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In Lagos, merriment can land you in trouble!

By on May 25, 2012

Forget that the word merriment is a correct English word. In the Nigeria we live in today, there are certain proper words that lose their ‘properness’ once they find their way into the mouths of certain groups of people. And we have many of these groups across the length and breadth of this country. I spent nearly five years of my life in the East, precisely at Nsukka, Enugu state, where I went to take a degree from Nigeria’s first real university (read that however you like; and make sure that the bile in your stomach changes colour, so that your reformation can truly start! After all, it’s not Fashola’s LASU; and Fashola knows, understands and accepts this matter as it is. So why wouldn’t you just do the same and let matters rest, until you have a space in a newspaper to ‘talk’ back?!)

In the time that I spent at Nsukka, I moved around and mingled with my brothers and sisters from the region (which means that I went outside of Nsukka to explore Enugu, Abakaliki, Onitsha and other parts of the region). This moving around and mingling meant that I heard this common expression: “Unu no ne me merriment” (meaning: “You guys are having a good time.” “You guys are enjoying yourselves.”) As a result these activities, I picked up some of the usages to which certain words are put to. You will find this particular expression relating to enjoying oneself said in different parts of the country and in different ways.

We have a knack for mixing English with our various languages, which helps to make them rather musical, ‘sweeter’, to say and to listen to. Listen to the Nigerian singer, 9ice, whose music, largely rendered in the Yoruba language, tends to have a dose of such mixing.

Now, because we have a penchant to always say to our friends, colleagues, mates, neighbours, acquaintances and enemies (rather in a pock-nosing manner) that they are enjoying, or having merriment, it has now come to my attention that people with a loose tongue for saying merriment will have to be careful how they say so whenever they find themselves in Agege, a suburb of Lagos State. Yes, it is the same Agege, where that trigger happy policeman shot a full-blooded Nigerian dead in the early days of the anti subsidy removal strikes.

It seems to me that the Agege Local Government, following from the consumption tax the Lagos State Government now collects from residents, in a dimwitted matter, is going about charging residents in the area what you have to simply call “merriment tax”. This must be dangerous for all you hedonists who think that life’s just about merriment. You can be merry, but don’t you ever carry your merriment into Agege, if you don’t have extra money to put into the coffers of the local government there. You have been warned!

Now, if you are one of those doubting Thomases around, who never believes what your governments, especially local governments, are capable of doing, then you need to see how the Agege Local Government goes about chasing people who do not pay their merriment tax before embarking on any wild or mild merriment!

One notice to a defaulter that I have seen, written in very bad English (no surprise there because as we all know, touts often run our local councils; and why should they care about writing good English to communicate to council residents), has as subject this: “Merriment/Entertainment Defaulter 2012”. It is a 24 hour notice, which suggests militarism, what Zebrudaya of the old and New Masquerade fame would call, “with automatic alacrity”. It is addressed to “the celebrant/occupier”, suggesting that the council officials must have simply seen tents go up or heard loud music that suggested a party taking place, and decided to issue the notice.

Let me bring you bits and pieces from the notice sent from the Agege Area Office “B” Iloro Health Centre, which should help you form a strong view that our local councils, as they are now, are largely beyond redemption.

“During our routing (sic) check, our record showed that you did not obtained (sic) merriment/entertainment permit, in respect of the celebration Which (sic) took place at the above address on Saturday 21st Jan. 2012. Your action is contrary to the Agege Local Government Bye law no 3 Decree No.7 (DECREE in a Democracy?) of 1997 and it is punishable under the section (8) of the merriment and entertainment permit by-law of the said Decree.”

The notice goes on to demand that payment of N10,000 be made to the merriment section of the local government within 24 hours! Now, should you still be suffering from some hangover from your merriment, upon reading this part of the notice, you’ll find that all the merriment would just disappear from your face, and your legs will cave in! For if you fail to appear at the merriment office of the local government, you would be arrested. Aha, see how merriment can land you in trouble in Agege?

This is what lazy local governments resort to in order to raise money. And to imagine that they call the office in charge of this matter the “merriment office”! You must be having a merriment laugh!

  • Oblindo

    Lol.. made my evening