9 Dec 2018
One Week Visit to Lagos (Nigeria).
Lagos is more of an urban agglomeration than a city and has a disputed population of 21 million people. Lagos sea port stands out as one of the busiest in Africa and the 11.8 km (8 lanes) third mainland bridge is a major landmark.
Our departure from Douala to Lagos with Camair Co on the 26th of November was delayed for 3 hours and on our return a week later, the delay was 28 hours...not unusual with this Airline that has been rescued several times with tax payers’ money.
Video: Landing in Lagos Nov 26th.
Lagos has remained true to itself...boisterous, effervescent and sometimes volatile and unpredictable. The last time I visited this megacity was in 2006. The remarkable difference in the transport sector is that the monstrous lorries called ‘molue’ and commercial motorbikes called ‘okada’ are off the streets. Minibuses, taxi cabs, and a three wheeled Indian style vehicle called here ‘keke’ are used for commercial transport. The entrepreneurial combativeness, the risk taking and the rudeness of the keke drivers is just a replica of the okada riders they replaced. If you do not have patience to endure traffic jams, do not come to Lagos. These traffic jams have been a constant for over 40 years and have defied all solutions. I remember that at one time vehicles in Lagos were made to circulate on given days depending on whether their number plates were odd or even numbers. Another problem that has defied solutions for almost an equal number of years is the supply of electric energy to Nigerians. Standby generators and other sources of electricity supply have become mandatory for anybody living and doing business in Lagos. Interruption of power supply from the main grid can occur about 10 to 15 times daily necessitating a switch to alternate power supply after each outage.
With Chinyere Chima
Lagos is a place of glaring contrasts. The super rich live in exquisite places like Banana Island, Lekki, Ikoyi, and Victoria Island. On the way to some of these places you can see Nigerians in Makoko as if they came from another planet living in strange looking structures perching precariously on sticks protruding from the water. Lagosians whether rich or poor all have a combative spirit. They are all determined to make it in life regardless of the seeming insurmountable obstacles placed on their paths by years of bad governance in Nigeria. Lagos is home to the largest concentration of Nigeria’s Mega churches and also harbours an equally huge, if not bigger population of Muslims and to an extent a smaller but not neglible population of free thinkers and traditionalists. The city is a melting pot of many ethnic groups and coexistence has been part of the culture of Lagos. Lagos is the capital of Lagos State (Nigeria’s richest state).
My main reason for coming to Lagos was to reconnect with some of my classmates of Pharmacy school resident in this city. It was also to take the temperature of what is happening to the profession in Nigeria given that Lagos and its environs in the South Western Nigeria harbours about 60% of pharmacy related structures and workforce.
With Juliet Anammah
I took advantage of our visit to Lagos to stop over at NAFDAC (National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control). NAFDAC is the Nigerian agency responsible for regulating and controlling the manufacture, importation, exportation, advertisement, distribution, sale and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, chemicals and packaged water.
Though created in the early nineties, NAFDAC became a household name when the late professor Dora Akunyili became the director general in 2001. She set the pace and today NAFDAC is a juggernaut with six zonal offices and branches in all states of Nigeria.
Raphael Binitie,Pharmacist & Deputy Director, Regulation and Registration Directorate at NAFDAC enlightened me on the evolution and current orientation of NAFDAC, the drug addiction problem that prompted the Federal government to clamp down on medicines containing codeine and tramadol, and the current government policy of making NAFDAC inspections & certification easier for small scale food processing units.
Binitie, Nosiri Helga also of NAFDAC and Ukamaka Okafor of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria happen to be three of my pharmacy school classmates whose respective duties within the Federal Government bureaucracy are helping to shape the future of pharmacy practice in Nigeria. My Lagos trip would have permitted me to meet with eleven classmates residing there but distance and traffic jam limited me to meet six of them (Chinyere Chima, Binitie, Okwuo, Okpalaezinne, Tabugbo and Juliet Anammah). All are doing well in their respective domains and some have even migrated from pharmacy into other sectors. A typical case in point is that of Juliet Anammah who is now the CEO Jumia Nigeria...an online trading company.
I also seized the opportunity of my stay in Lagos to do some mini tourism. Thanks to a car and driver offered to me and my wife by Chinyere Chima, we were able to visit the Lekki Conservation Centre...a swampy forested area full of beauty and adventure. While at the Conservation Centre, there is no way you can remotely imagine that you are within Lagos.
On another day I hired a taxi and in the company of Okwuo and daughter we visited a small museum containing the relics of the transatlantic slave trade at Badagry near the border with Benin Republic. A day before our departure from Lagos, we visited the tomb of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the late Afrobeat star.
Our brief stay in Lagos was very memorable given the exceptional warm reception we received from my classmates.
Evening outing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwkpOjWO-_U
Monkeys at LLC https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zD9iE_MGwvw
Lekki Conserv. Centre https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QM1j3ohN0TM
Lekki Conserv. Centre https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28zqWHqPiOM
Lekki Conserv Centre https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQcmAjKnWko
Njei Moses Timah