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Deconstructing Lagos and why the middle class needs to play its part

Right now, it seems as if every fence, wall, gate, bridge, lamp post and billboard in Lagos is plastered with faces of men and women (mostly men) jostling for power in the upcoming general elections.

Like the sense of claustrophobia in Lagos wasn’t bad enough, these posters have heightened the feeling that you cannot escape the monstrosity that is this city right now.

The city ironically tagged the ‘City of Excellence‘, is a frustrating monolith that squeezes the life out of you. It is a city of perplexing frustrations, which its parts feel greater than its sum.


Lagos, known as the centre of excellence, has not felt like that in a while (Ventures Africa)

Within the last few months, I have felt inconsequential in this grand scheme despite the political activities going on in Lagos state. It all feels impersonal, the wide grins, close up smiles and catchy slogans.

And behind the bright electronic billboards is a foreboding sense that everything is not as it seems to be.

The jarring moment for me that made me wonder “what is really going on?” was when violence broke out at the kick off of the campaign of Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the APC gubernatorial candidate of Lagos state.

In this game of chess, area boys, louts, street urchins and thugs play a significant role in the political process in Lagos state.

They too are power brokers who sit with the kings, queens, knights and the bishops to determine the lives of 20 million people. It’s sad to know that one of the power players who decides your fate is an executive bus conductor.

The same street louts who are the bane of hardworking danfo drivers are the ones who sit with political godfathers to decide who the next leaders are. This unholy union of foul-mouthed urchins and pot-bellied patrons have made life unbearable for working Lagosians.

We pay tax and yet we spend most of our hours trapped in bad traffic. Hundreds of parked trailers have taken up most of the highways in Lagos, the commercial nerve center of the most populous black nation on earth.


Tankers have become a menace on Lagos roads (Guardian)

The present railway system is outdated. The Lagos Rail Mass Transit has many setbacks. Initially billed to have started operations in 2011, the project is now scheduled for 2022. It’s only in Nigeria where projects estimated to take a few years to complete takes over a decade.


The Lagos rail project at Orile, Lagos (Guardian)

If the powers that be cannot ensure that Lagosians can move from point A to point B without checking Google Maps for the dreaded red lines, then what use is the present political structure in the city? If the simplest of things are made to look so complex, then of what use are the city’s leaders?

Lagos is a scam. The race to build a mega city is a charade just to build overpriced gated communities for the rich. In the blueprint of the new city that rises up from the Atlantic, you and I are not there. Lagos for a long while has been for the rich who have access to power and it is going to be like that for a while.

And this is because of the middle-class who are apathetic towards the political process in the state. While people in the lower class engage in politics by attending conventions and rallies, and the upper class dictate proceedings with their money and power, the middle class choose not to be bothered.

Middle-class Nigerians believe politics to be a dirty game and choose not to participate in it. They see it as too murky for them to dip their pristine fingers in. They would rather engage in more riveting topics like if a new season of Big Brother Naija will air this year or why the prices of DStv bouquets are so damn high.

Don’t get me wrong, they also tweet about politics but it is usually to moan and groan without engaging themselves in local politics. Comments, opinions and theories are dished out from the comfort of their sofa than speaking at a local town hall meeting.

They also have a sense of entitlement and are shocked to find out that the likes of MC Oluomo and co call the shots and not them. They forget that while they were ranting about inconsequential things, men of the NURTW, market women and vulcanizers were actively involved in local politics.


NURTW members are more politically involved in Lagos politics than people in the middle class (The Guardian)

The Lagos of today, a swelling heap of incompetence and disorganization is as a result of the ‘I’m too good for politics‘ attitude of the middle-class of people who live in Lagos.

This city cannot work overnight. The middle-class has to be actively involved in local politics. Until we all get out and ask our local government chairman pertinent questions, Lagos will be controlled by louts and godfathers.


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