Nigerians are very ‘funny’ people in every sense of the word. No logic is yet defined to explain away our idiosyncrasies.
In dealing with a Nigerian there are two things you should bear in mind.
As an undergrad we read a drama book “Who is Afraid of Tai Solarin” and the book left an indelible mark upon my soul in dealing with Nigerians.
The summary is the colonialists were frustrated at the limited effort of the newly introduced judicial system. Many natives didn’t have faith in it and not a few lie through their teeth even on oath.
In the midst of this crisis came a native judge who understood the psyche of the Nigerian soul.
During the administration of the oath with the Bible or Quran, the judge leans enough to whisper to the oath taker:
“Beware of what you say, there’s ‘Olugbohun’ inside this bible!”
Hot palpitation rang through their bodies and the subsequent proceeding became nothing but success.
The import of the story is the connectedness [reverence] of the Nigerian soul to its native gods and ancestors.
Today, there are probably more religious centres in Nigeria than the whole of Europe and America together; yet, Nigeria [not the government] ranks in the top league of corrupt nations.
I have used this simple principle to hilarious effect in shredding scams and ruses across Lagos city.
The Beggars’ Scam
Dotting every corner of Lagos city is a new emerging army of beggars –corporate beggars. This nuisance has been a bug on my mind for months… I have been begged [harassed] by every category of hale human beings: the old rugged couple stranded at Ikosi after a wedding ceremony; a brother and sister stranded every workday at Oshodi; a set of three umbrella wading housewives at Cele Bustop; a father who needs #3,700 for medical expenses every other week at Ikeja… just name the busstop in Lagos, and I can tell you the beggars’ hangout.
I had time on my hands the other day and played around with those at Ojodu-Berger. I made to give some stipend to another stranded citizen but held on to do as if I was on a call:
“Yes, Baba, did you say I should give the money to any beggar I have seen for more than three days at the same spot?”
“Okay, Baba, the one I am about to give is a woman, hope it is alright?”
Not only did I not see the woman at the end of the call. She made sure to signal the others down the lane of my evil intent.
The next time you get harangued by these Lagos beggars opt for my suggestion.
The Wicked Landlord
The only other profession [if you can call it that] next to the Nigeria Police in citizens’ contempt is the Lagos Landlords. Seems there is some hell these guys are trained.
I remember our first Landlord at Ketu who did all to make life difficult for all tenants until the day nemesis caught up with him.
He has frustrated this single mother of two [Alhaja] to a breaking point and the woman was ready that day to deal with him.
After all the regular shoutings and threats the landlord made for the bathroom shared by all ten-rooms of the house.
Soon enough the Alhaja stormed out of her room with some white substance. It could have been powder to the untrained eyes…
“I will show you today, if you are the only landlord in Lagos, that wouldn’t give me rest come out of that bathroom alive” she said blowing the substance unto the bathroom door.
The landlord’s son ran to warn him that Alhaja had sprinkled jaz for him…
“Baba, baba, don’t come out won ti gbon ogun sili fun yin! He cried.
Come and see begging that day! The Landlord we all feared was brought to his kneels by a woman who had had enough.
Even when Alhaja said she was only joking the more the landlord, and his now present extended family, begged for forgiveness.
Until Alhaja made a show of humming some irrelevancies before he came out… Of course, Alhaja didn’t stay beyond that year in the house.
The Bank Security
If you’re anything like me, then you lack a lot of patience. And a class of people you should watch out for is the bank security. They are a nuisance any day in delay tactics and coded begging.
Naturally, I indulge the flattering of keeping moustache and beards.
So you would understand what happened during the early days of Boko Haram siege…
I was at a Firstbank branch, a crush of people was waiting the grind of an entrance door’s scrutiny… as I dismounted from a bike and exclaimed “allihamdulilah” and the whole security pretences fled the scene including a turbaned man.
There and then I discovered Nigerians don’t want to die either for God or the devil.
A Corps member’s Experience
When you see militants and Niger-delta activists in struggles don’t go thinking they are acting up. That’s their psychological make-up. The Niger-Deltans are headstrong people and my service year was spiced with events that still regale me this day.
The secondary school students over there are built with a reckless audacity [not out of disrespect] but for what they think is right, regardless of what you think and know.
During my earlier days as a corper they dictated what they wanted [I should grade their scripts but never to return it to them] as has always been done to them in the school and expected me to comply.
I didn’t and threats can from teenagers to their teachers.
I did my own threatening too and news made the round that I would use Yoruba Juju on anyone who dared me.
A student came to confirm this news and knowing what she wanted I told her if I had anyone’s name I can do any harm to them regardless of distance.
The next day, another corper needed the SS 3 students’ names for the term’s dossiers but trouble broke out.
None was willing to put down their names. Hitler, a loyal student who had been sent decided to write out everybody’s’ name and punches started flying around…
“No be my name dem go use for Yoruba Juju!”
In fact, they fled the school in their numbers… this were the same students who warned their teacher not to walk at night, who threatened to shook their teachers, running from school at the mention of Juju that they cannot see.
When dealing with a Nigerian, please note this: he may be headstrong but he has an ultimate fear for diabolic powers. And this guides his relations with you and the society.
…to be continued