House Hunting in Lagos: Things They Don’t Tell You


First things first, Lagos apartments are OVERPRICED. If you think you will get value for your money, please get ready to be shocked out of your wits. What you will find is that rent property quality is not even at par with the cost placed on it. I’ll get back to this in a bit.

Source: Google
Source: Google

So January 1st this year I had a list of what I want in 2017 and top of that list was paying my own rent. Rationale: My dad retires this year and it was past time papa mia stopped footing the rest of my responsibilities. Then I thought again, Olodi-Apapa (where I currently stay) is too far. I’ll search for a place in a central location in Lagos and pay.

Thus the search began. First I learnt that what I have known as a self-contained apartment all my life is called the Mini-flat in Lagos. So by Lagos definition, a self-contained apartment is just one-room with bathroom and toilet carved into a corner of it and a Mini-flat is usually a room, sitting-room, kitchen and toilet facilities in it. For me and everywhere I have lived (Ogun and Ondo) except Lagos, what I described as a self-contained apartment will be regarded as just what it is – a room.

Source: Bellanaija

That understood, I limited my search to “Mini flat” in Ilupeju, Airport Road area of Oshodi, Gbagada, Yaba, Onipanu and Maryland. Budget: 250,000 Naira per year. Can I hear some short snorts, somebody? Google became my friend, that’s aside the BBM announcement I made about searching. The first few responses I got to this “advert” was “250k? For Miniflat in this Lagos? Make it 300 or worse 350 na”. At this, I get my small Nokia and put the calculator to good use. Let somebody not come and be counting bridges in Lagos abeg. After the calculation, I realised going up on my initial will put plenty pressure on my pocket. After rent, I will sha still pay bills and feed and look good; all of which also cost money. So 250k or nothing.

Between Jiji.com and Nigeriapropertycentre.com, I managed to find some agents. The first I met in Yaba, very customer-centric, was the one who taught me the difference between self-con and Miniflat according to Lagos. Then we (My twin and I) decided to go see the apartment and then he says we’ll be paying 3000naira for inspection fee. The Ijebu in me kicked in. I need to pay to check? What if I don’t like the place? Will I get refund? Answer: No. I calculated; if I saw five different agents to check different places, 15000 is gone? LOL! So I quickly told him I’ll call him later about it as we’re undecided as to whether we want Yaba.

Source: Google

My next stop was Oshodi. I saw two places there. The first place, if you have a car, you will be parking on the street. That told me one thing. The man who owns the house is not progressive. Is he praying his tenants never own cars? Did I mention the almost non-existent ventilation? Lagos is hot enough for one to add cramped apartment to the wahala. My answer, Mbanu! The second place had a very poor road network, and the apartment, two stories up, had not been connected to water. Again, no thank you. For both I paid 1,500naira inspection fee.

Please note that at this time, I hadn’t thought to ask my dad how much my current two-bedroom apartment costs. Next stop was Ogudu, this one was found by a friend. The sad part about that area was that both ways, I will always be in traffic: whether to work or from work. That’s like adding ten years to my twenty-something already. Still, let’s see the apartment. It was nice. The builder or landlord however made a mistake: the window of the sitting room and the stair outside the house are on the same level; which meant if it rained and water flows down the stairs, it will flood the room. Did I go in rainy season? No. How did I know? Chuck that to the few times my twin and I have gone to Popsi’s house while it was being constructed. The detailed eye helped where nice would have just been enough for some people.

Long story short, I found another apartment at Onipanu. 270,000 yearly as rent and 120,000 for “agency and commission”, the agent said. Total: 390,000 Naira in the first year. Note again, this is rent only. Then I called papa and he said “120k commission and agency? Isn’t it supposed to be 10percent of rent again? That’s what the law says. That’s too much to pay”. That’s when I decided to ask, “Daddy, how much do you pay for this our place?” Let’s just say the answer got me realising I can pay 1 and three-quarter year’s rent at my current place. Did I mention that my current house can comfortably park 10 cars, has steady water supply and is only “far” when you’re coming from after Oshodi (Ikeja, Ojota, Ketu, Ikorodu)? Also to and from work or anywhere, I’m always against traffic unless the Apapa traffic demons (oil tankers and freight vehicles) are out to play.

Source: Google
let’s just stop here please

Final decision: Rent paid and I will not be moving.

Lessons Learnt?

  1. Lagos apartments are priced based on Location. Please note, location doesn’t necessarily mean quality apartment. It only means you’ll be paying almost double the price of a Mile 2 apartment in Yaba
  2. Only you know your pocket. Don’t let your big girl/boy status be determined by those who think living in one area isn’t good for your status when they are not supporting you with a dime.
  3. That thing they say about Lagos and packaging, it’s true. Don’t let your need for a fine house take your eyes off the really important details. Go with a detailed eye.
  4. If you have a low budget like the one I had, look beyond the really catchy areas of Lagos. It doesn’t make sense to drive a Murano while living in one-room in Magodo when you can get a mini-flat or standard flat at the same rate in Okota, Mile 2, Palmgrove or Egbeda and still drive that Murano.
  5. Only you know what you want. Don’t let Lagos’ idea of what is good make you lower your standard.
  6. Most importantly, life is too short to be living to pay rent alone.

 

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Thoughts on a Random Day


It’s Friday and there’s a party about to start. Drinks are showing up. Small chops are making mouths do the Skelewu. soon, feet will join the movement. You see It’s TGIF somewhere in the city of Lagos. but before i go join the party…

 

Dear Reader,
The gods of writing must be having the time of their life right now as they imagine the many stories that could win literary prizes if only someone will write about current happenings in Nigeria. In the same vein, these gods must be having a good laugh at the situation called Nigeria. Allow me to explain.
Until some days ago, I’ve been away from here. It’s hard putting aside the worrying state of things to put thoughts to text. In my defense, i want to say that the Muses deserted me but that is not what happened. “What happened?” You ask. The only answer: Nigeria. Well to be fair, Nigeria has always happened but recently, more often than not. Nigeria is renowned for its corrupt abilities and fraudulent nature. Cameron gave it a fancy name: fantastic corruption.

 

However lately, Nigeria has found more ways than one to remain the topic of the day internationally: the conspiracy called Chibok girls, the desperation called Niger Delta Avengers, the disaster called Nomadic farmers, the rising despair called saving the economy, The southward turn of the naira, the growing fear called depleting oil and the sad situation called job cuts and rising unemployment.

 

When you grow up in a country like Nigeria you come to expect anything.No matter how depressing the news, life goes on. You thrive on the belief that where life exists, hope abounds. You expect nothing from the government but understand that when your tide turns, the government expects everything from you. So you get used to the negativity and make jokes about it until then. So like most Nigerians out there, i take bad news like one would buy roasted corn at a street corner- in stride after only a slight pause or shake of the head. But in all the years of my existence, all twenty-five of them precisely, nothing came close to breaking me than accumulated events of the past few weeks. There was the fuel price hike, thousands of job cuts across the country, the back and forth in government (too many propagandas and too many of those who take a knife to Nigeria like it’s their family inheritance.)

 

There was a time when it-is-well was the statement that marked the end of every complaint but these days even that is no longer enough. To agree with Igoni Barrett, each of us has become Ministers in our own right- Ministers of power, works and housing, defence, youth development, education and so on. we provide these things ourselves.

 

Lately, many of my friends are leaving the country. Some for study, some for work but in retrospect, for many of them it looks like a permanent move. Of course, I’m happy they can leave this despair called Nigeria behind but I’m sad at the avoidable circumstances that prompted their decisions. Nigeria is a country that beats hope out of you no matter how much you try not to let it. Weeks ago, I found myself looking out too. I find I want to take a break from all the depressing news surrounding Nigeria especially as the Naira keeps doing a Hopfrog against other currencies. And when I think “Oh, that’s typical Nigeria”, this time it lacks the conviction with which I used to voice those words.

 

Therefore I came back here to the one place where I can write out my thoughts without losing them. When I first started this blog, the idea was to give relevance and meanings to the regular, the everyday. Now as much as I cannot term every post on here an everyday kind of story, I find that you relate to some of the stories and give feedback albeit privately. Perhaps this is not your typical everyday situation, it is slowly becoming mine.
Right now, I write not as one hiding behind the fictive creation of a story nor behind the condensed words of poetry. Here I write as one who needs to be reminded, why I should continue to love Nigeria despite all its madness.

For Lack of a Title


“I should have eaten”, Gbenle thought as he manoeuvred passers-by at Oyingbo market trying to get the heavy weight of foodstuff on his shoulders to a car parked somewhere on Apapa road. Behind him, an elderly woman walked briskly; tailing him to make sure he doesn’t run away with her purchase.

Gbenle is one of tens of young boys that live at Oyingbo market and who did anything and everything to make food money on the daily. Today he had decided he would be an *Alabaru. His friend, Wande, with whom he had arrived Lagos from their little town in one of the South western states had told him market sellers and their customers pay much to boys who helped them carry goods to and from the market. What Gbenle hadn’t envisaged though was the weight of goods he had to carry to earn it.

Gbenle had never been one to burden himself in any way, not with thoughts, girls, or heavy things. That was why he had chosen to be a bus boy in the first place. As a bus boy, he simply alerts passengers going the route of his bus by intermittently shouting “Yaba, wo le, Yaba” and gets paid a little sum for his efforts once the bus is filled. This helped him meet his daily needs with some extra on good days. But the last few days hadn’t been good as the bus he calls passengers for had developed faults.

So that morning when Gbenle had woken up to a monstrous hunger, he knew it was time to find an alternative. Even the worms in his belly seemed to have had enough as they bit unapologetically into his stomach walls. The hilarious comebacks he usually had for the other boys’ jokes didn’t come through either when the boys mocked every person who passed. “See her leg”, one boy said. “See that one, bringing children to market. Psheeaw”, another said. “Wicked woman, giving a pregnant Alabaru such load. Can’t she carry them herself?” went a third. “These ones are playing love in the market” yet another boy pointed out as they hurled at passers-by in raucous manner. Gbenle who was usually the gang leader had more pressing matters on his mind; food.

Gbenle had looked around to find Wande at an extreme corner of the group clutching nylon of Garri and another of Groundnuts. The look on Wande’s face indicated he wasn’t open to sharing but even if he was, Garri and Groundnuts didn’t count as Gbenle’s choice of recovery after days of feeding on water. His stomach growled as if in agreement. Wande had simply looked up as Gbenle’s shadow rested on him and said in unblemished Yoruba, “Alabaru is the job that pays now. Being a bus boy at this time of the day will only earn you promises of Lunch which may not happen especially if your chosen bus driver is the type that likes to collect his own money.”

Needing no further encouragement, Gbenle had made his way into the market, keeping an eye out for anyone who remotely looked like they needed a porter. Until he found the woman. She had helped him put the load on his shoulders, walked behind him at a steady pace as they made their way out of the market and towards Apapa road. Soon the sound of a car being unlocked remotely and an accompanying flashing set of taillights told Gbenle they are at the car. The woman promptly opened the car boot so he can deposit his burden into it, then followed through by digging out a dirty One Hundred Naira note from her purse which she handed to him.

“No more. No more load-carrying”, Gbenle decided as he headed back to Oyingbo to join the other boys.

 

 

 

*Alabaru- a market porter who carries commodities from or to the market at a pre-agreed price.

Of Maturity, Feeling Entitled and Commonsense…


So far, I have realized it’s easier for one to say “I’m mature” than for them to show maturity. And About commonsense, please don’t let anyone tell you commonsense is common. It’s a lie.

Let me start with the ladies. My dear on-fleek-on-fleek sisters. It’s Christmas, hope on fleek is not un fleek? But I have one very simple question to ask. I hear you all are “claiming” feminist these days. What’s feminism please? And please don’t come here and say that being a “manly” woman is feminism and being submissive is not. See ehn, you don’t need to shout what you are. Life is not a competition between men and women. We are here to complete one another. You are a woman. Be. Take care of you. And take care of him. And when he wants to take care of you, please don’t pull the feminist card. Let him. Let him be the man. And enjoy every minute of it. And if he doesn’t take care of you without you asking, then…

Anyways, back to Feminism, it is not about standing against men nor is it about being untrue to you just to please a man. Feminism is about you as a woman having the say in your own life. Argue in the comment section please.

However that a man should take care of you shouldn’t make you a liability to him nor should it make you a well-dressed beggar. Das how one girl stylishly told Fisayo to take her to Coldstone Creamery. Fisayo eagerly agreed. Shebi it’s to take her and she’ll pay for her buy. Only for Sister to say “ah ahn, you can’t buy ordinary Coldstone for me?” Sister if it’s “ordinary coldstone”, why can’t you buy for yourself with your own money? We ladies need to learn to appreciate little gestures and stop with the sense of entitlement.

My dear brothers, why is it that when we tell you “I like you”, then you begin to form Trey Songz. Brotherly, I like you is not equal to I want to have sex with you. Neither is it equal to I will do anything you ask just so I can be bae. Maybe for some ladies it is. But for me, it only means I like your attitude or personality. Nothing more. Okay, maybe more sometimes. One time I told a guy I liked him (i really did like more than his personality) and he decided to use that as a reason to start misbehaving. So I cannot like you and tell you without you using it as an opportunity to act like an asshole? Brother, where art thy maturity?

I know Adekunle Gold’s Orente song is blowing minds right now. Adekunle win for that song sha. E cash out wella. But you guys are missing the point of that song. The point is Orente will not complain when you have commonsense. And Commonsense in this case means knowing the right to do at a particular time without being prompted. Look at it this way, Adekunle did not have money but he had the sense to make bae happy, to think of her needs without her asking. He paid attention and cared. How will she complain? However, he also knows he has to hustle hard to be great so that bae will keep staying. Why else do you think he sang #Pick Up? But you, you are forming hard guy because you believe caring or loving is a sign of weakness. Be there o. The seizethebae gang are coming. They have plenty love and care to give on a platter.

All I’m saying is that let commonsense be your guiding force. Ladies, When you receive a gift, say “thank you”. Also #BoyfriendNotATM. Take care of you and your man. Earn your keep, no matter how small. It will earn you more respect.

Guys, man up. Take care of you and your ladies. Also, loving or caring are not weakness signs either. If anyone takes advantage of you because you are caring or loving, then they are the problem.

Have a happy Christmas people. Remember, let commonsense be your guiding force.

#StoryTime: Of A Girl, Paulina…


I started this story to tell a particular story but at the end, emerged a different one. Oyin, I hope this holds the forte for when that story comes…

******************************************************************************

 

My name na Paulina. You see, me na from a good home. Church every Sunday, Bible study Tuesdays and Thursdays, Evangelism on Fridays, that kain thing.

As the only girl of my parents, you go expect say dem go spoil me. For where? I dey work like Jacki. For my eye, my hands be like Ponmo wey don see sun. But my friends say I get fine hands. Anyway, that one na tori for another day. You see we get blender for house yet Mummy go send me grinding stone for pepper. Pounding machine dey o because as a correct Ondo man, Daddy no dey use Pounded Yam play, but every Sunday afternoon, na me, mortar and pestle go dey make tungba tungba for neighbourhood. Everybody don know me, ‘Lina the Pounding Girl.

Na so my life be till I enter University. As I enter Uni, I get boyfriend. The boy deflower me, wetin dey there? But to yarn truth, e pain o! One, Bobo come my room. Roommates no dey. On top bunk bed wey get iron spring wey sabi do prin prin every time pesin move, na on top that kain bed e take deflower me. The discomfort no be here. Two. Bobo no use condom. But as JJC wey I be, wetin I for do? Na so e begin beg me after. “Baby, sorry. Baby, maybe I should get you something. Let me call my friend, he should know. Is it still paining you? Maybe I should just go to a chemist or something. Are you okay?”

As e dey talk the sorry, dey talk all these things, I dey cry the more. For my mind, fear wan kill me. Jesuuu!! What if I get bele? How I for do? Wetin I go tell Mummy? Jesuuu!!! STD nko? To come top am, that day after Bobo go, to piss na issue!! What if trumpet blow? Wetin I go tell Baba God? Na so I begin fire prayer of forgiveness, against pregnancy, STD ati bee bee lo.

But as I begin get sense, I come realize say even if Baba God go help me, me sef go help myself. After that first time, I come talk to Shayo, one of my roommates, make she follow me go Pharmacy. When we reach, I beg her make she help me buy condom and contraceptives. I too shame. Abeg, how pesin for take ask for that kain thing? But Shayo get weyrey for head well well. The way she take ask ehn, you go think say na cloth she dey buy for Yaba.

Na so things be until that stupid Clara wey her room no far from my own for Block Two decide say she want my boyfriend. JJC wey I be na, I no see wetin dey happen until Clara don steal Bobo finish. E pain me o. when I ask Bobo, e say “You’re too much of a good girl. Every time Missionary. Every time Mummy” E jo! Ewo tun ni “too much of a good girl”? As we dey argue, I use style google “Missionary”, make I first know wetin e mean. Finally, I leave Bobo for Clara, after plenty weeks of crying and begging.

Anyways I come get am for mind say, I go do Clara back. Say I go find way learn all the things wey Bobo leave me for. After she collect Bobo from me, I collect 2 guys from her but this her current Bobo, I no want. Every night na him Clara dey fire my devil for prayer. I dey hear the prayer because she dey shout “Paulina Fire! Paulina Fire!” every night, come complete am with bell. Mumu girl, instead of make she dey fire her current boyfriend for prayer, na me she dey fire. Everybody for Block One and Two know say the guy dey panel beat Clara face well well and when we see am, ask wetin do her, she go say she fall from bike, or she waka enter door. Yinmu! We know say your boyfriend na Bash Ali.

Anyways, jungle don mature and time don reach wey I go close Clara and her boyfriends’ chapter. University don nearly finish and girls don dey become women.

This afternoon I get Lunch with one of my brothers’ friend, Michael. The kain question wey I ask Michael ehn, you go think say he wan contest for President; whether e don get STD before, whether e get pikin for somewhere (too many baby mama drama these days). When I wan come finish am, I ask whether he don experiment with another guy before. You sef talk “Ha!” Be there o. You never hear say side chicks don dey be guys now?

Now I dey go downstairs go meet Michael. Our lunch na this afternoon. E say make I suggest. E dey expect say I go mention Chinese restaurant. I just tell am, “I know a place in Marina, close to Union Bank. We can have Amala there.” Bros shock. Anyways, I don dey hostel car park. I see Michael as e stand near one black Toyota Corolla. I waka go the car. As I reach, “Hi, Michael”, I talk for correct English.

#StoryTime: Seen From A Bus Window


Today I sit on one of those yellow-and-black painted killers they call buses in Lagos. This one I’m on is better compared to the many I’ve been on recently. Quietly I sit by the window eating Lagos traffic staple of Gala and of course La Casera. They say the La Casera company underpays staff but who cares? So long as it’s cooling my internal system in hot, fume-filled, horn-blaring Lagos traffic while I let my imagination run, it’s none of my business. Not like I have much in the way of business anyway.
Just then, a song catches my ear. And before you think it’s the usual we produce as Nigerian music, it is not. It is a bunch of children come to my side of the bus window to beg for money. About 5 to 6 of them, all girls, are singing in that incoherent manner I barely make out as English. Just to get them moving, I give them the squeezed N20 in my palm. It is change from a pure water seller from earlier. They greedily left me and went to the next window opening to harass the next passenger. I look out the window to see another set of girls coming my way; I quickly shut the window as I look towards the conductor who is still screaming, “Ladipo, Ikeja Along, Agege o. Agege Agege o”
You see I’m one of the millions of young graduates in Nigeria who every morning leaves home in search of greener pasture. In truth, I’m not even looking for greener. I only want pasture. Before graduation, I had it all planned out. Finish school with good grades, serve Fatherland, save some cash during service, get back home, apply to companies, get a good paying job and live.

Here’s how that went. Finishing school with good grades is not a problem. It however becomes a problem when your good grades end with an HND. Serving Fatherland, that’s relatively easy too until you realize you are expected to work 8 to 5 daily while earning 19,800 Naira a month. That’s if you weren’t first thrown like a piece of garbage to a town where you have to travel miles to get phone network. That means all plans of saving anything just went downhill. As one who is never afraid of days of Garri, that isn’t a big deal either.
I’ve been home now a few months. Tens of job applications have been sent with the promise of “We’ll get back to you”, which almost never comes. The reality I was afraid of is already dawning on me. Most firms are requesting for Chattered Accountants. The ones that aren’t asking for an ICAN certificate are requesting 5 and above years’ experience and that’s making someone like me out of the league, for now.
Banking institutions? Those ones won’t employ HND holders as Staff. And as Tellers, the pay is certainly not encouraging. I’m not sure it will take care of transportation to and from work each month, not to mention feeding and accommodation. But I’m here on this bus eating Gala and hoping to get a call soon from this company I just left.
I feel a tap on my shoulder. It is a young man well-dressed in a buttoned-up shirt complete with tie. He is holding a transparent folder, the kind you keep important documents when going for an interview. He quietly whispers to me. “Bro, abeg you get 50box to take me to Ikeja Along?” Recognizing a kindred spirit, I dig into my wallet and hand him a worn note. Then I go back to looking out the window.

This Lagos…of Lost Identities and Picking Pieces


Of late, I began to think to myself what Lagos means to me. Yes, it’s been a place to crash for many years but it’s still a long definition from home.

So, this Lagos; the land of everything I have become. The place where life took it’s first jab at me, and beat me, it did. Mercilessly too. The place where life made meaning and on the other hand tended towards meaninglessness. For some, it is the land of money and frivolities and shiny women. For others, it is a place where you can live larger than you are. For me, it is a land of dreams, endless yellow buses and exhausting traffic.

 

Lagos is fun, I mean. It is fun from its crowded clubs on Friday nights to its groovy warm Saturday afternoons and empty Cinema halls on Sunday mornings. It is fun from the just-let out crowds of Oshodi every evening to the annoying blares of neighbours’ cars every morning.

Lagos. That land that got me literally counting the bridges on that first ride to the city in Daddy’s car. Coming from a city where we knew our neighbours even when acres of Yam, corn and Efo farmlands seperate each house, to a place where the bridges merged one into another, it was expected.

This Lagos where I first learnt the differences in beings; how people used people and adored things. This Lagos where I received my first slap for “knowing too much book”, where I learnt to downplay my intelligence and be deaf to certain talks. This Lagos where I first got lost on the green buses of Obalende, heading to JAMB office because Papa felt it was time to take my first outing alone.

This Lagos where I first realized there was more to people, that people were not just Egba or Ijebu or Awori. That there were Ibos too and Tivs and Idomas and Hausas and Eshan and that I won’t always make sense of people’s names.

This Lagos where I first learnt why bathroom doors came with bolts and why even when they are bolted, you still have to remain covered; you never know what “uncle” or “broda” was peeping through some keyhole.

This Lagos where I lost my voice and regained it, where I lost identity only to spend my last teenage years, looking for it, for a place of belonging. This Land where I trudged the roads like some homeless child because only a few people were ready to point out the way.

This Lagos blinded by dusts and tankers and waters and lights and wheels, leaving everyone reeling in the wake of these things.

This Lagos where you can’t differentiate between your shadow and the pickpocket walking so close to you so that you live in perpetual fear and distrust of the person right next to you; even when that person is you. This Lagos where trust is bought in cash.

This Lagos of first loves and the many goodbyes that were only quick to follow. This Lagos of many hushed tones and heavy blows quick to resound in the echoes of eerie nights. This Lagos were I learnt to be everything I am; where I knew about reality long before I was taught dreams exist. This Lagos where life got blown up and scattered like clothes cut up at a tailor’s shop.

This Lagos where I am learning to start again and not be defined by things lost and days past. This Lagos of Yellow buses and endless Lagoons. This Lagos.