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Dunni Okuribido: A Tale of Two Nigerian Cities



Lagos-City-On-EarthWhen my employer relocated me from Abuja to Lagos, I didn’t see it as much of a big deal. After all I had spent my early childhood and teenage years in Lagos, visited at least once every year and still maintained a good number of friends in the city. I was pretty sure living in Lagos wouldn’t be much different from living in Abuja (asides for the traffic congestion.)

Lagos and Abuja are the 2 most developed cities in Nigeria. Maybe Lagos is a little more advanced, because it’s the commercial capital, more populous and hence more market for businesses. But Abuja, being the Federal Capital Territory gets more Government attention. It’s a lot cleaner, has better roads and there are fewer Uniformed men to harass you on the roads.

Asides from these inherent differences in the 2 cities, there’s a wide cultural gap which I think is part of why Lagos is often described as the “City of hustlers”. At first most of these cultural differences seemed really appalling and unpleasant to me, but I once I acclimatized to them, they didn’t seem like such a big deal anymore. Here are a few of the culture shocks I experienced upon my move to Lagos.

Self Proclaimed Parking Space Landlords
Now this is one thing that really trips me. You arrive at a restaurant (bukka) or supermarket and in your mind you assume you are parking on a free street or space that probably belongs to the shop you intend to patronize. Some seemingly nice fellow, who was strolling by, decides to stop and give you (by force) directions on how to park your car. He enthusiastically directs you into a tight corner and even goes ahead to fold your side mirror for you. You are grateful and thank him for his unsolicited help. Alas, as you return to the car, ready to depart, bros appears again, this time vehemently gesturing for his compulsory tip (parking space fee). You are confused…. Wasn’t he just a passerby? Weren’t you gone for just 5 minutes? Isn’t the space for people who patronize the shop? Out of the goodness of your heart you decide to give him 100 naira, but to your surprise bros refuses it with authority and informs you that it’s 300 Naira…… your thoughts (ah ah? Who made him landlord of the road sef?)

Corporate Beggars
I know there are also beggars in Abuja o, but at least once you see them you would know they are beggars (most times they are Almajiri kids). You can immediately decide whether you want to give them money or not. Lagos on the other hand, as a city of hustlers, the beggars are also more advanced. They often dress well and speak impeccable English. You would wonder how come they all have the same story about getting stranded just beside the atm. The one that really shocked me was, one day on our return from lunch, this shabby looking guy approached me and my colleagues, begging for money. He was putting on bathroom slippers and had his hair looking very unkempt; he could easily pass for a regular beggar. You can imagine my surprise when I saw him walk past us into the banking hall, pulling out his bank withdrawal booklet. What do you know? Beggar too has to lodge his daily earnings into the bank.

Impolite Sales People
Contrary to popular belief, cost of living in Lagos is actually higher than Abuja. Especially if you are a foodie who loves to cook (like me) Apparently most of the food items (peppers, tomatoes, onions, yams, potatoes, carrots, etc) are grown in the North and hence by the time they reach Eko they are double the price they go for in Abuja. This wouldn’t even be so bad if the people you are buying from actually acknowledge the fact that you are spending your hard earned money to patronize them. But no.. in Lagos, the market women are generally hostile. In fact, if you haggle too much they can just get angry and insult you. Paying them with currency that requires them to look for change is like wasting their time. I don’t know if I feel this way because of the vendors I’m used to dealing with back in Abuja, who not only welcome you to sample their wares with a smile but even offer you generous portions to taste. If you don’t believe me, pay a visit to the Killishi stands at Area 1.

Associations For Everything
In case you didn’t know, in Lagos there are Associations for every form of labour (no matter how unskilled), hairdressers, cobblers, bricklayers, painters you name it. I witnessed this first hand one Saturday afternoon when I went to blend pepper on my street. I had assumed it would cost just 50 Naira since the quantity was rather small. Only for the Pepper Grinder Man to promptly point me to a Notice on the wall which read thus:
Price List
Small bowl of Pepper (with or without Gen) N70
Big bowl of Pepper (with or without Gen) N150
Beans N200

I don’t remember the rest of the list but I found it really hilarious that there was even such an association.
And as if that wasn’t enough, this afternoon when I went out with my colleagues we discovered one of the vehicle tyres was down. On reaching a vulcanizer stand, the driver was promptly informed that there was currently a Vulcanisers Association meeting going on and he would not be able to find any one till 2pm when the meeting was over.
Throughout the journey back to the office I noticed that really, all the vulcanizer stands were left unattended. Wonder what they went to discuss “how to make minimum price for pumping one tyre 200 Naira?’’

I can’t write enough about how all strangers in Lagos are potential kidnappers. In fact these days I’m even scared of giving money to beggars or asking for directions on the road because you never know who can jazz you. I’m not saying they don’t kidnap in Abuja but at least people are less scared of strangers. People are more trusting; you can actually forget your phone in a bus or your laptop in a cab and get it back the following day and I’m speaking from experience, if na Eko…. Anything you forget … na voicemail.

Nonetheless, I love Lagos, as much as I miss chilling in the airy Abuja gardens and dinning on grilled fish, I love attending Owambe Parties, I love the beach and I love that you can get everything in Lagos. In my brother’s words “the only real difference between Lagos and London is NEPA.”



  1. Ndubuisi

    September 25, 2014 at 4:51 pm


  2. Nnegel

    September 25, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    My dear writer, you are so right, i still find the city (Lagos) where i was born in amusing, did you forget that part were you will be standing at a bus stop to get a bus going to somewhere and you see an old man/woman also waiting for the same bus, and in your mind you will be like ehya! can this man also rush the bus when it comes, for in Lagos that is the word we “Rush Bus” *laughs” but when the bus arrives to pick passengers that old man you feel sorry for runs faster than you to get into the bus.

    my dear i love Lagos, for when you Survive in Lagos, trust me you can survive anywhere.

    • nene

      September 25, 2014 at 10:26 pm

      true talk. Lagos should be “City of hustlers”. very tough place, and you have to be tough.

  3. Carliforniabawler

    September 25, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    …So your employer relocated you from Abuja to Lagos?? My apologies, but its hard to read an entire article when your first paragraphs contains statements that don’t agree.

    • Baba Semilore and Sorefunmi

      September 27, 2014 at 9:48 am


  4. obi-talk

    September 25, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    love, love, your article as I have lived in both cities and I am always talking about the differences. Its also very funny.

  5. Dips

    September 25, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    OMG! Pepper Grinders Association of Lagos… You can’t make this stuff up. Lagos is just the hardest. Damn!

    • vikky

      September 25, 2014 at 11:22 pm

      i was looking at your pic as u were commenting…*evil laugh*…let no one judge me but bro, thou art fine.

    • Baba Semilore and Sorefunmi

      September 27, 2014 at 9:47 am

      Set it….I can give you his number 😀

  6. Ann

    September 25, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    My dear sist, i really missed my abuja like u and lagos as well because of plenty places to shop from…. welldone girl

  7. Dumsy

    September 25, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Thumbs up Dunni, nice write up.

  8. Myne Whitman

    September 25, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    Miss me with that Lagos hustle please. No need to apologize to any one. Abuja is much saner. Nice write-up.

  9. Frances Okoro

    September 25, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    Lagos! City of lights!

    Lmao at association of pepper grinders… you couldn’t have gotten this any better, if you carry 1k go buy something, you won’t get what you want that day..
    You left out the “enter with your change oh” for molue..i’m glad you”ve not experienced that, prolly cuz you have your own car, thank God for that! Otherwise your story for plenty.

    Funny enough, in my one year of law school there, I only met great people. Met strangers who not only gave me directions to where I was going to but left what they were doing to walk me to where I was going, and no, they didn’t ask for cash.
    I met peeps who let me have their umbrella in the drizzling rain while we walked on Falomo bridge and they walked under the rain..
    There are still kind peeps in Lag, I know, I met some.

  10. Concerned_Boyfriend

    September 25, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    This writing was rather poor or maybe it’s the “Naija” English that turned me off. I tried to suck it up and read the article in its entirety but when I got to “…He was putting on bathroom slippers” I was like “No Bro”.

    • Zeebaby

      September 25, 2014 at 10:11 pm

      Write yours , lets read! (i am not the writer).

    • Erm

      September 26, 2014 at 12:35 am

      Don’t worry dear. It’s because Nigeria is not yet a super power. When we rise to that level, there will be a thing called Nigerian English and it will be acceptable everywhere the way you have Australian, Canadian, American English. Heck even Canadian French is different from Parisian or Belgian French. As long as we do not live in Britain, we will all continue to speak the language differently. Language evolves my dear. Don’t be stuck in 19th century colonized way of speaking the Language.

    • Just me

      September 26, 2014 at 2:16 am

      Seriously! You really had to make your point by bringing her down. You’re such a coward. You could have easily read the article and if it wasn’t appealing to you, move on to the next article or something else. Nonsense and ingredient.

    • pretty

      September 26, 2014 at 11:13 am

      lol afi nonsense and ingredient.

    • Tru

      September 26, 2014 at 8:48 am

      oh puh-leeeeezee. This is how we yarn. Deal with it. Even in Almighty London have you heard how peers converse among themselves?? #EyesRolling

    • MP

      September 26, 2014 at 11:29 am

      I thought it was just me! I didnt understand whether he was putting them on in front of her, or if she meant that he was wearing bathroom slippers.

    • Baba Semilore and Sorefunmi

      September 27, 2014 at 9:52 am

      Pele ooo Soyinka….write your own naa abi…

    • Lois

      September 29, 2014 at 2:18 pm

      How pathetic of you! Someone took time out to write about 2 cities in ‘NIGERIA’ and you’re talking crap on the part of ‘Naija English’. Should she write like she’s in ‘Halem’ or Cambridge’? Over-sabi, write your own. Make we read. And by the way, be more concerned about yourself

  11. Ruqkayah Owolabi

    September 25, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    I love both places , Abuja in my opinion is quiet , cleaner ,at time I forget I’m in Nigeria till some aboki decides to pull a stupid move on the road. Lagos is for partying nd turning up, one can never be bored in Lagos once you have money. I’m looking forward to relocating to Abj and the occasional turn up in Lagos.
    Also please check out my blog.

  12. OmoIbadan

    September 25, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    ISI in the building!!! Mrs Pasheda Ajayi shall be proud….lol….pepper grinders sef r professionals na

  13. Tochini BeadS

    September 25, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    That Assocation thing cracked me up when I got to Lagos newly.. There’s cooked food sellers association, there’s association of chicken and turkey sellers, tHere’s even Charcoal sellers association! I still like Lagos though I feel so empty whenever I visit any other city.. Lagos just feels like home..

    • Proudly Omo iya eledu

      October 21, 2016 at 10:31 pm

      There is ACCA, NUJ, GMC, ICAN, NUT etcetra to name just a few.

      Why are the majority of commentators bemused that traders and manual workers have professional bodies and associations.. Should the benefits of collectivity be the exclusive preserve of white collar workers/pen pushers.?

  14. busybee

    September 25, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    Abuja girl here! After my family moved to abuja, I said good riddance to lagos! They can have their beaches, traffic and all that. Last dec I was in abuja chilling with friends at a garden at 2am eating fish. No craziness going on, everyone was minding their own business, listening to good music and having fun. That’s what a vacation should be like.

  15. MissW

    September 25, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    Hmmm…loved the write up but I’ve never actually been to abuja would really love to visit the city, been to Eko but haven’t really stayed more like passing through…

    • Fineboy

      September 26, 2014 at 9:40 am

      I am inviting you to Abuja. Just write to me at [email protected]

    • Baba Semilore and Sorefunmi

      September 27, 2014 at 9:53 am

      Looool….Set it 😀

  16. Salami Adebola

    September 25, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    Love the writeup, i live in Ghana now, but planning on coming to lagos next year. With this tale of yours am seriously cautious.

  17. Bobby Emeka

    September 25, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Abuja boy here now leaving in London. Well having liveth in both cities, i can tell you that i 100 percent prefer abuja. I cant see myself living in lag thats why i pray everyday to God to bless me with a good job when i finally relocate to naija. I cant stand the lagos traffic and razzness in lagos, everything is so sweet and easy especially driving to the airport which to me is the best because i am a regular traveller and always late to the airport on any trip. Lolll. Going to work then was so easy because in 20 minutes am already in front of my office from my house.

  18. stanley

    September 25, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    Nice article Dunni. Despite its numerous challenges though and seemingly disordered nature Lagos rocks. Wont trade it fr abuja any day any hour.

  19. Zeebaby

    September 25, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    Well done Dunni. Keep at it!

  20. nene

    September 25, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    this is so true. my first visit to abuja 7 years ago was surprising. i thought i was in another country. it’s a very calm place and neater than lagos, the people are nicer, but abuja can be very boring.

  21. Gloria Jacobs

    September 25, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    So true…even when you go to eateries, they sing the same no change song. So what am i supoosed to do when i have N1,000 and want to buy 1 sausage roll? You also forgot the agbero part chasing buses everywhere. Another thing i find crazy is the danfo drivers at Oshodi who swerve to get out of their stationary state not minding what car is next to them as well as not looking at their side mirrors.

  22. ifepe nnennia

    September 26, 2014 at 12:47 am

    Though lagos can be crazy but I prefer lagos to lagos nobody has your time whether your father is the obama but in abuja everybody appears to try so hard to impress one amazes me how people survive in lagos,waking up so early and closing late and yet they have time for their fun filled activites.if traffic can be curtailed in lagos;it will be better for the abuja you need to have good money to have fun but in lagos no matter the amount you have you can have fun.Abuja has limited fun places but in lagos every area has its own fun places.Eko is the place for me anytime anyday

  23. me

    September 26, 2014 at 8:04 am

    oh my gosh. i cant just stop laffin. Lagos – tufiakwa

  24. Tru

    September 26, 2014 at 8:44 am

    :)) :)) :)) Wow, very very good read! Love the tongue-in-cheek comment from your brother. Personally I have a love-hate relationship with the city. Somehow, you get to learn its unwritten rules and thrive.

  25. Nnegel

    September 26, 2014 at 8:55 am

    and that is why we have a slogan Eko Oni Baje ooo!

  26. KK

    September 26, 2014 at 9:09 am

    After living in Abuja for 2 years, moving to Lagos was a terrible shock. The first day i got on a bus from Obalende – Oshodi, i think it took me 2hrs to successfully “jump bus”….LOL. In no time, i became a pro. There’s nothing like dignity when u’re jumping bus o, keep it in ur back pocket. Right now, i dunno which is better: jumping bus or driving. The traffic drives one insane!

  27. efe

    September 26, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Dunni dear. Thanks for the write up,it just makes us appreciate both cities differently. Thank God for the air that is free ,if not Lagos for dey tax person. LOL .In all,l Love the City of Lagos and have been opportune to be in Abuja,fine city with good roads and all the likes.. There are still good people on earth,who will definitely help without anything in return. Na those kin people we go dem jam everitime.
    And also love the part of your article that says ,In your brother’s words the difference between Lagos and London is NEPA.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      September 26, 2014 at 9:49 am

      Lagos and London *shudders* – two cities that I’ve repeatedly told God and man that I can NEVER live in. Abeg, can’t cope with the pace and I greatly cherish tranquil environments, mbok… (but God always has a sense of humor about these things and I may find myself eating those words in the future).

      When I was living in Nigeria, my infrequent trips to Lag trickled down to once every 10 years. No joke. I fit enter Abuja once every six months but Lagos… I no dey gree. And my testimony with London is the same. Only very important matters such as the necessity of visiting the Nigerian High Commission, etc can force me to willingly travel down there.

  28. peace

    September 26, 2014 at 11:08 am

    biko i love lagos ….. all the oshodi oshodi enter with ur 50 naira ooo no change oooo………….

  29. T.

    September 26, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Well done, Dunni! Go ISI!!! This was really a nice read, totally enjoyable, and something your readers could relate with.
    However, Dunni, it is only your bio says you’re “developing (your) writing career” that I thought to point out little foxes and minor errors in the hope that you’re more careful with them next time. I have no intention of bringing down your work, only that I thought to help improve your work. E.g.
    – punctuations before starting a new sentence. As in “Especially…loves to cook (like me) Apparently…” SHOULD READ “Especially…loves to cook (like me). Apparently” (Note the full stop after the bracket. It seems so little an error but in the writers world it is apparently so important- I learnt that at a writers’ workshop!). There are a few others like that up there.

    – inconsistency with ‘ize’ and ‘ise’. As in vulcanisers and vulcanize….though both spellings are correct (I’m pretty sure you know this), one is British and the other American. For the sake of writing, stick to one.

    I can’t fault you for calling it ‘bathroom slippers” because most of us are used to that term.

  30. Ready

    September 26, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    You didn’t talk about the driving in Lagos; particularly thanks to the yellow danfo bus drivers! If you can drive here, you can drive anywhere. I always have a bottle of brake oil in my car to wipe off yellow bus scratches.

  31. Yomiwhite

    September 26, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Lagos in summary by Oladunni. We are used to the Associations and lifestyle,…it all makes Lagos the place to be!!!can’t help but laugh at the Association of pepper grinders. Nice article dear.

  32. Bobosteke & Lara Bian

    September 26, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Hiya Dunni!

    I live and work just outside Lagos. My residence is directly opposite my place of work.. Unfortunately my sojourns into Lagos are far more frequent than I would like. Every time I have to travel there, tears literarily pour down my face. I look so sober and dejected you would think someone died, I recently enrolled for some weekend courses and let me tell you, brethren the thought of having to travel to Lagos every weekend was enough to put a stop to them. Its going to be a year of this, but thank God for Jesus and I practice how I would sound rolling my academic qualifications off my tongue when depressed. It you say it, it will come to pass.

    I can stand at the bus stop for 1 hour waiting for a bus that suits me. I seat in front and pay for the two seats. I enter with my “correct change” even if the fare costs N136:93k. And the drivers are mostly deferential when they notice my abject look.

    Living in Lagos can tell you the average score of your Christianity. You go learn say when Bible talk, “let your conversations be always seasoned with salt so that you may know how to answer everyone” say salt get grade. I remember once yelling, “Are you f#^king out of your mind, Sir?”, when a danfo almost knocked me off a bike. I remember yelling at a woman, “Will you just shut up!” from the front where I was seated in a bus when she whined for close to 10mins on a very silly issue. I remember ignoring a fellow passenger because of his BO that could wake the dead even when he repeatedly asked me questions. Or the day you have to walk through Yaba and my Igbo brothers drag and yell obscenities at you when you act uppity. (Ah, Father mi).

    Bible says “Let no man trouble me for I bear on my body the brand marks of Jesus Christ” but not everyone got the memo. Sellers can like to poke their goods in your face?. Street beggars and urchins will drag the weave off your hair in order to get your attention. it is not just possible to walk in Lagos on a decent day without poking, stepping elbowing or just downright walking into someone. Our Phee -Hai and Lelki Pipu ( awon I stay on the Island) mostly view “non indigenes” with a pitying look (and sometimes, rightly so) even when they have to swim out of their houses to get to their place of business in the morning.

    I like the cray cray of the city though; the unpredictability; the verve and vivacity you can feel throbbing through it and yes I admit I miss it sometimes. But all it takes is one blast of thick black exhaust fume from a passing trailer to cure me of any yearnings and set my soot coated head straight.

    • bimx

      September 27, 2014 at 1:10 am

      #totallyrandom: u r such a good writer. you should have a blog.

    • Ib

      September 27, 2014 at 6:28 am

      Uhmmm…are you Nigerian?

    • Baba Semilore and Sorefunmi

      September 27, 2014 at 10:01 am

      Lmfaooooo….nice!!! too funny :’D

    • Iya Semilore and Sorefunmi

      September 27, 2014 at 10:47 am

      We have seen you baba semilore and sorefunmi oya come and be going..

    • Iya Semilore and Sorefunmi

      September 27, 2014 at 11:06 am

      We have seen you baba semilore and sorefunmi oya come and be going..

  33. micodian83

    September 26, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    lagos to me is still my beloved. I might live far away from my true love but i assure you lag molded me. Friends and family here always try to pitify the status of lagos and compare to cities like new york and paris claiming the population there is exploding, life is hard, the streets are messy even going as far as to scare foreigners from visiting lagos (my beloved). I always have this to say to them; yes here in the US might have good roads, Stop signs , traffic lights(that really control traffic) etc. but they cant compare to the plain brute hustle on the streets of lagos……to live and survive in lagos is a different culture in itself. That i grew up in lag makes me a better observant driver here in the states,i am ready for any situation(as a sharp man)…….i will say this to all my naija peeps living outside lagos Nigeria(my beloved); even with the bad roads , no stop signs,no intersections , no remote sensored traffic lights…….i will still rather take a flight for the weekend to oba-akran(or allen) drink my cold beer and eat my suya and take in the view of my beloved(inclusive of the beautiful people…*wink)…….and this comment covers all abuja lovers(no hating)…..

  34. DFD

    September 28, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    I have been waiting for this write up. Thank u for it. There is a great difference between the two cities. Am a Abuja born girl and am so happy 2b raised in Abj. Apart from d terrorism aspect of the Northerners, d northerners are cool people. They are polite, nice and warm people. I feel they excel so well because they they don’t hike there prices and they give u a lot of ‘jara’ which is more than what u bought. D hausas are nice people and treat strangers so well. I got a dose of Lagos wahala when I came for wedding shopping. It was an experience.

  35. amaka

    September 28, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    I love Lagos!!! D craziness is part of the appeal. Eko o ni baje! Welldone Dunni. You made me miss it even more than I already do.

  36. Lois

    September 29, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Good write-up. I sort of agree with most of the observations of the writer about Lagos but definitely he/she is wrong about FOOD PRICES in conparison with Abuja markets. I moved from Lagos to Abuja exactly 2yrs4mnths ago. I was shocked about how costly food items are in Abuja markets. The only thing I find cheap is meat! Even Ibadan is waaaaaay cheaper. I struggled with feeding in the office initially because the food were never nice for the price. Asides from this, Abuja is so expensive to live in all sense of it; accomodation, feedings etc save for really cheap transportation. I love my Lagos and its craziness and having lived in Lagos for over 30yrs, lived in Abeokuta and Ibadan, any crazy person in Lagos will have to contend with me-Lag product for any form of extortion. Can’t wait to go back home

  37. Paul Cena

    November 22, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    Wow awesome Nigeria really is unique and has a lot of interesting things to offer but off lately the country has become a warzone between terrorists and the Army. It was a very good country to work and tour in at some point, but now it is totally devastated by suicide bombers and terror acts. I offer people jobs that involve travel but believe me now if I ask people that they have to go to Nigeria for their specific task then they simply decline me. Nigeria really needs to wipe out these extremists and needs to make their land and safe one to work and tour in especially for the foreigners.

  38. Raskimono

    March 28, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    Hey!! writer, that was the old photos of oshodi in lagos
    a lot of things have change in lagos and still changing
    my brother, no place in lagos looks like this
    this is an old photo

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