Ode to a playground.

Growing up was fun, whenever I go to Lagos Island, sweet memories still flood my mind, memories of a clean sparsely populated and breezy neighborhood which encompassed streets like Bishop Street, Olowogbowo, Elegbata, Koseh, John Street, Daddy Alaja, Tom Jones, Idumota, Alakoro Marina, Balogun Street, Broad Street and the main Marina.  Everywhere was our playground including the gutters and right in the middle of black well tarred  roads, cars hardly passed by, it was only a few people that had cars, commuting was not common then,


Na better school……. good school in Nigeria?

The world over,the government is charged with the responsibility of guiding its citizenry on how to make a good choice when placing their children in schools and other institutions of higher learning. A major duty of the government is to provide free education up to secondary level and also aid the provision of standard education up to secondary level. In Nigeria, things are a bit different, yes the State governments provide education, but in most cases it is such that the children of the state government  staff would not be caught dead in such schools.

A government school in Kogi State.
Another one in Kwara State.

There is indeed a large gap to be filled and this has led to the proliferation of schools in Nigeria that claim to offer good education. I have searched to check if there is any guideline emanating from government to help in making a good choice,  but there seems to be none.

All is however not lost, let’s take a look at the following checklist and see if it wont help in the selection of a good school.

1. Private. Check. Chances are that if a school is privately owned and run, it is a good school, it is only if you are not a Nigerian or you don’t live in Nigeria that you need further explanation. Continue reading


Nigerians, keeping the change since 1973.

Do you remember the phrase ‘Keep the saing change’ by Jenifa, in the film ‘Jenifa’by Funke Akindele?Well Nigerians have been keeping the change since the introduction of the Nigerian currency, the Naira and Kobo on January 1st 1973.. Change hear means money returned to someone as the balance of the amount paid for something.

Different denominations of the Naira

Change or what is called refund in some other countries is one thing Nigerians love keeping. No matter how smart you think you are, you may never be able to succeed in retrieving your change from Nigerians,  well I beg your pardon,most Nigerians. Let us examine the following scenarios

You are at a filling/petrol station to buy fuel, you give the petrol attendant instruction to sell ₩5,000 worth, he will attend to you and ensure you have some change to collect by living some fraction less than that ₩5,000 say, ₩4.942 or some other fraction and he will either tell you your tank is full or that he does not have change. You will be forced to part with ₩58. There is hardly any customer that is not put through this daily except maybe a few people like me, carrying on the lone crusade of ‘change collection’ So at the end of the day a typical petrol station attendant would be taking home a tidy sum that will by far exceed his salary at the end of the month. Meanwhile they do not know that there is no such job as petrol station attendants in most countries in the western world,( you are expected  serve yourself and go in and make a payment) and that it is a privilege to them that such jobs exist in Nigeria.

The experience ,when you are unfortunate enough to take Public transport like buses and keke Marwa

Keke Marwa

and even taxis is worse. From what I hear, the best bet is to board with your exact fare, the dangers inherent in not doing that are far too many, you could be late for your appointment because you might be taken beyond your stop to get change if you are not ready to forgo your change, you might have to get physical with the conductor if care is not taken, you might be joined together with some other passengers( conductors call it marriage) alighting at the same destination to go and sought out one another as per the change.

The fact that you have a car and so do not take public transport does not exempt you except if you don’t have a driver, if you don’t have a driver, no problem, petrol station attendants will be waiting for you, if you do have a driver, please don’t send them to buy fuel except you are in the car, (that is a story for another post). And if  you should send them on some other errand, do not make the mistake of asking for your change, there would be consternation on their face as if they have never heard of such a request before in their life. And if you, like me should cultivate the habit of asking for your change, your drivers will not stay long, you would have to keep getting new ones. And off course, most likely you will have an house help, these don’t  render account talk less of giving you your change, if you force them to render an account, it will be so inflated that it would be obvious, so the fear of not losing  your house help especially if she is good at her job is the beginning of wisdom, so most people look the other way.

The neighbourhood supermarkets, maiguards that sell provisions, recharge card sellers are also lurking  in the corner waiting for you. Most of the maiguards now have exercise books and pen for you to write your change and since they cannot read, how would they know what you have written in the book? The implication is that right from the onset they do not have the intention of giving you that change. Sellers of pepper, vegetables groceries etc in the neighbourhood have a better deal, you exchange your change for maggie, onions and other ‘orisirii’ whether you need them or not. Stores  like Shoprite started right but it seems that they have realized that Nigeria is a ‘non change giving country’ and so have gladly joined. But what I don’t understand is who benefits from this act at Shoprite, is it the staff at the tills or the company?

Banks too are just as guilty, especially as regards transactions like Western Union Money Transfer and Moneygram, the fractions in dollars are usually not paid, the excuse? they do not have Dollar coins and Cents. If a bank does not have coins who will have?

Since I have imposed on myself a change collection crusade, you might be wondering how I have fared so far?Trust me, it can be very frustrating. Thank God for ATM cards and POS, I load my savings account and use my ATM cards wherever possible so any fraction or change left will be left right inside my account.

At petrol stations, I deliberately refuse to be friendly and so do not respond to all the ‘happy weekend, happy new month, and happy whatever it is’ greetings and I tell the attendants that they should round up their sale, I pay to the last whole number, and so any fraction they sell on top is at their own risk.

For dollar transactions in banks I request that any remaining fractions be converted into Naira and paid me or be paid into my Naira account.

I guess on public transport, you would have to have your exact fare, but since this may not be possible 100% of the time, you may have to forgo your change once in a while.

You might also be thinking that my self imposed ‘change collection crusade is ‘much ado about nothing’ well I beg to disagree, I believe that a little honesty goes a long way, and a con is a con no matter how little. What do you think?