No matter what stories you have heard about the country, there is something intriguing about Nigeria which keeps you going back for your next fix of excitement, vibrancy and chaos.
After my many forays into the exciting madness of Lagos, I now consider myself a Lagosian. So you can appreciate how much on tenterhooks I was when I learnt I was going to Abuja, for the very first time! However, when I finally got there, I was not prepared for the sight that greeted me.
Unlike Lagos with its varied look, Abuja is completely picturesque and structured. The buildings represent the various progressive cities of the world. Sprawling architectural magnificence stretch as far as the eye can see, creating a perception of progress and affluence.
The buildings are flattering to the eye, the gardens and lawns are well manicured, clean and uniform, suggesting a determination to excel.
Abuja is devoid of the hassles like the heavy, congested traffic in Lagos. Abuja is what Washington is to the US, while Lagos represents the hustle and bustle of New York. When you have just landed from Lagos, Abuja is refreshing. There is oceans of space not gobbled up by hawkers and racing scooters. This gives a heady sense of freedom.
However, when you come down to mother earth, you are suddenly conscious that this is so unlike the beloved Lagos, whose helter-skelter disturbs while at the same time it charms. I found Abuja too clinical, too perfect, too clean, thoroughly regimented and unbelievably organised to the point of sterility. It lacked the soul and vibrancy of Lagos.
Lagos is forever jumping, exciting and alive. As soon as you get there, you get caught up in the excitement of the city that never sleeps.
The city of friendly, welcoming people with a perpetual ace up their sleeve. They debate boisterously, mingle at drinking holes that are haunts for intellectuals in outdoor places, while drinking and clubbing in Abuja mostly happens in secluded corners underground.
In Abuja I found myself doing what my mother used to insist on, walking ramrod straight. You almost laugh or conform to all these formal, serious expectations.
The perfect roads and lack of crazed scooter taxis that leave you breathless from fright are conspicuous by their absence.
Abuja reminds one that you are still in Nigeria. That an African man is in control and capable of delivering the many faces that make up Nigeria.
That he is capable of rising to any occasion without the help of those that always claim sole ownership to intelligence capacity.