I was a UI boy, with both my parents teaching there, although we lived in Bodija. So my major route was Bodija-UI. When my grandmother was alive, I used to visit her in Oke-Ado a lot. Life in Ibadan was peaceful, even-paced and simple pleasures were simpler and much more readily. For instance, fresh roasted corn or roasted plantain. Piping hot amala with fresh meat and stew. Fresh fruit on trees in our compound, fresh fruit from the market. I harp on the freshness a lot because the Lagos taste is quite different.
My circle of friends, outside my classmates at the university, were also mostly campus people. So maybe that gave me a bit of a skewed view about what Nigeria was like outside the UI environment. Our parents, from various parts of Nigeria were friends and colleagues and generally got along, on reason, empathy and common sense. I first left Ibadan for Lagos to attend Law School there and I returned to Lagos after completing my NYSC year in Calabar.
I consider myself to be fortunate – I don’t really have any of those horror stories to tell about life in Lagos. Not public transport, not police, not area boys. In fact, on my final day in Law School, we (three strapping young men) were stranded on the Third Mainland Bridge at midnight when our car broke down. As most stories go, we expected we would have to walk and pay area boys for safe passage but would you believe that the very second car we flagged down stopped and helped us out? Someone driving solo at midnight, stops to help three young men on Third Mainland bridge? Probably unheard of.
Though I lived in Lagos for about 15 years cumulatively, I am not sure, really, if Lagos changed me in any way. Everyone will probably say this, but the pace of Lagos is really frenetic. Whenever I visit Ibadan, there’s a palpable slowing down in the tempo of life and I find myself so relaxed, that I sleep half of the time. My commercial awareness was shaped in Lagos, but that may also have been more a function of the law firm in which I had my formative years than the aura of Lagos itself. I probably socialise and network a lot more now than I did in Ibadan – perhaps Lagos made me more confident and sociable.
Coming from Lagos, Ibadan is perfect. Yes, there could me more commercial opportunities, so that people don’t leave the state en masse after graduating. However, its purity, its preservation over the years, makes it a joy to come back to.”