Mom said to me ‘any job you see, even if the salary is little, just take it like that. Start from there and you will get something better’.
That was what went through my mind when I got this job at Area 2, Garki that year. It was the type of job I liked-blogging, reality TV show, serene office environment. The only caveat was that the take home pay could not even take me home. It was not even sufficient for transportation. Mom died in November and few days after she left, I got about(or more than) five job offers between Lagos to Abuja. I applied to those places months before she died. However, it looked like the heavens opened just after she died. It was so surreal. I really cannot explain how these things happen because it is one of the mysteries of life. Same thing happened in overdose when dad died too. A 24hour miracle, a major life change.
I remember a certain phone call I received from a close ally and sister. Let me even say her name-Ope Adeiga. Hers was the realest and most honest advice I ever got. She called me one day in the morning and said laughingly ‘i heard you lost your dad. Awww, welcome to the club😁😁😁😁.” Maybe she was even giggling.
When she asked me for detail, it was all too easy to let her in because she had been there before me. She is an orphan too. And when she lost her mom, I was working in Lagos and asked her to see me. She came to my small room at opic estate and we talked. She told me she was still yet to cry. She was serving in Abuja and had to rush back abruptly. I was working at Compass newspaper that period so we left my house together. We departed at Berger and that was the last time we saw physically before I left Lagos but we are still in touch till date. I felt so sorry for her that day.
So that day she called, after I gave her the details, she said “don’t worry. Do you know how special you are in the sight of God now? Imagine what it means when you are under the direct protection of the almighty, when God is now your direct father. God doesn’t joke with us o. So, take heart”.
I think there’s a truth in that statement because each of my parent’s death opened tremendous doors. Some doors I had knocked consistently for years opened on its own volition in those two separate instances.
This job I’m talking about was among the invitations I got. I declined the two invites I got from Lagos. I never showed up.
I resumed working at area 2 and continued to apply to other places. I had barely worked for one month and a week when I got an invitation to two other better places. I went to write a test at this new place this week and went for interview at the second place the other week. The first was a construction company in a quiet Wuse Zone 2 and the second was at a South African Travel Club in Apo.
I was the highest scoring female and 3rd or 4th overall at the construction company and was subsequently invited for the next stage-interview. It was a large room with five interviewers and I was standing at the middle. I aced it and was sent a message days later.
At the travel club too, I went for interview and aced it. So I was invited to start the training as a new intake.
I was so confused on which job to take.
I started going for training at the SA travel club. We were about 10 or so. One of the trainers, a lady was so impressed with me that she said ‘i’m sure our clients would like to close deals with you. You look just so perfect for the job’. I smiled. Then I cringed when I remembered the other juicy offer waiting for me.😊
During this training, they made us to know the job was flexible. They start work sometimes 11am and close by 5pm BUT their major working days were Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
According to the lady ‘if you are a churchy person, you can’t work here because some of us are Christians too but we don’t go to church because of work.
And we don’t talk religion here. We don’t want to know whether you are a xtian or Muslim. As a Muslim, you can’t got to mosque too because Friday is our peak period.”
It was a certain Musa(name withheld), a northern Muslim who spoke first in his heavy accent “but I have to go to mosque on Friday. Again, my family lives in sokoto and I have to travel by weekend to see them”.
“No, you can’t do that again if you want to work here. So if you don’t pray on Friday, will you die? There are Muslims here who don’t also go to mosque on Friday. You can do the prayers at home when you close”
Musa would have none of it. He could not contain his anger. He was livid.
“No, you can’t tell me not to pray”, he said
“And who do you think you are?” She replied
It was turning to a row. Everyone was murmuring. All of us were not happy. They even called their boss to address Musa and put him in his place. We all watched helplessly.
On our way out after the training, we all unanimously agreed it was not a place to be. You don’t do or talk religion ke?
It helped me seal the decision so I didn’t turn up the next day. Not even because of no religion alone but because the bosses talked like garrison commanders. They were too daring. The environment was too toxic. That was not how to start a career. And I would not even work Monday to Sunday anyways. Emi omo ola? ka ma ri ni poolu wi.
So I went to this next place-construction. It was in a very quite neighborhood that I had to hire a cab and we still got missing. I picked up my offer letter and it was so juicy. I resumed the next day for training. But that was where I met a narcissist. A small boy who was heading my team. He was also part of the interview and had seen our CVS and credentials. This boy was just a Bsc holder who just started his Msc at ABU. He saw that we had intimidating resumes with experience so he used hooliganism and running mouth to try to make us look lesser than him.
Not me sha. He focused on my friend Muri(not real name). He found every opportunity to wash Muri and to speak down at him. Muri had worked with a conglomerate in kaduna as a sales person. Besides this, he had other great sales experience from big companies around. I came with an intimidating Msc coupled with my Lagos work experience and brief Abuja work experience.
We had an official car-a sienna that we used for trips. Our jobs involved negotiating sales with architectural firms, Quantity Surveyors, Estate surveyors and co.
Let’s call this guy chimezie. He’s an Igbo guy. The first day we were all going out in the car, Muri sat beside him in front while myself and Otolo sat at the back. Only three of us were employed out of the hundreds who wrote their exam and attended the interview.
Chimezie began by saying he couldn’t be driving us all over Abuja o. He was not our driver o. Who among us could drive?
I exchanged looks with Otolo. They didn’t say driving experience was a must when we applied. They didn’t even mention it during the interview.
After my accident at ibadan while driving, I haven’t touched anybody’s car since then. A friend once bought a car and came to show me. He asked me to enter and move it forward. I said mba. I’m not driving anybody’s car again except it’s mine. Imagine now telling me to drive a company car. Job wey I never collect salary. Aa nii resu.
Chimezie drove us that day. He first did his own business. He went to the bank, saw a friend, parked us and stepped down to gist. He drove us to another place to pick something, maybe his cloth. He never told us anything, he just drove. He was our boss now😊(omo ale jatijati)
On another day, as we were set to go out, he asked Muri to come drive. Muri took the steering but could not steer it. He was moving rather slowly. He said it’d been long he drove(probably fear of jamming company car too dey dia). Chimezie flew off the handle and began to insult Muri-“so what do you know how to do? And you call yourself a man? You are just so dumb. You don’t know anything. Did they tell you people I’m your driver? From tomorrow, I will not follow you out, if you like, don’t drive the car. Even a child can drive this car, as tall as you are, you are so clueless……”
He said so much to the extent that I became angry. I was boiling. Muri just bent down his head and was stammering. I felt so much pity for him. That Igbo boy would be younger than him if they compared their birth certificate.
However, with me, I always gave it back to igbo boy so he couldn’t mess with me. Everybody disliked Igbo boy. He was rude to everyone. He was a narcissist. He believed he was everything.
We started plotting our exit from the company when we noticed that what they promised on paper was far from their reality. Besides, I never ever told Mr Banji I was working. The man was giving me monthly stipends and food so I was okay without a job but I just felt it wasn’t right to be living off my old man. I didn’t need that job because I was hungry or broke, I just needed it for my sanity. I was bored.
One day I told Igbo boy I wouldn’t be able to come to work the next day. I was home when he called and demanded why I didn’t inform him I’d not be at the office. I didn’t go because I had exhausted my pocket money on tfare and needed to get cash from Mr Banji. I said I told him now. He angrily cut the call.
The next day, I got to the office and he marched me to an inner office, gave me a letter signed by him without the knowledge of the HR or the management. It was a query. Igbo boy was querying me for missing job. They paid my colleagues and he outrightly told them not to pay me.
He said I should write why disciplinary action shouldn’t be taken against me for skipping office and that I should attach my birth certificate, degree certificate and probably an affidavit that I’d not do that again when responding.😁😁😁
I laughed at the impunity, the sheer madness and stupidity of a wannabe hired to work in someone’s company but behaving as a CEO. He asked me to leave immediately.
I picked my bag and left. Guys advised me to inform the management so that I could at least get paid. I said no need. I refused to shalaye😁 I went to sit under the tree outside. All the office staff came to sit with me under the tree o. Everybody was talking about him. Of course, I knew I was leaving at the end of that month but that kind of sealed it for me.
I never went back.
I got another job again. I went for the interview. While asking me questions, I mentioned that I write for bellanaija. They googled my name, saw one of my popular articles and the interview questions became the topic of the article. Their work involved a lot of travelling and meeting music stars and doing interviews. I didn’t see myself doing that. I was invited for the next stage but I couldn’t make it. I had to travel to the north.
I made up my mind that I was done with private jobs. Only that I didn’t know where or how I’d get a government job. I had gone to the Federal Civil Service Commission with Dad before all these and nothing came out of it.
However, I began to notice all these staff buses that dropped people off in my area every evening. I saw news agency of nigeria, state house staff bus, ministry of defence, ministry of agric etc and I began to long for it. It finally happened for me. And I’m not going back to private jobs ever. Except it’s a freelance gig, cash and carry. And I’ve never seen/imagine myself spending 35 years in govt either. That’s the most productive part of my life. I’d be in my sixties at retirement. Say wetin happen na. My mom retired at 40ish. My dad retired at 50ish. That’s why when I see people who hide other people’s file in govt office so that they will not go past them, I usually laugh at them. Or people who reduce their age so they can work for long. It’s not a do or die for some of us. I don’t want to die here. I don’t intend to spend the whole of my future being a servant. Is that not what they are called? Public servants? I love my job, yo but I don’t intend to die there.
Now to the end of this story, or a summary. I walked away from Igbo boy that year without saying a word. It is risky for you to offend me and I walk away without saying a word especially if you have cheated me. It’s better to draw me back so that I can at least vent my anger verbally.
I walked away but I never forgot Igbo boy. I had only one wish-to see him again, at a higher level. Both my friends left too.
My wish of seeing him again got fulfilled in 2018. I had just walked out of h-medix that Friday afternoon where I got this huge birthday cake and other nice stuffs. I was heading home when I saw this boy walking on my street in Garki.😁😁
He was sweating. He carried a backpack that had seen better days. His feet was dusty. No car to drive again. The mumu never even had a car then. It was just the company car he drove. He didn’t recognize me again. I smiled. I fixed my gaze on him. He looked at me and said
“Your face is familiar but I can’t seem to remember where we met”
Oluya😁😁😁. How you wan remember na?
“Let me remind you. You remember xyz?”
Immediately I mentioned the company, recognition dawned.
He said with tight lips “oh I remember you now. How are you? Are you into cakes now?”
I could see that the “werey”(craze)never fully left him. So I replied
“No, I just got it over there at hmedix. Turn around. Can you see that big office? That’s where I work now”. It was an epic moment for me. A day we all pray to live to see. The Lord prepared a table.for.me in the presence of my enemy.
“I’m just going home with this cake”, I added for effect.
He couldn’t talk again. So I asked again because I needed to know if he had killed the CEO at that company and occupied his seat. “Where do you work now? Are you still at xyz?”
“No, I left since. I’m just on my own now”, he said.
I laughed. Of course, it was very obvious that the guy “was truly on his own” walking all over Garki. We all know the meaning of ‘i am now on my own” in this present Nigeria. It means you are just on the street, looking for survival. And a cocky guy like chimezie would surely stay long on the street.
Muri went on to work with first Bank as a contract staff then he got this good job at EFCC. He called me while on training in kaduna. I was so happy for him. I told him that I saw Igbo boy. We laughed and laughed over the phone. All is well that ends well.
The first job I got in Abuja was at this foremost newspaper company. But I can’t talk about it because Jonathan Eze works for their CEO now. Adiye o ki n jefun ara won.