There is no other city in the world that can compare with Lagos, our Lagos.
In short, Lagos is a planet.
Lagos is up there without a comparison in magic, opportunity and surprise.
In politics, commerce and social life, once Lagos coughs all of Nigeria quakes.
For instance, the wonder that the regime of Babatunde Raji Fashola worked on Lagos belongs with the Cinderella story when it comes to astonishment.
Oshodi that used to be an impassable leviathan had been reduced to a pleasurable Appian Way. Many things that people thought were impossible were re-engineered in such a way that made Lagos look new and quite attractive.
As a new helmsman gears up to take over in Lagos State after the somewhat aborted sway of the incumbent Ambode, I hereby revisit an exquisitely-packaged book, How to be a good Lagosian, published for the Office of the Governor of Lagos State, Alausa, Lagos by the PR company Taijo Wonukabe Ltd, when Fashola called the shots in Lagos as skipper.
How to be a good Lagosian is a 122-page pocket-sized gem of a guidebook. In a foreword entitled “All that’s not good is bad”, the then Governor Fashola (SAN) wrote: “We want to build the enduring infrastructure of the mind through advocacy for attitudinal change.”
The governor recalled the serenity of the Lagos of old, a city of 350,000 people that took pride in the sobriquet of “Eko for Show.”
In time, Lagos would become some kind of magnet, attracting all and sundry from all corners and crannies of the country and the world such that the population is now well past the 25 million mark.
For Fashola, the communal spirit of Lagos inspirits the ennobling culture of respect, to wit, respect for oneself, respect for others, respect for the law and mores, respect for the environment, and respect for authority.
The meat of the matter of How to be a good Lagosian is encountered in the second part which bears the remarkable title “The Magicnificient Lagos.” Magic is the word for Lagos.
Some relevant facts and figures are detailed out, such as the creation of the state on May 27, 1967; the taking off of the state as an administrative entity on April 11, 1968 with Lagos Island serving the dual role of being the state and Federal Capital respectively etc.
It’s the featured articles that hold aloft the eagle’s feather. The immortal Hadj Alade Odunewu, better known as Allah De, is without a shadow of doubt “Lagos’ most outstanding gift to the world of journalism.”
In his article entitled “Incredible Lagos”, Allah De had to disobey his ophthalmologist, who had ruled that he should not do anything that could lead to the straining of his eyes. The old sage took his readers on “a masterful journey through why Lagos loves to welcome all and sundry and why we should love Lagos back.”
The legendary journalist had to complete the assignment with streams of water straining down his wizened eyes. The Lagos son-of-the-soil would not even settle to the ready recourse of talking into a voice recorder!
Sundry citizens of Lagos, high and low, were made to contribute their vistas on “The zing about Lagos”, with Matthew Oyinloye Jolayemi who left his Kwara State village at age 13 in 1953 to settle for his astounding fortune in Lagos, essaying: “The profile of Lagos that my little head had managed to etch out from the mind-blowing tales that never seemed to cease, was one that was inconceivable.”
Music maestro Fela Anikulapo-Kuti crooned: “There is nowhere else I can return to except Lagos.”
In his piece entitled “Neighbour, neighbour…”, suave journalist Richard Ikiebe limned the archetypal Lagos story of good neighbourliness, thus giving vivid life to his running into an old neighbour, Broda Felix, whom he had not seen for all of 35 years!
The coming-of-age story of Ifeanyi Mbanefo, told in the article “‘Am a legal alien in Lagos”, celebrated the Anambra boy who came to Lagos to make good by literally travelling “from the slums of Oshodi and Ikotun Egbe through the middle-class neighbourhoods of Yaba to highbrow Ikoyi and Lekki Peninsula.”
According to the well-celebrated journalist Sonala Olumhense, “Lagos is a national aspiration. ‘Nigerians to Lagos’ could actually replace the old metaphor, ‘bees to honey’. Lagos can make love to you. It can make a star of you. It can make a giant of you. It can chew you up and spit you on to the pavement. And sometimes, it can do all of these to you in 24 hours. Lagos is a style, a lifestyle. Someday, there might be an Abujan or an Oshogboan or a Kadunaian. Today, however, he is yet to show himself. In the meantime, there is the Lagosian, who is identifiable, and proudly Lagosian.”
Fashola showed that nothing is impossible in Lagos. The new kid on the Lagos block must not “fall our hands”, as we say in good old Lagos.
Planet Lagos must not fall down to earth!
– Uzoatu is a renowned journalist, poet and author