Lagos is toxic by Victor Ekwealor

Lagos was never planned or equipped for the number of people currently living in it, writes Victor Ekwealor.

A panoramic view of traffic in Lagos. Credit: Dami Akinbode / Unsplash
A panoramic view of traffic in Lagos. Credit: Dami Akinbode / Unsplash

“Lagos is toxic.”

People say this everyday in different ways, mediums, languages and actions. But honestly, there is no better and more concise way to say it than to just say it. Lagos is toxic. Full stop.

If they’re being truthful, everyone that has experienced this city to whatever degree will not disagree.

I never believed a time would come when I’ll actively beg people away from Lagos.

“Please don’t come. It’s all hype, nothing is worth the toxicity.”

I have become something of an anti-Lagos advocate. Not in the literal meaning of the word, but in trying to save people from jumping into the mess.

Some people go from disbelief to outright shock when they experience the madness.

Why are there so many people? Are they fighting there? Is this how everyday is around here?”

Are among some of the common questions these newbies ask. Then slow acceptance follows;

“But why is it so bad?”

Wrong question. Why shouldn’t it be so bad?

What do you expect from a state that is more populated than Ghana and is ironically sitting on the smallest landmass in Nigeria?

To add insult to injury, the state was never planned or equipped for the number of people currently in it.

It’s like building a house without a foundation strong enough to support it.

The government is playing politics of bridges and building shiny infrastructure. But the core machinery that powers an effective running of the system does not work around here. From transportation, public utility to services, nothing.

(un)Surprisingly, money is a cushion that can reduce the effect of the madness that is this city. The more you have, the easier it becomes.

From being able to pay five times the usual fare for a motorcycle to bypass vehicular traffic and save two hours. To having enough quid to afford an abode in the nests of the nouveau riche; Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Banana Island, and Lekki.

Around here, money stops nonsense. A phoneomen which I think is bad, but why I think so is a topic for another day.

So yes, all the fancy stories you hear about here are most likely half truths. There are opportunities and all, but weigh them against many factors and check if a move to Lagos is worth it.

Most people here have the so-called opportunities but would rather not be here. But are still here all the same; an abusive relationship in my opinion.

Lagos is toxic. Don’t believe the hype. You are not missing much.

Side note, ‘toxic’ is the Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the year 2018, and it makes sense. Donald Trump, my Lagos rant here, bad energy all over, climate change among other things. It makes perfect sense as the word of the year.

Editor’s note. This short essay was written in 2018 and was first published on Medium.