Feyi Fawehinmi: The Word On The Streets XVII- The Lagos floods edition

by Feyi Fawehinmi

If you are reading TWOTS for the first time, the back catalogue is here. This was a short trip so this edition is somewhat abridged.

1  I was quite surprised by MMIA. Perhaps because my flight landed at 5am or so. But I got off the plane at 5.07am and by 5.40am I had cleared customs and was ready to leave the airport. I cannot recall it ever being that quick. The whole airport seemed to work much better and they have managed to find space from somewhere to make the arrival hall look a bit more expansive. The Acting President’s Executive Order seems to have worked.

I tried hard to look for something to complain about and the only thing was a Customs officer telling me no amount was too small for her as I made my way out of the airport. I didn’t even dignify her with a response.

2. This trip was dominated by the seemingly non-stop rain in Lagos. I am tempted to say I haven’t seen Lagos that bad before but people told me it was my short memory letting me down. Some roads in Lekki where I stayed were complete rivers. It was my first experience of being in a car wading through almost knee-deep water with my heart in my mouth the whole time. The problem seemed more intense in Lekki with VI and Ikoyi not looking so bad when I passed through.

At one point in the last decade, Lekki was the fastest growing residential area in the world. What might its future now be? Given that this is home to what might be termed Nigeria’s only emergent middle class, it will be a tragedy if the flooding is not fixed and soon.

3. So last month I announced the winner of the SME Generator Giveaway I did with a friend of mine. I was already impressed by the guys after speaking to them but what I saw after paying them a visit at their new factory during this trip impressed me even more. These guys (husband and wife — wife is the boss as the husband was quick to tell me) are not just chocolate nerds but they have some really interesting ideas and dreams e.g creating a cocoa map of Nigeria.

Touring their factory was such an education in how a bar of chocolate starts its life as a cocoa bean. Of all the things to do in Nigeria, these guys are nuts enough to do chocolate.

Here’s to the crazy ones. I’m rooting for you guys.

4. Conversation with a friend:

I had a friend who was working as a consultant. He got paid his salary gross so he decided to approach LIRS (Lagos Internal Revenue Service) to pay his tax so he could get a tax clearance certificate. He was practically begging them to take his tax for 3 months and they refused. He had calculated his tax already and just wanted to pay it to them. Eventually, they agreed to take the tax money from him but told him to reduce the payment by 90%. At this point, he was tired and just paid them the reduced amount and got his certificate.

Make of that what you will.

5. Another conversation about book distribution in Lagos:

You can take the master copy of your book to the leader of those book distributors you see on the main road and tell him ‘make me famous’. Within a few days, your book will be all over Lagos and everyone will know your name.

Curious about this arrangement, I asked a foolish question — so how much do they pay you as the author for selling your book?

They don’t pay you anything na. Their job is to make you famous. That was what AY did the first time. He gave them the master copy of his CD and in a few days, the thing was all over Lagos. They have a place in Alausa where they print the books. They determine the price they’ll sell it to make it move quickly. The police and government know where they are but if you ask the Police to raid them for pirating your book, they will ask you to bring a ridiculous amount of money for them to do it.

Maybe I’m naive but this complicated version of piracy left my jaw on the floor.

6. Minding my business at a party on Saturday night when I overheard the following from a really smart guy:

That Peter Okocha guy or whatever his name is was a friend of Atiku. Through that, he managed to get a concession for gas distribution to Victoria Island and Lekki but has done nothing with it. This is not corruption o — no one is making money from this right now at all. Because the guy obviously can’t do it but when anyone approaches him with a partnership offer, he demands 60% of the deal or something. So now, the richest part of the country is just lying there with no gas because of some stupid regulation that allows some guy hold it hostage. This is how we do mad regulations in this country.

7. Discussing the Lekki floods with a friend and he said the following:

Chevron dug a giant gutter at the back of their estate in Lekki. They then built something under it to transport the water from there. All of this cost them just N5m and that estate never floods. But across the road from them, Chevy View Estate didn’t do this simple thing and that place always floods. Now it will cost them a lot more than N5m if they want to do it now.

This says a lot but I will leave you to read between the lines.

8. Still on the floods — overheard another conversation:

I’m hearing that it was Seyi Tinubu who fixed that Ozumba Mbadiwe Road just like a year ago. Now the rain has washed it away really badly and the guy is going to be in trouble with the Governor. I really don’t know what is going to break this patronage cycle in our politics.

Answers on a postcard if you know.

9. Apparently, the benefactor of Ikorodu United spent N800m on the club and they still got relegated. Why? None of that money went to the referees.

10. A friend went to visit the waterfall in a town called Oowu in Kwara State. They walked in for free and when they were leaving, she said the Oba of Oowu said:

How will you support the waterfall you just saw?

Begging for money while allowing free entry into a beautiful waterfall…

11. Thank you to everyone who braved the rain to attend the event I moderated at MUSON Centre on July 8th. The rain did its best dampen turnout but overall, I think we still had a decent discussion. The video is here if you want to watch it again.

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

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