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My unforgettable experience as cab driver in U.S – Tinubu reveals

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My unforgettable experience as cab driver in U.S - Tinubu reveals

President Bola Tinubu says a naval officer once slapped him for overcharging him unintentionally when he was a taxi driver in the United States.

The president made this known as his shared stories of humble beginning in a biography published on the back page of a national daily.

The biography titled, ‘Tinubu: My life as gypsy cab driver in the US’, was authored by Nigeria’s seasoned journalist, Mike Awoyinfa.

According to Tinubu, in the story, he worked as an unlicensed taxi driver in Chicago, the US picking passengers from the airport to their destinations.

The president said the driving job was embarked on in order to sustain him financially before he went to school.

He narrated, “We got an unregistered used car commonly called Gypsy, which we ran as a taxi. We operated at the airport where we picked passengers, and not anywhere else, like the hotel because it was forbidden for unlicensed cab drivers to do so.

“We did that for a while to raise some money. Bolaji went to Tennessee, while I headed for Chicago.

“I was supposed to have started schooling in April. I deferred it till September in order to have more money. Immediately I got to Chicago, I went straight to Richard Daley College. It was very interesting.

“I was able to pay for my apartment and tuition fees at Chicago State University. I supplemented that by doing different menial jobs like door guard and security man.”

Speaking further about the incident, he said the naval officer he picked at the airport slapped him because he overcharged him, as his destination was nearby.

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“As a cab driver, one experience I will never forget was when I over-charged a naval officer who was returning to the country. It was not intentional,” Tinubu said.

“Apparently, I didn’t know the direction. There was no GPRS in those days to locate directions. So, he gave me the direction to his house in a Virginia suburb.

“I gave him the price and the man responded with a slap to my face. He said I should know the correct price to charge to the location he mentioned. He slapped me and gave me the money.”

 

Lifestyle

Plastic plates price hike: Gatecrashers’re now served in cellophane bags at ‘owambes’

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The high cost of plastic plates has led to a new trend at parties. Gatecrashers are now being served food in cellophane bags at social gatherings.

Two sets of people are always present in a typical Nigerian party, known in local Yoruba parlance as owambe. They are the invited guests and uninvited ones popularly known as gate crashers.

While the invited guests come with pride to show off elegance, luxury and perhaps modern dance steps, the gate crashers mainly come for food.

Ordinarily, the way a guest is served speaks volumes in such parties.

For invited guests, hosts prepare and serve various delicacies in beautiful dishes and plastic takeaway packs on decorated tables.

Some guests are even allowed to make orders for whatever meals they desire without stepping out of their seats. This lifestyle not only shows the class of the hosts but also the importance of the guests.

Even gate crashers are sometimes lucky to get a better treatment even though they were not invited. But this depends on the financial power of the host.

However, with the economic downturn, things have changed drastically. This is not a good time to be a gate crasher, as the treatment they get in owambes now are shabby and to say the least, very demeaning.

Today, many of them end up going home with their food in a small polythene bags.

This is due to the high cost of renting plates and increased prices of plastic take-away packs.

Economy&Lifestyle discovered that most hosts now package food for their special guests in paper take-away packs. Those who still want to show off class manage to buy a few plastic take-aways for just a few guests, while the gate crashers are left at the mercy of taking their food home in nylons.

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Due to the high cost of plastics since the increase in pump price of fuel, 50 pieces of three compartment take-away packs, which was N17,000 is now N30,000 while 50 pieces of big single compartment plastic take-away packs that was N 5,000 now cost between N25,000 and N40,000 depending on the quality.

However, the price of 50 pieces of paper takeaway food packs for dry or wet food is from N4,000 to N5,000 depending on the size.

Mrs. Efosa Akinola, a private school teacher, who celebrated her wedding anniversary recently, said she was shocked when she noticed that the cost of takeaway packs has trippled.

“I had to buying the paper made one, which the woman convinced me was better and healthier for the environment.

“At first I thought all the content would spill when I used it but it didn’t.

“I would have preferred the plastic one because it gives one class. But I had to leave it for the paper one to save cost. I just had to celebrate it because it was my 10th wedding anniversary.

“The cost of food alone had eaten deep into my budget. I had to serve special guests with the paper packs and gate crashers had to take their food home in nylon bags.”

On her part, Mrs Chigbu Okeke, a foodstuff seller, said she had to use the paper packs on her kids birthday to package small chops and food instead of takeaway packs to cut cost.

“Recently, my son celebrated his one year birthday. When I got to the market to buy the usual party takeaway packs, I was shocked that what was sold for between N3,000 and N5,000 is now over N25,000.

“As I was contemplating on the next move, the woman showed me the paper packs. I was complaining it would leak but she assured me it won’t.

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“After using it, some of my guests were asking me where I got the packs and they loved it.Those neighbours whom I didn’t invite but invited themselves were served in nylon bags.”

However, Mr. Ariyo Makinde, a lecturer, said he was very surprised when he opened the takeaway pack and discovered that it was made with thick paper and the food inside was beans and plantain.

“That is what people use in serving guests at parties and events now. I attended a party recently and discovered that the food, which was wet, was packaged in a sealed paper that looked like a box, though hard.

“When I opened the box, I discovered it contained beans (ewa agoyin) and plantain. I was perplexed because there was no oil or stains on the outside.

“A friend who followed me without being invited was served in nylon bag. He had to put his nylon bag in mine to avoid being seen with such a package. He vowed never to attend any party uninvited.

“I also observed that in most of the hotels I have attended parties or events, when you demand plastic takeaway packs, they tell you the piece is N500, which was N100 either to.

“I was forced on two occasions to eat my food at the event instead of paying such an amount for takeaways.”

On her part, Mrs. Helen, a disposable containers and packs seller, noted that in this year alone, the cost of buying takeaways from the company rose four times.

According to her, the sales manager cited increasing cost of importation, logistics coupled with dollar scarcity and other expenditures as reasons for the high cost and reduction in quality of these plastic takeaway packs.

She said: “I am tired of this business. This year alone, the prices of plastic takeaway packs have risen four times. Not only that of plates but cups, including those made of aluminum.

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“Many now shy away from buying them. They go for these new paper food packs for both wet and dry food and nylons.

“Some of my customers that are food vendors in hotels and restaurants are complaining about the low quality of the product and the covers’re no longer sealing the plates.

“Some caterers, who buy the plastic takeaway packs for parties get a dozen or two and add nylon bags.

“They sell to guests willing to buy, knowing at the back of their mind that some who cannot afford the amount will be forced to eat at the event or use nylon bags to take it home if they have no shame.”

Mr. Jude Briamoh, a Chemistry teacher, welcomed the adoption of paper takeaway packs, noting that it will aid in having a clean environment and reduce drainage blockages and flood as paper easily dissolves on earth.

“The paper food takeaway packs are trending now. Even food vendors and party hosts now use this type of packs as takeaways instead of the conventional plastic and disposable packs. I even see some people leave parties with their meals served in nylon bags without shame. That is the level the state of our economy has reduced us to.

“In Lagos, abundant, affordable, lightweight and durable plastic takeaway packs are the choice material for food packaging by vendors at parties and events, but improperly disposed of, they are clogging drainage, contributing to flooding and posing a threat to the public health and the environment.

“But with this new method of food packaging, our drainages will be free, the environment will be safe and free from flood because these papers are got from wood pulps and easily decomposed.”

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