Every week, Zikoko seeks to understand how people move the Naira in and out of their lives. Some stories will be struggle-ish, others will be bougie. All the time, it’ll be revealing.

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Between 2010 and 2013, the 30-year-old on this #NairaLife missed two opportunities to fulfil his dream of working at a Big Four consulting firm, but he didn’t back down.

Now, he’s a manager at his dream job in the UK and thinks it might be time to move on.

Let’s start with your earliest memory of money

I was in nursery three when I first got sent out of school for owing fees. I was five and I remember seeing my dad cry and promise nothing like that would ever happen to his children again. 

You have memories from when you were five?

I even remember correcting people’s grammar at that age. I was one of those gifted children who developed fast and excelled in school. I had a double promotion between nursery one and three, and after primary four, I went straight to JSS 1. 

Okay o, efiko. Was nursery three the last time you were sent out of school?

Yeah. My dad got an okada and rider to take me to school in the mornings and pick me in the afternoons. The rider used the rest of the day to make money, so I was able to stay in school. 

What did your parents do for a living?

They were both civil servants. My mum worked in the ministry of education, so she started as a teacher and moved up the ladder until she retired as a vice principal. My dad worked in the ministry of finance. 

My mum was the major breadwinner. She sold pure water and drinks on the side, and I used to help her sell after school. It was through her job we had housing because the government gave her a place to stay whenever they transferred her to a new school. 

I’m curious about what it’s like moving from primary four to JSS 1

I was taken to a boarding school in a different part of the state, but I spent a major part of the first year at home because every time I returned to school, I’d get really homesick again, and my parents would have to pick me up. This was the year 2001, so I was only nine years old. After the session, I came out top of the class of almost a thousand students. My dad told them to check again because I was hardly in school and I’d missed tests and exams. When they confirmed I was top of the class, he just took me away. I remember him saying he didn’t want me to be a “big fish in a small pond”. 

He took me to a new school to start JSS 1 again. It was a boarding house, still far from home because it was in a different state, but I wasn’t as homesick anymore. Here, there were no positions. Everyone just got their grades. I stayed there from JSS 1 to 3 before he brought me back home to attend a more expensive day school because I was “becoming lean”. I knew he just missed me. 

By JSS 3, things were getting good for my dad at his workplace. In fact, after JSS 3, I returned home to our first rented apartment. It’s not like we didn’t still have my mum’s government-issued housing o. My dad just thought since he was getting promotions and now had money, he wanted to live in his own house. We stayed there for three years before we moved to his own government-issued house. 

Where did you grow up?

Rivers state. We moved around a lot, but I spent a lot of time in Port Harcourt. 

What was that like?

It was chill. It didn’t have the Lagos chaos. But the downside was I wasn’t exposed. I didn’t have much to look up to. My goal in life would have been to be a civil servant like my parents, or maybe work in oil since that’s a big deal in Rivers. 

How did this affect your choice of what to study in university?

It didn’t really. I wanted to study economics because I was good at it in secondary school, but my older sister advised against it because there were “too many economists in Nigeria”. She directed me to computer science, and that’s what I studied. I went to a private university. 


It was my dad’s idea. I’d gone to public school all my life. He wanted me to experience something better since he could afford it. My fees were over ₦1.5m a year. I wouldn’t say he could pay it without struggling, but he could definitely afford it. 

How were your own finances?

I lived on the ₦40k I got from my dad every semester. If I needed more, I could always ask him, but I barely needed more. School provided all our meals, so the money was to buy anything extra. 

Did uni give you clarity on what you wanted to do with your life?

Yep. In my third year in 2010, I applied for an internship at a Big Four consulting firm and got it. But because it was in Lagos, and I didn’t have family to stay with, my dad didn’t let me take it. I eventually did my internship in Rivers State. 

When I resumed, I asked one of my lecturers what I could do to make money. He suggested ethical hacking, but it seemed complex. Then he suggested coding, but that also seemed stressful. Finally, he suggested IT auditing and said it was a field many people didn’t go into but paid well. I could get trained by a consulting firm, and I’d make money. So I decided I would get another opportunity to work at a Big Four. 

Did you?

After graduating in 2012 and finishing NYSC in 2013, I applied for the graduate training program of another Big Four. This time, my mum sponsored me to fly to Lagos twice for the different test stages. I did’t have money to go for the final interview, so I let it go. After that, I got a job in Port Harcourt as an IT admin officer, earning ₦100k. I stayed there for about 15 months before I got another opportunity to work at the same Big Four. 

This time, I had my own money because I’d been saving most of my salary. When I did my first two trips to take tests, my dad didn’t have an issue. But when he heard I was going for the final interview stage, he refused to let me go. To him, it meant I’d move out completely, and he just didn’t want it. 

So you lost the job again?

I actually went for the interview. On my way to the airport, my dad’s lawyer called and told me my dad had removed me from his will because I defied him. 


When the job offer came, I travelled to Lagos again to pick up the offer letter. It was when I got the Lagos I heard it could’ve been mailed to me if I’d just asked. 

LMAO. How much were flight tickets?

This was 2015, so they were about ₦25k for one-way trips. 

When I showed my dad the letter, he asked if they could allow me work from Port Harcourt. I said no. So he said I could go, but he wouldn’t support me financially. I left, stayed with a friend for three months then moved to my own ₦300k-yearly apartment. I stayed there from 2015 to 2022, and the rent never increased.

How much did the job pay?

₦140k monthly. At the training stage, they put us in units; I was placed in the auditing unit. At Big Fours, they do promotions or salary increases every year. So I moved from graduate trainee on ₦140k in 2015 to associate trainee on ₦180k in 2016 to associate two on ₦242k in 2017. 

What was all this money doing for you?

I was just establishing myself as a young professional in Lagos. Surviving, dressing and feeding better, buying a car, nothing spectacular. 

As a senior associate in 2018, my salary went to ₦350k. Then in 2020, I became an assistant manager and earned ₦465k. I became a manager in 2021, and my salary jumped to ₦790k. The next level is senior manager, but that’s after three years of being a manager. 

I resigned in 2022, and almost immediately after I sent in my resignation letter, they increased my role’s salary to ₦1m. 

Why did you resign? 

Japa. I got a job — same manager role — at another Big Four in the UK, and moved with my wife. 

Your wife?

I got married just before I left in 2022. 

How much did you spend on your wedding?

The entire wedding cost about ₦7m, but I only spent about ₦1.5 because I was broke. Between 2020 and 2022, I’d spent all my savings, and even borrowed money, on my dad’s health, surgery and eventual funeral. I spent about ₦6.5m on the surgery and another ₦2m for the funeral. 

After he died, I just felt like it was time to get married. Thankfully, our family contributed and my friends loaned me money without pressuring me to return it. I haven’t even returned all of it till now. 

How much does this job pay?

About £2,800 a month after taxes. For the low-cost city where I live, it’s decent. 

How do you spend money in a month?

My wife and I split our expenses. She earns a similar figure, so this is how we break it down:

We split the £100 we spend on transportation. 

What’s next for your career?

There’s a chance I’ll get a promotion to senior manager in 2024. Let’s see how that goes. Or maybe I’ll finally leave the Big Four life and get a different job. Who knows? 

Is there something you want right now but can’t afford?

A house with a mortgage. My wife and I work, so we should be able to afford a deposit in about two years. 

Where would you put your financial happiness on a scale of 1-10?

6. We’re doing okay. We just moved to the UK. We’re still settling in and paying some of our debts, but I think we’re good. 2023 will be a great year. 

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Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.