By Stephen Azubuike
Lagos is a City of Excellence, a megacity by every definition. The former capital of Nigeria is also the capital of the most notorious “Area Boys” in the country.
According to Adediran Ikuomola, Rashidi Okunola, and Simon Heap in their article titled, “Historical Analysis of Touts as a Deviant Subgroup in Lagos State-Nigeria”, the writers defined Area Boys as follows:
The nomenclature of area boys can also mean touts—alaayes, agberos, omo onile—they are generally considered deviant youths who use extortion, exploitation, petty crimes and sometimes violent means to earn income.
The Area Boys in Lagos are in different sections and factions, but members of one category can easily gain a transfer to another category depending on a number of factors which include status, experience, position and connection.
One of the most recognized category, clothed with the garment of legitimacy is those chiefly in charge of all the motor parks in the State, who collect rates, fees and other forms of taxes around the motor parks, on their own behalf, and supposedly on behalf of the Government, under the auspices of an association known as the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).
The other Area Boys in the category which largely fits in with the description supplied by the referenced writers operate freely in many parts of Lagos, in and outside motor parks. They are aggressive by day and more brutal at night.
The Area Boys in Lagos are of a special breed and highly organised. Ironically, on the surface, they seem disorganised in terms of operation and considering the unkempt outlook of their field officials. But on a closer look, these guys are one of the most organised, dedicated and highly influential members of the society.
They seem to draw their powers from the well of Government and are efficient tools in the hands of politicians who know precisely how to call in aid their usefulness during elections and other relevant occasions.
The popular Nollywood movie, King of Boys, seems to depict the point being made. If movies are a reflection of the society, Kings of Boys appears to mirror what obtains in Nigeria, especially in Lagos.
For a person to become the Chairman of NURTW, the person must have risen through the ranks, commanding power and respect among the Boys, given his top connections with the powers that be in the State.
Musiliu Akinsanya popularly called MC Oluomo was a former Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of NURTW. He is a King – a King of Boys, and of Men in Lagos.
Reports had it that MC Oluomo fell out with the national body of the NURTW led by Alhaji Tajudeen Baruwa. He was consequently suspended indefinitely as the Lagos chapter’s Chairman over alleged acts of misconduct, insubordination and inciting members of the Lagos State chapter against the national body.
Following his suspension, MC Oluomo allegedly “convened a meeting of other branch leaders who make up the State Administrative Council of the NURTW to announce that they have decided to pull out of the union. Oluomo also directed the State Government to immediately take over the management of parks and garages by appointing a committee that would run the affairs of the parks.”
As a true “King” in Lagos who has the ears of the Lagos State Government, the Government appears to have immediately implemented his desires. According to reports, the Lagos State Government has set up a Parks Management Committee and appointed MC Oluomo as its Chairman. This was as a follow up to the Government’s earlier directive, halting activities of the NURTW in Lagos. The Committee is to report to the Minister of Transportation.
By this kind gesture, the dethroned King of Boys has risen above the table in Lagos, riding on the wings of the Government. A new table has been made for him and adorned with new seats to be occupied by top ex-government functionaries, including a former Lagos Commissioner of Police.
MC Oluomo, the privileged “master of all ceremonies” in Lagos is a hero whose reign appears to just be at its twilight. Should his rumoured Kingmaker clinch the seat of power in Aso Rock in 2023, he will dine with the gods.