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Friday, May 22, 2015

Attend the JarusHub Networking Saturday (JNS) Event



I will be there #Godwilling and I endorse this message.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Most Popular Bus Stops in Lagos: Ojuelegba




I am tempted to start with the lyrics to Wizkid's song 'Ojuelegba' about this very popular bus stop but that might not be fair to one of the most iconic locations in Lagos.

Ojuelegba is in the middle of the old Lagos Mainland Local Government.  On one side of it is Surulere on the other is Yaba, the 2 major districts that make Lagos Mainland with close proximity to Western Avenue (now Funsho Williams Avenue) and Eko bridge., Ojuelegba is ever-bubbling and busy.

 Due to its centrality, you can get buses to most parts of Lagos at Ojuelegba and there are a lot of traders selling different wares; clothes, shoes, bags, books, carpets, rugs and lots more. There are also many banks and several businesses with offices taking advantage of the location and its accessibility.  The area also has a vibrant nightlife which means there are different businesses running for 24 hours aided by well-lit roads something that is not guaranteed in Lagos.

Ojuelegba is one of the safer popular bus stops in Lagos with much fewer cases of theft, armed robbery, kidnapping and other crimes associated with it. I cannot give an exact reason for this but having  police and army barracks nearby might be helpful coupled with the middle-class nature of nearby Surulere and Yaba. I think this explains the more 'respectable' nature of Ojuelegba. Claiming that you emerged from there is likely to carry less stigma compared to saying you are from places like Oshodi and Mushin.

 Whether this perception is fair or not might be up for debate but it is what it is.

 So, if you are visiting Lagos, do make an effort to visit Ojuelegba  to enrich your stories about the city.

Friday, May 15, 2015

On Rookie Senator Ben Murray-Bruce and his Many Critics


Ben Murray-Bruce


This is an opinion piece sent to me by an online friend with the pen name Daisy, I hope you find it as interesting as I have. You can also send guests posts to me via olatuson@gmail.com. It might get published if I like it enough...

Beside the untainted whitish complexion cum dapper Look which can fool any non-discerning individual and pass him off as a Caucasian, the name of the media czar reminds one of the famous American actor, Bruce Willis that raved in the nineties. Interestingly, this Bayelsa indigene, Ben Murray-Bruce has been in the news lately for different reasons. Since his clinching of the prestigious nay much-coveted seat in the senate, tweeting about our political scenery has become one of his favourite hobbies. The problem is not in the rate of churning out his salvos but the controversy it has generated among Nigerians.

The heckling nature of an average Nigerian is a well-known fact but I think they should let him take the mantle before condemning him. I mean give him the benefit of doubt.

The first comment accredited to the debonair businessman turned politician was his clamor for a slash in the salaries of our higher chamber representatives. Any well-meaning Nigerian will agree that this is a call long overdue. Shouldn’t we be jubilant that an in-house personality is willing to further this cause for us? Alas! My people reason differently …“where has he been all this while?”, “Na lie, he is seeking cheap publicity”, “let him go sit down, we know their ilk”are examples of reactions that greeted this suggestion.

It seems preposterous to read such a response to a proposed solution to a problem Nigerians have whined about for years to no avail. The obscene pay of legislators exemplifies the leadership class' insensitivity to the plight of Nigerians.

According to the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) the body in charge of determining the pay of political office holders in Nigeria, a Senator gets a total salary plus regular allowances of N12,766,320 per annum. This is outside of other allowances, which are paid annually or once in four years and when applicable, are: Accommodation N4, 052,800.00, which is paid annually; furniture allowance N6, 079,200.00 which is paid once in four years. Also, there is Duty Tour Allowance, DTA (per night), which is N37,000. Estacode (per night) is $950. Recess allowance is N202,640.00 and severance gratuity, paid after a successful completion of tenure, is N6,079,200.00. A Senator could also apply for a car loan of N8, 105,600.00 which must be repaid before the expiration of his tenure.

A House of Representatives member gets N9, 529,038.06 as yearly salary and regular allowances. This is outside other allowances, which include: Accommodation N3,970,425.00; Furniture N5,955,637.50; DTA N35,000; Estacode $900; Recess N198,521.25 and Severance Gratuity N5,955,637.50. A Representative can also apply for a car loan of N7,940,850.00.

Our legislators get all of this money for doing what? In a country where 46% of people live in poverty according to the World Bank (Source: http://data.worldbank.org/country/nigeria), it is scandalous to put it mildly.

“The 8th NASS won’t be a rubber stamp. Not while I’m there! I will expose anybody that dares approach me or my colleagues with Ghana Must  Go!” is another quote from the debonair senator. You would think such intrepid declaration from a statesman will spur hope in a nation mired in corruption, right? Wrong! My people have been blind to the message and decided to go for the messenger’s jugular instead. He must be an hypocrite to think and say this, many have concluded. Perhaps, these obnoxious, condescending, self-acclaimed political pundits are planning a subterfuge for our nascent CHANGE train.

Yes, talk is cheap. But you can hardly fault a mind that conceives such articulate thoughts as his and bold enough to express it. See more of his tweets below:

“I am not going to the senate to make money. I have much more than I need. I’m going to serve God by fighting for the good Nigerians!”

“A governor who can’t pay salaries has no moral right to a huge convoy or guest houses or to a private jet. Your workers must be your priority!”

“As far as I’m concerned, until all state workers are paid their salary, no governor, no commissioner, no SA should collect salary or allowance!”

“The hottest place in hell should be reserved for Governors who live large at public expense while workers with children have not been paid!

“Rich politicians get free pilgrimage, free medical, free police escort, while those they represent get…. Nothing!!!”

In fact, his observations are so apt that I am tempted to add GBAM! at the end of each quote. Before now, the task of checking our leaders’ excesses has been the business of activists and journalists. Seeing a member of the political class say the home truth is pleasing. The legislative arm of government in a democratic setting is as important if not more as the executive. It is imperative that we have more of his likes in the hallowed chamber to achieve the CHANGE adjured by the hoi polloi.

I expect that we will give this Bayelsa East senator-elect the opportunity to serve us, to deliver us from his Oliver Twist colleagues and political gourmands ready to devour the remnant of our common wealth. Wishful thinking? Let time be the judge.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Essential Things You Need on a Road Trip




Going on a road trip can be so exciting. The cities, routes you will pass through, the stopover towns and the exciting sights on the way are some of the reasons a lot of people take road trips. But before you get overwhelmed about the idea and the sound of fun, try and make adequate preparing for your trip. You don’t want to be two hours in and then realise you didn’t bring along necessary things you will need on the way. Beyond making sure your car is roadworthy, we have a few guides that will help you pack the essential things you will need for your next road trip in no time.

CDs, Audio auxiliary cable

The last thing you want on a long ride is that dead silence that pushes one on the edge. Bring along a collection of your favourite CDs so you can groove to the music while driving. An audio auxiliary cable will also come in handle here. You can play songs on your music players such as iPod or even your phone using the auxiliary cable to plug it into your car stereo. With this, you can enjoy your delightfully organised playlist or audio book as you navigate your route to the destination.



Snacks and Drinks

Besides stopping on the way to eat proper meals, having snacks in the car is important for your road trip. Many people who have been stuck in Lagos traffic at one time or the other will testify that Lacasera and Gala are a great combination. This could be your treat. You can go for local snacks that you love. Try to pack fruits and you will need water to keep your body hydrated.



Smartphone, USB charger and Power Bank

People hardly go anywhere these days without these things but if you don’t already do this, you need to. Your smartphone is a multipurpose device. It is a quick access to maps, find out anything online and connecting with family and friends. Depending on the quality of the phone, it can also double as your camera for the trip. You can charge your phone and other devices in the car with the USB charger stick. The power bank will also help as power backup for your devices.

Wears

Pack the clothes you will need for the duration of your trip. Wear a comfortable cloth for the ride. Also make sure to have a jacket/ sweater around just in case the weather requires it. You might need a long length socks to protect your legs from mosquitoes or you can get mosquito repellent creams.

Travel with Buddies

Good company enhances every experience. Travelling with your buddies promises more fun and you can always take turns driving. While one is driving, the other can be taking memorable pictures of the scenery, napping or doing a sing-a-long. It could also be a good time to catch up with each other.


First Aids and other Essentials

Make sure to have first aids in the car in case of any emergency. Basic medicines like pain relievers, antacids, and any other personal prescriptions should be in a compartment in the car. With friends riding with you, you can bring along playing cards. Don’t forget to take a roll of toilet paper with you and your sunglasses.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Major Bus Stops in Lagos: Obalende

Obalende

Strategically placed between Lagos Island and Ikoyi is one of the most popular bus stops in Lagos- Obalende. The name Obalende when literally translated to English from Yoruba means 'The king chased me to this point '. Who the king and the person being chased were is not the subject of this post.

I will be looking at Obalende as a major transportation hub in Lagos. It is one of the major gateways into what is now referred to as 'The Island ', a term used to describe the the most important and influential districts in Lagos outside of its capital on the mainland, Ikeja. These are Lagos Island, Ikoyi, Victoria Island and Lekki. It is a major terminus for buses coming from the mainland to the Island via the 3rd Mainland Bridge which is Africa's longest bridge, 11.8km long.

This strategic location makes Obalende one of the most important transportation hubs in Lagos where you can find buses to practically every location in the city. Many people from outside Lagos coming to trade enter the Island via Obalende. Hence, there are many interstate buses especially to other cities in Southern Nigeria. It has a sprawling underbridge bus park which also serves as a market.

Another reason for Obalende's popularity is its proximity to the former seat of political power in Nigeria, Dodan Barracks, the former Federal Secretariat and Police Baracks. This made it a must for many civil servants to commute through it to and from work when Lagos was still the political capital of Nigeria.

Lagos stopped being the political capital of Nigeria on 14th November, 1991 when Abuja became the new capital. However, this move did not really affect the vibrancy of Obalende and by extension Lagos as commercial interests ensure their importance and continued influence.

The change of capital to Abuja did lead to the abandonment of a lot infrastructure around Obalende with commercial bus drivers and road traders taking over and greatly spoiling the serene environment with refuse, noise, pollution and associated increase in crime.

The return to democracy in 1999 saw Obalende getting some face-lift but it is during the tenure of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola that greater effort has been made to remove road traders and restrict commercial bus drivers to their parks. There is still a lot of work to be done but Obalende is looking a lot better these days than it was in the past. The new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) terminus is one of if not the most modern in Lagos.

Another distinguishing feature of Obalende is that it bubbles for practically 24-hours with all sorts of activities, legal and illegal going on at night.

Obalende has gone international with the establishment of Obalende Suya Restaurant in London.

It makes a lot of sense for any visitor to Lagos to know Obalende before leaving the city. Your experience of Lagos without Obalende would definitely not be complete.

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