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Live in Lagos – Can I help?

Help by force!

I arrived Lagos like an Israelite carrying the half-baked dough into a determined exodus. I had absolutely no idea what to expect, particularly how I will react to the weather, coming from extreme conditions like we saw this year in the Northeast US. Nothing really changed about the humid conditions, even at 8pm the wind was warm and slightly noxious. But hey! I am used to this, just have to acclimatize a bit. Err…I will dare not talk about Murtala Mohammed Airport, else it will be the rantings of a raving lunatic. Lekki Airport to the rescue!!!!!!!!!!

The road from the airport still is the famished road. It is fast becoming a bush path and reminds me of the road from Onitsha to Owerri in the late 1980s into early 1990s, It may soon need the kind of old Mercedes-Benz 9-11 trucks to ply it. It still amazes me that the government expects people to encounter that road first on a visit to the country through Lagos. Again it may be one of those roads that fall into the grey divide of Federal and State roads and no one is responsible for it. Very soon I will get dangerously upset to code red levels and will fix it. If the government refuses, private business making a fortune refuses, very rich men whole have stolen us blind also refuse to act socially responsible (at least to save face and the impending anger of the State), mere men like me will one day carry a digger and shovel to repair the road. At least beyond our children traveling safely, the police checkpoints will run smoothly and not be afraid to stop more vehicles and harass tired travelers. I have an idea, I will first start by asking my neighbour from Borno, who owns an active barn in his backyard (suitable to shoot a medieval movie), to lend me his cattle so they can graze the weeds shooting from the islands on the entire stretch of the airport road.
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THE CHURCH FRANCHISE

Recently, someone sent into my mail box a funny email listing the outrageous names of some churches in Nigeria. Although I do not believe that some of the names listed are real churches, I am also not without proof of they some do exist. There are a few from the list which I believe may exist, names such as:

–          Strong Hand of God ministry

–          Accredited Church of God

–          Holyfire Overflow Ministries

–          Angels on Fire Chapel of Peace

–          Strong Hand of God ministry

The names that are far too ludicrous for anyone to believe include names like:

–          Guided Missiles Church

–          Jehovah Sharp Sharp Ministry

–          Liquid Fire Ministry

–          Ministry of the Naked Wire

–          Trigger Happy Ministry

–          Seven Thunders of Jesus

However comical and factual in existence some of these names are, it speaks to a larger concern in the religious climate in Nigeria today. I am not exactly qualified to comment on these phenomena, but I must say that the trend has become very laughable and is becoming more of a mockery to those who are walking and living in truth. I am actually more interested in another trend more worrisome to me, and that is the style of church expansion in the country and indeed around the world; it is not peculiar to Nigeria.
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WELCOME TO LAGOS: TELLING OUR UNTOLD STORIES

I met Scoppy for the first time after Secondary school, when I came to take care of my grandmother in Lagos Island. I was still a sporting freshman in Lagos life and was always bewildered at how things functioned in the highly disordered Island life. Scoppy (a tweak of the area boy name Scorpion) is one person that embodied the perfect description of a local guy that lives in the area, and carried out any act possible as survival tactic. He could be a gateman on one hand, and a manned gate (thug) on the other. He could be a petrol station attendant as well as an oil entrepreneur selling petrol in jerry cans. Interestingly, he could also function as a local government tax collector, while also working as a bus conductor. In his varying roles in Island society, it is his night life that gives me the wonder about how such guys survive in Lagos Island. Scoppy wanted nothing out of life, but to sleep, make money, eat, drink, smoke, and womanize. Whatever could afford him these ‘luxuries’, he would fully engage. He once landed in some sweet deal that got him a foreign currency. I was happy for him, even though I had no idea where he got his big break from. I was courteously hoping he would change is mind and change his life. But no! Scoppy went to Federal Palace Hotel and blew away his riches in less than a month and was back on the streets buying rice and stew from Mama Bunmi.

His story is perhaps a speck of dust in the innumerable company of hustlers and bustlers in Lagos struggling to make ends meet for varying reasons. If we never heard about these stories, then the 3Part BBC2 Docudrama – “Welcome to Lagos” has indeed given us much ado about something. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised about any of those stories and if any emotion was squeezed outta me, then it was empathy from a sense of deep resonation. If one doesn’t live in Lagos, then ignorance is excused. But if you live in Eko and you travel the Third Mainland Bridge, you oh man art inexcusable above all things. Have you never asked yourself what on earth people are doing living in houses built on water stilts? I guess you are one of those Lagosians who have seen so much that you are unperturbed by anything out of the ordinary. It is only in Lagos that you find a cat with horns and everyone will simply look, smile, and walk on. Lagosians don’t ask questions because it seems we have been given the intoxicating tonic of social numbness. Even when we ask questions, it is to serve as an aside to a busy day before we delve back into the rumble and tumble of Lagos living.

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MY GREATEST FEAR

A few days ago I had a brief conversation over lunch with a friend from East Africa. It was one of those talks resulting from perceived tardy reasoning when we hoped that our leaders in Africa would have been what we keep dreaming about. But what struck me more was the sudden time travel I was thrown into when thinking about the daunting task of changing the outlook of a continent besieged by many troubles and laden with much burden. I wondered how I would feel on the day that I am to die. Would I be bubbling with excitement that my exit is deserved and my legacy is undoubted? Or would I be crowded by the feeling of wasted opportunities? My feelings were mixed because I have trained myself to believe I will not die an ordinary man, especially being influenced heavily by motivational messages that fill your gut and warrants self confidence from a newly defined self-concept. It was mixed because I saw great chances to make things better and without much cost to me or to my surroundings. But the pot pourri of feelings was not without the the thoughts of ‘what if nothing you do makes any sense and changes anything?’ The rest of that day was filled with random emotions spurned out of the ‘what is’ and the ‘what ought to be’.

Back in school, after sitting under inspiring lectures, particularly those that spin African history into an emotional overtone and overdose, making you feel a spark or a tinge of activism, I entered into endless debates on what role we young men will play in shaping the future we so desire. I met so many like minded folks who confessed exhausted faith in the drama we called nation building. We pressured ourselves into believing we were the gifts of God to our continent, and that we held the ace that will call home the game in our favour. Yet with the fervour, we met peeps who could extinguish your fire with a kind of infectious apathy and unconscionable inanition towards the issue of a progressive society. I will never forget the day, after a hot conversation on disabling executive corruption, that a few guys around simply sneered at all we said and stated clearly why they will grab every opportunity to monetize their virtues. What was more worrisome was their display of cognitive dissonance (the kind I usually ascribe to the Obama era Republican party) in acknowledging the need for honest men and good governance, and yet advising me  “Reggie, stop deceiving yourself. You can’t change anything. Eat your own and go your way.” Well, some things were clear at the least, I certainly knew who not to vote for if that time comes…lol
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