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.
The subject of this week’s #NairaLife story has two things going for her; the drive to turn anything into money, and the lack of shame to hinder her. You’ll like her.
Wait, before we start, are we doing #DollarLife or #NairaLife?
NairaLife. If it’s DollarLife it will end in tears and I am in Nigeria now. I’ve been around for 11 months. I was Abroad to figure out my life, basically.
I went to the U.S. to figure out my life. I was working while doing that. I also had some family there. I actually scammed the companies I worked at into letting me become a team lead, one of my biggest scams to date.
Teach us, please.
I really don’t know, I just went and sold myself and told them they should take a chance and succeed. And I don’t exactly have shame.
Shout out to Speed Darlington.
O por por. What did you do, and how much did it pay?
It’s a non-profit, so I trained new members and onboarded them. Then I went out to the streets to beg for money sometimes. The pay without a commission was about $900 a week and with the commission, it could get up to about $3000 depending on how many days you worked and how much you brought in.
What type of life will $3000 fetch you in New York?
The good life for people that go out, but if I wasn’t at work, I was at home. I hate interacting with people, except on social media. Also, I wasn’t paying rent – just phone bills, transport, coffee and eating out here and there, alone.
Sooooo, you decided to come back. How far na?
Hmm my dear, what was I really doing in America? I decided to come back and start my dad’s factory with him. I have the technical knowledge, so why not do it? Plus I knew it was going to make him so happy.
What does technical knowledge mean in this context?
What’s the first (money) thing that hit when you returned?
Nigerians do not make enough money and the people that work the hardest tend to make the least.
What did this mean for you in numbers?
Take a domestic chef, for instance, most of them earn less than 100k but they have to work from morning till night. And that’s just criminal.
Do you feel a type of guilt about it?
Most times, especially because I grew up privileged.
I’m curious about what this was like. What’s your oldest memory about awareness of money?
I was about 5 or 6 and my dad had a Bluebird and two other sedans. He asked me what car he should buy, I thought it was a random conversation because we used to have those. Then I said a black Jeep.
The next week, he got a black Jeep
When was the first time you earned money?
I’ve always known how to hustle, my dad taught me how to gamble very early. So I started playing with his friends and collecting their money.
Wait wait, let’s take it one at a time. Your dad taught you how to gamble?
Yes but nothing big, just crazy 8 and poker. Checkers came naturally. Anyway, I went to boarding school and provisions and money were considered contraband. My dad wasn’t aware so he used to give me ₦20k for every 6 weeks, and I used to bribe the security to buy stuff like Indomie and sardines. Then I’d sell at a markup and make almost 100% on each. I used to sell sweets, provision and other things.
Thank you for recognising me for what I truly am
What year did you enter boarding school?
I entered at seven, from primary school, but this business started in JS1 so 2001 – I was 10 when I started.
What else did you do for money after that period?
I make hair really well so I got paid for that too.
Wait, can you just list every skill you’ve ever turned to money?
I’ve probably forgotten some.
Once again, we need to take this a little slowly. Tell me about your work in these disciplines.
In Uni, I used to braid hair for a minimum of £100 for black people and the same to weave hair for white people. I used to cook weekly for a few of my friends for £150. Just a few times when I was really broke but I always made money.
Gambling; it’s been over five years. My biggest win, I bet on Barca to win the Champions League in 2009 against guys. £1000. If you know history, you know I won.
I almost got beat up because they got really upset. Fun times.
This was during my A-levels in the UK, by the way.
Now, to the Glucose Guardians.
I have 2 solid Glucose Guardians, but not in the regular transactional sex way. We don’t have sex – not that there is anything wrong with that.
I need to understand the psychology of this type of Glucose Guardian. How do you find them, or how do they find you? What is your retention strategy?
Okay, there’s one legislator who I met when my dad’s friend invited us for a family event. He and my dad became friends and the other one, I’ve known for a long while. He wanted me to marry his son.
I help them do stuff that makes their life easier and listen to them rant and then I give solid insights. They just always want me around and in situations like that, money comes out.
An example is with booking their tickets, if I find them cheaper, they tell me to keep the balance and sometimes it could be almost $2000.
What sort of flex is this, please?
Hahaha, I don’t know, I’m sorry
So basically, it boils down to who you’re hanging out with, where you’re hanging out. Mad with a big O.
Hahaha! Yes, and they’re both very helpful and have been through my academics and my work.
You mean that your Glucose Guardians care about your academic well being and prosperity? My life has been a lie.
The legislator was most concerned when I left school and the other one got me a new MacBook when mine crashed and came to school to check up on me.
Sensational. What does this other one do?
Importer, exporter, cocoa water.
Osi na nwata buru ogaraya. Literally or Koko Master bants?
Literally, he’s been shipping for years and not just to Nigeria, but another country. Then there’s Oil & Gas.
Let’s segue to when you came back to Nigeria about a year ago. What was your first salary?
Let’s just thank the universe for life, okay?
Hahahaha. This is a safe space.
Because I’m working with my dad and my name is on the directors’ list, it’s more of a “take money when I need it” thing, but what I get as salary is 500k a month.
Wollop, besides your ₦500k salary, you can actually just dip into company money and take when you need it?
Yes, but I don’t because I never finish my salary except for months I’m giving to NGOs. The office covers all travels, logistics and accommodation.
So, what do you tend to spend money on when you’re not giving NGOs?
Gadgets, food, my friends and a lot of money fools borrow from me and never pay me back.
What’s the most ridiculous amount of money someone has refused to pay back?
A little over a million, and as of last month, a little over ₦500k so I’ve stopped giving people money –
– I always say that but can’t stop.
Hahaha. Did your salary grow since you came back?
I mean, I get a part more money end of the year from profit sharing, does that count?
Yes, it does. How much did you get last December?
Are we about to talk about the Dettiest December in Naira Life history?
Haha. I didn’t do any single thing but eat and sleep.
This is such an adult thing to do.
I’m just lazy, I’ve always been.
How about we attempt to break down how every dime disappears (or doesn’t) every month. Say, last month.
Let’s do it… Maybe not last month because I spent on NGOs. And that cost over ₦700k.
That is amazing. Well done. Okay, so let’s use an ideal month. What’s going to food, subscriptions, etc?
Subscriptions take about ₦15k monthly. Food takes less than ₦30k because my chef usually sends something to the office for me or I eat mama put which is about ₦500 per plate. I have colleagues who almost always pay for my food
Do you have a fans club or something?
Yes, I’m awesome.
So, we’ve accounted for ₦45k, and we’re still going to ₦500k.
I send my mum ₦100k at least.
My parents weren’t married – I’m a love child. Now, they’re very good friends, married to other people.
Back to tracking, I like shoes, but I don’t buy them often. I invest most of my money. Nails used to cost me about ₦20k monthly, but I haven’t done them in a while.
Let’s break this up. How much would you say you’ve invested in the past year, and where?
A lot. I have close to ₦8m in different investments. Some are very Ponzi-like, god epp us.
Is this from the past year alone?
Yup. Also, I’ve lost money in one stupid investment I didn’t verify properly. Then I invested ₦2 million in my friend’s business. The rest is in random Agro investments. Then the Ponzi-like one, it’s a forex thing and they give you 15% monthly. Also, this specific number is because if it reaches 5 million, the monthly returns drop to 10. This has 419 in it. I can feel it.
Did you do MMM?
I didn’t o. My office people didn’t listen to me and it ended in tears.
Quick segue, but do you even bother to save?
I try, I honestly do but I end up doing Santa Claus. Like, someone tweeted about needed less than ₦50k to complete a payment, and because I’ve interacted with them before, I sent it.
Or silly because it could be a lie.
Savings. How much do you have saved up?
Why you dey try embarrass me now? Right now, my account I don’t use often has ₦802k. My spending account currently has ₦2k. Haha.
What does money even mean to you?
I have a weird relationship with money, I’m not one of the “money makes you happy” people so it’s just something people need to do things. I also acknowledge that could be as a result of my privilege so there’s that.
I feel you. Talking about privilege, when did you first become aware of it?
The summer before I went to high school, my dad literally forced us to go on a trip to Europe to learn French. So when I got to high school, only a few people could relate with my summer story.
Another one was in JSS 3, my dad gave me a brand name LE watch and the people in my class kept mocking me about it being fake and playing with it and it broke.
Then my friend’s sister came to visit her in school with a fashion magazine and guess what watch was in there? My fake watch.
I’m still pained.
Thank you. Not to be that person, but I never really noticed class when I was young. I grew up with an elitist step mum, she used to say “don’t talk to that person, they’re not your class/level” and other variations and I never understood what it meant.
Have you ever talked about this with her as an adult?
First, both my parents are chill AF and very not-Nigerian parents. I can talk about anything with them.
Yes, I have asked her why it was so important to her, and the conversation didn’t really go anywhere. She said she didn’t want me to be too available for people to leech on but people are suffering and she’s not seeing it from their point of view.
I need life to keep you hale and hearty.
With the way my life is set up, probably. But is that what I want? Also, thank you!
What do you want?
I don’t even know to be honest but I want everyone to be happy.
When did you first realise this?
Very early in life, in primary school. But Nigerians like to make you look like a fool for being compassionate and having empathy, the country sucks out the humanity from people
What do you think about when you think about your career?
I know I’ll enter politics eventually. I like the work I’m doing now, I’m learning and networking and building.
What industry do you work in right now?
Agro. I consult for oil and gas firms. Business Development. I consult for new companies in oil and gas.
I’m curious about this politics part.
It’s the only thing I’ve been sure of since I was a child and I’ve learnt to strategically align myself with people that will make this a success. Also, I want to work in places where I can eventually make proper policies.
Basically, you’re tired of the short term fixes that charities give.
Yup! This! It’s a teach people how to fish thing and give them the right tools to fish with. I recently was at a thing where a minister was there, including people from international development banks. They know my name. I’m hoping I’m able to make real change.
I hope you eventually do what you dream of. Let’s come back to the near future. How much do you imagine you’ll be earning in 5 years?
Hopefully nothing too ridiculous, I don’t want to be the only one at the table eating. I’ve never thought about this but with the way my career is progressing, I’ll probably be at around ₦2m monthly from work alone.
Is there something you want right now but can’t afford?
A break, I want a break but with the way my work is set up, I can’t afford it for now or anytime soon.
What’s the last thing you paid for that required serious planning?
Hmm, I can’t remember. I don’t really plan, I just buy what I want.
What’s the last thing you paid for that significantly improved the quality of your life?
Headphones, now I can ignore people without pretending. After someone stole my AirPods, I was forced to interact.
When was the last time you felt really broke?
1st year of undergrad, I was so broke I was drinking tap water and eating a pack of biscuits for over a week because my dad went on a holy trip and was unreachable. I hated it so much that I started braiding hair and cooking to get my money up. This was 2010 and I never want to experience that again.
Amen o. I claim it for you. What’s something you honestly wish you were better at?
Following a set plan. I can write a list for groceries, enter a store and leave with a whole different set of things.
Ahhhh, this one. Do you have an emergency fund, for if shit hits the fan?
Yes, my father.
A flex. Do you even bother about pensions?
I’ve been meaning to sort this out but I just keep procrastinating.
Fair enough. What’s a financial regret you have?
Paying the deposit on my school apartment, my ex-roommate still owes me over $2500. Since 2016.
Away from 2016, and back to 2020, how would you rate your financial happiness on a scale of 1-10?
9 perhaps. No form of my happiness is tied to my finance or lack of it and I think I have enough money to get whatever I want, so I don’t think I’m struggling. If that makes sense.
Have you ever imagined what a completely different life would look like for you?
Almost all the time. I imagine I’ll be matron of a school for less privileged kids and I’ll have to solicit for funds and teach them kindness and all that.
Aha, my salary went from ₦500k to ₦730k. I just got the notification of the raise while we were talking.
Wait, what? You know what? Have a good day, a good life, and keep being the bad gurl that you are.
Hahaha, thank you.
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.