Diary of an Ibadan Hustler in Lagos (EPISODE 4)



My cousin just told me today (12th of June, 2015) Lagos is full of frustrated people. This is quite controversial and the insinuation can make one guilty of a fallacy of hasty generalization and unwarranted assumption. A clear evaluation of that statement will reveal that there are elements of truth in that. For a newcomer in Lagos your source of frustration could be settling down at work. Lagos is a different setting entirely with a high cost of living. You end up paying two or three times the usual cost of items you used to purchase normally in your former zone.


Your initial enemy is the inevitable high cost of transportation. No matter how close you think you are to your working place, you will still be forced to sacrifice a substantial amount of money to reach your destination. The only escape route is when you gather momentum from the story of Hashimu Suleiman, that great man that did a solidarity trek from Lagos to Abuja in honour of President Muhammadu Buhari. That's a huge talent needed for survival in Lagos.


A newcomer will also realize the change in the cost of food. If you are a glutton and you are not ready to make that odd habit in you history, you will end up being homeless after all your income directly goes to your belly. This is another point of frustration.

Majorly, what about the ultimate cost of accommodation? While coming to Lagos for visitation purposes, I used to laugh at some residents of certain areas like Ajegunle, Oshodi, Mushin, Olodi Apapa and others. The irony of it is that slaves here will amount to Kings in Ibadan or other states in Nigeria. That's a huge difference. My experience in Ebutte Meta was a real eye-opener. I saw a two-bedroom flat going for almost half a million naira rent in a year. The rooms were virtually small with very poor ventilation. The building was quite old with several people occupying the diverse flats. This is a weird place to be when there is now power as every flat or room possesses a generating set which they MUST put on at night not necessarily because it is needed but a times to avoid intimidation from their neighbours. This leads to a high magnitude of unbearable noise. This is how some people live every day in this part of Nigeria. The walls and building structure reminded me of my days in the great Obafemi Awolowo hall in Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife Osun state where I occupied block 4 with my colleagues. It is a memory to keep alone to for the purpose of thanking God for transformation and also laughing at the rough past. In front of the house was a mini and very illegal market place with two major heaps of refuse. That is what I term as the beauty in the ugliness of Lagos. This is the city of hustlers. The only thing that keeps everyone here is the hot quest for the money. Don't get me wrong, Lagos is beautiful. There are some mind-blowing areas on the Island and in mainland that will make your day but one fact still remains that majority struggle here while the minority make it big. This could amount to a massive frustration after you must have been heavily exposed to the ills of squatting. I wonder the source of smiles of an individual who enjoys his need rest after a tough stress on the streets of Lagos in a small bedroom filled with 5 or more people without counting the mosquitoes, cockroaches, small rats and other creeping insects who will certainly be present.


 What about the emanating heat especially when power usually fails? I feel for the fate of people. This accounts for the reason why Nigerians will never return when they travel abroad.

This level of frustration is preliminary. What will you say about married men with kids who are battling with financial instability due to job scarcity? You have mouths to feed and you incidentally get relegated to the role of a bread-eater by the Nigerian economy when you are supposed to be a bread-winner. This hurts. When you listen to the stories of other people here, your frustration becomes a source of jubilation to you. What about the fate of those who are suffering from on terminal ailment or the other? Or those on the verge of losing loved ones? There is no cause to smile.


I wonder how commuters live Christian/religious lives in Lagos. Everybody gets violent on the road. It is either you are raining curses on the commercial vehicle drivers, few Okada riders or dealing with the Lastma officials. It may be a case of passengers abruptly crossing the road because of the absence of zebra crossing in Lagos. There is no time you will not have a story to report when you board a BRT bus or ''Molue''. It is either there is a serious fight between a fat woman and a slim lady or man over the occupation of space on the seat of the bus or the conductor is overcharging for a regular destination, or the conductor is trying to cheat a passenger on his change after payment. A times, it is a case of a religious preacher speaking on top of his voice in the stuffy bus to spread the gospel. Most people frown at the idea but they find it uneasy to complain in order not to feel you want to rebel against God. The ugliest part is when one person innocently farts in the vehicle after loading some bad mixtures of food substances. It may be cases of the driver purposely taking you pass your alighting point. The issues are really diverse. They all attract negative reactions no matter the depth of your faith in whatever religion you practice.


This is Lagos. This is where the hustle for the money is real and intense. This is where only money keeps most people going. The land where smiles are fake. People only smile as a significance of hope for better days. Thanks for joining me on today's episode. I hope this piece was worth reading and even if it never made your day, the first-hand pictures taken by my cousin who is into travel journalism will boost your urge to read more. I appreciate your attention. I am your humble Village Town Crier.
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About Osayimwen Osahon George

I'm a journalist and a Political Scientist undergoing a doctoral programme focused on media, democracy and governance in Africa. My mission is to uphold the role of the media as the 'fourth estate of the realm' and also tell the Nigerian Story to the world. You can contact me on smile2georgex@yahoo.com Phone number: +2347053302356.
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