Yaba Right: Why White People Cannot Drive In Nigeria

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f7e9a696e0ede0bcad68426a6bf7474dWe all know about Yaba left, the Federal Neuro Psychiatric Hospital located in Yaba. Eva rapped about it, there are numerous jokes about it and it has even become an official Nigerian slang term for craziness.

But what we don’t know about is a little thing called Yaba right.

If you drive from the Island to the Mainland via the third mainland bridge you would venture for about 8-10 minutes (depending on the traffic) before you hit a particular fork in the road.

If you go left you carry on your journey toward the main mainland but if you go right…you are headed downwards towards Yaba. But the problem with the fork aka Yaba right is that there is no road sign indicating where either side of the fork leads to.

That’s why white people cannot drive in Nigeria, and when I say white people I mean foreigners.

Just as I discussed in my last book How Intelligence Kills our road system just like our education system is created on a system of memorization … you either know or you don’t know … there is no logic to our road network. So someone from the outside will struggle to navigate our roads. Especially when you consider the fact that a road as critical as the third mainland bridge … the longest bridge in West Africa has key signs missing.

But how many of us living in Lagos realized that that sign was missing?

Even those that drive by there everyday don’t realize this. I know this for a fact because when I first observed this (after a long time of not noticing), I spent over an hour arguing with my co-workers who commuted every work day between the Island and Mainland. They insisted that there was a sign when in fact there was none. Subconsciously, they like many of us believed that a sign just had to be there because it never really affected us.

And that’s the thing, when things don’t hamper us we tend to forget how it affects others. Ask yourself this question, how many times have you gone to a building in Nigeria and thought about how disabled people get around?

If you are like me…the answer is NEVER.

It was not until I met the amazingly awesome Tosin Adesola of sami-ng.org who despite a dislocated hip and sickle cell is able to navigate around Lagos. But as she told me a couple of months ago, she goes about this with very great difficulty! Simply because our facilities are not designed with disabled people in mind. In our system she is white…a foreigner. Different from the majority.

The truth is that Nigeria is a long ways away from creating a nation that accommodates the minority, shoot we can’t even cater for the majority. But the core unit of a nation is us … you and I thinking beyond ourselves. It is an act that takes a conscious effort to remove ourselves from our comfort zone and see things from others perspective. It is an act as simple as noticing a missing Yaba Right sign.

PS: I last observed this missing sign about 1 month ago, so do let me know if (cough cough) a sign has been put up.

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twitterPhoto credit Hans Wilschut (thanks to Anonymous for pointing that out)
Written and Observed By Okechukwu Ofili of
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Words by Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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24 comments on “Yaba Right: Why White People Cannot Drive In Nigeria

  1. Puem on said:

    You are right Ofili, we need to stop moving around like robots and pay attention to details. Our resilience as a people is our daily undoing..

  2. Omei on said:

    Hmm. I wrote an email to Road Safety about something like this a little while ago. Didnt get a response yet:

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    Thank you for the work that FRSC has been doing over the years.
    I write to kindly inquire to whom I can direct the question of expressway sign boards in the city.

    Compared to many cities and towns across the country, Abuja’s roads are relatively safe. However, it is rare to see proper signboards on expressways, clearly indicating the name of the expressway, one’s location or the location of the next exit. For example, there is a long stretch of expressway that connects Area 1, Berger and Wuse exits. The name of this expressway should be indicated at points along it, and the locations to which the exits lead–e.g. “Mabushi, next turn”, so that drivers know that they are on the right track.

    Along the Kubwa expressway, as well–I have never seen a clear signboard indicating the exit for Kubwa, a major satellite town. There is a small sign that indicates Bwari, but it is quite small and looks temporary.

    It is easy to take for granted that people know where they are going, but in fact a great many people do not. Road signs would help to give people a better sense of location and direction. Abuja is a city that is full of visitors and migrants from all over the country. People are constantly moving here. I have found that a driver who does not know where he is going is more dangerous than a learner behind the wheel.

    I have attached a picture to indicate what I mean. This is an expressway in Lagos, and these signs, bold and visible from a long way off, are common in Lagos. As the Nation’s capital, Abuja should set the example.

    As part of FRSC’s commitment to road safety, how can we make this possible, not just in Abuja, but along expressways connecting states, towns and cities across the country?

    Kind Regards,

    • Miz tee on said:

      Omei, that was a good a letter you wrote to the FRSC. I find it appalling that no one acknowledged receiving the letter or even making fake promises to get things done. This goes a long way to prove that our system is completely corrupt. The problem with Nigeria is the people. We are so completely oblivious of things going on around us. We don’t care about anything or anyone that doesn’t affects us. I haven’t been home in a very long while. But I hope to come back after my MSc. The few Nigerians I see daily, especially those who just left the shores of the country for the first time behaves so irrationally, that most times I wonder if their parents instilled any discipline in them. No changes can be made in that country unless the mindset of an average Nigerian changes. As for the road signs, I have no plans of driving for a while in that city. Because the traffic is crazy. My aunt who hasn’t been to the country in over 15 years was harassed by the police for making a wrong turn. This wasn’t her fault because there was no sign stating anything. I do not want to fall into that trap. So I rather know my way before I drive in Lagos.

    • Ofili
      Ofili on said:

      Omei! Well done! What is their email address or physical address. Maybe we can swarm them with requests!

  3. Lol, u dont wanna be disabled in Nigeria, ur own don finish be dat. Zero tolerance for disabled people, dat country. Ur automatically a beggar. No life afterwards, than to stay ard churches waiting for a miracle. No cars for u, no special parking lot, nothing. I remember when i was in Fortworth TX and this blind lady had her service dog. She could get on a bus, go to the park, she could move ard with her white cane, even cross d road cos everyone knows what a white cane is.
    Pls could u write an article for/about the disabled in Nig.
    chii latest post is Good morning, World. Good morning, Siri.My Profile

  4. olabanji kayode on said:


    Your observation is a good one, Ofili. What i do not agree with is that we are still doing things as journalist/bloggers the easy way. This is not how journalist in other climes get Pulitzer’s. They go many steps further. They tell us the department of the FRSC responsible for road signs, the Head of that department, How much was allocated to him, projects that has been carried out by the department, staff strength etc. That way we have someone to hold accountable.

    Shouting Jonathan or saying the Government all the time is cheap. It doesn’t solve anything.

    Give us a name. The department might have suffered budget cuts. The head might be diverting the funds. It’s your job to investigate. That way, we can move forward

  5. Anonymous on said:

    You should add a photo credit to the image used for your your post. Everyone deserves credit for their work. Image by Hans Wilschut

  6. Great work as always, Ofili! I can’t agree more – we as a nation have become so insensitive to the needs of the less privileged around us, its really sad! There is no facility that gives room for people with special needs. Until we all realise that loving each other means building a great nation, we’re going nowhere in this country.

    p.s. you need to be careful with images from public sites like Pinterest…some of them – in fact most of them – are copyrighted. You need to find the original source and credit them on your blog to avoid possible legal action. Well done!

  7. Unfortunately, I am in the minority group of those unable to memorise landmarks. I survive using the GPS.
    Please note that the GPS could lead you through one way roads. Ensure other vehicles turn in.
    Seun latest post is TRUSTMy Profile

  8. gud morning ofili well one of our problem is dt we keep waiting for d authority to do every tin we leave in AN OYO (on your own) country where no body cares

  9. You are right
    I only know this because in my second year in University, I was in a room with a lady on crutches.
    Very loud mouth metallurgical engineering lady, very determined to go to the university and be as normal as every teenager or young adult in the university.
    Theresa Doghor latest post is Thankful Thursday…My Profile

  10. John Gotti (1940-2002) A throwback to the old street smart gangsters
    of the days of Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky, John Gotti seemed for a time to be untouchable by the hands of law enforcement.
    He became fast friends with Capone, the latter serving as his best man on his wedding day in 1927.
    Heart pounding, mad as Hell, I wondered what can I,
    David, do to slay the Giant, GE Money.
    Darin latest post is DarinMy Profile

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