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Acres of Diamond in Lagos

There are acres of diamond in Lagos.

Lagos. Lagos? Lagos! The mega city. The commercial capital of the most populous African nation. The giant cauldron of cultural diversity.Indeed, a micro Nigeria.

Acres of diamond. The spellbinding sermon of Rev. Russell Conwell. Ali Hafed, a wealthy Persian farmer who after a discourse with a visiting priest went in search of a mine of diamonds.

Palestine. Europe. He searched, and searched and searched. Penniless, ragged, wretched and hopeless, he committed suicide at the Bay of Barcelona, Spain. Meanwhile, his successor inadvertently discovered a mine of diamond in Ali Hafed’s farm.

“Ohun ti Ali Hafed nwa lo si Sokoto, n mbe ni apo sokoto” (What Ali Hafed went searching for in Sokoto – a city in northern Nigeria -, is actually inside the pocket of his own sokoto – a type
of trouser).

Acres of diamond in Lagos. Really? Shrouded in mystery, thriving in enterprise and a magnetic local El-Dorado, Lagos is a home to 9,013,534 Nigerians going by NPC Census, and perhaps trading centre or transit city to some other 8,540,390 million totaling 17,553,924 contested by the Lagos State government, which experts projected might reach 24 million people by 2020, making it the third largest city in the world.

Resident Lagosians make a living,make love, make babies and raise children in Lagos , the proclaimed Centre of Excellence. The lost 8 millions – uncounted,unrecognized and unaccounted for – come from neighbouring States like Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Osun and Edo et al to do business and return to their nest at sun set. Another category of this description do short term in Lagos in anticipation of getting out of the county through Benin, Togo or Ghana to the deserts of Sahara onward to Libya to enter Europe or Asia. On self-exile, in search of greener pasture that most times turned out to be prostitution, child slavery, or simply out of frustration to escape harsh conditions of life in Nigeria. Others sail through the watery routes of the Atlantic Canary Island backdoors to enter Europe.Still another category came from the South South, South East, North Central, North East and North West attracted by the magic of a better life – Naira follows on the street of Lagos.

This Lagos conjures different perspectives to its different people, resident and transit alike. Feelings of nostalgia spiced with lamentations of the rape of the innocuous Island among the older generation. There are the feelings of pleasure, pressure and pains among the younger generation, the latter-day Lagosians who fight the epic battle of daily survival with frustrating elements of ‘no infrastructure, no security, and no social welfare’.

For the transit Lagosians, the mega city is damned too crowded, fast paced and unwelcoming. For the State Government, Lagosians are Oliver Twist and the burden of management is likened to using a basket to fetch water into a leaking drum. In modern-day Lagos , it is “the survival of the determined” according to Amy Otchet, UNESCO Courier journalist.

Like in any mega city found around the world, living in Lagos has its peculiar challenges of city life and cosmopolitan problems compared to living in Geidam, Yola, Potiskum, Minna, Gboko, Awka, Enugu, Akure, Abeokuta or Ibadan. Unlike its peers in the developed world, Lagos is a
dangerous place to live and work in.

Isn’t this subjective? Not with arrays of poverty, pollutions, HIV infections, armed robberies, disappearance of people, assassination, pipeline explosions, bomb explosion et al. The slum dwellers outnumber the urbanites. There are 1000 AJ (Ajegunle) cities to 1 VGC (Victoria Garden City). Lagos is a modern day urban miracle that you marvel how the residents survive. They are either supermen or G-Girls!

Written off the mega city yet? Contemplating retiring to the village? Saving up sufficient money to escape to Europe, Australia or the Americas? Do not pack your bags yet. ‘Ohun ti o nwa lo si Sokoto, mbe ninu apo sokoto’. Lagos is a mine of diamond.

It is estimated that 62% of Nigeria’s GNP is concentrated in Lagos, along with about 40% of
currency in circulation and 45% of the industrial labour force. Beyond this statistics, Lagos is a mega city bustling with untapped economic potentials and exploits of talents, trade, vocations and professions to create both personal and collective wealth for the individuals and the state respectively. Oh, that the government can develop Lagos into a modern mega city and see it flourish to the zenith of its economic and cultural potentials and glory in Africa!

Lagos provides all comers with level playing field to succeed in spite of its absence of infrastructure. Succeeding in Lagos is like extracting the juice from a coconut. Making it in Lagos is like fighting the ‘beasts of Ephesus’. Go and ask any Diaspora Nigerian, it is neither easier in London, New York, Japan, Kuwait nor Singapore. If you make it in Lagos, you can succeed any where in the world. All it takes to mine the acres of diamond in Lagos is vision, focus, temerity, iron-clad determination and perseverance.

Lagos is a testimonial of human courage and triumph against hellish horde of difficulties, frustrations and limitations. One such recent triumph is the story of an every day hero who begged his way to bag an admission to read Political Science in the prestigious
University of Lagos.

This every day hero is one 27-year old Idowu Abdulsalam. This author’s attention was first drawn to this gentleman’s story from The Punch newspaper of January 23, 2007 in Lagos and online Guardian editorial of February 4, 2007 in Accra.

Idowu Abdulsalam is an undergraduate beggar newly admitted into the University of Lagos to study Political Science. He is physically challenged, born into a polygamous and poor family. He lost is mother at the age of three. He became crippled at age four after a malaria attack.

Segun Olugbile of The Punch reported that Mr. Abdulsalam “fled Erinle, Kwara State, his home town like stowaway aboard a Lagos-bound train after his failure to pay his West Africa Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations fees in 1999.” He began to hunt for treasures in Lagos, competing against able-bodied Lagosians. From Iddo Terminus to Ijora, Alaba to Orile and Oshodi to Ajegunle, Mr. Abdulsalam was all over Lagos on a local skateboard at daytime with the tribe of beggars hustling for alms. He would sleep under the bridge in the night. He was exposed, Mr. Olugbile said, “to the dangers of the elements and the unpredictability of the mega city.”

Like able-bodied Lagosians, he also knew the peril of corrupt police officers who once raided the secondary school where he used to sleep in Orile and had to bail himself with N300. He could have ended up in the steaming stewpot of Clifford Orji, joined gang of drug deviants, armed robbers or used for rituals.

Against all odds, he had a vision. He wanted to become a lawyer. He wanted a university education. And, he began to save. He opened a bank account from the proceeds of his alms begging and saved ferociously. What able-bodied find difficult to achieve.

He sat for General Certificate of Education (O/L) from his savings. Twice he failed GCE, twice he failed JAMB, but he was not deterred. He wanted education and would stop at nothing to get it. He was not blaming his predicament on his impoverished father, the unforgiving environments of Lagos.

He has an attitude. He saw Lagos from a different perspective. Mr. Abdulsalam according to The Punch was quoted as saying “that in spite of the hostile environment of Lagos, the city had a lot of opportunities for people who were not lazy.” This guy is really hard working. He said, “I’ve experienced what it means to grow up without a mother and with disability. It’s not that my father is not interested in sponsoring me but he’s incapable. Due to this, I had to resort to doing anything that can fetch me money except crime to fend for myself since I was in JSS 1.”

This is a worthy Nigerian ambassador at home. He is not done yet, he has a larger dream. He wanted to become a lawyer and join politics so that he can sponsor a bill that would ensure that parents who failed to educate their disabled children were punished.

The world is a global village now.Nigerians are encouraged to traverse all the cities of the world. Nigerians should also team up with the rest of humanity to conquer the space and be among the first nationals to actually live there. There is nothing wrong with that. This is a challenge, however, to legions of youth who must cross the deserts on foot, camel back and the Atlantic using canoes to enter Spain through Senegal – dig the gold in your backyard first.

‘Ohun ti o n wa lo si Sokoto, nbe ni apo sokoto’. Why die in search of the Golden Fleece in foreign land, when you can strive to dig your backyard for gold? Why go into modern slavery and prostitution in a foreign live when you can make a meaning out of you live in your backyard? Why sell your property in Lagos to acquire illicit visa in order to travel overseas as a refugee or illegal alien in another man’s country when you could have wisely invested the money and succeed in micro businesses as millions are doing at home?

If life is hard in ‘yonder’, please come back home. If your host countrymen are worrying you too much and making you feel like an unwanted alien, pick your bag and return home. But first, get a fresh vision, fresh perspective of home and the courage to make it. If after 10, 15 or 20 years, you cannot point to one thing you have done with your life out there, please come back home.

Home is home, whatever.  Home,sweet home.

There are acres of Diamond in Lagos.

Nigeria is a land flowing with boundless opportunities in different areas of life from micro to mega businesses in cottage businesses, SMEs, finance, oil and gas, telecom, etc. Labour is relatively affordable. Taxes and charges are moderate. The knowledge you have acquired over the years in ‘yonder’ will give you the competitive advantage as a ‘son of the soil’.

How did you see Nigeria? How did you rate Lagos ? Acres of diamond? Next time you feel to Murtala International Airport, check the massive MTN billboard on the airport road median. The South Africans are telling us that Nigeria is the home of boundless opportunities.

Author: Babatunde Fajimi

This article was first published by Nigeria Village Square and was retrieved through http://www.m.nigeriavillagesquare.com/articles/babatunde-fajimi/acres-of-diamond-in-lagos-16.html

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