When I started sending out job applications after NYSC, my phone was regularly inundated with all manners of ridiculous interview invitation from funny named companies for positions with ‘Executive this and that’ titles. From my base in Kwale, Delta State, the first time I got GNLD people’s interview invite… two interview invites, I almost jumped into the next Lagos bound bus with frenzy. Who doesn’t want to be ‘Special Executive Administrative Manager’?
I packed my clothes into a backpack and headed to Lagos Bus Park. While waiting for the bus to fill up, I decided to Google the company’s address. My people, what did I see on my phone screen? Scam… Multi Level Marketing… Ponzi Scheme… Itinerant Drugs/Health Products Marketing… N15,000 Seminar Training Fees… Groundnut Oil Marketing… and all manners of terrible uncomplimentary comments.
If you doubt me, just Google search ‘No 9, Oremeji Street, Isolo, Lagos and No 1, Babatunde Street, Off Ogunlana Drive’ In my mind, I cried out… Jesus Christ of Nazareth, what is the meaning of this rubbish? I had to shed a bucket of sweat and abuse the Driver’s great grand mama before I could get the transport fare I had earlier paid refunded. And when I got home, my uncle wouldn’t stop laughing at me.
I, me, myself… I still can’t comprehend why, out of all the millionaires, middle class workers and comfortable businessmen in this country, it is broke job applicants that some wicked fellows prefer to scam. They’re not only wicked, they’re also dumb. After collecting small change from desperate job seekers and sharing it among themselves, what do they gain? Since then, anytime I get job interview Invite, the first thing I do is to search the company’s address. If I see GNLD anywhere in the search result, I delete the text message with speed. Who has time for nonsense?
I never knew those people and their nuisance are omnipresent. Just like a phone thief… you jolly well know that if a thief is hell bent on stealing your phone, no matter how hard you try to protect it, once you take your eyes off it even for just three seconds, your phone is gone. That was how one bastard, son of a bitch GNLD agent got me when I eventually travelled to Lagos for a series of Bank tests and one interviews in Lekki. This particular one was Union Bank CBT test in one company opposite Manor Events Center in Lekki Phase 2.
Now let me tell you categorically that I am not a JJC to Lagos. I was born and raised in Lagos before moving to Abeokuta. All my aunties and uncles are Lagos based too so I know Lagos quite well. However, many years away from the city had ‘dulled my sense’. So when the GNLD brat waylaid me, I didn’t see it coming. Let me also add that I attended Kaymu test in Lekki Phase 1 about a week earlier so I knew my way around quite well.
Armed with the printout slip of my test invitation, you need to see me in a posh suit under Iyana Ipaja bridge. When going to Victoria Island/Lekki from Iyana Ipaja, I normally took CMS bound bus under the bridge around 6.30 AM but when I got there at 10 AM, there was no CMS bound danfo*. I didn’t want to stop at chaotic Oshodi for anything so I hung around hoping a CMS bound bus would come. Then I saw a neat looking guy… tucked in sleeve, Vickers and brown shoes. I approached him and asked if CMS bound buses had changed their park. He said CMS buses only come under the bridge early in the morning and by 8 A.M, I wouldn’t find any CMS bound bus in Iyana Ipaja. I sighed and thanked him.
No CMS bus means I must drop at Oshodi. Well, I neither had time nor any other choice. As I was about to board an Oshodi bound bus, the guy tapped me and told me to wait. He said he is going to V.I but he had no transport fare on him and silently begged me to help him. My ‘Lagos Sense’ instantly told me not to give cash to strangers at any bus stop.
I reasoned that since I am going to Lekki and he is going to V.I, no problem, I will pay his transport fare to V.I as it wouldn’t cost me more than N300. I told him we could move to V.I together while I find my way to Lekki. He thanked me profusely. So we got into Oshodi bound bus and moved. In my mind, I thought if the guy only wanted to collect cash from me, he wouldn’t have joined me in the bus so he must be genuine.
At Oshodi, the guy wanted us to take BRT bus to CMS because BRT is cheaper but I told him not to worry about money as I don’t have time to wait for a whole BRT bus to get filled up. The guy said since I don’t have time, we should go on top of Oshodi bridge and board direct bus to CMS instead of going to NUTRW Park. I thought that made sense so we climbed up the bride and promptly jumped into a CMS bound danfo with impatient driver behind the wheel. In my mind, I was thinking… this driver is speed demon… small time, I’ll be at CMS. That’s great.
As we were headed to CMS… somewhere along the expressway with some big warehouse-like factories along the six lane expressway, the bus suddenly stopped. The guy told me to pay the conductor. I was stunned. I searched my pocket and brought out my printed invitation slip again to check the address because this wasn’t where I was supposed to drop. The impatient driver shouted at me that I should pay the conductor and get out of his bus. Who wants to be further embarrassed? I paid the conductor and got out of the dammed danfo.
I now turned to the guy and asked him… “Why did tell the driver to stop here”? He pointed across the six lane expressway and said my test center is there. Holy Smokie, how would a reputable bank recruitment test hold among some warehouses not far from Oshodi?! I told him to go his way while I go my way. The guy said I’m a good person that just helped him and he cannot lie to me. I ignored him and tried flagging down busses at top speed but none stopped.
Time was fast running away. The only way to get moving again was to head back to Oshodi and board a Lekki bound bus. But as I looked at cars speeding by at 140km/hr, I didn’t have the liver to cross the expressway with my drop foot. If motor jam me, what will I tell God if He asks what I came to do in heaven when it is not yet my time? How will my lifeless body explain to my Papa and Mama that I got knocked down by a car while trying to help a fellow citizen?
The guy refused to go o. He said he can’t leave me by the expressway. He assured me he would help me cross the expressway safely. I watched many other people cross the expressway safely and decided to give it a try. I made sure I couldn’t see any car coming before I crossed both three lanes with sighs and relief. The guy now said we should hurry to my test center before it’s too late. In mind, I thought… “This guy thinks I am a zombie, right?” I looked around me. It was all open space. I don’t think anyone would attempt to kidnap me there. I decided to see for myself what the guy was up to since the phony test center is just a around the corner. I now said to the guy… “Okay, let’s go there!”
When we got to the place which was just a crescent off the expressway, I saw a lot of well dressed young people loafing around. A voice told me maybe the guy was right after all but I promptly told the voice to shut up. As we walked through a black, see through gate into the shaded compound, I couldn’t pinpoint what exactly the young people came for or what they were doing. Some sat down under the tree shade in the compound looking gloomily while others formed round cell groups with someone in the center. The center guys talked with frenzy as if Holy Ghost fire just settled into them. The guy now tapped me and said he wants to go and call my instructor and I should wait for him.
I nodded at him and watched him disappear into the crowd. Immediately I saw him enter one of the air conditioned buildings, I got up from where I sat and headed out of the compound to check the company’s signboard. Outside the premise, my people, what did I see? I saw “Welcome To GNLD” boldly crafted on the fence. I picked out my phone to check my location and saw I was in Gbagada. Oh dear, so this is the famous GNLD’s HQ? I was shocked. What in God’s name am I doing at GNLD’s HQ in Gbagada when I ought to be in Lekki doing Union Bank CBT test? Did the guy hypnotize me or what? Ah, see my life!
I looked around and saw some guards manning an estate close by. Opposite GNLD HQ, a wedding was going on at an events center nearby with some policemen enjoying themselves. I decided to go to the Guards’ shed to clear my head. I was greeting the Guards when the wicked guy dashed out of GNLD’s gate and came to me. He said I should come do my test. I asked him… “Where is this?” He said this is Lekki. I asked the Guard… “Is this Lekki?” The Guards said no. You need to see how the guy started swearing and swearing that Gbagada is Lekki. I now asked him… “Have we passed the Third Mainland Bridge? Have we passed Victoria Island? Have passed the Lekki toll gate?”
The guy stated laughing sheepishly that it is the same Union Bank that I wanted to go sit for at Lekki that is going on in GNLD HQ. I asked the guy… “You said you’re going to V.I so what are you doing here since you have no business in Lekki?” He said he only dropped here to help me locate my test center. Inside me, I was sick, very angry and sad all the same time. One voice told me to reap half of the guy’s teeth with a Mike Tyson knockout punch… another voice told me the damage has already been done, I should forget about fighting the guy and quickly head to Lekki.
I listened to the other voice, thanked the Guards and began to walk briskly back to the expressway. The guy followed me o. He said I shouldn’t bother to go Lekki for any test… that they will give me a job immediately at GNLD. I barked at him that if he took one more step near me, I would stab him with my jack knife (I had no knife on me o). He smiled sheepishly again and went to meet his instructor who had been watching us from GNLD gate.
Back to the expressway, the first danfo that stopped to pick me, I opened the driver side passenger door and jumped in. As I turned back to check my co passengers, what did I see? I saw Muslim sheiks dressed like they were just coming back from Afghanistan and some tough looking thugs beside them. No lady inside the bus. I quickly told the driver I forgot my wallet at home and he should stop. The driver hissed and slammed the brake. I nearly jumped out through the window. After surviving GNLD, I don’t have the time to mess with religious fanatics o. Aha, am I mad?
At Oshodi, I got into a white bus with blue strip headed to Lekki. When I asked for my change, the conductor began to tease me because of my accent. A whole me being ridiculed by a motor park tout? You see why I didn’t want to stop at Oshodi? The guy stubbornly held on to my change until we got to Lekki Phase 2. At the test venue, even though I missed the 12pm schedule, I just waved my interview invite slip in the face of the gate guys sneaked my way in to do the test with the 2pm schedule folks.
After the test, I headed to CMS feeling so lightweight and relieved. At Iyana Ipaja NUTRW Park in CMS… behind the CMS cathedral with gigantic clock, a lot of terminally ill beggars with open sores would occasionally besiege the half filled bus begging for alms. Sudden appearance of terminally ill beggars is a common denominator of almost all public motor parks in Nigeria. If they are not terminally ill, they are fit guys or ladies begging on behalf of a person or organization. (Onitsha motherless babies/orphanage proxy beggars are most annoying.)
At the bus stop, the first beggar that came unbuttoned the few buttons on his shirt for us to see his tummy. What I saw, I nearly screamed. It was like the lower portion of his tummy was being eaten up by some sores. The guy looked like he was going to fall down and die at any moment. I didn’t know when my hand entered my pocket and gave the guy N100. Even though I maintained a normal face, my soft heart was weeping for him. He thanked the folks in the bus and slowly walked away.
As the bus was nearly filled, a man wearing dark glasses and… his mouth/teeth… was like a million bees stung his whole mouth such that his lips and gums were so swollen to the point that he had no option than to bare his bloodied teeth like a skeleton would shine teeth. Then he removed his glasses… oh dear, I wanted to cry. It was like two million bees… a million bees each stung both of his eyes. How he managed to endure all the pain, I’m sure even the best doctor at John Hopkins will not be able to explain. People are suffering in this country o. Cut long story short, I gave him N100 too. I’m sure if I didn’t give him anything, my conscience won’t let me sleep till the next week.
When it was time to pay the fare, I packed all the money in my wallet and gave them to the driver. The man counted the money and said it remains N100. I said okay, put my hand in the other pocket but it was just the test invite slip that shook my hand. I searched the back packets… nothing. Mr. Good Samaritan has put me inside trouble again o. You know Lagos drivers are very stingy. Will I now trek from CMS to Iyana Ipaja because I gave alms to beggars?
I gently explained to the driver that “… I’m sorry sir, I gave the money to the beggar.” The driver nodded and said okay, that I must be a very generous person to give N200 to beggars. So the man had been watching me? I was expecting him to tell me to fuck out of his bus but I was disappointed. The drivers smiled and said okay… but I should not give too much to the point that I myself will become a beggar. I sighed and thanked him.
The devil then came to taunt me with regret thoughts that… “Do you want to do GNLD for yourself again? Are you the cause of the beggars’ sickness or are you the government official that ought to take care of the destitute, but instead use the money to buy houses in London and Dubai?” But I know the real me… my conscience doesn’t think like that. What I gave the beggars’ was like a drop of dew in an ocean. Assuming each beggar needed N10m for surgery to make him well again, what is in the N100 I gave them? The most it can buy is ibuprofen and Paracetamol to relieve some pain. If my N100 can temporarily take off some pain off the guys, I thank God.
At Iyana Ipaja, I thanked the Driver again and trekked home. Normally, I would take bike but it was evening time… not much sun… and I didn’t have money for bike anyway so I put my legs to good use. When I got home, I was content and satisfied with myself. I prayed that I get a job soon and buy my own car because… public transport in this country is… shit.
Culled From: Memoirs of A Job Hunter || By: Steve Owen