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Onyinye O: Driving in Nigeria Can Make a Saint Go GaGa!

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“Ehhhh! Yes! Ehhh! Same to you jare! Rubbish! Abeg, get out jor. Ahn ahn. See this useless man o! What kind of nonsense is that?” Miss I-Always-Do-Right shouted out to a driver who had just driven off.

She’s had one hell of a day; work was stressful. She had an argument with the Bae earlier. It’s the end of the month, so no money (but her needs do not respect that) and this traffic drama just capped it up! Her bestie who’s been in the car with her this entire time but was on the phone throughout the ride just hung up! “Ah ah, take it easy now. Why are you shouting like this sef? You know we have mad people on the road now. What even happened?”

Miss B furiously replied “Didn’t you see what that useless man just did? He pulled up behind me o and kept horning for me to move and the traffic light was still red. Did I force him to stay behind me? Me I can’t beat traffic because of one rubbish person o. As he saw I wasn’t moving, he got out and was insulting me as he was going off. Nonsense!”

Oh well! That’s one of many many road stories. We all move from one place to the other by various means; taking a flight, enjoying the views of the seas when on a boat, hopping on a bus, boarding a taxi, driving ourselves and even getting on an Okada.

Even if you haven’t experienced transporting yourselves through any of such means (which seems almost impossible), you have certainly used a Legediz Benz at one point or another. One thing, we all can relate with, is the “madness” on the road! I’ve heard people argue countless time s- “Abuja drivers are the craziest drivers in Naija” and the other party is says, “which kain? You no dey stay for Lagos so no just open your mouth dey talk that one there.”Right now, I wouldn’t even tread on such dangerous grounds by attempting to dissect that angle; however, I might be taking bits and pieces from the Abuja madness because I can relate with it a bit more.

Just recently, on my way back from work, I was actually discussing this same issue with some colleagues and we couldn’t help but wonder and laugh at each other’s experiences. Fast forward 10 minutes after the conversation, I was approaching a traffic light (heading home) and this taxi driver just pulls up beside this lady – literally about to hit her car! I was so surprised and my mouth helped carry out the reflex action to express my shock- my jaw dropped!

And instead of this cab guy to be remorseful, he also opened his mouth too (imitating the lady) and then laughed and moved on! I’ve seen people scream at themselves from their cars, quarrel on the roads while throwing snippets of insults here and there, etc, and various reasons span across.

So for example, someone needs to take a right turn soon and is in the middle or left lane- s/he ought to indicate abi? Well, be that person to indicate first, then you’ll share the story on how people from behind suddenly started horning madly and speeding to overtake you – as though if they didn’t pass you at that very moment, they’ll die.

This same thing applies to getting into a line especially when there’s the type of hold up a friend of mine would refer to as the one that’s tying wrapper with gele (yeah, that kind of serious traffic). Sometimes, it just seems impossible. But for what it’s worth, some drivers would argue make their case and tell you that they are right and their reasons might probably sound legit.

Ordinarily, it would take Mr Calm who happens to be a taxi driver about 20-30 minutes to get to “town” when the roads are entirely free. Thanks to the heavy flow of traffic, it takes him maybe an hour or two everyday. Now, each time he has to go through this, he sits in his car feeling frustrated and “crawling” along with other cars as they move; sometimes, he turns on his car radio (Wazobia FM steady saving the day) to distract him from this reality and of course, feel the impact less. In all of these, he’s constantly thinking of his life and even more predominantly, why this traffic situation can’t be better. He’s been at this for years!

In the midst of all this, Mr Smart, who happens to be a working man on his way to work boycotts the line and shoots himself straight up from the tail back of the line to the very front by “creating” his own lane at the edge of the road and squeezing in. He gets there and is trying to manoeuvre his way into the line but everyone is keeping a stern face and following the vehicle in front of theirs “bumper-to-bumper”. It’s almost Mr Calm’s turn to break free and leave this “hopeless situation” and then Mr Smart just feels like he’s had to wait too long and wants to get in front of Mr Calm who was waited angrily but patiently to get to this point.

So what happens? The silent war battle begins! Mr Calm is saying to himself (in his head), “see this guy o! Where does he think he wants to enter? Certainly not my front. After suffering and waiting to get to this point, he wants to get in? Lai lai!”. On the other hand, Mr Smart is thinking aloud saying “Ah ah! What’s wrong with all these people? Can’t they just allow me rejoin the line in peace?” and he just goes on and on and on. His wife, who he needs to drop off is in full agreement with him and urges him on saying things like “honey, put your head before this one moves forward noow”.

So Mr Calm and Mr Smart have their own justifiable reasons why they behaved the way they did, yes? You know, in a bid to get to our destinations on time or maybe just prove a point on the road, most of us (if not all) have contributed differently to various things which contribute to this road madness. By screaming at the taxi driver to hurry up, telling the bus driver “abeg conductor! Dropping dey o. I no dey reach that front side. Wetin dey do you? I say park na!” – even when it’s not a designated bus stop. Sometimes it is by overtaking someone saying “what’s this person driving sef?” thinking the person’s pace is way too slow (and at the end of the day, the person ends up just beside you at the traffic light); even crossing the roads without thinking through it properly, beating traffic, banging loud music in our cars (that end up as a distraction sometimes), horning constantly, answering phone calls and even chatting while driving, throwing that banana peel out the window, poking out the bumpers of our cars into the road without caring about the oncoming vehicles (saying “they’ll wait jor. Me I’ve waited here too long. Ah ah. Will I sleep here?”) We all have a hand in it.

At the end of the day, all these have a ripple effect and area true reflection of who we really are. If only we constantly think “how does my current action or habit affect the next person being transported?” I guess things could be better.

I find people’s road rage experiences incredibly funny and interesting. Share yours below and let’s get talking on this.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Kiosea39 

Onyinye is a media junkie, beauty enthusiast, realist and aspiring team fitfam champion who glides through life believing that every experience is a learning curve. When she's not working, reading or sleeping, she's constantly typing away on her computer. Get interactive with her. Email: [email protected] Twitter : @theonyinye. Instagram: @beautifulonyinye_.

21 Comments

  1. Christian Sister

    September 17, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    LOOOOOOOOL.
    This road rage thing is one thing that has come to stay in naija sadly. The main reason? Impatience! It’s like there’s a silent war going on between drivers. Even if you’re on your own going jeje, they’ll still rain abuses and curses on you like no tomorrow. Na real wa

  2. Andrew Naija

    September 17, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    Hahahaha, “put your head before this one moves forward noow”. You’re a keen observer, all true writers are.
    Abj is fast becoming like Lagos. The truth is that you can’t keep a city for a particular class when there’s hardship and poverty around.

    You may need to defend yourself when things get dirty and so you need a PEPPER SPRAY from SUPPLY YOU NIGERIA. I won’t post links to offend Aunty Bella so please call o7o393847o9.

  3. nuellavista

    September 17, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    Nice write up!
    Truth is if you’ve earned a Bsc in driving in Lagos, you can conveniently acquire a masters and PhD in driving in any part of the world.
    The training derived from driving in Lagos makes you skilled and a pro if you relocate to the UK or states (from experience) and you drive.
    Your driving instructor will become the learner…
    Other drivers will admire your tenacity and swiftness…
    Even traffic lights will obey you when they see you approaching…
    When foreigners come to nigeria, they don’t have the liver to rent a car and drive on the Lagos road but the reverse is the case when most of us travel out.
    Driving in Lagos can be crazy but that’s the best place to be skilled in driving….lol!

    • chichi

      September 17, 2015 at 11:24 pm

      lmao @ “traffic lights will obey you when they see you coming”
      Clown!

    • MC

      September 18, 2015 at 10:17 am

      I know of many people that drove in lagos but it took them many attempts or years to get a UK driving licence. Some habits are hard to break.

    • Tee

      September 18, 2015 at 2:54 pm

      I don’ think I agree. Like someone rightly said, some habits are hard to break.
      When you’ve been driving in Nigeria for so long, when you move to a more orderly country (maybe UK), you need to unlearn everything and then learn properly.

  4. Titilope

    September 17, 2015 at 9:34 pm

    I hope learning how to drive in Owerri and going back to Lagos after service is a good idea. Driving scares me chai. At my age 😀

  5. Sensa Greene Bespoke Bridesmaid Dresses

    September 17, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    Hahahaha if you have never cussed anyone in your life, then you have never driven on Nigerian roads. Some drivers can be so impatient, some still need to take driving lessons

  6. Omotee

    September 18, 2015 at 1:19 am

    Sharrat to my mad Abuja drivers. I know people say if you drive in Lag you can drive anywhere in the world. Chill. Where is the free road to speed there. Pls come to Abuja. Good road n our problem. Many people use to forget their brain leave for house and drive with their bum bum. I kid you not. I have turned to half kolo case cos of road rage. Many people think indicators are part of Interior decor in their cars or how do u explain someone who has entered right suddenly without trafficating? Twale to male taxi drivers who will be in the wrong then yell “madam go and get driver if you no fit drive”. I for like ask if na penis e take drive. Ode. Turn to lorry I go drive you.

  7. h

    September 18, 2015 at 2:19 am

    Apologies but I dont think its funny. I believe you will agree.

    Legs have been lost, women and men maimed, children killed on these same roads. Thanks to the selfishness/fake civilisation of some people. We hate to be soft so much whereas in other better holes, it works enormously for them.

    Some of the accidents that have happened, one may never volunteer to help clear the bed pans at the hospital. Or pray with all that to be used strength for the broken bones to heal faster. Or wipe tbe pus from an ugly wound. But please we should present our stories right. All sides.

    Think of the pretty girl with full lips that her father was killed by a laughing, mad driver and her stepfather is raping her at night.

    This is Naija, words must show that. It is never uk or monaco, or some bursting village but an association of the maddest people minus you criticised converging on roads, with ritial sacrifices and the full results of the stealing of some loiting fathers.

    Let s get it right. It has never been funny. It is a matter of life or death. Imagine your distant neighbours Harvard or LSE gentle son taking these roads daily. Will it still be funny? Others may not have such multidimensional endowment but their lives are still precious, do not deserve such roads and references.

    Hope we all keep designing life for others the way we do for ourselves. Peace.

  8. h

    September 18, 2015 at 2:20 am

    No offence!

  9. h

    September 18, 2015 at 2:31 am

    No offence! .

  10. Ehiwarior

    September 18, 2015 at 7:29 am

    Driving in Lagos…I pray rapture shouldn’t meet us on wheels weekdays in Lagos.

    • Hey

      September 18, 2015 at 9:27 am

      Haaaaaaa…..Nobody will make it to heaven oh

  11. Anastalia

    September 18, 2015 at 8:36 am

    Not Just impatience, Nigeria has no road regulation rules…..
    rules to keep drivers in check

  12. Tiki

    September 18, 2015 at 9:33 am

    My favorite pastime is scaring okada riders. If you swerve infront of me, I let u drive for a while, then pull up really close and honk. Loooouudd! You need to see them jump! Or I just keep a straight face if you are driving the wrong way up and keep coming. If you think car and okada are the same, come and hit me.

    Worse yet if u cut infront of me in traffic. I’ll just quietly squeeze you against the car infront of me. Curse all you like, I’ve got Woju remix on the stereo.

    On a serious note though, I’m seriously sick and tired of driving in a lawless town. It’s going to be one of the main reasons I move to a first-world country if ever.

  13. Ada Nnanyelugo

    September 18, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Driving here can really drive someone mad. This morning a Keke driver almost made me boil over. When you’re in a good mood, a crazy driver will try to put you in a bad mood.

  14. Ready

    September 18, 2015 at 9:46 am

    Let’s get this clear, Abuja road nonsense has nothing on Lagos. Shebi Mile 2 or 12 around Isolo has been blocked for 3 days now by NUPENG trailer drivers who are protesting Ambode’s ban. The spillover on that road often reaches Anthony and even Gbagada during peak periods. LASTMA has been unable to do anything despite their HQ being close, and Ambode has been mum.

    Now that we’re on the same page, I realized I have to ask God for special patience when I’m about to drive in this Lagos. It’s not even 6 a.m most times and crazy drivers have reared their ugly heads. Is it those drivers (commercial and private) that park smack dab in the middle of the road because they expect to be the only ones on the road (no street lights o, how I go take see you?)! Or the ones that 2 minutes of waiting is too much so they take one way and then accelerate over the median and in front of you.
    A colleague was in a bus that fell into a canal because the bus driver created his own lane; one tire was on asphalt and the other on sand so the bus was tilted. Almost all of them sustained injuries.
    At this point, I don”t even bother getting down if someone bumps my car. Get down and cause traffic or have area boys materialize out of nowhere and form a congregation around me? Meh.

  15. Tf

    September 18, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Nice write up. What can I say Nigeria is not a civilized and organised country. Go to other neighbouring countries, you will be surprised at how disciplined they are while driving. Everyone stays in line, no swerving left and right, no unnecessary horning and every one obeys the traffic light. This has nothing to do with our leaders. We need to be disciplined. The bus drivers are anoda story they do not obey any traffic law and you see the lastma , police and traffic wardens hailing them cos they settle them.

  16. Oluwatosin

    September 18, 2015 at 10:59 am

    This piece is so true but truthfully, Abuja traffic is fiction compared to Lagos.

    I remember asking myself why I had started to cuss more since I got behind the wheels. Now I understand why my dad says all drivers are crazy in Lagos which I do find true. The danfo driver, Keke driver, Okada driver and then the over zealous private car drivers.

    Although there are days when I am Mrs Calm and moments I am Mrs Smart, depending on my mood and the intention of being either or both.

    girlane.com

  17. chu-chu

    September 18, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    its truly not funny, i don’t know about oda place, but driving directly behind taxis in Abuja, is any driver’s nightmare, God help u if ur on top speed, once they see a potential passenger, they jus swerve and stop. The best u get is sorry, with the wave of hand. its tough oh, now join Keke again. those ones are just mad, people that were riding okadas b4, they got promoted to 3 wheels.

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