Lagos! ‘The Centre of Excellence or Expectation?’
Why is Lagos considered the centre of excellence, and why do so many troop to Lagos? Is it because it is believed to house the best of Nigeria’s skilled workforce, or because it is home to the country’s top industries and businesses, or the belief that everyone ‘makes’ it in Lagos? Or is it the centre of expectations, because, all the people who live in it have one expectation or the other? Well whatever the reasons are, till date people still keep migrating to Lagos.
People come to Lagos for various reasons. Some are here by choice, some by force, others by accident! Most, if not all who come to Lagos are filled with so much hope, have so many dreams and ways of achieving these dreams. Some find success, joy, and happiness, while some don’t. Many troop to Lagos for different reasons, but all have some things in common – ‘expectations and the drive to achieve success.’
I’ll tell you about my Lagos and about others’ Lagos.
My being in here is neither by force nor accident, It is purely by choice. I grew up in one of the small but peaceful towns in Nigeria, I’m from a family of seven. We were very comfortable growing up in that town, I mean, my parents were not millionaires but we were well provided for. I was in secondary school when my Dad got a new job and moved to Lagos. We were all excited because it was bigger than what he had at the time. We didn’t move to Lagos immediately, on the contrary we went for occasional visits, and gradually my hunger for Lagos grew. I liked what I saw- the tall buildings, the ‘okada riders’, and the water that was everywhere, was such a joy behold. I was drawn to all the water I saw around me and enjoyed going to the various beaches with my cousins, it was so exciting.
Gradually I knew without a doubt, that I wanted to work in Lagos, and be a ‘big man’ like my Dad, sitting in a air-conditioned office, with a secretary taking my jacket and serving me tea, in a tall building on Broad street, Victoria Island. The seed was deeply sown. My Dad retired and went back to our town to enjoy retirement with my Mom. That was a long time ago…
I am now a graduate. By pulling the right strings, I was able to serve in Lagos. And fortunately for me, with one of the multi-national companies. For a youth corper, I was earning a nice salary, so many things worked in my favor, and I had such high expectations. I really couldn’t ask for more. I was doing well in the organization,respected and liked by almost all- I believe this was due to the way I dressed and carried myself, and showed respect to my elders,most of the employees didn’t even realize I was a youth corper. I had set the right platform for myself, I knew all the right people and had the ears of the decision makers because I worked closely with them. I was so sure of being retained upon completing my youth service. I wrote a test while still serving, and passed, so I was only waiting to be called for the interview. My friends pestered me to hook them up or get them connected, but I simply explained that it was God working things out in my favour. Everyone told me how lucky I was.
How it all went wrong still baffles me! I remember my boss’ words to me when I was leaving…” Don’t worry my dear, just go and rest for a week or two, gain some weight, and you’ll be back here before you know it.” Only as I write this, I’m still waiting for that come-back call. It’s well over two months now and I’m still waiting while some of my corper colleagues have been called back. So I ask myself, Does this happen everywhere or is it just Lagos? I have no explanation for what happened but all I can say is, I definitely didn’t get what I expected in and from my Lagos! I sit here and wonder if things would have been different if I had done my youth service somewhere else. I wonder if I came out too early. But in this Lagos, I am still very determined to make it and I know I will. Delay is not Denial!
“I also had high expectations when I came to Lagos, but what I have now is far from what I expected. During my youth service, I found myself pregnant, and now I’m married to my boyfriend of several years, and now we have a son together. I’m happy but…I still have those dreams and expectations of mine, so many of them- my ACCA exams to write for instance. But I know someday soon, I’ll achieve those dreams in my Lagos, the Lagos I came to by choice.”
“I come from a very decent Christian family. I have a lot of dreams yet to be achieved, but I know I’ll achieve them, even if it is not via the means I planned. I came to Lagos, not naïve I’ll say, but not quite ready for what I met either. I found myself dating two men in my office, though I didn’t realize at the initial stage that one of them was married. But now that I’m aware, I’m afraid nothing can be done, I’ll simply use what I have to get all the connection I need to achieve what I want in my Lagos.”
“I am a young guy of 25, I came to Lagos at the age 21, I’ve spent four years in Lagos, and it has being the best four years of my life. I am rich beyond my imagination and expectation. Note that I wasn’t born rich, on the contrary I come from a very humble background. ‘How did I make my money?’ many ask. Well, I’ll tell you. Some call it 419, some yahoo, others yahoo plus… but whatever it is called, I see it as the best and smartest way of making cool and endless cash.
I’m proud of what I have become in this Lagos, I have been greatly favored. Life is good, it is beautiful! What more can I ask for?”
“My parents got divorced when I was very young, so I grew up with my dad and his wife-my step-mom. I was told my mom travelled out of the country immediately after the divorce, and as I grew up, I only saw pictures of her and she called me on very rare occasions, which made me very sad. My Dad did the best he could to bring me up with the help of my step-mom, but he lost his life in an accident. I was alone in the world with my wicked step-mom,(who had cared for me just to please my dad) and my step-siblings. And I say alone, because to me my Mom didn’t really exist. I was greatly ill-treated by my step-mom and was made to stop school in order to work in her shop. It became too much for me to bear and I ran to Lagos-where everyone seemed to be making a living. In Lagos, life was very tough, contrary to what I had been told, yet I struggled to survive, and managed to complete my schooling. Through it all I came out successful. I eventually got more than I bargained for in terms of success. Years after, I am a successful bank manager, married to a wonderful man, and blessed with three lovely children.
This is the story of my Lagos, a place I came to, due to unfavorable circumstances has finally favored me.”