Lagos Was Supposed to Be a Stop on the Way. Now, It’s Home

August 28, 2022

Lagos was a getaway, somewhere to visit during school breaks. And because I lived and schooled in the south, I found the buzz of the city exciting. So, of course, it was my first option when I had to choose a place for my internship.

I arrived in Lagos in 2017, bright-eyed and excited; ready to make money, meet new people and flex — all the things Lagos is known for. Even though I had no idea where I’d do my internship, I was in Lagos — they’re opportunities everywhere, right? 

I didn’t realise people were twice the number of opportunities here. So two months into my search, I still hadn’t gotten a place. The only options I had so far were deep within the mainland while I was living with my uncle in Ajah. I was screwed.

So although I had no prior work experience, I got a friend to write my CV, and I started to cold-email people. My uncle’s wife linked me with someone at a media company in Lekki, but the man said he wouldn’t pay an intern. 

After entering Ajah to Lekki traffic for a week, I had to reset my brain and tell him I couldn’t continue. It didn’t make any sense to spend over three hours in traffic. Three hours was the time it took to travel from my school in Benin back home to Warri.

After that, I was more particular about finding a place in Ajah or at least one willing to pay me for that traffic stress. When I got an offer to be an admin officer/personal assistant to the CEO of an engineering firm in Lekki, requiring me to come in only three times a week for a pay of ₦30k monthly, I grabbed it. 

I didn’t care that I was a Mass Communication student who had no business in engineering. I just wanted an internship placement. 

RELATED: The 10 Stages of Getting an Internship in Nigeria 

My boss was amiable, and honestly, I didn’t really do anything. Still, it was one of the saddest periods of my life. I had to balance waking up by 5 a.m. to be at the office by 9 a.m., my uncle’s passive aggression, and barely having any friends; it was exhausting. 

Then I noticed how noisy and crowded Lagos was. Surrounded by robots people in a hurry to get somewhere, I felt so alone. I missed my home, the “dryness” of Warri, the simplicity of Benin. So a few weeks after my school’s supervisor came to evaluate my work, I packed my bags and ran from Lagos. 

I returned to school in Benin, where I didn’t have to struggle with leg-numbing traffic or exorbitant Bolt fares. Even though the bus drivers were also crazy, they didn’t pretend to have car trouble when they saw traffic. 

RELATED: All The Struggles With Using Danfos In Lagos 

The first time I experienced this was so wild. Ojota was the final stop, but this bus driver stopped at Maryland and did a whole act of trying to fix his broken car. He waited till we had all gotten down before he zoomed off. I didn’t even get it till the other passengers pointed it out. And, of course, I went on to experience this a couple more times. 

After I’d convinced myself staying in Lagos for an extended period wasn’t for me, I got a job offer at an art gallery in November 2019 and started to flirt with the idea of returning. But unfortunately, I wasn’t done with my final year project.

A few months after COVID hit in 2020, there was a nationwide lockdown. I love my parents, but I don’t think I’d ever want to be stuck with them for that long again. So when my sister visited in July, I didn’t even remember anything I said about Lagos. I was ready to leave with her. She’d gotten a place in Ikoyi — against most of the traffic — so she assured me this experience would be different. 

And it was different. This time, I was in Lagos to wait for my NYSC, which would be in Abuja. I’d been to Abuja a couple of times. It was as colourful as Lagos, only quieter, so it was perfect. But when my call-up letter came out in November 2021, I was posted to Lagos. I wasn’t too disappointed, though. At least I wasn’t posted far North or to any state that’d take me two nights to reach.

RELATED: 17 Pictures That Describe How You Feel When You Get Your NYSC Posting Letter 

I strapped up for the journey. And that was when I really started my life in Lagos. I had new friends from camp, I lived on the other side of traffic, and I was with my sister. Life was good, cosplaying as a Lagosian.

Two years later, there are still some things I can never get used to. You know the running joke about how Lagosians would throw a party to celebrate the success of a party. Well, it’s not a joke. While it’s become routine for weddings to have “after” parties, having one for a baby’s dedication or a one-year-old’s birthday is ridiculous. Because we all know it’s not really for the celebrant. 

RELATED: 5 Annoying Types Of People You Find At Every Party 

My sister and I live in Lekki now, and it’s not all that. Asides from the flood and exorbitant prices of everything, the tap water is also dirty. Imagine using sachet water to cook because the tap water looks grainy. In my father’s house, the tap water is good enough to drink. 

Is it just me, or is it giving prodigal daughter?

I also find it amusing how people automatically assume you have money because you live on the island. Yes, I’m side-eyeing all the artisans who’ve ever worked in our place. 

But even though I’m plotting my escape every other day, I really enjoy the Lagos nightlife. Back in Warri, 8 p.m. was the latest I could be out, and it’s not just because I had a curfew or was scared of area boys. I just wasn’t used to it. Even in Benin, most shops closed around 10 p.m. 

In Lagos? People are out 24/7. Out at the crack of dawn, back home in the early hours of the morning.

When my mum was around in May, I’d gone out with a friend by 6 p.m., and she started to call me when I wasn’t back by 10 p.m. If only she knew last December, I’d gotten home alone at 2 a.m. because I attended a Wurld concert and wasn’t going to leave till he performed MAD. Sure, I was covering myself with the blood throughout the trip home, but I think I’ve come a long way. 

Now, I have a different destination in mind. I hope to come back in a few years with updates on my abroad life.

Here are some very important tips that make living in Lagos easy.

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