“NIGERIAN FIRSTS”

Posted: February 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

I always have to answer to people in Nigeria.

They want to know, ”But why did you come back to Nigeria? I mean, why didn’t you just stay out there?”  I understand their bewilderment.

I mean, while thousands of Nigerians knock on the steel gates of the embassies of the U.S, UK,  Canadian, French, Ukrainian, Romanian…even far away Australia, I decided to return home to Nigeria! Did you know up to 100,000 Nigerians apply for just for a U.S. visa per year? Man! Nigerians want OUT.

But as for me, after living outside Nigeria for almost a decade, I longed to call my country home. I got tired of living in another man’s land while my country waited for me to possess my full citizenship rights. When I tell people in Nigeria this, I’m usually met with blank stares of “What’s she talking about? or vows taunting me that I will soon run back.

My first week in Nigeria I was well-pampered. There were a number of family celebrations that allowed me to see most of my extended family that I hadn’t seen in years.  It was great. Also, I didn’t experience much of the infamous power outages that we usually have in Lagos. Little did I know that NEPA aka PHCN  was giving us a record breaking 72+ hours of uninterrupted power supply as an incentive for people to go and pay their bills….

The first night that I slept without light in Nigeria was…let’s just say I really couldn’t sleep. It was World War 3 in my room! I battled those mosquitoes, like crazy. I was certain they were sent to me, to induct me into my life in Lagos. I can never forget that night.

When you move back to Nigeria, you will find that there are a number of ,lets call it, “FIRSTS” that you are bound to experience. Things that you’ll encounter and almost ask the people around you,

“Are you seeing this?” Does ANYONE else think this is just…a wee bit abnormal?”

Sadly, soon enough, you might come to accept it as somewhat normal.  Like the first time I drove in Nigeria. It was truly a memorable experience.  But first, a background on why driving in Nigeria was such a big deal for me.

You see, while studying in America, the furthest I got in U.S. Government Issued Identification was a U.S. State ID : I never got a drivers license.  I never learnt how to drive. Public Transportation was my main form of transportation and I also had good ol’ friends who would give me rides in their cars. Shout out to Dudubeauty!

So imagine my former roommates’ surprise when I tell her, “Guess what! I’m now driving in Nigeria!” She’s like, “You are What?” Thinking she can’t hear me because of the bad phone connection caused by our transcontinental phone call, I repeat myself, “I’m now driving in Nigeria! Can you hear me?!”,

“I heard you! But how are you driving in Lagos, when even people who have been mastering Houston driving for decades come back to Nigeria and don’t drive”. After sending her proof of me driving, (I had taken pictures of my great accomplishment), we did a happy dance over the phone.

Yes sireee! Lil’ ol me. I -drive -in -Lagos!

So, what made me conquer my fear of driving? And in Lag (Lagos) of all places; a place that competes with Italy for having the worst drivers ever?  Well I’ve come to the conclusion that I got the guts to drive in Lagos because, there are no rules when driving here! I’m scare of breaking rules. In America, if I make a left turn at the wrong time, its…

*winnnn yannn! winnn yann! winnnn yannnn!* (that’s a police siren).

Then I’d have to face the polite yet stern face of a police officer. US police do not play. They will get chhu! You drive crazy… and you get yourself a nice fat ticket, in extreme cases… a night in jail. Gulp! But in Naij (Nigeria)…there are virtually no driving rules. Well maybe I’m exaggerating, I’ll rephrase it. People drive like there are no rules! And if you do encounter the police, it usually involves the exchange of money from your hand to the police officers hand…for God only knows what. Oh, and you most likely will not get a receipt.  However, look on the bright side; the price tags of the “tickets”,or whatever you want to call the polices’ demands for money, are negotiable!

Also, don’t be afraid that the police will pull you over for bad driving in Nigeria LASTMAs‘. Be afraid of the police…period. Police checks are frequent and regular. You usually know where they are. They are supposed to be there as a way to ensure car inhabitants are well…you know what?…I have NO IDEA why they are there. Just be aware that  they may be in your neighbourhood or major roads and when they pull you over, they will most likely ask you the most dreaded question…

Police Check (courtsey: nigeriavillagesquare.com)

” Auntiiiii…ow weekeeennddd ?”

I’ll refrain from explaining what that question means. All this police talk might get me in trouble…hehe…If you are not Nigerian and don’t know what that question means, ask a Nigerian friend of yours. If you don’t have one, shame on you! There are too many Nigerians in the diaspora for you not to have at least one Nigerian friend.

All in all, it’s important for you to know what you are getting into before you decide to brave it and drive in Lag. So in my next post I will be posting the “Things you will most likely encounter while driving in Lagos”. This of course is all based on my driving experience in Lagos. *Big Smile*

Thanks for reading my first post and I’m glad you enjoyed it! Here’s to the Nigerian Life!

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Comments
  1. dudubeauty says:

    How did you know i enjoyed reading your post? JK..lol..I loved it! I will never ever understand the Nigerian Police….I think i will be terrified of driving in Nigeria, so,I tip my hat off to you girl 🙂 What if you refuse to indulge them in their bribe? what happens to you?

  2. Ann says:

    Lol, I can’t even begin to imagine how I would be able to drive over there. I almost got a chance to drive the last time I was there though. Like that phrase goes, “to each his own.” I know people who would go back and live there and I know folks who won’t (of any US status – citizen, visa, resident). But personally, I could never see myself living in that country unless my life (overall) would be better than what it currently is. But that’s just me. I guess it boils down to what one can tolerate because there is no ‘perfect’ land.

    • You should try driving next time! If I can do it, anyone can 🙂 Yea true and it’s really a give and take thing. There are people who have chosen to live in NIgeria despite the opportunity of living in the US, UK etc. and when I ask why, they say, Nigeria will always be home for them. So definetly to each his own.

  3. folubee says:

    you jst had 2 add Romania 2 ur list?huh!:D

  4. DeMorrieaux says:

    Austria is missing!! 😦

    Lol.. I’m thinking of moving (back) to Nigeria too.
    Well, honestly speaking, “back” would be a lie, as I am one of those who were born in the “Disapora”.
    Whenever I tell my “real” Nigerian friends of my intentions, they laugh it off, telling me there is no way I’d survive over there, as per proper Oyinbo..

    Well, we shall see.
    I’ll keep reading your posts to see how you are faring. If you can make it, so can I.. God willing lol. And I am soooooo going to start driving there too. Haha.. one of the (few) things I look fwd to when thinking about staying in Nigeria. Driving in Europe is too much work LOL.

    Thanks for sharing!

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