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 #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 #28 – The Best Man

moi 060

Today was not just any ordinary day. Today I was decked up in a dashing dickie-bow tie, tux and bad-ass chelsea boots – The ideal gentleman if I do say so myself. But it wasn’t quite the picnic I expected it to be. Being the best man (at least back here in Nigeria) is a bit like being the errand boy/houseboy/servant…call it what you want. I was at their service – holding the sweaty hankies, fetching the relatives who were scattered across the hall, picking up ALL the money sprayed unto the couple whilst they were dancing…yes, all in my £150  tuxedo. My head was drenched in sweat but I was armed with 2 hankies. I didn’t get a chance to eat – moi 061all I had was bottled water for breakfast, sweets during the church service and a malt drink during the reception (my stomach and I kissed and made up when I got back home to chow down). But it was all worth it. In fact, I feel like wearing it once in a while just for the look of it. And then I look in the mirror, adjusting my cuffs which obviously dont need adjusting like they do in the movies, with a smirk on my face and then I go ‘The name is Nigerian…Crazy Nigerian 😀

Entry #6 – Unwanted employment

Yup, its possible to be appointed (unanimously) to do a job you never actually wanted in the first place. Earlier this morning, during our AGM (Annual General Meeting) for my residents’ association, I was voted as the new Secretary to the Chairman – this translates to taking minutes of meetings, reading out past memos, and other minial jobs…As if my 9-5 and this blog wasn’t enough work (moan)

I guess I should look at the bright side…wait a minute, there is no bright side!!! (double moan)

A Risky Sonnet

Like running down a steep staircase or taking a sharp corner at full speed

Like standing inches from a cliff edge or leaving a slashed wrist to bleed

Like smoking a pack of cigarettes after being diagnosed with a bad lung

Like rushing back in for your belongings after a fire alarm has been rung

like cheating at an important examination or plagiarizing a school report

Like walking out of a shop with shoes you tried on but you never bought

Like investing in the stock market or throwing a set of dice to get a seven

Like partying on a Thursday night for five hours after working for eleven

Like setting up your best friend with a date who was previously into you

Like leaving home at the precise time you need to get to a job interview

Like swimming against waves at sea in order to save someone drowning

Like taking a bullet for a stranger, or an expedition on the K-2 Mountain

Like drinking wine and then driving, or walking in a dark alley all alone

Like falling in love and hoping the heart that may break is not your own…

 

..xTx..

 

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..

~Cash handling

It is worthwhile holding varying denominations of Naira for ease of giving or receiving change e.g. N5, N10, N20, N50, N100, N200, N500, and N1000 notes. Refrain from carrying excess cash in hand. At the same time, do not flash/expose so much cash when you are out in public. You can attract the wrong kind of attention and become vulnerable to theft.

 

For the men, do not put your wallets in your back pockets – even if you wear tight jeans. For women, keep your handbags closed/zipped up at all times. Do not count large amounts of money in public view – that includes even when you are in the comfort of your car. Passers by (especially some street hawkers) are constantly watching and may serve as informants for thieves ahead.  

 

 

If you are not planning to live in Nigeria, and therefore do not want to open a local bank account to deposit large cash sums, you can get a Naira Cashcard in order to save your pocket money. Cashcards are like electronic wallets that do not require account opening. The cards are available from most banks and the cost of one can range from N100 and N500. There are usually no monthly fees attached to them and they can be used for making ATM withdrawals, POS (Point of Sale i.e. like in Eateries, Cinemas and reputable Supermarkets), and internet transactions. Cash loading limits and loading fees may vary across banks.

 

When buying from street hawkers whilst you are in a moving car (this is common activity with motorists during traffic jams or ‘go-slow’), always make sure you receive the item you want to purchase before you release the cash. Also try to hold the exact amount of cash for your purchase as most times the hawker may not have change to return. In doing so, you can prepare the hawker e.g. you want to buy something of N150 but you have a N200 note. You ask the hawker if he has N50. He/she has N50-change ready and then you collect the item and the change before handing over your N200 note – You wouldn’t want to hold up cars behind you because you’re waiting to collect change, nor would you want to jump out of your car chasing a hawker who ran off with your change!

 

..xTx..

Entry #5 – Jokes at the office

A colleague of mine got me in stitches yesterday when she narrated an incident that took place at her church. Her aunty had been nodding during the sermon…I beg your pardon…nodding off to sleep during the sermon, when the preacher decided to switch the topic. He asked the congregation that if they knew they had been involved in witchcraft, charms or an occult then they should ‘STAND UP’ for prayer. Unfortunately my colleague’s innocent aunty suddenly snapped out of her slumber, hoping she would not be caught out for not rising to her feet – Problem was…she was the ONLY ONE on her feet and she didn’t even know why she was standing up, nor did she understand why she got the most shocking looks from members of the congregation, especially her niece and kids with her!

Apparently she still regrets the events of that Sunday service – she feels compelled to keep explaining to people at her church that she is not a witch 😀

~Safety: On the road

Whilst you move around on the Nigerian roads you need to be cautious about your surroundings. It is unfortunate that there are touts who like to parade around high-traffic areas where road congestion is frequent. If you are in a car, albeit the driver or passenger, ensure that you lock your car doors before you set off for your journey, and every time you get back into the car during the day. There have been past reports of hoodlums attempting to open car doors and carrying out robberies.

 

Always keep your windows wound up closed. I have a friend who kept her window only 2- inches down in a traffic-jam at night, when suddenly a thief forced his arm through the space and snatched her necklace. Endeavour to use the AC (Air Conditioning) in order to seal up your car as much as possible.

 

At night, do not follow shortcuts or ‘back routes’ which are hidden away from the general public. These could be potential hideout spots for rogues and armed-robbers. Only use such shortcuts in the daytime or when there are other cars using it when you are, preferably before dark.

 

As much as possible stay in your car at all times until you get to your destination – sounds easy enough, right? What if one night on the road you spotted a broken down vehicle up ahead with a woman seeming stranded and you decided to be a Good Samaritan? There have been cases of staged breakdowns used as an ambush for well-to-do motorists. Nowadays the LASTMA force is on stand by on major roads to assist or tow such broken down vehicles. I am not saying we shouldn’t come to the aid of stranded motorists. It could happen to you too but this is what I’d expect you to do:

 

Call for a friend’s assistance using your mobile phone (which is a must in case of emergencies) and if he/she is on his/her way then you lock yourself up in the car and sit tight till the cavalry arrive. Alternatively you can lock up the car and, so long as you’ve parked well off the road, take public transport to get assistance. Be careful when being approached by eager pedestrians who suddenly appear from nowhere to help. Keep your valuables (wallet, purse, watch, etc) in your glove compartment and lock your car up first. If you see that where you’re stranded has human-traffic then you shouldn’t have much to worry about. Never find yourself out late, alone and without a (fully-charged) mobile phone – ‘tis a deadly medley.

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..