The #NairaLife of the Morally Complicated Guidance Counsellor

August 15, 2022

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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The 25-year-old on this week’s #NairaLife works as a guidance counsellor at his parents’ school for ₦100k a month. But before that, he did a lot for money, including selling pure water, thrifting clothes and fraud.

What’s your earliest memory of money?

The ₦1k popsi gave me for an excursion in JSS 1. I was about 10 or 11 then. Before that, I only got money on Sundays to put in the offering basket at church. 

Basically, my parents were strict with money. 

Do you know why?

Because we had everything we needed. My life was home—school—church. My parents owned the primary and secondary school I went to, and we lived close to it, so there was no need for them to give me transport fare. Whenever we went for excursions — local or international — I was with my parents, so I got gifts not cash. The school served food every break time, and I could take ₦50 worth of snacks from the tuck shop every day. I had no need for money. 

After the JSS 1 ₦1k, I started getting money during school trips. Some rands in South Africa, cedis in Ghana and dollars in the US. The highest I ever got was $100 in SS 1. In SS 1, I also moved to boarding school because most of my friends were there, and I got the school “cheque book” money. I finished it on snacks every term until I graduated.

Did you get an allowance in university?

I didn’t go to uni until 2017, two years after I finished secondary school.

Why?

The simple truth — my parents didn’t want me to travel abroad for uni so they stalled until I just went to a Nigerian university.

What did you do?

I’m what you’d call a child with a coconut head. I was always getting into trouble in school, and they didn’t want me to go abroad and disgrace them. 

My three older siblings went abroad immediately after secondary school and are still there now, so it was only natural I went. 

First, they made me write Cambridge and TOEFL exams, then they made me get my transcripts, then the waiting started. While I was waiting, they suggested I worked in their school so I wasn’t idle. 

Work as what?

An auditor of some sort. They taught me how to balance accounts, send bills to parents and sell books in the bookshop. 

I started in September 2015 and worked for free until January 2016 when they moved me to the boarding school to be receptionist, balancer of books, assistant hostel master and night prep teacher. That’s when they started paying me ₦10k monthly. My father said it was ₦10k because the school was already housing and feeding me, and I was doing it for the experience. At some point, I became a Primary 6 class teacher teaching every subject. 

Did the money ever increase?

Nah. That’s all the money I made for the two years before university. Well, except for the times I made money from dogs.

Tell me about it

We had two imported pure-bred dogs people want to mate their dogs with. 

I reached out to people to say I wanted to help them mate their dogs for money. My major client was my vet who would tell me the female dog miscarried or the puppies died at birth. This happened so many times that I’m sure he was lying so he wouldn’t have to give me the puppy or share the money he got from selling it. I eventually got two clients by myself whose dogs gave birth, and I got a puppy each. The first one, I sold at ₦15k and gave my dad the money. The second, I sold for ₦25k and kept the money.

I’m pretty sure dogs aren’t that cheap

LMAO. They’re not. Especially since they were quality pups. I was just desperate for money and willing to sell at any price. 

So, university?

Yes, but let’s talk about when I ran away from home first. 

It was two months before I was going to resume at the Nigerian private university, and it hit me again my parents had finessed me out of studying abroad. I was irritated. One night, I went out, and for the first time, I didn’t return home until 4 a.m. I’d never even gone out at night before, talkless of not returning home the same day. 

When I got home, the gateman let me into the compound, but my dad didn’t let me into the house until late in the evening. Me, I was kuku looking for an opportunity to rebel before. I just packed my clothes and went to stay with a friend in UNILAG. 

For how long?

One month. She took care of me throughout. Also, I met a guy who would eventually become my business partner. 

It sha took an uncle to bring me back home. 

What did you study in school?

I got admitted to study biology, but the time I spent as a teacher and school administrator made me realise I actually wanted to be a counsellor, so I could guide people, especially children. I got a change of course form to study guidance and counselling psychology instead. But in my school, you can’t study education alone, so I chose a minor in biology. 

What was uni like?

Omo, I balled. Remember my business partner guy? He sold thrift sportswear to me when I was shopping for school. He told me he was looking to sell to private school students too. So I took a ₦50k loan from my dad and bought sports gear from him at far cheaper than his retail price. I’d also spent ₦30k on clothes for myself before uni. I added all of it and sold them to students in my school. 

If I bought something for ₦2k, I sold it for ₦6k. Every Sunday, I was at the sports centre selling clothes and yoga mats. In hostels, I went from room to room. I sold out so fast. 

I got only guys’ sportswear at first, but I learnt quickly that women are the best customers. Guys would haggle, owe me, and after some time, just say, “My guy, fashi the money.” But women paid. So I got more stuff for women. 

I also sold pure water one semester. 

How?

Pure water in the kiosks near the hostels was ₦200 per bag, but ₦90 per bag at the on-campus mall. I got a keke rider to help me bring bags from the mall to the hostels and sold from room to room at ₦200. At least, they didn’t have to go outside to the kiosk to buy water.

Did you receive an allowance from home?

Yes. During my first year, it was ₦5k monthly. ₦10k during my second year. But I didn’t need the money. I just used it to buy favours. I spent ₦5k – ₦10k a month on drinks for security guards, credit for cleaners and the cafeteria staff, so you can be sure I got favours all the time. For example, I never had to line up for food.

Hmm… 

Another way I balled was by scamming my parents. 

Sir?

A lot of people in my school did it. We found a way to tamper with fees, so I added like ₦300k to it. Till today, my parents don’t know. 

Wait, every year?

Nah. Just in my second and third year.

What did you use all the money for?

Nothing sensible. First of all, my guys and I ate well. Then I checked out of school early after semesters ended to rent guest houses with my guys and host parties with babes. Just stupid stuff like that. New phones too. 

Maybe it’s because everyone was doing it, but I didn’t feel bad about it. 

What happened next?

I carried over a semester. After my final semester in April 2021, I had to take an extra one because I missed a full semester’s exams in my second year.  

How do you miss an entire semester’s exams?

I was sad. Talk of the entire family moving to Canada came up that year. We even did medicals. Eventually, it fell through. But when the subject of my university education came up, my dad said even if they relocated, I wouldn’t move with them. That’s when he came clean that he couldn’t let me go abroad for school. 

Between being sad and angry, I decided not to write exams that semester and got all Fs. When I showed my dad the results and told him it was because I was depressed, his response was, “Kini depression?” He got angrier and promised me there was no chance I was going abroad. 

I just accepted my fate and continued school. 

Mad. What does an extra semester after graduating feel like?

It was embarrasing. I didn’t stay on campus because I didn’t want to have to tell people why I was still around. So I stayed with a friend in a hotel near school for ₦2k a night. She paid ₦1k; I paid ₦1k. Most of my classes were online so I didn’t have to go to campus often.

My fees for that semester was about ₦500k. I paid ₦300k before the semester started. The remaining ₦200k was still with me by June when a cousin convinced me to use it to play sports betting. 

Uh-oh

First, we played the ₦200k and won ₦430k. Then I used ₦150k to play another game. I lost it. So obviously, I had to try again with the remaining money, and I lost everything. 

What did you do?

I left school and went to my uncle’s house to panic and think about my life. Where would I see ₦200k? I stayed there so long, he called my mum to tell her I wasn’t in school. She asked him to kick me out. 

A couple of days before I left his house, a childhood friend reached out to me out of the blue to say hi. In my vulnerable state, I told him everything I was going through, and he invited me to stay with him. 

When I got to his place, he told me how he made his living — fraud. 

This guy

He stayed with his friend who also did fraud, and in that house, they had four boys they were training in fraud. He didn’t live a flashy life. He just used his fraud money to plan out his life. He was even processing japa plans. He had the ₦200k to give me, but he said he wanted me to make it myself. 

Through fraud? 

Yep. So he taught me how to create a clone celebrity account to scam people. 

Verification badge and all?

Nah. The scope was to tell people I was the celebrity, but I didn’t want to chat with my real account because I just wanted to have a lowkey conversation with my real fans. It’s not hard to follow what celebrities are doing on social media. I could easily track where they were, what they were doing, and use it in conversations. 

Plus, I’m a psychologist. I know how to talk to people.  

How long did you do this for? 

One month. I made ₦1.3m from the one person I successfully scammed. She was a woman in her late 50s. I took ₦500k and gave my guy the rest of the money. I didn’t really want it.

How did you feel about it?

Guy, I felt terrible. I couldn’t sleep. I had to keep getting high to escape reality. I paid my school fees, fixed my car and kept the rest. 

Think you’re going to do it again?

Oh no. Never. Never ever. 

What did you do after university?

Since November 2021, I’ve worked at my parents’ school as a guidance counsellor. 

What’s that like?

I’m enjoying it. Sometimes, it’s challenging because I’m working with my former teachers, and we’re at each other’s throats on how to handle the students. They want to be harsh and flog students. I don’t agree. 

How much do you earn?

₦100k per month. 

How do you spend it in a month? 

What debt?

In 2020, I bought my mum’s old car for ₦1.2m with a loan from the microfinance bank the family and school use. The bank removes ₦50k from my salary every month. 

Gotcha. What are your plans for the future?

I’m trying to go abroad for a master’s in either sports psychology, child psychology or guidance and counselling. I’m already saving towards it. I currently have ₦160k.

When do you think you’d have enough money?

My target is next year. I plan to go to a European country where tuition is cheap. With ₦5m, I should be able to sort everything out. That’s flight tickets plus full tuition and accommodation. I’ll take another loan when I finish paying this one and pay back gradually when I start working abroad. 

What’s something you want but can’t afford right now?

Almost everything. All I have money for is feeding and repairing my car. Maybe I’ll do Uber with it when I finish fixing it.  

But I’m thankful for my babe. We’ve been dating for three months and she buys data for me and sends money every single time I’m stranded. 

How would you rate your financial happiness on a scale of 1-10?

If my babe was not in my life, it would be a 3. But she’s here. I have data, I live with my parents, I’m not hungry, so it’s a 9. I’m sure this is a phase and it’ll pass.


Need to send or receive money fast? Let’s help you send and receive money internationally on the go. Use Afriex.



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