Walk along the streets in Lagos, Kano or Anambra and you will be amazed at how Nigerians hustle from dawn to dusk trying to make ends meet. In spite of the shuffle they are some of the nicest people on the continent; always willing to offer assistance, give money to the less privileged, point out directions to your destination and religious to the hilt. However, even with these remarkable traits, there are still some idiosyncrasies visitors find puzzling.
So, if you are a first-timer to Nigeria seeking to tamper the culture shock you may experience, the following scenarios which highlight some of these quirks will make interesting read.
Crossing the road
With a child strapped to her back and holding a 3-year-old son, a Nigerian lady will attempt to cross a very busy highway while dodging oncoming vehicles, all at the same time. Even though there is a pedestrian bridge in front of her. This is a common scenario on Lagos roads.
Many people know that crossing a busy road is risky but they do it anyway. It is logical and safe to use the pedestrian bridge, but they would rather choose the shorter route. So if you are driving through a street or major road around a city, it helps to keep a foot close to the break-pad and an eye on the lookout for ‘shunters’.
Throwing items off buses
All of over the world, some people have formed the habit of throwing items like bananas, oranges and the nylons out of their vehicles and Nigeria is no different.
This anomaly is gradually fading away as the National Environmental Management Authority now enforces the use of waste baskets in public places.
Lateness to an event has become an acceptable ‘phenomenon’ in many societies. If you fix an event for 10 am, don’t be surprised if the auditorium starts filling out about 3 or 4 hours later with invitees trooping to the venue.
This may not be peculiar to Nigerians alone, but it happens very often – even at celebrity or government functions! Many sociologists say that African time is a pattern that needs to be stopped. How? Commence the event even if there are just two people in the hall.
Last minute syndrome
A typical example of this is the June 30th 2015 deadline to enrol for the Bank Verification Number. Many Nigerians had over two months to visit one of their bank branches to do this registration. However, they didn’t. They waited until the last day and the banks were overflowing with customers waiting to enrol for the BVN on the deadline day.
The Central Bank of Nigerian was benevolent enough to extend the time for the registration. This same attitude was displayed during the registration and collection for the permanent voter’s card.
Jumping the Queue
This is simple public etiquette. It is gentlemanly to join the line and wait for your turn especially as Nigerians are magnanimous enough to allow you in the line if you appeal to them.
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