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Lekki Tollgate: Electric Shock As “Bonus”

Interview Confidential brings you the back stories behind the everyday headlines…

Interview Confidential: brings you stories behind the news
Interview Confidential: brings you stories behind the news

If feelers reaching Confidential are anything to go by then authorities in Lagos are better braced up for another round of protest by irate motorists on the island very soon.

Recall that the last time, the storm was over an arbitrary hike in the fees slapped on motorists plying the Lekki-Epe expressway in Lagos.

Now, the complaint is over safety concern at a good number of the payment cubicles at the tollgate at the Admiralty end of the expressway.

Apparently, the relevant agency is only seeing the tollgate as cash cow, with tons of millions of Naira milked from motorists plying the route daily, but with little or no care for maintenance of the electronic system regulating the synchronized barrier.

The tollgate has been in operation for more than a decade now, with the effect that some of the appurtenances are becoming defective.

Specifically, drivers are complaining of experiencing electric shock on making body contact while paying to the cashiers because the sensors in the cubicles are either broken or cracked, thus exposing naked wires. What will it take to fix the problem?

Bad card for the Sugar man

Political beliefs and camps may differ, but there is undoubtedly a consensus that the forthcoming electoral battle to determine whether the lanky Sheriff will spend another term at the Rocky castle or not is unique in more than one way.

First, it is obviously the first time we are seeing this large turnout of contenders. But those who had eagerly expected that that would translate to free flow of freebies would seem to have now been consigned to the ever-growing rank of “the wailers” on account of disappointment.

If the cash is not flowing, it is obviously because the enablers are holding tight to their wallets.
At least, we can confirm the rather bizarre case of a moneybags whose fame today echoes across the world.

The one who first made fortune from trafficking in “essenco” (the terminology coined to describe essential commodities consumed domestically back in the days when the Sheriff first ruled the kingdom as a uniformed man) before graduating into not only the big-time production of such items locally, but also the wonder dark powder used in constructing homes themselves.

In the good old days, our friend was the quintessential “Mr. Donatus”, who would give to the ruling party and also find a way of passing something to the opposition. Of course, his decision was borne out of native intelligence.

In case of an electoral upset, he was at least guaranteed the favour of the new king. So, heads or tails, he was assured of protection.

But with the political weather looking rather unpredictable this time, the courtiers around the Sheriff are surely unwilling to leave any thing to chance. To starve the opponent of financial oxygen, not only has heavy surveillance been mounted around movement of “kudi” within the financial system, unmistakable signals, we reliably gathered, have been sent to specific big spenders to zip up their pockets or face severe consequences.

To rein in our sugar man, we understand a note was recently sent to him detailing how much he had short-paid the exchequer over the years in terms of tax liabilities. So staggering is the figure that our friend almost fainted after reading the debit advisory. Were he to cough that out, he would immediately become bankrupt.

The whole objective, we gathered, is to give our friend something to chew for now, such that he would not have the presence of mind to entertain any request for financial assistance from those seeking to oust the Sheriff from the Rocky Castle.

Hmmm. Who says every weapon is not fair in war?

Pathetic end of the chief hunter

Those who lament that our system is callous and makes little or no provision for past heroes -particularly in their hour of need - can hardly be faulted.

This, they say, partly explains the acquisitive tendency of the average public officer while in service in these parts of the world: they strive to hedge against the uncertainty of life at the end of their careers.

A sad example is the case of the kingdom’s one-time chief hunter who joined his ancestors recently. Dying at an understandably ripe age, this hero was described in superlative terms by not only his surviving professional associates but also by the establishment.

But what many would be ashamed to admit is that the man faced pathetic challenges in his final years. He was almost reduced to a beggar!

While being the Oga Patapata of the kingdom’s hunting brigade in the 90s, he was a true depiction of the term “officer and a gentleman”. A man of modest taste, he was one of the few top brass, who refused to compromise or soil their names in pursuit of silver and gold.

Sadly, the pension he depended on was hardly enough to sustain him in his old age. So, when he was diagnosed of a terminal ailment that has to do with cancerous growth in the reproductive organ, this hero of a hunter did not have the means to pay for the surgery.

In fact, concerned friends had to tax themselves to raise money for him to undergo the surgery abroad. The procedure was to manage the irreparable damage already caused. Till the last days, the worthy hunter had to depend on handouts from charitable friends to procure his medications.

However, once the news of his passing broke, the establishment he spent his entire life serving would dramatically turn around to describe him in flowery terms, but had looked the other way in his hour of need.
How sad.

The gap-tooth of deception

When the media handlers of the Oga Patapata in one of the Oduduwa states secured his approval to literally paint the town red in celebrating an accolade bestowed on him by a leading scooping paper recently, little did they know they just opened the door to big trouble.

Of course, our friends must have been salivating under their breath initially; what with the handsome wads they hoped to cream off the “kudi” for the publicity blitz!

You can’t recognize him? That is, the “Alakoso” (Yoruba for overseer) of the province with the famous city where the feisty, dimunitve political godfather with scarified cheeks (what someone had mischievously likened to zebra crossing sign) once held sway with “Amala politics” until he joined his ancestor about a decade ago.

As those familiar with deals of this nature might have suspected, the PR unit drew up an elaborate plan which included massive number of congratulatory adverts in many dailies.
But the bone of contention is the conflicting identities the copies eventually projected.

Those who know Oga Patapata from birth would swear that his dentition is a bit sparse frontally in the upper row. Put simply, whenever he smiles, a distinct gap-tooth is revealed. Which explains why many became confused on sighting some of Oga’s pictures in copies coordinated by his agents showcasing picture-perfect, sparkling-white dentition, without any gap-tooth whatsoever.

Of course, given the “body-filler” generously applied on those pictures, it was very clear that someone is lying with photography.
Out of curiosity, many folks have had to juxtapose the two conflicting depictions of Oga. Only to be left confused.

In their minds, they reckon that there could only be two possibilities: either that Oga alternates the use of false teeth or someone overdid the photo-shopping.

Of course, that has become the butt of jokes in town, completely eclipsing the purpose of the advert blitz originally - project Oga in positive light.

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