1) Flying with Arik was a pleasurable experience I must say. On the way to Lagos, I didnt get up once from my seat throughout the flight…a first for me. Being a 6 footer with rather long and unwieldy legs, I found the leg room very nice indeed. For those of us who have long legs but have not yet ‘arrived’ to the point where we can afford Business Class, flying Arik is a handy alternative. Just curious, does anyone know who owns the airline?
2) Pretty young thing sat next to me on the flight to Lagos. I thought it’d be rude not to strike up a conversation. Turned out she was relocating to Nigeria to get married in a couple of weeks. She’s a lawyer and had already secured a job back home in some law firm. Conversation went nowhere fast, so I quickly travelled to 1967 via Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s glorious evocation of Biafra and the Nigerian civil war; Half of a Yellow Sun. Never even asked her name.
Conversely on the flight back to London, the chap who sat next to me was coming to London for the first time….to start an undergraduate degree with Middlesex University. Mercifully, he had his x-ray film with him so he sailed through customs without the unnecesary delay. This time I asked his name.
Omare he said it was.
As one goes, another one comes.
3) Speaking of Ms Adichie, if you havent read the book I mentioned above, I think you should. What I found interesting is that the mutual suspicion between the various ethnic tribes in Nigeria is as old as time itself. I found myself drawing parallels [albeit tedious ones] between Major Kaduna Nzeogwu’s coup and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s current crusade. Nigerians are always suspicious of change brought about someone not of their tribe.
It’s perhaps a hangover of Lord Lugard’s amalgamation that we distrust each other so much but it’s a shameful waste of the strengths of the various ethnic tribes in Nigeria.
Ask the average Yoruba man to describe an Igbo man and he’d tell you the Igbo man is cunny and full of tricks. But it’s exceedingly erroneous to stereotype the Igbos in this way. Ms Adichie has really opened my eyes to so much of Igbo culture I knew nothing about.
There’s much to like and so much that Nigeria can do with right now such as the undoubted enterprise of the average Igbo man [they can succeed in business where others have tried and failed several times] and their innate republicanness.
It’s no wonder the Nigerian project continues to underachieve in perpetuity. Mutual suspicion was a bad habit in Nigeria that has now graduated into a custom…Agwa öjö gbaa afö, öghöla omenala
To Ms Adichie I say, Dalu Nwanne.
4) I counted something like 30 police checkpoints on the journey from Lagos to Ondo….a journey of 3 to 3.5hours. At one point there were 3 checkpoints inside 1 mile. We ‘only’ got stopped 4 times…each time being asked to produce proof of ownership, Insurance, fire extinguisher and c-caution.
I am happy to report that we didnt pay a single naira in bribes to any policeman. Interestingly there was an Audi Q7 in front of us for some of the journey and each time the car got to a checkpoint, the driver would stretch out his hand and hand a N100 note to the policemen and he would be waved on. One can only imagine he had a dead body inside the car he didnt want the policemen to see.
Tip: If you are doing this journey anytime soon, it might be a good idea to use a minivan or minibus or any car where the trunk is visible from the outside. I imagine if we had taken a conventional sedan, we would have spent another 30mins on the road accounting for the time it takes to get down from the car and open the boot.
The Shagamu-Benin expressway is a funny one I tell you. If there’s traffic or a delay on your side of the road, you simply cross to the other side, turn on your headlights and face the oncoming traffic.
Reminded me of what my father told me when I started learning how to drive; ‘Son, when you get on the road, always remember that every other driver out there is a mad man’.
5) My friend was telling me the story of how policemen recently killed a friend of a friend somewhere in Lekki recently. On the fateful night the chap was driving home and when he got to a police checkpoint, he decided to make the policemen’s day by giving them N10,000. The policemen couldnt believe their luck and in their uncontrollable joy, they began shooting in the air…sort of like a 21 gun salute to their benefactor.
As it happened, one of the bullets hit the guy in his car. He then told the policemen that he was bleeding as they had shot him. They initially didnt believe him until they saw the blood. They were nice enough to take him to hospital where he died a couple of days later.
Interestingly, 2 days after my friend told me this story, I was riding in a cab and the completely random cab driver told me the EXACT same story. He said the guy had been one of his regular customers and he was generous like that.
Yes, Nigerian policemen are still doing what they do so well…shoot innocent unarmed people.
6) Young couple moved into a flat in a block of flats in 2007 somewhere in Ogudu, Lagos. The rent then was N450k per annum and they of course paid 2 years in advance plus agents and lawyers fees which pushed everything over N1m.
A few months before their tenancy expired this year, the landlord, displaying a keen understanding of how Nigerians do not have a threshold for punishment, wrote to the tenants informing that he was increasing the rent to N1.2million per frigging annum!
The tenants were shocked at this crazy increase so they got together and started having a series of meetings to present a unified front to the landlord regarding how much they were willing to pay. While the meetings were going on, one of the tenants broke ranks and went to offer the landlord N900k per annum.
He of course accepted it and promptly told the tenants that he wasnt going to collect one naira less than N900k from any one of them.
They have since paid up.
7) I counted 3 seperate advertorials in the newspapers by Lanre Aladekomo, Renaissance Professionals and TRLP Law all posing questions for the CBN governor to answer.
Of all 3, I was most impressed with the Renaissance Professionals advertorial…very professional and straight to the point. I think it’s in Sanusi’s interests to answer some of the questions. There are plenty of unanswered questions relating to his actions so far.
On the other hand, the TRLP Law advertorial was totally hilarious. It was headlined ‘Questions Sanusi Cannot Answer!!!’. I wonder how they know he cant answer the questions even before he has seen them. Anyway I found question number 11 rather amusing. They are asking the CBN governor to tell them when exactly the N420bn that was injected into the 5 banks was ‘printed’. They are also demanding to know if it was ‘printed’ before or after the special inspection.
In case anyone from TRLP Law is reading, when a Central Bank says it’s going to ‘print’ money to inject into illiquid banks, it does not mean that it’s going to turn on the printing press and start printing wads and wads of naira notes. The ‘printing’ is done simply by crediting the account of the banks with the CBN…..at the click of a mouse if you like. Perhaps a better word to use would be ‘create’ instead of ‘printing’ money.
8) The whole banking saga is now starting to trickle down into the real economy proper. Several of my friends told me it’s now almost impossible to get a car loan from any bank. Stanbic IBTC seems to be the only bank where some action is going on at the moment.
One of the problems with Nigeria is that whenever there is a change in personnel in charge of policy making, everything changes along with such a person. So with Sanusi becoming the CBN governor now, there’s bound to be a new set of ‘bigz’ boys in the banking sector to replace the fallen comrades.
Keep an eye on Atedo Peterside in the days to come.
9) ‘An honest politician is one who, when he has been bought, stays bought‘ – ‘Boss’ Simon Cameron circa 1850.
If the above statement is true, then Chief Michael Aondoakaa, Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is as honest as the day is long.
I am keen to know just how long President Yar’Adua will keep the man in his position with practically the entire country calling for his head.
10) I dont see the point in praising politicians when they do the job that is expected of them. Leadership is not forced on anyone in a democracy…it is actively sought by those who hold such positions.
But I think Lagos state has been handed a large slice of luck with Governor Fashola. Certainly no one had a clue who he was or what his pedigree was before he was elected into office on the recommendation of his predecessor, but he does seem to have turned out alright.
If nothing, the man clearly has a vision for Lagos state he is working towards. It will be interesting to see what happens if/when an alternative airport is built in the new Lekki trade zone. Maybe those who run Murtala Mohammed airport would sit up then.
11) Nigerians love to carry heavy load when travelling. It’s almost a fetish even. While standing around the conveyor belt in Lagos waiting for my bags to come out [I had 2 bags of 16kg and 19kg each] you should have seen the size of the boxes that were coming out of the plane. Without exaggerating, I estimated that at least 60% of all the bags were over the 30kg limit meaning the owners had paid an added fee to carry them.
On the way back to London it was even worse. Because I was foolish enough to be travelling light with effectively only one bag, I ended up ‘helping’ a lady carry one of her bags to London….me being a nice chap and all :-).
People were furiously moving all sorts of stuff from one bag to the other…shifting the kilograms from here to there.
There were boxes upon boxes of indomie, fair and white cream, golden morn, garri, beans etc. One chap even had bottles of Guinness stout in his bag! All these items are available all over London but our people prefer to test the limit of the people enforcing the baggage allowance for the airlines.
While this was happening, I overheard a chap discussing with another bloke why Nigerians always travel in this way. After a 2 minute explanation, he ended by saying ‘it is our colonial heritage’.
I have no idea what this meant but it made all the sense in the world!
12) Lagos Girls!!!… I am unable to repeat some of the stories I heard during my short trip but no matter what you think you’ve heard, some of these tales will leave your jaw on the floor.
In fairness it does take 2 to tango and the guys certainly dont help matters. But it does seem our women have turned a corner these days. That one is a ticking social time bomb on it’s own.
13) So you just bought a car and you are anxious not to have it scratched or dented anywhere. How do you achieve this while driving in Lagos?
Very simple; park the car at home AND cover it up. It’s important to cover it up because even while it’s parked, harm can still come to it.
My friend testified to how he parked his car outside a school for a few minutes or so and before he returned to it, one of his side mirrors had been nicked. He must have walked out while the thief was doing it because only the driver’s side was stolen.
14) Went out to some artistes hangout somewhere off Awolowo road in Ikoyi. 2 plates of rice, 2 bottles of water, a bottle of coke and a plate of snails later, we were confronted with a N9k bill.
All in a day’s job in Lagos.