Monthly Archives: August 2012
Unless, you’re not a Lagosian, or you’re a Lagosian who’s been sleeping off a 2 month hangover, you know what today’s post is all about. Right?
We’re talking about the newly signed law which is guaranteed to fuck up your undisciplined Nigerian attitude to traffic behaviour in more ways than one.
The big deal of the new traffic law include: a three year jail term for one-way offenders, a three year jail term for riding a motor cycle without crash helmet for rider and passenger, a 6 month imprisonment for driving with a fake number plate, and a three year jail term for one-way offenders. Oh, I said that last one before? Good, you’re paying attention.
Now, you may thank your stars that you don’t even have a car, “so whatever”, but, I’ll come to that later. For now, who here hasn’t gone wrongly on a one-way road in Lagos before? Either driving or being driven? Show of hands. No one? Nobody? I didn’t think so. You see, one-way roads in Lagos are like established men of God–you never see them coming. Whoever was in charge of crafting the one-way routes definitely has a sense of humour just barely above that of a foot-mat. Unless you know the route, every one-way snaps on you by surprise and you’re already in the waiting arms of the happy law enforcers before you even realise that anything is amiss. With the absence of signs, and the confused state of traffic, it takes high powers of divination to be able to spot a one-way road before you land in it. Unfortunately, few Lagosians can divine their own identity much less that of a side street.
The first six months of implementing the new law would then see almost all commercial drivers, and half of the private drivers sitting in jail, despairingly awaiting trial. “Damn, I’m almost late, let me take this shortcut.” is what you thought. Busted, is what happens next. You’re going to jail, man. In fact, it will become normal for people to leave home for work in the morning and call lawyers before 9 has even struck the a.m. The rate at which people would be getting arrested, everyday would be blowjob day for criminal lawyers.
Now, back to those who take solace in not driving cars. Ever heard of the word “accomplice”? Well, its a crime. Accessory before the fact, accessory after the fact, aiding and abetting. Whatever. You’re all going to jail with the driver. Look it up. Maybe, you told the driver to stop, maybe you warned him against taking the one-way road—well, you may get an acquittal in court—but meanwhile, your boss has sacked you for getting arrested in the first place. By the time your ordeal with the lawyers, police, LASTMA, court officials and the judge is over, you’ll be wishing you had HIV instead—at least they are not discriminated against.
And maybe you sent your friend a text message describing how to get to your house, and your friend follows your instruction, lands in a one-way road and gets arrested. Well, there’s good news for you! You can join him in jail for conspiracy to commit a felony! Isn’t that thoughtful? Look it up! Look it up! Now the two of you can simply get together in jail and plot even more dastardly crimes against society. Yeah?
Now, here’s the sweetest part of this whole legal stuff and shit. You don’t even have to commit the crime to get your ass in jail. An attempt is sufficient. You and your buddies, just chilling at the junction debating whether to take a one-way or not. Then someone says: “C’mon folks, let’s do this shit. Its just a one-way road!” and everybody says “Yeah”. That’s it. Game up. The law on attempts says that’s just as bad as doing the act itself. The police can bust your collective asses right there, and you all get the green card to jail without even enjoying that so sweeeeet one-way road ride. Look it up! Look it up! LOOK IT UP!
Meanwhile, with almost all of Lagos (including my humble self) nicely packed off into one prison cell or the other, we’ll have cleaner streets, saner roads, lesser or even no traffic…oh, wait, I see where you’re going with that, Gov. Fashola. Nice one. Nice one! Thumbs up, bro!
If there is any single entity that has managed to generate the ire of Nigerians across all tribes, religions, social circles, age groups, education levels, and job descriptions and unite all of these in undisputed bitterness, anger and regret directed against the said entity on a level of distrust even worse than any government in power; if there is any symbol of tyranny and greed and exploitation in Nigeria on a level even more villainous than that of Shell in its decades of raping the Niger Delta; if there is one single entity who can be picked to have fucked up even more people’s best laid plans in a decade than NEPA did in 30 years, then that entity has got to be M-T- freaking N!
I’m one of those people who think of a phone as useful either for receiving information or giving it and for little else. No time for frills talk, howyadoing and other chichat, a behaviour that has caused me reprimands from family, friends and lovers. This is partly due to my nature and partly due to years of MTN per-minute payphone conditioning which has perfected the ability to trim down phone conversations to the barest inescapable information in a bid not to pass the minute mark.
Take WAP/GPRS/3G for example. For those in the know, the early days of mobile internet was a continuous battle to enjoy the pleasures of the mobile net (ordinary WAP!) without handing over the standard fee of one left eye which MTN demanded in the form of payments per kilobyte. With the aid of resourceful folks who were adept at kicking MTN’s ass VIA web access protocols and the ever wonderful, hackable Opera Mini, new codes were made available every week through which you could cheat MTN of a few hundred Nairas and browse for free. It wasn’t a case of not wanting to pay the money, it was one of necessity being the shove-mistress of invention. You see, in those early days of mobile internet, the only people who cared enough for the new technology were students and geeks who could not afford even the call credit, much less the internet costs. The hacking was not stealing, it was protesting!
Even worse than the network charges, is the situation when the network just fails for no apparent reason. You’re willing to pay the call costs, you’ve loaded up your phone, you don’t mind the charges, all you want is just to make a phone call. In fact, you’re willing to trade a week’s worth of credit for just this one important call. And you can’t make the call! There’s network on the phone, there’s credit on the phone, everything looks all right on the phone and yet: “the number you are trying to call is not available at the moment” for no reason at all! No fucking reason! All you’re asking for is to be able to make “just this one call”, for a few minutes, but MTN simply frustrates the will to live out of you.
Maybe the hefty fees MTN pays the government and its regulators is responsible for the don’t-give-a-damn attitude displayed by the company, maybe its the lack of any serious competition, maybe it has to do with the general willingness of Nigerians to take any shit it lying down, I don’t know. What I know is this: I’ve had a rough deal from MTN, and whatever they’ve thrown as “bonuses”, from midnight calls to free MMS has not done jack to make me feel I’ve received a fair bargain. The only reason I’m yet to toss out my MTN sim-card is because the competition is hardly any better and I’ve gotten used to the rough treatment. The co-authored story: The Robots of the Corporate World was my only attempt to take down the network via literature. But MTN ignored the story.
And that’s why when this weekend I realized that apart from the monthly 3k charge for my BIS, I had loaded little credit and yet I had over a
N1,000 balance on my phone, I had a shock. MTN had actually been giving me money for almost a week. Most of my phone calls had been on the bonus, same for text messages. I was not even aware that any promo was in place, I’d long given up on MTN’s so called promos. But I noticed this one, because that shit was working. I was actually beginning to enjoy using MTN, it was scary. No hang ups, no failure to connect, no me giving the middle finger to nothing in particular.
The nice guy part of me has been eager to believe that someone in MTN has found Christ, become born-again, sold his property, given the proceeds to the poor and turned over a new leaf, but that stuff never happens except in Mount Zion videos. Nobody goes from being Lex Luthor to Superman without a gun sticking in the small of their back—and something like that is what a friend and I think happened to MTN that made them so nice and well behaved in the last few weeks. Here’s what I think really, really happened.
After unsuccessfully trying to synchronize timing and location during one of their dastardly missions, BH council members got together to vent their frustrations over the network.
One of them stood up angrily: “Guys! We are the terrors of the North and yet MTN kicks our teeth in every time, and we do nothing about it! MTN is worse than having pork for lunch during Ramadan!”
“Patience, Abdul,” said the gang leader. “MTN is no ordinary company. Remember, MTN is far more powerful than the government, Shell and NEPA combined together. We have to be very careful here.”
“I know this, my lord. But with your permission, I will kidnap the CEO and shake him up a little. If we succeed in scaring him, he will definitely roll out a new company policy. I swear, I will resign from this Boko Haram instead of allowing that network to kill me.”
“Hmm, Abdul, many of our men have been frustrated because of this failure to connect. You have a point. I am tired of this MTN wahala myself. Ok, do what you have to. MTN must work or they will pay for it.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you get to have some free money from MTN.
Hello, Folks Who Love to Read Stuff on This blog.
There’s plenty to do at work today, so I can’t do the idle stuff you love to read. My bad. So while you wait for Monday’s inevitable blend of polite sarcasm and social irreverence, enjoy this poem from ayosogunro says—if you’re into things like poetry, that is. Otherwise just get back to work before your boss notices its not a Word document open before you.
Bosses aside, here’s today’s retro:
THE WORKSHOP FOR CONCRETE AGITATION
–where the people reign and the rulers tremble
A rhyme for our Oga, the legislator
Very well known for his tackling drill
They call him “The Tyson Senator”
He bites his colleagues as he goes for the kill
Eager to start the honourable fights
Always on behalf of the ruling side
He’s a champion of allowance rights
And his house in Apo is our local pride
Today, he rides the town in big campaign
With bags of goods and a merry face
We’re happy to receive the imported grain
The fila, the gele and the expensive lace
We can help his aims financially
But this time, not politically!
The people’s workshop for concrete agitation
We decide which man is better for our nation
The President gave a speech last night
He was desperate to show off his plans
How he was going to help with our plight
And convert us to number one fans
We loved our leader, his trademark hat
The goofy smile and the slow motion
He hadn’t done much to get our pat
But his talk and puff deserved the ovation
We were all eager to hear his yarn
And waited till eight with a curious itch
The electricity then took flight at seven
And though we had a gen, we missed the speech
The president may have important news
But our hard-got fuel was for better use
Come into the workshop for concrete agitation
Where the President takes a second position
Don’t forget the Lagos godfather
With the hundred sons and one servant
Life is hard when you are the master
And a single slave can make you rant
This man’s servant was just too bold!
So the boys and their father plotted thick
Who cared for schools, bridges or a road
And socialist hospitals for the sick?
If the work contracts didn’t come their way
Then the hard-worker just had to go.
But the people will have their day
As every godfather comes to know
Join the workshop for concrete agitation
Help to dismantle the grand machination