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Why many Lagos residents are cranky

The profile of pastors and other clerics has changed. Hold yourself to blame when you think that they are all Bible or the Koran in your engagement with them. Many of them have elite resume – highly educated and current with global trends. And they don’t only speak well, they write very well. That is a subject for another day. However, one of them prompted today’s discussion of why residents in Lagos and other cities are cranky.

My pastor at the Olive Tree Parish of RCCG, Mr. Alex Okoh, sends messages to members every week to encourage them in handling the challenges of life. Last week, he wrote about the strange behavior of lady that typifies the challenges of city life. City living could be full of excitement and opportunities but a lot of city people we have to live and deal with are cranky, short-fused or plain mad. Mr. Okoh, a former MD of a bank, is the current DG of the Bureau of Public Enterprises.

He Okoh wrote: “Good morning. It’s a new week and perhaps I can take advantage of the fact that it is a public holiday in my locality to start on a light note. A light but curious experience I had on Saturday! As I drove out of a grocery store, and about to navigate into a major road, I noticed an interesting scene inside a car that was right in front of me.

The lady at the back of the car was yelling profusely at the driver, obviously about what direction to take. In utter confusion, while trying to obey the lady, the driver engaged the reverse gear and rammed straight into my car. Pandemonium!

The lady’s yelling at the driver hit a high octave, trying to make the point that it was the fault of the poor driver. I got down and told the lady very calmly that from what I had observed, she obviously pressured her driver into the unfortunate error.

What ensued was shocking: “My driver? He is not my driver. He is just an Uber driver!” She comes down of the car, throws a N500 note at the poor fellow, stops a cab, and leaves.

Everyone there was stunned. I looked at the poor fellow who was sweating and shivering with panic, so I told him to go.

The lesson hit me as I drove home. I wondered what kind of a human being would behave like that lady. That was a classic case of what the Scripture calls the “wickedness of the wicked”.

His prayer for the past week: “This week, don’t be goaded or pressured into committing another man’s error. Shut out the yelling and may God grant you the grace to make decisions that lead to your progression. Do have a great week.”

Agreed, many city dwellers are cranky because of the stress of city life, but no matter the provocation, the lady’s behavior was wicked – man’s inhumanity to man.  Whatever happened only triggered the wickedness in her. It is also common in some homes, where househelps are treated like trash.  There is another example of a lady, a former top public servant, known to be very demonic. Demons do not only manifest in night attacks, they are in full display in broad daylight through the behaviour of their hosts.

A strange lady and a dawn preacher

It is difficult to forget this other example. A dawn preacher near a creek in the Owode suburb of Lagos gets to work at 4.30 AM in his church preaching at the top of his voice despite the use of loudspeaker for busy residents to be fed the word of God before hitting the roads.

As he does, a young lady in a skimpy dress walks in, sits directly opposite the pulpit, stretches her legs and opens the buttons on the dress as if to get some fresh air. The pastor looks away and preaches louder. Some ten minutes later, the lady gets up slowly and walks coquettishly away.

At the entrance, she shouts whispers, “I will be back,” and disappears into the darkness. The preacher says he has not seen her again.

Motives are clear here – Wickedness! Lagos can be very daring.

Stressed-induced madness

Spiritual matters aside, city life can also be quite stressful – traffic jams, commuting, queues and noise can all take their toll on human behaviour. Added to this are economic hardships that may have even led to the displacement of aggression on the current government which cannot be blamed for the downturn caused by an eroded resource base.

The cumulative effect of the peculiar challenges of city living are time constraint and sleep deficiency. Many people in Lagos don’t get enough sleep – they are sleep walkers. For example, In Lagos, people travel all the way from very distant places like Okokomaiko to work every morning on Lagos Island. And they should not be late to work. Even close as Apapa is to other commercial centres of the city, the chaotic traffic situation there makes it one hell of a place for people who go in and out from.

If for some, the very early morning journey to Lagos is easy because it precedes the normal rush hour, going back isn’t. Most offices in Lagos close about the same time. Their workers pour onto the roads about the same time, and the ensuing traffic jam is hectic. Some people don’t get home until early the following morning. Yet they have to be at work at office-opening time. No excuses.

Studies:  City dwellers are more likely to suffer stress and anxiety than people who live in the countryside because their brains are wired differently, scientists claim.  Researchers from the University of Bonn in Germany took images of radiologists’ hearts before and after a 24-hour shift, during which they got only about three hours of sleep. Significant heart strain, a precursor to heart problems, was noted following the sleep deprivation. Others changes, including an increase in blood pressure, heart rate and thyroid hormones, which is indicative of a stress response, were also noted.

Risk of Car Accidents: When you don’t get enough sleep your problem-solving skills dwindle and your reaction time slows. Long lapses in attention and decreased response accuracy, which are especially problematic while driving, also occur.

Disaster Waiting to Happen: Sleep deprivation has played a role in many catastrophic events, including Chernobyl, Three-Mile Island, the Challenger explosion and more.

It’s not surprising, since it’s well known to cause blunted reactions, but researchers have also found lack of sleep to be particularly problematic for decision-making involving uncertainty and unexpected change.

Case in point, when the Chernobyl reactor melted down in 1986, the engineers involved in the disaster had worked 13 hours or more before the meltdown.

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