitogeddon. I shook what was left in the can and drowned the mosquito in a pool of insecticide spray. It choked, and its abdomen stopped moving. I went to bed that night and a few hours later I could hear a humming in my ear again but this time it was audible and this is what I heard, to my horror

… ‘Weeee’re baaaack!’

Note to self:  Should have bought Rambo 😦

Nigerian Trends in 2010

January 2010:

  • More people are looking to invest in property and real estate
  • Toyota and Honda are still the most common cars in the country
  • Sales of domestic generators are still on the up
  • Marriages between age groups of 24-28yrs are increasingly popular
  • Pure water (50cl water sold in a transparent bag) has in excess of 20 brands
  • Wedding planning is also big business
  • The MTNFastlink is one of the most used Internet connections (I’m using it now :D)
  • More Nigerians go to Dubai for holiday/shopping than they do to London
  • Growing numbers visit Ghana for short breaks (40mins away by plane)
  • Slim neckties are in fashion and are here to stay
  • Women’s handbags seem to have stopped getting bigger…just more flashy
  • Blackberrys are in demand and the lingo ‘What’s your BB pin?’ is catching on fast
  • There has been a surge in registrations with the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria (CIPM)
  • The Banking industry is no longer as attractive as it used to be for job seekers
  • The staggering Chelsea, ManU and Arsenal fanbase here is an untapped market
  • Ralph Lauren Polo shirts (with number on sleeve and horse) are also very popular
  • People have been receiving text messages stating that the NSE (our stock market) is picking up.

Dear Mr. Acting President…

jonathan goodluckFirst of all I would like to congratulate you on  your recent promotion transition from Vice President of Nigeria to Acting President. As much as I would like to see Yar’Adua recover from his illness I’m sure you would like to capitalize on make the most of this unique opportunity thrusted upon you.

Jonathan, things are progressively getting worse in the economy. In case you didn’t notice, the just-concluded fuel scarcity crises  lasted for nearly a month! The queues have caused traffic and road rage. Worse yet, the black market sold the fuel (sometimes contaminated or watered down) at exhorbitant prices. What did Yar’Adua do? Nothing. What did YOU do? Nothing. 

Electricity supply isn’t getting better either. Yar’Adua promised electricity generation of 6000 megawatts by December 2009. Today Nigeria is only generating 2900 megawatts. The consequence – some companies have moved their operations out of the country and the rest of us have resorted to using noisy generators and wasting more fuel in the process…even adding to air pollution and endangering our young ones with the fumes. What has Yar’Adua done? Nothing. What have YOU done? Nothing.

I don’t know if during the President’s unauthorized sick leave you have been trying to calm the the unrest in the Niger Delta region. What have you really been doing with all your time? I’m sure I’ve come across you on Facebook somewhere but now is the time to make your legacy felt. You’re the acting president but may I remind you that (assuming Yar’Adua kicks the bucket) you’ll only have until May 2011 to make any changes to the economy.

Like you, I am an Ijaw man and I expect that you will give a good impression of our tribe. This is your chance to make history in Nigeria. Have a vision. Take a cue from Obama if you have to. Give Nigerians a reason to want to see you stay in power. Look at Mandela’s case – Today marks 20years since he was freed from prison and the world honours and adores him. That could be you so get off your ass behind and do something meaningful and don’t depend on Yar’Adua’s return. All this didn’t happen by accident.

I hope you will consider all that I’ve said and start making plans to re-energize this economy. The country is behind you. More oil grease to your elbow and goodluck! (no pun intended).

Yours Sincerely,

The Crazy Nigerian 🙂

P.S – I will not accept your Facebook Friend request until I start seeing some results.

Entry #50 – From Con artists to Terrorists?

There’s something about the suffix ‘ist‘ that just really leaves a bad taste in my mouth – words like Racist, Facist, Schauvinist, etc. But just as my country is desperately trying to bleach out the stubborn stain of corruption from its reputation some Nigerian decides to  give America a reason to tag us  ‘terrorists’.

First of all, the American government’s decision gives me cause to tag them ‘extremists’. But that aside history has shown that Nigeria and its indigines have shown more interest in making money. Subdivide that and then you have those who choose to make money legally and those who want to make (quick) money illegally. This second group are  commonly known as fraudsters or con artists. In recent times they have been taking advantage of the technological age and all those who’ve been less fortunate to grasp it in its ever increasing pace. In Nigeria we have just as many victims as there are perpetrators of online fraud alone. Setting one’s pants/trousers on fire to detinate an explosive substance doesn’t quite appeal to the average Nigerian – I mean, what exactly is the pay off?

If I’m to be really objective about how possible it is for Nigerians to be branded ‘terrorists’ then I’d say that in the northern region of Nigeria there have been some acts of terror so to speak. Extremist muslims, or to put it mildly, religious fanatics who’ve taken their belief too far and decided to impose it on the rest of us – refusal to which you could (but not necessarily) expect a Jihad a.k.a certain death to the unbelievers…the sinners…the obstacles that separate them from their eternal paradise. Be it as it may the fact remains that these religious wars take place within Nigeria and may well take place anywhere else in the world. Perhaps all it takes is just one terrorist act committed by a non-citizen of a country and then that citizen’s country gets to be labelled a Terrorist. I didn’t come across that in anywhere in the American constitution or in any constitiution for that matter!

Probably the mere presence of the word ‘Terrorist‘ in this article and the recurrence of the word over 10times (and remember, straight from a computer located in Nigeria) is sending the American Intelligence into a frenzy. All I need to do now is google for cheap flight tickets to Yemen and I bet the CIA will be on red alert. Don’t forget my blog title, Nigerian Interrupted, is not helping matters either!

In ‘other news’, I want to make reference to one of the biggest con artists in Nigeria to have been exposed by the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission – a Nigerian Govt organization). She is the former MD of Oceanic Bank, Cecilia Ibru, who embezzled bank funds and acquired…wait for it…N399bn worth of assets all around the world (www.thisdayonline.com). She has property, estates and shares mostly in fictitious company names and also in some of her relative’s names. Nigerian con artists have been in the game for as long as I can remember. I personally doubt that we’ll see another Nigerian terrorist plane bomber anytime in the next decade.

…And one final point: if anyone wants to point the dreaded finger of blame at the muslim community, the American Airline, or the radicals in Yemen, then think hard about what role the parents played (or avoided) in nuturing Mullatab (talk about a Nigerian interrupted indeed) and monitoring his behaviour. I blame the parents, period.

Entry #47 – Remember September

chaseWell how can I forget September 2008 when my bank was having its financial year end (which in the Nigerian Banking industry means every bank starts to scramble around for large money deposits in order to claim the no.1 spot for having the largest liability base…the grand prize being that you get to keep your job!).

I remember how fellow colleagues would genuinely fall ill with stress, some with high blood pressure, and why? All because they got SMS/text messages at odd hours of the day (including weekends) from bosses who taunt them to AGGRESSIVELY PURSUE current accounts and fixed term deposits or to REALIZE GROWTH in their account portfolio. I remember when each week would be inundated with impromptu meetings – meetings with other bank branches’ marketing team and their respective managers. Such gruelling sessions were like the ‘Show and Tell’ in Elementary/Primary School…only, you were showing to the whole audience how you planned to leap from a balance sheet of N100m (One Hundred Million Naira) to N250m in under 3weeks. I remember the tall tales marketing staff used to tell…stories of fat cheques that were due the following week…and then the following week…and then the following week. I remember how they had to defend their jobs by justifying why they should still be paid their salary.

I remember how the boldest and most confident of marketers would suddenly be reduced to a bucket of nerves as they stuttered through their cock and bull Deposit Mobilization strategies. Of course their bosses were quick to ridicule and threaten them with a letter of displeasure – that’s a prelude to a sack, in simple English. I remember how some marketers avoided the subsequent meetings especially when the millions they promised the previous week never materialized. Oh, how I remember how some banks would accept to pay to willing Fixed Deposit customers outrageous rates well above that of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and in some cases staff would make up the interest difference from their own personal funds to pay to the oblivious, greedy customer. I remember the pressure got so much that you could cut the tension in bank branches with a knife. You were almost driven to the point of holding customers at gunpoint just so they took you more seriously and coughed out the millions that we so stupidly thought they were hiding at home under their matresses.

I remember how some marketing staff would encourage their known customers to move funds from competitor banks into ours. Even worse was when a branch within the bank moved funds from another bank branch, meaning the bank as a whole wasn’t actually growing but suffering a bout of indigestible cannibalization of accounts. I remember hearing stories of female marketers who would ‘stoop so low’ just to get a measly million into their account portfolio…and in some unfortuante cases were given dud cheques: a classic Lose-Lose situation.

I remember how the month would draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaag and your demanour was truly tested. Some who couldn’t take the heat or the humiliation any longer dropped their resignation letters and stayed at home waiting for the grass to get greener somewhere else…anywhere else. I remember how some skilled marketers would turn on the waterworks when a customer came into the branch to make a portfolio-shattering withdrawal in this ’ember’ month. I remember how I almost uttered to my superior ‘What are YOU doing to ensure that we grow our deposit base? Show me YOUR prospect list! How much money have YOU brought today? How many phone calls have YOU made? Why should the bank still be paying YOUR salary???’ I remember it all too well and now I have another 13days to go before I can even begin to forget September 2009. “Lord, give me strength…”

Entry #44 – Sanusi and the Half-Wit MDs

Iron Man

Iron Man

The hottest news that is sweeping the country (Nigeria) right now is the recent sacking of 5 Managing Directors by the governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Yes, the end was nigh for the fraudulent five on 14th August 2009 at a monthly meeting held in Abuja. I like to think of the whole ordeal as something straight out of The Apprentice…with Sanusi staring down at the MDs through his spectacles sternly and then shouting and pointing suddenly going, ‘ YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU AAAAAND ESPECIALLY YOU WITH THE PRIVATE JET..YOU’RE ALL FIRED! NOW GET THE F*** OUT OF MY OFFICE!!!’

Did those MDs see this coming? (Doubt it). Did those MDs deserve this? (Hell yeah!) Does anyone disagree with Sanusi’s actions? (Who the bloody hell cares? Its too late crying over spilt milk anyway). The banks in question were amongst 10 that were ‘stress’ tested to see whether, put simply, they would be able to pay up if per chance all their respective customers were to demand for their money all at once. Those banks are off the Nigerian stockmarket for obvious reasons.Meanwhile, there’s another 14 banks left to be tested so there’ll be a lot of fingernail clippings in the waste-bins of those MDs.

A Nigerian newspaper disclosed that there were hints of further shake-ups in the banking industry. Customers and bankers alike are all kind of anxious to know what other possible ‘executions’ lie in wait. I’m more interested in knowing whether Sanusi will eventually end this never-ending deposit mobilization drive aka corporate begging – which pretty much entails bankers who run around the streets literally begging customers to open accounts with them and/or fund the accounts.  Such bankers (or ‘marketers’) have been taunted by their immediate bosses to get funds in at all costs. Marketers are losing sleep, falling ill, working late, paying money to cover shortfalls in promises of ridiculously high interest rates, snatching accounts from within their bank’s network, etc all in a bid to beat the pressure and stay in the job.

Sanusi may be our last hope. He appears not to be worried about taking difficult decsions and he seems to want to get Nigeria back into full gear – he just injected N400billion to jumpstart the economy. The audacious CBN governor is akin to a Nigerian Harry Potter who has succeeded in proving that he has a few tricks up his sleeve…and by the look of things, he’s just getting warmed up…

Senior High – 1st year

As the principal of International School Ibadan announced that the JSCE (Junior Secondary School Examination) results would be posted up in front of her office I felt nauseous. I wasn’t sure if it was bad luck to have already gotten trouser measurements done at my local tailor before the exam results were released. What if I didn’t make it through? My trousers would be bloody useless and I’d have to endure another year in I.S.I wearing a pair of A.H.Is (AssHole Irritants).  Girls had no problem because their blue-white striped dress/uniform didn’t have to look any different from junior to senior year. Thankfully I breathed a sigh of relief as I attained 2A’s and 5C in my 8subjects (I’m not mentioning what I got in Yoruba language). I vaguely remember jumping up and down like a deranged rottweiler that had a piece of meat dangled over its head. I proceeded to run into the nearby open field with fellow classmates who also sailed through the exams. We ran like we were being chased by… Rottweilers. I almost failed to take notice of the few guys whom we left behind moping at their inadequate grades and therefore bore long faces (okay, not like Rottweilers…more like Dobermen!)

Of course this next chapter in my school life called for a celebration. I took it upon myself to have a small get-together for my ‘Class of 1993’. Unfortunately I didn’t have an much more than the Naira equivalent of £10 back then which could just barely cater for about 20-30 guests max (I must have been nuts!). I invited 25 schoolmates to my cousin’s crib where I resided, about 60 eventually showed up and filled up almost every part of the house! I soon quickly realised that 48 bottled drinks (2 crates) would not quite cut the ‘3:1 guzzling ratio’ of my invitees. The 2 small coolers of cooked rice and chicken didn’t go round because I didnt plan for the following: Boarder boys and girls sneakings out of their hostels; Geeks/Nerds/Bookworms/Efikos gate crashing; and schoolmates from the set below mine (JSS3) also taking advantage of the fact that I did not have a bouncer to ‘man the door’. So I had geeks playing video games in the TV room, boarder girl escapees changing clothes in my cousin’s bedroom, boarder boys slow-dancing with girls in the living room whilst my Aunt was within the house. There was no DJ but just one raga tape being put on the loop courtesy of all the horny boys hoping to literally tap some ass from a slowdance. The 5kg cake and 2 tubs of ice-cream I had planned for dessert was not going to be able to feed THIS multitude. This wasn’t a get-together…this was a get-together-everybody-who-heard-about-this-party. I mean some of the guests there didnt even know my name or the fact that I was hosting this fiasco. To make matters worse, the girl I had a crush on was busy slowdancing with some guy I didnt even invite, Meanwhile I was busy trying to feed the hungry, entertain the bored, and save my shaky reputation all at the same time. I was glad when it was all over, to say the least. The house  survived with 2 shattered drinking glasses and a broken window lever. I on the other hand remained intact!

In an amazing twist of fate, I was hailed by the majority of my set for making a noble effort at throwing a shindig (which  I’d rather remember as a ‘shit-dig’). The geeks were even more grateful because they knew that they may never gain such easy access into a party again. I somehow became everybody’s pal…the one who didn’t discriminate…the one who didn’t stop the music and shout “ALL BOYS OUT!” and proceeded to reveal a list of boys who were not given the fake invitation cards…no, I wasn’t seen as cruel…I was Mr.Nice guy Subsequent parties got better and better (no thanks to me). I do remember one guy who threw a party but would have sooner thrown himself over a bridge after only 1 girl turned up amidst a house filled with over 15guys…a case of bad advertising? Well, the grub didn’t go to waste.

Ah yes, those grey trousers really were worth the 3 year-wait. I was ‘toasting’ girls a one class year or two below me and feeling pretty cool with my skinny self. I was later appointed by my principal as the school’s Health Prefect, though for the love of God I never found out what a health prefect was nor did I know what my responsibilities were supposed to be. I just made sure the sick bay was hygenic and wasn’t congested or saturated with students who were feigning illness. I was given a badge which I wore proudly like a sheriff. If only I went guns blazing a little less when it came to asking a girl, ‘Will you go out with me?…’

Entry #41 – Coming to Nigeria

nigeriaWhy would you be crazy enough to come to Nigeria? I mean just look at that crazy colour scheme on all those unnecessary number of states (currently 36 when 12 would do!). I see popular searches like ‘relocate to nigeria’ being used to get to this site and I can only wonder ‘What’s chasing them?’ Well I can tell you that Lagos (the former capital of Nigeria where I reside) is like a metropolis – commercial and bursting with business. It is increasingly becoming cosmopolitan too, with Brits, Asians, Chinese, South Africans and Americans on the scene. I’d say Lagos is like New York but with a lot more black people and a hell of a lot more poor people. Sure we’ve got that minority who are stupendously rich. Then we’ve got the majority who are stupendously poor. Then you’ve got people in the middle of this spectrum…people like me…who persist in applying the principles of becoming rich but end up feeling stupendously…stupid. Anyway, there have been a number of job cuts since the recession first surfaced the newspapers but now there are recent cases of pay cuts. Banks are not so willing to lend to customers who may sometimes even have collateral which triples the requested loan amount. Electricity supply has gone from fluctuating to weak to virtually non-existent in the last few months. Owning or renting a generator is a must. You will need a car to get around town, a Nigerian guide who has lived here for at least 10years, a dose of anti-malaria drugs, light clothing (not too warm), and a valid form of identification on you at all times (e.g. driver’s licence, passport or national ID card). Get acquainted with some of the local lingo so that you don’t stand out like a sore thumb. If you can’t fake a typical Nigerian accent (which sounds like a fatigued loud-mouth whose been woken out of a deep sleep at 3am, pretty much) then try not to sound like a JJC (Johnny Just Come) or you will get duped sooner or later. Get a mobile phone and start with any of the pay-as-you-go packages – all the networks are just as good (and bad) as each other. When in doubt, don’t ask a crazy Nigerian a.k.a mad man for any assistance. He could flip you over a bridge or push you into high-speed traffic or something. There are so many crazy Nigerians out there – I’m the real McCoy 🙂

See my ‘Survival Kit’ for more info