How to survive in Lagos, Nigeria

For many people, adjusting to the lifestyle and system in Lagos can be a very demanding task, but there are some misconceptions by people who are visiting for the first time or those who have just relocated.

The stories peddled by friends or relatives will often portray Lagos as a place too noisy, overcrowded, traffic-plagued and many other negative adjectives. But you can be sure that there is more to Lagos than this.

The first thing anyone who is visiting or relocating to Lagos has to do is first set aside the stories you have heard, and focus on the fact that those who are coping in Lagos do not have some extraordinary powers.

Here are 5 Do’s and 5 Don’ts that can act as a guide to your acclimatizing in lagos

The 5 Dos

Be Courteous

Be respectful and calm; learn to say sorry if there is a little disagreement. Try as much as possible to stay out of arguments. In doing this, you will get more friends who can make your stay in Lagos really worthwhile.

Be Smart

There are great landmarks, and outstanding structures everywhere in Lagos. It’s okay to be amazed by what you see; but staring for too long may make you seem lost and uncertain, hence highlighting you as a viable prey.

Don’t be sloppy or move around like a wanderer, embrace the environment, don’t let it intimidate you.

Be Bold

Never look frightened even when the bus conductors shout and roar, just keep still without fidgeting, most of their threats are empty. Gently make your points clear, state your claim accurately, and many others will join your cause and probably fight your fight; that’s the Lagos spirit.

Simply go about your business and stay away from any area where you smell trouble.

Be Flexible

Don’t get all worked up with thoughts of Lagos as a challenging terrain. Remember that not everyone in Lagos is out to snatch your belongings like you may have heard from fables.

Add your candid opinions to contemporary issues; be warm and friendly at every occasion when the need arises.

Be Modest

Especially with your dressing, if you must be flamboyant and extravagant in your dressing, then you must try to avoid using public buses. Get a taxi to chauffeur you around town, that way you stand less chance of having your purse snatched, pocket picked or being robbed. Better still, get on the BRT buses and have a great time as you go around Lagos.

The 5 Don’ts

Don’t Give Your Trust easily

That someone is looking all smart and affluently clad in a suit or some awesome regalia does not mean you can go on and totally trust the person. Be sure to test everyone and of course give the book a constructive criticism after you read beyond its cover. Like the Lagos slang says, “shine your eyes o!”.

Don’t Loiter About At Night

Unless you have a valid ID card and have become really familiar with the area. True, Lagos never sleeps and tends to be much more fun at night, but you should stick with the day, till you have a mastery of easy routes and road networks to lead you safely home.

Avoid notorious places and places marked out for crime; no one can really guarantee your safety if you are behind enemy lines.

Don’t Be Greedy

Beware of people who will approach you saying: “me come Cameroon get dollar to change”. Truth be told, there are a lot of scam artists in Lagos, and the government is doing a lot to flush them out. In fact the war against fraud in Lagos is almost won, but never forget to spot the Judas in every twelve. Try as much as possible to stick to your routines, either for places you are to visit or for transactions you engage in.

Don’t Be Too Showy

Regardless of what you are and who you are, try as much as possible to play it down. Never go counting all your money where there is a crowd, beware the way you make that Gucci or Fendi bag swing. Avoid constant public displays of wealth. In Lagos no one is really pre-occupied with who you are and where you from, bragging and shouting is most likely to make you seem obnoxious and get you in some trouble.

Don’t Take Unregistered Buses

Yellow with stripes of black is the normal coating for commercial vehicles in Lagos. To be on the safe side you can stick to the yellow Danfo buses; although some argue that BRT buses are better options. Hitch-hiking is not really advisable in Lagos. There are a few private cars and buses that pick up passengers at various bus-stops, but you are advised to patiently wait for the commercial vehicles, as fares in Lagos are relatively cheap.

These tips are given as guidelines to make your stay in Lagos most comfortable. Like a map, if the rules are followed judiciously, one stands a 95% chance of having an excellent stay in Lagos.

Lagos is not like most people say it is: there are so many positive things going on in and around this beautiful city, but just like everywhere else in the world, there will always be the good, the bad and the ugly.

For all the bad stories you have been told, you will have the time of your life in Eko, Nigeria’s most beautiful city and arguably Africa’s most exciting place to be.

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