Agberos in Lagos: Waka or Stay?

Lagos is such an interesting city to live in despite its stressful nature.

And if you are not yet with a car in this city, there is a certain level of drama you cannot escape – the whole bus stop, conductor, and traffic wahala.

Agberos (literally translated means carrier of passengers) are like major area boys. You’d find them in almost every bus stop. I honestly don’t know how best to describe them. Lol. Don’t worry, if you don’t live in Lagos, you’d get the drift as you read on.

Waka means to go…. Waka or Stay came from my childhood dictionary. Whenever we go for birthday parties and there’s a dancing competition, when the round is over, the MC or commentator would raise the hands of each of the competitors and shout “waka or stay?” Then the audience would respond depending on how the person performed. The one whose ‘waka’ was louder than the ‘stay’ gets to go and vice versa.
People like me… once they raise my hand, I don’t even wait for the deafening ‘waka’, I just start moving towards my seat and then the ‘waka’ would escort me.
Summary – I can’t dance to save Nigeria.

I believe now you are getting an idea of where this post is going…  basically, In this post, we’d be looking at the pros and cons of agberos (area boys). In Lagos, these guys are in almost every bus stop. I’m going to be sincere, a lot of times, they just really constitute a nuisance. But I am also going to share with you in this post times when I thought they were adding real value to the community and then we’d weigh it together.

Cool?

Yassss! So let’s go on –

  1. Earlier in the year, I was working from an office on the Island. As I was bus-ing/keke-ing it, my route required me getting to Obalende and then getting to Eko Hotels area via a keke.
    PS: keke is the local name for tricycle, a common means of transportation in Lagos.
    Most mornings, especially Monday, it is always war… too many people at the bus stop and say one keke showing up every five minutes.
    PPS: A keke can only take four people excluding the driver.
    Once the case is like this, these agberos, a few of them organize people in queues and then direct the kekes going in that direction to the queue. They also pretty much ensure people don’t jump the queue. These guys really don’t mind your suit or wig size, they’ll send you to the back. After seeing the biceps and read eyes of some, you’d respect yourself and go to the back.
    I think preference is given to students in uniform though.
    This for me is adding value. Someone like me would never be able to fight for transport. I’ll just keep standing there till people thin out or I somehow get to enter one. I recall one time few weeks after returning from NYSC when I tried to form jagaban, the handle of my handbag was cut. And I was so fortunate that my properties were not stolen. Since then, I respect myself and wait.
  2. They are also useful for the drivers themselves at the park. Depending on how traffic flows on that route, some buses/kekes end up waiting for long period of time before the get to make a trip. They basically help organize them (taking turns, ticket number and all that) so that everyone gets a fair chance. Also, some drivers do not have conductors. So they help them call passengers and ensure they get filled in time.

The flip side.

  1. These guys can be extremely unruly! They run after vehicles just to collect money, some jumping off when the vehicle is moving already, risking their lives. They clutter the bus stops and frustrate the drivers. Most times, they keep collecting money from the drivers repeatedly in a day and that can be overbearing for the drivers.
    On top of all that, someAgberos can be so disorganized and cunny that a driver may have paid the ‘full dues’ only to get to the next bus stop and be harassed by another Agbero who doesn’t know the driver has paid before. Is this even making sense?!
    The point is that they extort drivers and can even get violent (removing their car parts by force) if they don’t have their way.
  2. Their drama cascades down to even the passengers because they keep wasting people’s time and would not let go unless they have their way.

My opinion: Maybe it should be more regulated with a limit. Like there is no need for this many agberos in Lagos. They could use a uniform (like some group of agberos already do) to mark out the legit ones and all.
Truth is the police, lastma can’t do it all.
An agbero legit saved me from getting lost one day, and that is some sort of value.

I really don’t know guys if their value compensates for the drama they constitute in this Lagos. But then someone once said scrapping them is going to increase crime rate. I know the story of a young graduate that was an agbero for a while, because no job.

What do you guys think? Should the agberos stay or go? Do you have any experiences we can learn from or laugh about or just any you’d like to share? Let’s chat in the comment area…
Y’all already know how your comments make me so happy 🙂

Thanks for the read.
Much love,
Ozioma

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31 thoughts on “Agberos in Lagos: Waka or Stay?

  1. Nice one Dear I enjoyed it. I think the Agbero’s should stay, it is a means of livelihood for them and if they are asked to leave most of them would result into stealing and we don’t want that.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hello.. Nice to have you here 🙂
      You are absolutely right, a necessary evil..
      We can do better to make the ‘evil’ more organized and bearable… So they keep their jobs but we get lesser drama

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Necessary evil indeed. They can be a pain in the ass but sometimes they get some work done when they are not causing trouble. I guess that should compensate for the drama they bring.
    There are times when i wish the yellow bus and agberos would just waka, Lagos transport system need to be looked into really. Great post dear

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “When they are not causing trouble, they get some work done..”
      True true!
      I’m telling you.. Its really not just agberos, the whole system of yellow bus need to be re-designed. We really can be more organized about it.
      Thanks dear for the read and comment 🙂

      Like

  3. Please they need to leave. Necessary evil or not, they’re unruly and the nuisance they constitute is alarming. Lazy bunch of people. What they “impact” is the laziest form of survival tbh.

    I’ve never had any negative experience with any, but I know that, if they’re stripped off their “rights” to bus stops parading, or the “duties” they perform, trust me, the local government will find a way to properly conduct activities. Like actually neatly put some personnels at bstops and create a job role out of it for them

    Idle head

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hiya! Nice to have you here 🙂
      Lol @ please they need to leave.
      I feel you… Only the repercussions of asking them to leave might be worse than the main issue.
      Thanks a lot for your contribution 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Agberos are necessary evils…
    Their drama can be annoying sometimes… Plus the way they collect money from bus drivers as if they own the money
    I don’t think they should not be scrapped because the rate of robbery will rise… And we don’t want that
    Great post dear

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Tej Tej!
      Great to have you here dear. Thanks🤗
      Lol @as if they own the money. That sense of entitlement I so annoying.
      Like you said, necessary evils they are.
      Thanks again dear

      Like

  5. This is an interesting post Ozi.
    Frankly, my view is, as long as we have agberos in the seat of power , the agberos will contibue to be part of daly memu in Lagos. These agberos have their good sides sometimes and also the bad and ugly. It takes the positive and negative generate light. With more order in the agbero circle, the crime rate will be reduced drastically.
    Thanks and well done.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hmmmm…. I never saw things in this light (the government part)
      I’m also for keeping them but maybe reducing them and making them more organized.

      Thanks for your contribution ma 🙂

      Like

    1. Hmmmm.
      But wait… They are in Jos too?
      Na wa o
      That’s the issue. We’d love for them to move on to other things but until the government, environment has something else that’d absorb them. It’d be like moving from frying pay to fire 🤷
      Thank you for your contribution 👍

      Like

  6. Wawu. A graduate forced to do agbero. Sad.

    I really can’t answer waka or stay yet. Job provisions have to abound for waka to happen. It’s just like homeless people. That you’re homeless isn’t a crime, however that you perpetrate a crime through living on the streets is.

    I also can’t dance to save Nigeria.

    http://Www.debbyhub.com

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree… We definitely have to have something to fall back on.
      Thanks for this!
      And you can’t dance?! Oh, Father! Good to know I am not alone o jare 🙂

      Like

  7. I don’t think there is any major city in Nigeria there are no agberos. It’s pretty much the same scenario in my city, but of course not as crazy as Lagos. I would prefer they aren’t on the streets and busstops but that may translate to more crime. Sincerely these same agberos are still the same peeps that pickpockets or snatch phones or bags at bus stops and that perpetuate some night time crimes in some areas.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I was very eager to hear what the pros about em were and now that I’ve seen it both realistically and theoretically I’ll still say they add no reasonable value except we dont live in a sane society.

    Basically they should WAKA

    Liked by 1 person

  9. They should stay oh
    Agberos have been very helpful to me many times in the past. One time, they saved me from being harassed by thugs. Like someone said in her comment above, they’re a necessary evil.

    Like

  10. Hmmm….they are seriously everywhere. It’s like a naija thing now in every city. I say they should waka but only with a better plan in place to absorb them and handle the “duties” they have been performing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. See ehn, I love love the way you wrote this. Let me first hand tell you I would use this as my guide to my own article on this topic (if you’d permit me), which I have been postponing for over a month now because I have been thinking of how to write the many details I plan to share in a not-clumsy outline.
    The ‘Agberos’ can be interpreted as ‘touts’ (I think this will give readers more understanding of the whole thing to ‘carriers of passengers’). #ThisIsNigeria-LagosExactly🤣🤣🤣.

    Like

  12. I love love the way you wrote this. Let me tell you first hand that I would like to use this as my guide to my own article on this same topic (if you’d permit me), which I have been postponing for over a month now because I have been trying to decide on how to write the many details I plan to share in a non-clumsy outline.
    The ‘Agberos’ can be interpreted as ‘touts’, I think it will allow the readers understand what the whole thing really looks like. Anyways #ThisIsNigeria-LagosPrecisely, without them it can’t be as much fun as it has been and should be🤣🤣🤣.

    Liked by 1 person

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