“I’d practically lived all of my years in Ibadan (aside the two-year break I spent in Akure). I’d heard stories and I knew the craziest things happened in Lagos and I was so sure Lagos wasn’t for me. I remember always saying that there was no way I’d ever live in Lagos. I love my sleep, I hate sitting in a place for a long period of time, I don’t like heat, I don’t know how to struggle for vehicle or alight from a moving vehicle. So I wasn’t sure I could last in Lagos if I lived in it. Then, last year September, I ended up in Lagos.
Lagos. I’ve had my own share of Lagos craze and two experiences stand out. First, I was going to the FCMB bank at Akowonjo. I had been directed there from the Idimu branch. On the bus from Egbeda, I told the conductor I was going to Akowonjo but I didn’t know the place and he assured me all was fine. I paid the fare and getting my change became a problem. Whenever I asked for my change, he said: “Omo ele, ma fun e ni change e ma worry”. Along the way, he told me to alight that he wasn’t going to stop until after that bridge linking Dopemu so I had to trek to complete my journey. “OK, my change nko?” He asked me to get down that he would give me? Guess what? I was given an incomplete change and even the money was so bad; Bank sef rejected the money. Now I’ve learnt to shout: “Conductor my change o” or else it’s either I get ‘married’ to someone or I never get my complete change. I’ve had both experiences.
My second experience. I had left for work that day, happy that I left home really early because that meant I’d beat the morning traffic on Third Mainland Bridge. Along the route from Ikotun to Oshodi N50 is a major problem for the conductors. Having known that, always found a way to hold a whole N50. Unfortunately this particular day, I was to collect N350. The conductor gave me N200, remaining N150. There’s one annoying act common to Lagos drivers: in a bid to avoid paying the agbero, they would rather not reach your destination. If you’re lucky, they would join you to another bus. This particular day, the driver and conductor show joint craze and weren’t going to join us to another bus. Eventually, the conductor found a bus for us but I still had change to collect. That was how I was “married” to one Igbo man like that whose change was N50 but the conductor gave him N200. When I saw the man walking away when we got to Oshodi, I called to him: “Oga my change”. This man began to shout at me, saying all sorts. I just stood there looking at him, lost. Meanwhile, the useless conductor who caused this mess was long gone and I was just there, left to deal with this man.
At that instance, I forgot I was almost late for work. Then I started asking the agberos to please help us change the money. One of them saw the way I was doing and asked what happened. I was near tears as I explained to him. He scolded the man and it was at that point he asked where he was going to. Then the man said Bolade. It was the agbero who then told him to give the money to the keke driver he would take and give me my change. Mehn, I just couldn’t get over it. You need not ask, I got late to work that day. If you check my purse now, I’ve got #50 plenty. Now, I’ve also learnt to use my sharp mouth which I never got to use when I was in Ibadan. So that they don’t go thinking that na only them get mouth, they should know the use of words is Ibadan people’s specialty.
In Lagos, it feels like it’s a sin if you don’t use up the land. Everywhere is so choked. You could count the number of houses in Lagos with compounds. You see people parking their cars outside their houses. It chokes so bad that there’s practically no difference in the temperature during the rainy season and the dry season. It feels almost the same all year round. In Ibadan, “ategun alafia” will ‘blow’ on you.
Ibadan has been associated with filth, but truth be told, Lagos is just as dirty. People see some parts of Ibadan where people dump refuse by the road side and forget areas in Ibadan which are well kept; then they just keep going on and on about the dirty parts they saw. Newsflash: Lagos is not all that clean. People in Lagos just make themselves believe what they want to believe. Forget the classy estates, central Lagos like Ikeja etc. People dump dirts on the roadside in Lagos too. When you want to see the worst of Lagos, the rainy season bares it all.
Aside the endless opportunities and the fun places in Lagos; if I had to choose, I’ll definitely choose Ibadan over and over again. Who would want to trade the calmness and serenity of Ibadan for the multiple, serial craze in Lagos? I’m still trying to adapt to the way of life in Lagos but believe me I doubt if the Ibadan blood can leave me. I may not be a native of Ibadan but that’s where I’ve lived most of my life and I’m proud to say: “omo Ibadan ni mi.”