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.
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
This anomaly is gradually fading away as the
National Environmental Management Authority
now enforces the use of waste baskets in public
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 enroll 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
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.