I visited 3 Cities in 24 hours. This is what I found out.

Last month I saw a particular tweet that somehow served as a compass for me throughout the month. It helped with channelling my focus, knowing fully well that my level of productivity for the month would literally set the pace for the rest of the year.

Having taken out time for a personal retreat in December, I’d carefully previewed the year, highlighted key areas and relevant tasks that needed to be achieved. A few days into January, having met a few of my goals earlier than expected, I decided to aim a little higher and push harder. Lucky, I was able to hit and surpass all of my goals – well except for those that involved human interactions. 

You see, the infamous opportunity cost had surreptitiously kicked in, given my focus on certain areas which only implied other areas were bound to suffer. I mean, if you get to work an average of 10 – 15 hours daily – mostly remotely – you’ll find out that you could end up going days without proper human interactions. Thankfully, I made up for this lack of connections every other Sunday – by staying a little longer after service, hanging out with friends. 

However, things somewhat took a different turn in February. I got really tired of staying at home and needed a change in scenery even if it was for 24 hours.

*light bulb moment*

“What if I got away and visited 3 cities in 24 hours? that would help a whole lot”, I presumed.

Well, that’s exactly what I did. I visited 3 cities in the space of 24 hours.

Again, I will spare details of the trip and just share a few lessons I’d picked up from my visits;

1. The number of hotels in Owerri are shockingly many. Random guess – there would be a hotel per 1,000 people in the city. (Obviously, that’s an exaggeration – but you get the point.) After driving around the city and checking out a number of terrible ones, we eventually found something decent – with at least 3 other hotels right beside and adjacent to it. Rumours have it that, Owerri is somewhat the social hub of the region, and merchants and blue/white-collar workers come in regular to flex – have a good time. Pretty many explain why the city has got a bubbling nightlife.

2. You know that thing that folks on NG twitter say that there might be more billionaires in Aba, Nnewi & Onitsha? Erm, I *think* it might be true. Again, this is open for debate and much fact-finding. Nonetheless, from my interactions with merchants, I think that proposition might hold water. I met with at least 2 merchants in Aba with monthly revenue of at least N30M and N60M, and they’ve been in their trade for an average of 15 – 20 years. It wouldn’t be wrong to tagged these folks as millionaires (in Naira). I also met this particular merchant in Owerri – owns a 3-storey building (warehouse & office space), a 70-unit plaza and who-knows other businesses. He didn’t disclose exactly how much he rakes in monthly but he was kind enough to boast that he is the community BANK. You’re smart, you go figure how much he makes.

In retrospect, I think it’s not just in the East, billionaires are in all markets – regardless of region.

3. I’m genuinely curious as to what makes people successful. Halfway into my conversations with these self-made millionaires, I got lost in thought – how does a regular guy who started from such humblest of beginnings, with no fancy university or a business school education, goes on to build a successful business? What information did he get access to? And more so, how was it so that his immediate neighbour, in the same building, who probably puts in more hours, didn’t get the same lot in life? Honestly, I don’t have the answers to these questions, yet. I hope, someday, I’d conduct a “Why Nations Fail” kinda research on it.

4. Literacy level seems higher on average in this part of the country. I like to think I’m well-travelled, at least across the country. There is a handful of cities and states in Nigeria I’m yet to visit, nonetheless, I’m always impressed by the level of literacy in Eastern Nigeria. Although the data says otherwise, everyone I interact with seems to have a strong command of English language. I find it quite easy to communicate with an average Eastern in basic English compared to other regions.

Literacy rate in Nigeria in 2018, by zone and gender. (Statista)

5. As always, the food is AWESOME. What is a visit without tasting Igbo soups? You tell me.

fufu & oha soup.

6. It’s really hard to read when you’ve spent the better part of the day globetrotting. Got back to the hotel late after having a few drinks with friends – yeah, folks party on Tuesday night here – thinking I will be able to cover my daily reading target. Let’s just say it was really difficult. Read a few lines – maybe paragraphs – before coming to the obvious conclusion; this is not working. 

7. Why does a city with such a level of commerce and volume of daily transactions not have a cargo airport? Also, the roads in Aba are death traps.

8. Lastly, I took my first Dana flight ever! Leaving Lagos for Owerri was quite an uneasy experience for me. First, it was my first flight this year. Second, it was Dana. (IFYKYK) My return flight? Well, let’s just say I was too tired to be worried. I spent the entire 45 mins (or more) sleeping. 

PS. Travellers are now allowed to carry water/liquid into the aircraft! it’s the little things.

Overall, it was a great travel experience, and I learnt more about running a successful business speaking with merchants than I did in university.

The next visit would be to Northern Nigeria – preferably Kano or Kaduna. Till then, it’s back to my workstation in Lagos.

See you next week.

24 hours well spent!

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