“I actually want to scream here. Have you tried looking for an apartment in Lagos? Hay lord! That is when you will hear things like caution fee, maintenance fee, agent fee and you’ll be required to pay these for two years. To even see a landlord that’ll agree to accept one year rent is like looking for needle in a hay stack.”
In 2007, I was still in secondary school when Jimmy Jatt featured Tuface and Mode 9 in ‘Stylee’. I remember watching the video and thinking, why are the people in the background looking so angry and frustrated?
This is a fact: Lagosians are angry people. This city is structured to stretch your patience to its limit until you become a frustrated human being. It is like the government of Lagos state, its agencies and other special ‘stakeholders’ hold a meeting every month themed: How do we frustrate the people living in Lagos? How can we make their lives more difficult? What can we do? In that meeting, officials come up with their suggestions on how to make this city worse for the rest of us.
I am very sure the saints in heaven wouldn’t have made it up there if they had lived in Lagos. Here are some of my own sources of frustration:
- Traffic – This is like the most infuriating thing about Lagos. Before I moved to this city, I had never sat in traffic for up to an hour in my whole life. The annoying thing about Lagos traffic is that after sitting in it for hours, you get to the front of it and you see nothing. After light rain, everywhere will be clogged up. It is so bad that I am now convinced water spirits convene on Lagos roads because there is no other explanation for why traffic becomes unbearable anytime it rains. The government does its part too but if you don’t live in Lagos, you’ll think the roads are wide and smooth here. Lagos government can package for Africa. Lagos has some of the worst roads in this country. Then as if to add salt to injury, they will build big, wide and useless roundabouts in busy areas so that your 45 minutes commute will turn to 2 hours. Abi why do you think people leave their homes by 5am for work?
- Population – Have you ever tried to move around Lagos spreading your arms sideways? I remember travelling to a state in the South-East after a year of living in Lagos and I was so surprised at how much space I had to myself on the road. Fresh air to breathe and all. In Lagos, you’ll be glad to have a few feet to yourself on the road. It’s as if spirits are dwelling with us, because are all these people on the road everyday really human beings?
- Lagos State government agencies – The most notorious of these is LASTMA. I have heard people say it is better for police to catch you than for LASTMA people to hold you. With the police, it’s money that will end it last last, depending on the intensity of your offence, but with LASTMA, by the time they are done with you, you will just park your car in your compound for like 6 months. The trauma won’t let you drive. This is not saying LASTMA is the worst o. LAWMA people will leave the front of your house brimming with rubbish for months, and they will still collect payments for it.
- NEPA – Please you know what I am talking about, whether it is EKO Disco or IKEDC, its sha the same people. You will run generators for months but they will still show up with electricity bill. The bill for a small house will run up to N10,000 and you’ll be stunned asking yourself how? Getting a pre-paid metre from them is like looking for unicorn blood. It is normal to see a household owning 2 generators – a big one, a small one and an inverter generating their own electricity but NEPA will still show up with electricity bill.
- Housing -I actually want to scream here. Have you tried looking for an apartment in Lagos? Hay lord! That is when you will hear things like caution fee, maintenance fee, agent fee and you’ll be required to pay these for two years. To even see a landlord that’ll agree to accept one year rent is like looking for needle in a hay stack. One of my friends was looking for a house last year and the owner of the house asked if she’s married. She said no. Then the owner asked how many boys will be visiting her in the house? Sometimes you might even get a good place, fair price, landlord won’t be a bother, but wait until the rain comes to wash you and your family away.
- Police – It’s not Lagos state that controls the police, but it seems as if they send a special breed to Lagos. I wasn’t consciously scared of the police until I moved to Lagos. I knew not to argue with them and generally avoid their wahala, but in Lagos if you see police coming your way, cross to the other side. Once, on my way from work, policemen stopped me to check my bag because I was with a laptop. “Wetin dey your bag? You carry laptop for your boyfriend sebi?” I was so stunned. I didn’t say anything. “I dey ask you you keep quiet. Who get laptop?” I told them the laptop was mine, and that I work with it. “Work ke? Which kind work?” They demanded for an ID. It was not until after I showed them my ID that they let me go. Policemen move around in Lagos like demi-gods, oppressing people. People have been killed for no reason by policemen in Lagos and we are yet to see justice served. For your own safety and peace of mind, avoid the Nigerian Police, especially in Lagos.
I have exhausted all the many ways this city frustrates me; how does Lagos frustrate you?