The #NairaLife Of A Doctor Juggling Two Shifts For ₦200k/Month

April 13, 2020

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. This is #NairaLife.


Nigeria has over 70,000 registered doctors, this #NairaLife is about one of them.

What is your oldest memory of money?

Primary school – primary one to be specific. I used to get ₦2 for school every morning for doughnuts and some sweets. Something else that comes to mind is getting some money from my mum whenever I sold her recharge cards at wholesale – she used to sell them at retail. I was about 11 or 12. 

What’s the first ‘big’ money you had as a kid?

That will be my allowance in boarding school, around ₦1k or so – end of 2001. First time I got that money, I was thinking of buying a video game with it hahaha. PS One. I didn’t even know how much they cost o. 

Tell me about boarding school. 

I went to a government-run boarding school. What you quickly learn is that money is mandatory for survival and necessary for respect. If you don’t have money, you’ll perch up and down and lose your respect. Everyone will know because when they are buying, you can’t. 

For me, money was nothing big really. I had money to get a Palito in JSS2, an MP4 player in SS2, and a Sony Eriksson phone in SS3. 

What was it like post-secondary school? 

I got more money from my pops. I never really did anything outside academics in my 1st degree. I was comfortable but couldn’t get all I wanted.

What’s something you wanted but couldn’t get?

A place and car of my own. I stayed with my uncle and in hostel in different levels.

Fair enough, what came next?

Graduated with a first-class, then NYSC. I stayed alone for the first time. Also bought a Samsung Galaxy S3 felt like a big boy. During NYSC, I had 3 sources of income:

  1. My pops 
  2. NYSC allowee 
  3. Home lessons I did for secondary school and JAMB students.

How much did you charge for lessons and what year was this?

₦7k monthly for each centre – I taught in 2 places. 2012-2013. 

So, after NYSC?

First, I started Masters and was already halfway then got accepted into medical school. I had to run both programmes simultaneously. Managed to finish Masters while I was in MBBS 3. I used to do some side hustle too, helped compose and print projects for some final year students. 

What year was the toughest year?

2015 was the toughest year. I prayed for my MSc thesis defence dates and MBBS exams not to clash. They were going to take place almost the same time. Why was this important to me? I was studying medicine in Maiduguri and doing an MSc in Ilorin. 

Bruh, how crazy was that route?

First of all, I don’t travel straight. I’ll leave Ilorin and stop for the night in Bauchi, then continue to Maiduguri. Bad roads in Kwara, the ever-scary Lokoja-Abuja road, multiple checkpoints in the Northeast.

It was exhausting, but I think I made the most of the opportunity I had. I finished my Master’s with a PhD grade – you can call that an excellent grade. In all, my dad was really supportive.

Your dad is clearly a force in your life.

Yeah. I actually won’t have been where I am today if he wasn’t there for me then.

That’s why December 2014 was very tough: I was writing my MBBS 2 exams when my dad died. 

Bruh. I’m so sorry man That must have been devastating.

Yeah, it was. That’s why I rarely talk about it, it makes me emotional.

I’m so sorry man. Is it okay if I ask about some aspects of it now, less about him and more about how you had to cope?

Yeah. For starters, I used my inheritance to finish up medical school. My share was ₦2 million in cash – we didn’t have to sell off properties. I also got his car. What made it better is that one of my uncles was rich enough to take care of my two sisters and my little brother. So, I only had to worry about myself. 

In my final year, I started receiving a monthly medical allowance from Bauchi state – ₦26k. This one started coming in January 2018. 

How many years did the inheritance cover for you?

3 years, also my uncle paid for my school fees. I finished medical school in November 2018. 

Congratulations! So the money was just even a backup.

That backup was for my mum and me. She was starting up a business, so I threw some into it. 

Lit. And post-medical school?

I upgraded when I started my House job. My allowance from the state government upgraded to ₦110k, I got ₦165k from House job, then a side hustle paid ₦30k. That’s 305k. When I got my first pay, I gave my mum 80% of that money, almost ₦250k for her business. 

Well done, man. What was the side hustle?

I consulted at a clinic. 

What’s it like these days? 

Now, I earn ₦200k working 2 jobs. No more government allowance. 

Ouch. What type of life will this money fetch in Bauchi per month? 

Not bad, considering the cost of living is relatively okay. Plus, I have a car so transportation isn’t much of a problem. 

Most people in Bauchi generally earn less than ₦80k. Entry-level lecturers and bankers earn ₦90k and above. 

How do you juggle two jobs? 

I work every day from 9 am to 2 pm. Then 4 pm – 9 pm on Monday’s through Friday. I get ₦100k at each job. Most doctors do this until they get something better. Some entrepreneurial doctors even do it to get capital. But no doctor wants to do it forever. This will soon be over because I’m about to start my residency. 

What’s the difference between a residency and a house job?

House job is officially called Housemanship, and it’s the compulsory 1-year internship for doctors immediately after medical school. Residency is our postgraduate. We get paid for both. Depending on the hospital, my residency should pay me from ₦250k to ₦350k.

Let’s break down how your 200k goes every month.

I give my mum ₦15k. I save ₦100k. My sisters are both working as nurses – the younger one is still doing her internship. I pay my little brother’s fees, ₦18k thrice yearly. Then food and other stuff. 

The constant thing is my mum and my savings. 

At this stage in your career, how much do you feel like you should be earning?

₦500k. If I get an NGO job with my qualifications – a BSc, MSc, and a medical degree – I’ll get paid this amount. If I start a residency, then combine this with the poultry business I intend to start, I’ll earn this amount. 

What’s the next 5 years looking like?

I intend to the Medical licence exams for the UK. I don’t have all the details now, but for that entire process, I’m just going to budget 1.5 million.

Besides this 1.5, what’s something you want right now but can’t afford?

Another car. The one I want will cost me about ₦2.5 million, but I’m preparing for my wedding so no –

– Ohhhhh. There are a bunch of things. First, I’m renovating the family house, because we’ll be staying there temporarily. This renovation alone is costing ₦1.5 million. I actually got an architect to redesign before it got renovated. 

Mad mad.

Then, the things inside the box for the bride, that’s costing ₦500k.  

Ehn? 

Kayan Lefe: it’s the boxes that the groom presents to the bride in the north, mostly containing fabrics and clothes. It could be less or more depending on what you can afford sha.

Then my bride will still need some things for the main ceremony – roughly ₦100k. Then I’m spending another ₦200k on myself. The food and other souvenirs will take the rest. If I decided to host a dinner, it would have been more. Postponed it because of coronavirus. 

We postponed everything we thought we couldn’t postpone.

Yeah. 

What’s an expense you incurred recently that significantly improved the quality of your life?

The renovation. It just feels so good. Fixed a water problem too. POP ceilings. Re-tiled a lot of the house. 

What’s your biggest financial regret in recent memory?

Spending too much on restaurants. Lending people money too. I gave one girl ₦50k, and she just japa’d with my money. 

Hahaha. Sorry man. About the restaurant part…

I spend up to ₦30k at restaurants in Bauchi. That’s a lot for me, especially when the average meal is like ₦500. Especially when you think about the fact that we have a cook. 

We? 

Oh, I live with my mum, my two sisters – the older one is divorced, so she lives with my niece, her daughter. There’s also my little brother and a cousin. 

Your sister, it’s a curious thing.  

Oh, she’s 25. When she was in Nursing School, she married this guy. And then suddenly, he wanted her to stop school. She divorced him. So all of us stood with her, and now she’s done and is a practising nurse. 

Good riddance. 

Hahaha. 

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your financial happiness? 

6. To be honest, I know I’m not doing badly. I get more respect these days, but maybe that’s because I’m a doctor. But right now, getting married, starting my residency, and getting my business going will bring me close to 10.

Do you ever imagine what life would look like if things turned out differently? 

To be honest, I think it’d have been worse. I might have had to drop out of school with my siblings. Maybe I’d be running a small business. 

Your dad was a force in life and a force from the afterlife.

Haha, I didn’t even think about it like that. 

Yeah. Sometimes when we talk to people, they give us new perspective to old grief.

True.


Check back every Monday at 9 am (WAT) for a peek into the Naira Life of everyday people.
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Every story in this series can be found here.

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