We live in a society that expects men to provide. Across social classes, the man is considered the financial mainstay of both his nuclear and extended family. This might cause a strain on his finances and mental health. We spoke to five Nigerian men about being the breadwinners and sole providers for their families.


My parents were divorced when I was born. She re-married and sent me to live with my grandparents so that’s where I grew up. My grandmother is still alive and I would really love to build her a house because she’s everything to me, but I can’t possibly do that with my family depending so much on me. My step-father doesn’t provide so much for his children, my half-brothers, so they rely on me too for support. 

I hate to say this, but I’m the only one who’s doing well in the family. By default, all financial responsibilities fall to me.  I live alone but try to visit the family home once a week. Every time, I must sort an issue or the other, and this is asides from money for electricity, my brother’s tuition and pocket money. 

When I buy foodstuff, I split it into 4, of which I only get a quarter. 5 litres of oil finish in a month. Bag of rice finishes in less than two months. And the prices of food right now are insane. Asides from this, my younger step-brother who is seeking admission is always asking me for money. If I don’t give him, I’ll feel guilty. 

When I complain, my mom asks me to remembers that it’s only because other’s don’t have that they’re relying on me. It’s overwhelming. I’m always praying that everyone becomes financially stable so that they can stop depending on me. I’m grateful to God that so far, there’s been no cause to borrow. I’m very drained and tired of supporting my entire family on an income of 130k at the age of 25.


I was raised traditionally and being the breadwinner is the man’s job and it comes naturally to us. I have that mindset so it makes it easy. It can be hectic having to pay for the kids’ private school education, holidays, and extended family needs, but it’s fulfilling and rewarding.

When it becomes overwhelming, I open up to my wife and she makes some extra income to ease the burden. Women respect you more when you play the role of provider. It sounds like a woke thing but you never find a stable relationship where they split the bills. I could never enjoy that type of relationship.

Abubakar Ali

Being responsible for my wife, kids and four siblings isn’t an easy task. I don’t have a proper job, but being able to cater for others gives me the best kind of satisfaction. I trade cryptocurrencies and that has been my main hustle for now, although I plan to start a business soon. I tried to get funding to start a poultry business but the government red-tape has been an issue.

Sometimes, I try to remember the last time I did something for myself and honestly, I don’t remember. However, as long as I’m able to take care of my dependents, I’m happy.


I’m the first son and breadwinner of my family. No matter how much I increase my income, it never seems to be enough. There’s always one more problem to solve. Even the tiniest issues are brought to my attention. I earn quite well but I can’t even afford to take care of myself.

I’m responsible for my three siblings, parents and some cousins. Two of my siblings are in covenant university. I pay their fees which comes to N1.5 million every year, handle their feeding and health expenses. My parents haven’t worked in 10 years. They spent all their savings sending me to a good university, for which I would forever owe them, but sometimes I need a break.

My cousin got married some years ago and I was responsible for half of the wedding expenses. My savings were wiped out because my parents said, “What will people say if we don’t spend on our end?” 

I recently had to change the family car because their car was really old. I had to take night jobs and a loan to buy the family a nice car. Asides from this, I was sending three orphans to school as my way of giving back to society. 

Anytime I think about my situation, I start to tear up. I make good money but I have nothing to show for it because of my responsibilities. I can’t keep a proper account of how much I spend because it just leaks till your pockets are empty. I’ve been depressed for a long time and my responsibilities are the main reason why. I rely on my antidepressants to power me through the day. I’m worried that no one would want to marry me when they realise the responsibilities I carry.

I’m fine doing these things for my parents because they sacrificed a lot for me. Left to them, they wouldn’t bother me but they don’t make any money and I can’t let them starve.


I didn’t know how hard it would be to provide for the family until my dad passed. Then I got married a few years ago and it’s been crazy. It weighs heavily on my mental health. However, providing for my family gives me a sense of purpose. I also try to create a budget to buy nice things for myself.


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