Lagos, our Lagos…a city of contrast (2)
CONTINUED FROM FRIDAY 27/02/2015
THEN came Nigeria’s turn with full expectations, surprises and its reputed hospitality, but almost without warning, Obasanjo’s watch disappeared to the complete shock of others and quite imperturbably, he retorted; my fellow sojourners, we are in Oshodi (Lagos) where anything can happen!
Outside Nigerian borders, the presumed magic wand of Lagos is beyond descriptive mention because it is as if there is a never-exhaustive-money-spinning pipe on every avenue and street and added to this is the increasingly vibrant population of diverse stocks. With a swelling population size inching towards 20 million, which may only be matched by the combined collapse of several African nations’ population, where then lies Nigeria’s anticipatory giant power status if not in Lagos’ acumen of sharp skills, elemental sophistication and pervasive entrepreneurial wherewithal!
As a mixture of numerous individualities and severalty of ethnic groups, Lagos is readily home to so many shades of characters; noble, not-so-noble, affluent, deprived, hardworking, lazy, innocent, devilish and pretentiously ‘holy’. For Lagosians and their inspirational pursuits, it is like a world without end and in fact, some have been so used to Lagos and its vagaries that only death can take them off the scene of events. For this metropolitan stock, Lagos is that long-fulfilled global village where one’s nationality, ethnic membership, cultural divisiveness, creed allegiance or gender difference aptly melt to a solidifying unit of belongingness. In essence, from Badagry to Ikorodu; Ajah to Alagbado or Maiduguri to Calabar, Sokoto to Nnewi; Lagos is that one spot where wonders of sorts never cease to happen be it in the morning, afternoon, evening or night.
Even one-on-one, Lagos’ typical ghettos (Mushin, Agege, Ajegunle, Orile) are high-ups on street wisdom and related deviancies compared to Abuja’s mild-mannered down-trodden (Zuba, Mararaba, Nyanya, Mabushi, Gwagwalada, Suleja) and deep inside their contrasting intricacies, it would be confirmed that Lagos street fellows are well over and above others in the high marks of societal non-conformism. Just recall that it was a Lagos’ ghetto, Ajegunle, in the 1980s, that birthed a mock cup-of-nation football competition and for quite awhile, this neighborhood soccer rivalry produced and fed quality materials in all departments (thunder-catching goal keepers, impenetrable defenders, utilitarian mid-fielders, never-miss-it strikers!) to the nation’s various age-group teams.
Shortly after Nigeria’s federal Leviathan relocated to Abuja, some people, probably out of myopia, bemoaned that Lagos’ status might reduce in ranks and relevance, but about one quarter of a century later, not only has it expanded in scope and horizons, its gross domestic products is said to have tripled. If anything, Lagos is an instructive teacher for the rest of the nation and by extension the West African sub-region that rather than the governmental burdensome interferences in public life, it is the driving ethics of the private sector (for instance, public private partnership initiatives) that decidedly push/pull the market forces. What the government needs to do is to have in place codified rules and regulations along with clearly spelt-out norms of rewards and sanctions. Similarly, Lagos presents a sound way of internally generated revenue through appropriate taxation by which one’s civic obligations can be adequately measured. Not while ago, a said research was conducted on which nation on a global scale had the most notoriety for tax evasion, criminalities and impunity and the duo of Italy and Nigeria topped the bill!
Indeed the basic factor why Lagos is effortlessly ahead of the pack is because of its early settlers-the Spaniards’ cosmopolitan enterprising prowess. These adventurist explorers came primarily on trading rather than colonial subjugation and with a free lease of profit maximization cum commercial exploits, the then-entrepreneurial spirit has taken deep roots in the psyche of the average Lagosian and couple this trademark with its several natural harbours which no landlocked territories can ever enjoy no matter how artificially induced. Obviously acting according to its own script, Lagos competes with no one and unlike that dictum; see Paris and die (of sophistry and wine) Lagos offers you sophistication, metropolitan virtues of easy lifestyle, ample opportunities, egalitarian and equitable avenues of good citizenship.
In some ways, Lagos sets the pace for others to follow…in antics, intrigues, fashion, trendily craze and popular culture. What other lands still fear to dare are common sights in this no man’s land of weird habits. It is in Lagos that one goes out empty-handed and returns full due to the high stakes of valour and hard work. While some use their hands to attain fulfillment others apply their brainy endowments. Be you from the East, West, North or the South; the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Pacific or Caribbean, the gravitational pull of Lagos’ cosmopolitan attractiveness on its indigenes, residents and tourists is simply irresistible and infectious.
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