So, I have this friend who is always saying Lagos is ‘not that bad.’
She was one of those people I talked about last week who are begging Ambode not to remove danfos from the roads because they are culturally symbolic to Lagos. She lives in a very beautiful serviced estate in Lekki, and spends her summer holidays in very picturesque places. When I get tired of the real Lagos, (like during the last fuel scarcity) I always pack my bags and run to her house. Please, there is always light, and even when the estate is running on generators you won’t hear pim!
My only problem with this my ore is that she assumes this is how Lagos is. It’s not that she doesn’t see images on TV, but she always ends her argument with ‘but it can’t be that bad na.’
Well, my friend, let us call her Desola had to do some work on the mainland for a week and for some reason the traffic from Lekki to the mainland is always very heavy on weekdays so she decided to stay with another of our friends, let’s call her Fati, on the mainland, to make commuting easier.
Fati lives alone in an old estate somewhere in Yaba. It is a comfortable two bedroom flat, a short walk from her office. Fati is living the Lagos dream. So, she prepped the house, stocked the freezer with everything Desola likes, and sent her gate man to get 20 liters of fuel. D-day comes and Desola arrives in Yaba. The girls are giddy, it’s been a while since they spent time together because Mainland-Island. They give updates on their lives; they talk about boyfriends, lovers, work and traded gossip about their mutual friends. They laughed.
In the evening, Yaba is hot as usual. Fati puts on the generator; her neighbours put theirs on too. The noise from the generators felt like someone turned on a drilling machine in Desola’s head. Soon, her head was hurting so much she was unable to open her eyes. She just lay on the bed, grateful for the hot air the ceiling fan was twirling around. Fati’s generator is too small to power the AC, so with the fan chasing mosquitoes away, Desola finally falls into a punctuated sleep. She wakes up, very tired, in the morning.
“God! Why won’t NEPA bring light?” she asked Fati. “Was it this bad the last time I visited? Ah, and in my office the other day we were talking about how the light situation in Lagos has improved alot”
Fati laughed and said, “just be happy I am still giving you visitor treatment. You better pray for NEPA to bring the light because we won’t sleep with the generator today. I don’t have that kind of money for fuel.”
Desola gasps. “Please o, please.”
During the week NEPA would tease them with few hours of light, but then they spent most nights without electricity. The day Desola finished her work on the mainland, she ran back to Lekki, immediately.
In her house, she thought of how noisy the estate she lived in would have been if it wasn’t a serviced place. Her monthly service charge for electricity brought tears to her eyes but she was grateful she could afford to pay it, and live in relative comfort. She thought of all the other people who can’t even afford to buy generators or buy fuel as much as she and Fati had bought this past week. She thought of how much Fati told her she spends on fuel every week while still paying NEPA bills. She thought of the families living in tiny houses on the streets she passed to work, and small businesses running on generators. How much were they even making in the first place?
Later as she curled up under her duvet, she logged on to twitter. The first tweet she saw was someone talking about how the light situation was not as bad as people were saying on social media, saying that people are only trying to make the government look bad. The person went on to list how she had had one week of uninterrupted power supply in Ikoyi.
Desola would have strangled the person if they were in the same physical vicinity.
Lekki is not Lagos she tweeted back. Ikoyi is not Lagos, Victoria Island is not Lagos. The light situation in this mega city is horrible!
Ohh, she was so mad. So she went on a short twitter rant about just how different the Island is from the mainland. From the bad roads, piles of rubbish heaped in various places, the rowdiness, dirty market places. She was tired of people showing off the Lekki-Ikoyi Bridge or some fancy private beach to explain how beautiful Lagos is and the horrible traffic on major roads. She ended her short rant with “Lagos is dirty, and Lagosians are only thriving out of sheer determination.”
When I and Fati saw Desola’s twitter rant, we rolled our eyes and replied the tweet with ‘Good morning ma, coffee or tea?’
Well, that is the end of my story.
Enjoy the holidays!