The Tales: Living On The Mainland And Island In Lagos

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I enjoy going to the Island now and then but never fancied living in that neck of the woods. I’d lived all my years on the ‘Mainland’. I love it there. Life is simple, inexpensive and less vainglorious. In contrast, I esteemed the Island as extortionate, bougie and full of affectation. But I don’t beef the place or the people. I’ve got peeps who live there. You do you and I’ll do me. Horses for courses.

Then Island people started denigrating the Mainland. They created a condescending dichotomy. They were the bourgeois. We were the place Mufasa warned Simba never to go – a sunless, joyless land. We became the ‘Mainland people.’

Mainland people? You hypocrites! Many of you sprouted from the Mainland. Some of you are from places like Akute-Alagbole, Oke-Koto, Cemetery or Abaranje. Now your bougie butts no longer ‘do bridges’? You pharisaical faux-elite gits!

I was wroth indeed.

So, a silent war ensued between us the Mainlanders and they the Islanders. A war whose chief weapons were snide remarks and deprecation. They speak in a patronising manner about the Mainland and we in turn tell them to return to Atlantis. Naturally, as a Mainland boy, I took sides with my kith and kin in the war. Forza Mainland!

But here I am, now living on the Island. I sold out.

Now, before some of you think I have come into money and want a rummage in my pocket, no, I have not stumbled on some lucre. I moved to the Island for a practical reason. I simply could not afford a house on the Mainland in the areas I liked. I lived in Omole Phase 1, a very nice gated community. The houses are well-spaced. That means you can’t extend your hand from your window to help your neighbour unhook her bra. And we enjoyed at least twenty-one hours of power at N80/kilowatt.

But a four-bedroom semi-detached duplex in Omole Phase 1 is upwards of N250m. I don’t have that sort of moolah. The other nice places I’d prefer to live were Magodo Phase 2, Ikeja GRA and Shonibare Estate. But those places cost a king’s ransom. Properties in those places will set you back some N400m to N600m.

So, yeah. I moved to the island because I haven’t got quite enough dosh to be posh and have less dough than a Pizza Hut.

But isn’t it ironic? How houses on the much-maligned Mainland can be more expensive than houses on the Island?

Oh, lest I forget. There are people who live on an island and people who live ‘on the Island.’ It is an important bifurcation. I’ll break it down for you.

See, if you don’t live in Ikoyi, Banana Island, Victoria Island or Lekki Phase 1, you don’t live on ‘the Island.’ You live on an island. Don’t let’s pack luru with shapa.

Now, if you live between Marwa and Chisco, an area encompassing Elf, Ikate, Chisco, Ilasan and Salem, you live on an island. You are the broke cousin of Mayweather. You are still a Mayweather and can be ringside. But you are not Floyd.

Hang tight. It gets dire.

If you live at Igbokusu, Jakande First Gate, Jakande Round-About, Ologolo, Agungi, Igbo-Efon, Orchid, Idado and Chevron, your residency in Lagos is tenuous. You need to verify your bona fides with LASRRA.

Igbokusu, Ologolo, Agungi, Igbo-Efon, Idado? Really? And some of you have the shamelessness to mock Onipetesi, Oke-Ira, Alakuko, Arepo and Mongoro?

But it gets worse. If you live anywhere between Eleganza, Ikota School, Ikota Bridge, Mega Chicken, Ikota First Gate, Ikota Second Gate, VGC, Ilaje and Ajah, you need to recheck your deed of assignment. They sold you a house in Ondo State.

And suppose by some reason your house happens to be at Ajah, Badore, Okun-Ajah, Sangotedo, Bogije, Abijo, Lakwe, Langbasa or along Ogombo Road; in that case, Nigerian Immigration will need to see your Nigerian visa or passport before you can cross into Ajah. You, my dear friend, do not live in the Federal Republic. You are to Nigeria what El Paso and Tijuana are to the United States.

Now, before you guys wield your pitchforks and you ladies get on your brooms, know that myself, per my delineation, barely live in Lagos too. All of us are faux big boys together. But that is not to say there are no nice places after Lekki Phase 1. I like the houses and layout in NICON Town, Pinnock Estate, Cowrie Creek Estate, Friends Colony and some estates in pockets.

Anyway, I was going to contrast living on the Mainland with living on the Island (make I sha call all of us Islanders bebe). I have lived in this neck of the woods for two months now and have mixed feelings.

One of the vaunted propositions in favour of living on the Island over the Mainland is the former’s purported high quality of life index. On the Island, there are many nice places to go, many nice things to do and many nice companies to keep.

But nobody told me there were nice prices to pay too.

The Island is soooo expensive!
I can’t have a good meal on the Island without paying upwards of N6,000. And that’s at Foodies or Amala Sky. If it’s at Cafeteria, Cilantro, Eric Kayser or the like, bless your soul, it will be upwards of N14,000. The missus and I went to a Nigerian restaurant in Lekki Phase 1 the other day. We ordered what they labelled ‘complete Fisherman Soup’ and pounded yam. The soup alone was N23,000 per person.

Now, people, when a Fisherman’s soup costs N23,000 per person, I expect it to contain all the works: a mermaid, a Kraken, the crab in Moana and maybe the fisherman himself. But what did we get? A mediocre catfish, a crab on minimum wage, two punny snails and shrimps that failed prawn test.

God bless Ola-Oluwa Jollof and Amala Amoke.

The pricing on the Island is a mugging. The other day, I bought a pack of Mentos chewing gum at Ebeano in Lekki for N3,450. The same gum was N2,050 at the Ebeano in Ikeja GRA. It was N1,880 at Grand Square Supermarket in Ikeja. I pay N220/kilowatt for electricity that’s not up to thirteen hours. Anini and Monday Osunbor no rob pass this before them face firing squad!

And I don’t want to hear the bunkum about rent and the cost of operation on the Island being higher than on the Mainland. It’s utter tosh. When big retail chains buy goods, they buy in bulk to distribute across their stores. They thus negotiate better pricing from suppliers. This naturally should result in better prices or the same prices for the consumers across their stores. But no, sellers on the Island enjoy bloodletting. They bleed us and collect our blood to drink with their meals.

The reason for this price gouging is because of the vanity on the Island. Island people don’t seem to care about high prices. Dudes and dudettes roll into supermarkets, restaurants and lounges in their Mercedes and Lexuses and strut about as if money is no object.

Not me. You can’t mug me with my permission. Don’t give me Titus egg and call it caviar.

I hear this attitude of suffering and smiling is rife on the Island. According to friends who have lived longer on the Island, the perception is that when you complain about prices, it shows that you can’t afford the lifestyle and maybe shouldn’t be living here.

Una papa!

Look, I know what I spend my money on. I’m more likely to travel to Tromsø to see the northern lights or take the Shinkansen to Kobe to eat wagyu than show I’m doing well by buying overpriced chewing gums.

Besides, it’s all hypocritical codswallop. If all these people can afford the pricey lifestyle, they shouldn’t buy food and groceries from Mushin and Mile 12 markets. Abi them no dey sell goat meat and garri on the Island?

But the condescension on the Mainland is pervasive.

A few years ago, a friend and I were going to buy Coke from a hawker on Water Corporation Drive in Victoria Island. I like those glacial-type Coke that hawkers carry. The woman priced the Coke at N200. We baulked. Coke was N100 on the Mainland at the time. We told the woman we were only going to pay N100. She retorted.

“Eyin ara Mainland ti de O.”

In pidgin, it means “You Mainland people don come be dat O!”

Just because we haggled over the price she instantly knew we were from the Mainland. Island people don’t haggle over prices.

She sold the Coke to us at N100 with a smile that implied ‘game recognises game.’

And oh yeah, there’s the issue of the potable water
At Omole Phase 1, we cook, brush our teeth and do our laundry with the water straight from the tap. We didn’t have to install missile-looking filters in our backyard. We didn’t have to run dialysis for the water with a Reverse Osmosis machine.

To my dear Islanders, that type of water is called potable water. And it runs bounteously on the Mainland. You can drink it if you want. You won’t kick the bucket. But bless your soul if you drink the water straight from your borehole in Lekki. There will be a service of songs for you with sweet puff-puff.

I used to mock a friend who lived on the Island but always brought jerrycans along to my house to fetch water. What ridiculousness! How can you not use the water in your house? You are in Lekki, for Pete’s sake, not Kolokuma-Opokuma.

Now, the joke is on me. While the water coming out of my tap appears clean, I still had to construct a mini Water Works behind my apartment. And that Reverse Osmosis machine ain’t cheap and requires quarterly servicing.

If this Lekki doesn’t kill me, nothing else will.

Why are there so many urchins and area boys on the Island?
Let me tell you what else is not a high quality of life: the innumerable company of urchins, homeless people and area boys! The place is festering with them! Yes, we have urchins and area boys on the Mainland. But this is ‘the Island.’ It is supposed to be premium! When you live in a premium place abroad, you enjoy peace, quiet and security. Not urchins deluging cars at traffic stops and constituting a menace. My wife has panic attacks when these vermin swarm her car. Freedom Way, Chisco Junction and Jakande First Gate are hotspots. The number is incredible.

When we were moving our stuff to the Island, we had to make provisions for area boys. No mattress or sofa can get into the Island without paying area boys. They man every street and every junction. It’s ridiculous. I’ve never had to contend with such brazen extortion on the Mainland.

The scary thing is that this innumerable company of urchins and area boys live in shanties and abetes that neighbour well-off areas. They are a time bomb. A friend who lives in a very nice estate told me that during the END SARS protest, his estate had to contribute money. They gave the money to the urchin kingpins, so the urchins and touts would not swarm the estate and loot it. Incredulous!

Traffic congestion
One other thing that has not endeared the Island to me so far is the insufferable traffic. It takes about fifteen minutes for me to get to Victoria Island from my office on the Mainland. But between the Lekki Phase 1 Toll Gate and House On The Rock Church, it’s absolute bedlam. This distance is less than two kilometres but could take you more than thirty minutes. If you live on Orchid Road or drive from Ajah, you’ll be a year older by the time you get into VI. The illusion I had about better traffic on the Island was dispelled. December was harrowing for me.

The result of this traffic has to be overpopulation surely. The inconvenient truth is that the Island is densely populated. The Atlantic is on one side and the lagoon is on the other. It is just a long strip of land crammed with people. From the number of cars I see on the road, there must be five billion people living here.

The Island’s false notion of a high quality of life.
The WHO defines quality of life (QoL) as “an individual’s perception of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards and concerns.”

Per Wikipedia, standard indicators of quality of life include wealth, employment, the environment, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time, social belonging, religious beliefs, safety, security and freedom.

Perception of high (or low) quality of life is subjective. There are no quantitative measures for it only anecdotal evidence. Thus, the claim that the Island has a higher quality of life than the Mainland is indefensible. What matters to people varies. No doubt the Island knocks the Mainland out of the park in recreation and leisure. It has many fancy restaurants, bars, lounges and beaches. You’ll also find better-paying jobs and opportunities on the Island. But living outside the Island, and even Lagos, can also offer a high quality of life. I’d love to retire to some rural place with lots of green, clean air and no noise. A simple cottage close to a stream, river or ocean. Yam and pepper sauce for breakfast and pounded yam and antelope in the afternoon. Then in the evening, I’ll drive to my homie’s house in my Wrangler Jeep to eat fish peppersoup with half-ripe plantain. That’s a high quality of life for me. But to you, it may be access to a N200K bottle of Casamigos at Quilox or eating a N65K seafood platter. Again horses for courses. But remember, quality of life is subjective.

So, which is better, the Mainland or the Island?
Neither. Both have their merits and disadvantages. I don’t mind living on the Island. I don’t have buyer’s remorse buying a house here. But what I won’t have is you lot deriding and slandering the Mainland. Especially from you broke, fake bougie ignoramuses still paying rent on the Island. The Mainland rocks. The Island rocks. It all depends on which Dwayne Johnson you like.

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