Lagos: A Beautiful City
Lagos is beautiful. This depends on who you ask. The people of Lagos are simple yet so intricately complex. Lagosians are a rare class of citizens that their incomparable lifestyle needs to be studied. There is no place like Lagos and there are no citizens like the Lagosians. This is a fact. This is a truth that anyone who comes into the city can sense — the unique way of life. Lagos has a spirit. The Spirit of Lagos.
The spirit has various attributes. Trading is one key attribute. Straight from the airport to the parking lot, it is so common to see someone offering a service or a product.
Note: I define Lagosians as people who have stayed in the city for over 5 years and understand the extreme roller coaster of daily living.
Chants like “Taxi! Taxi! Taxi! Oga Taxi!” to “Passport! Passport! Sister Passport! Wait and Get Passport!” is a regular phenomenon. This is the culture we live in.
Trade is part of the DNA of a Lagosian. It is ingrained in our being. Trading in malls, stores, supermarkets, even in traffic. Trade is everywhere.
Corporate organisations are not left out in this trade phenomenon. There is always a staff in the office who supplies the company’s provisions or some other product the office makes use of.
This Lagos attribute is not just over the city but influencing other states. A student in Auchi leaves school to buy goods in Balogun market. Returns to school and sells to other students to make a decent gain.
The most seen trade is street hawking. From Jakande to Tinubu to Fashola and now Ambode. All these governors have tried to build “structures” for street trading. Cases of hawkers killed on the expressway is so rampant. Some individuals have used hawking as a means to rob individuals on the highway. With the lagos stress, it seems parking and entering a store to get a common gala and lacasera is not reasonable. So road hawkers are part of the lagos ecosystem.
However, it seems fighting it is a battle against Hydra. Cut one head off and two more emerge.
Trade has become more digital thanks to the internet. Online trading is less than two decades in lagos but has been well embraced.
Social media is the biggest enabler of Trade. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the most used platforms in the city.
Posts like “Exclusive Deals! Now Offering Highly Attractive Yet Stylish Netted Pointed Toe Ankle Strap Flats. Get Your Pair Right Now. Call us on 080xxxxxxx” are very common on Facebook.
Online stores like Konga and Jumia have paved the way for traders to have their own stores.
The attribute does not go without some pitfalls. A trader makes good sales from a merchandise and decides to open a store. In a short space of time, new traders would open stores that sell the same merchandise. The irony is that competitors would be on the same street as the initial store. The copycat business.
This has not stopped anybody because the sky is big enough for everyone to fly in the city. This is true if one rule is observed. Trading in Lagos is based on relationships.
Mr. A. has a friend, Mr. B.
Mr. A needs a service so asks Mr. B.
Mr B. calls Mrs C who can render such service.
This is known as the relationship structure of business. It has been the way of business for so long. However, there are pit holes of such business structure.
If Mrs C. disappoints Mr. A with the service she renders. Curses and insults would be exchanged. No consequences, just two angry individuals (except on rare occasions). However, such transactions if they go well, will skip all the tax and legal bottlenecks. Just plain verbal agreement. This has been the practice for so long and is still the most practiced structure.
The Lagos government has seen this structure and is bent on revisiting it. Millions of naira have been lost over a handshake agreement. TV shows like “Mogbejomide” on LTV would always grow based on such agreement structure.
Mixed feelings trail the revisiting of this structure. Signing a long agreement, meeting with lawyers prolongs the date of service delivery. Some individuals see it as “undue expenses.”
It would take a while before it can be reformed. Lagosians would kick and fuss but in turn would readily accept this new structure.
Till then, don’t be surprised to see someone selling a crocodile or any predator in traffic. It is one of the many attributes of the Spirit of Lagos. We can sell anything.
PS: Let me know your popular lagos experience. Thanks for reading.