Anyway, Obi went on to St. Gregory’s College and thereafter gained admission to Howard University, to study architecture. According to him, he runs a flourishing architectural practice in Philadelphia and he has expanded into the hospitality business where he has reaped a huge fortune. His message was direct and poignant: he owes his success to Lagos. It was Lagos (not America) that made him what he is. His wife, Ancora is American and they have two sons who are engineers and a daughter who is a doctor (with paediatrics as her specialty).
Obi literally brought the roof down when he revealed what had hitherto been a closely guarded secret – he and I used to follow masquerades “Bamgbose”; “Ajolojo”; “Salumogi”; “Oya”; “Lapampa”; “BajulaiyeIneso”; “Ulasi”; “Alapasonpa”; “IgaOloweSalaye”etc all over Lagos. This was in addition to vigorously practising acrobatic stilts dancing when we were kids.
Perhaps, it was inevitable that Professor Sheila Maclain would interject with her distinctly Afro-American combative dissertation:
“We owe it to posterity to tell our story the way it is from our own black perspective. This is a serious moment of history (and for history). All over America, the image of Nigeria and Nigerians revolves around Advance Fee Fraud (“419”). Even more worrying are the tales being peddled around about the inferiority of black people compared with white people. I quote Professor James D. Watson:
“All our social policies are based on the fact that their (Black people) intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really”.
Then came the distress call by Professor Lateef Akindele of Georgetown University:
“Another angle to it is the notion that we just need to peel off our skin and what erupts is primitiveness. I don’t want to spoil the party but someone needs to explain to me why the government of Nigeria would appear to have done nothing to counter the terrible damage done to the image of the country by the eye-witness report of Nima Elbirgir on CNN of Nigerians (perhaps some of them Lagosians!) being auctioned as slaves in Libya.”
The climax of the evening were the three riveting videos/podcasts which were attributed to CBS. The first one had already gone viral as it caught an immigration officer red handed demanding bribe in dollars from an American visitor. The second one was on the police which according to Rotimi Fasan’s auditors’ report performed poorly:
“Our uniformed personnel are poorly paid, kitted and housed, yet they are assigned weapons albeit decrepit and obsolete, with which they can at least do a lot of damage to their superiors in uniform and unfortunate ‘bloody civilians”.
What was probably a pirate edition of another CBS bombshell captured two young men who were arrested in Surulere, Lagos for undisclosed reasons. In the commotion that ensued, it was the Chief Imam of Surulere who intervened vigorously and protested that the two young men were regular worshippers at his mosque. In fact, they had just finished praying together. Hence, if they were to be arrested, he must accompany them to the police station. All three were bundled into the van and driven off at top speed to the nearest police station. From there, they were driven to the SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) station where they spent the night sleeping in the open air as the cells were already full. Mosquitoes had a feast (or banquet) all night. In the morning, they were moved to Kirikiri Prison which rejected them as there was no more room.
Next stop was Badagry Prison where they were dumped pending trial. The Chief Imam was immensely distressed at the number of inmates, some of them teenagers as young as fourteen years old, who were awaiting trial. The Chief Imam managed to get access to a mobile which enabled him to raise the alarm. Apparently, the matter spilled over into social media and it took the intervention of the Chief Judge of Lagos State before all those who had been wrongly arrested for minor infractions were released. Regardless, the Chief Imam was incandescent with rage and kept protesting that if someone of his status could be treated so diabolically, what would the police do to mere mortals?
Before we could hear the police side of the tragic event, the scene shifted to cultism in Lagos. The brilliant son (a medical student) of a Chartered Accountant, Chief Patrick Ebere somehow got involved in cultism at the University of Lagos. During a violent clash between his gang and another gang the son of a powerful Lagos Chief ended up dead. The police swiftly arrested all the culprits. The rest of the story is somewhat hazy but putting “two and two together” suggested that the bereaved father insisted that his son’s death must be avenged. Perhaps, it was pure co-incidence that Chief Ebere’s son died in police custody and a heartbroken Chief Ebere died shortly afterwards.
CBS will have to offer the police the right to reply. Anyway, the camera zoomed off to the shocking scene of a lady who stripped bare on Bourdillon Street in broad daylight and was gleefully dancing the “Shaku Shaku” dance. Again, on the Marina, just before the exit that leads to the Cathedral Church a man had stripped completely naked while passing cars tried to avoid hitting him. It was chaotic.
Something else that the camera captured were the piles of rubbish everywhere along with giant potholes as well as epileptic electricity supply and totally inadequate water supply even in the most exclusive parts of Lagos – Ikoyi; Victoria Island; Banana Island; Lekki etc.
Even more riveting were the photographs of a mobile community “of tankers and trucks” that had been blocking the access route between Apapa Ports and the rest of Lagos. Some of them had been parked on Eko Bridge for several weeks, perhaps, months. Somehow, the drivers had devised their own unique survival strategies that extended to having their prayers, meals, baths, haircuts, pedicure etc in their trucks and their environs. Perhaps, the camera lingered too long on the activities of sex workers/ladies of the night who availed the truck drivers of their services after nightfall. However, the government appears to have paid skant attention to the toilet needs and waste disposal of the truck/tank drivers who have resorted to the most primitive means of both body and waste disposal.
Bashorun J.K. Randle