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.

Nairalife #268 bio

What’s your earliest memory of money?

I grew up in a small town and thought I’d attend secondary school in the state capital with my friends. But my mum made it clear that we couldn’t afford it. The school fee was ₦65k, and books and uniforms would’ve added to that. I was 12 years old, and it was the first time it clicked that money makes things happen.

Tell me more about the financial situation at home

My parents both worked for the local government — which is the worst government job ever. They’re retired now, and my mum’s monthly pension is just ₦30k, and my dad’s is ₦47k. They spent almost 30 years in service.

But growing up, it wasn’t obvious things were bad until the secondary school incident. Most people in my small town didn’t have money, either. I settled for the run-down school in town, and when I asked for money to buy books — I love to read — my mum would be so confused. Like, why would I even think of using money to buy books when the money could take me to school or feed me for a week? 

I’m also the first-born of three children, so I quickly learned to sacrifice my needs so my siblings could have nice things after I realised things weren’t great. For instance, my mum would buy Fanta, and I’d claim not to like it because of cramps, so she could give my siblings. If I said I wanted Fanta too, I knew she’d have to do mental calculations to see how we could afford to buy one more. 

When was the first time you made money?

2017. I left my small town for the first time to write JAMB in a neighbouring town that was close to the state capital, and I remember being so excited. I was one step closer to the big city. I started thinking about what to do to make money and finally get to this city my friends had gone to. 

So, with my mum’s help, I got a job in a small provisions store close to my house. My mum just wanted me to have something to pass time before uni.

The pay was ₦3k/month. The first time I got paid, I got the money in ₦500 notes, and it felt “bigger” in my hands. I was so excited.

I can relate

I used my salary to buy a book — Castles by Julia Garwood. When my mum asked about the money, I had only ₦500 left. My parents beat the shit out of me. After that, my mum collected my salary directly from my boss.

Well, uni admission didn’t work out, and my parents convinced me to try a polytechnic or college of education. But during Christmas, a friend visited from Abuja. She had a Tecno Android phone and a Facebook account. I didn’t have any of these. 

She also had a job and lived in a rented apartment. I was fascinated by her stories about Abuja. At that point I was like, “What even is my state capital? I’m going to Abuja!”

Did your parents agree?

It took a couple of months and my grandmother to convince them, but they agreed. I told them I could get a job in Abuja and apply to a polytechnic in Nasarawa State. 

In 2018, I landed in Abuja with ₦12k, moving in with my friend who lived on the outskirts of Abuja. My first culture shock was how expensive things were. What do you mean I had to pay ₦200 for a 10-minute bike ride? At home, ₦200 could take me from one town to another.

How did the job and school plan work out?

I focused on making money first. My friend helped me get a waitressing job at a bar. The salary was ₦15k/month. That was big money to me. 

The male customers often tipped me ₦500 or bought me a plate of pepper soup. Of course, that involved flirting with them and rubbing their heads. One of them gave me ₦5k once, and I finally opened a bank account. In my head, I’d blown. 

It was during this time I met the person who changed my view on life.

Who was that?

A free-spirited and loud fellow waitress at the bar. She encouraged me not to limit myself to the men in the bar who could only tip a maximum of ₦5k. Not when men in town could give me ₦50k.

At that point, my dad had retired and was dealing with blood pressure issues. My mum was also calling me frequently to complain about their needs and indirectly ask for money. So, I was more than ready to meet the ₦50k guys. If they liked me and wanted to sleep with me, no problem. As long as they brought money.

I started following this friend to clubs in town. Shortly after, I met a soldier. We started dating, and I quit my job at the bar.

Was he giving you an allowance?

Not exactly. But whenever I visited him, he gave me ₦10k – ₦20k. He also paid for my groceries and toiletries. 

But I met someone else at a club four months after we started dating. The first time we had sex, he gave me ₦50k. He also wanted us to be exclusive because he wasn’t comfortable with me sleeping with other people. I weighed my options and decided soldier man could go. The new guy put me on a ₦50k monthly allowance, and he paid for my first apartment inside town. The rent was ₦105k. He also bought me a mattress and a standing fan.

Then, in 2019, I got a job at a spa.

How did that happen?

I’d become active on Facebook, and that’s how I met this babe who asked me to come be a masseuse at her spa. I hadn’t done it before, but the work schedule was on a one-week-on, one-week-off basis, and I figured I’d still have time to do other things. Plus, she offered ₦70k/month and the option to make more in tips from clients who wanted happy endings.

What do you mean by “Happy endings”?

The clients could request hand jobs or sex after the massage session. This brought me tips between ₦15k – ₦20k per client, and I could have up to eight clients in a day. The highest I ever got from one client was ₦50k.

My madam took a liking to me — maybe because she also came to Abuja to make it on her own. Three months into the job, she asked me to replace the manager, who was stealing and diverting her clients. My salary increased to ₦100k.

Managing client payments was one of my new duties, and it made me realise just how much the spa made. My madam would charge people ₦150k for a one-hour central massage session, and she was paying the people actually doing the work ₦70k/month. I thought it was unfair, but there was nothing I could do.

Interestingly, some of the clients continued to request for me even after I became the manager. My madam sent pictures of the girls available to the clients before their sessions, and they’d sometimes say they wanted me rather than the actual masseuses. I only accepted the requests if the tips were at least ₦50k. I was trying to gather as much money as possible.

Why was that?

My boyfriend had started dating someone else and misbehaving, so I ignored him. Now, I had to renew my rent myself, and I was saving for that.

Then, I met a senator at work. He told me he’d pay my salary so I wouldn’t have to work at the spa anymore. He knew about the happy endings and didn’t want me to do that while we were together. Apparently, people could “get to him” through me if I slept with other people.

The first night we slept together, he gave me $500. That was the first time I held foreign currency in my hand. When I got home that day, I had my bath and told myself I was washing away poverty.


It was a moment of realisation. So, I could earn that kind of money. Around that time, I was planning to leave my neighbourhood because of increased robberies. The senator suggested a place in an upscale part of Abuja, so we wouldn’t just be meeting at hotels. 

I found an ₦800k apartment and told him the landlord requested a two-year payment upfront. This man sent me ₦4m. When I saw the alert, I just started crying and shouting. Like how? I immediately sent ₦700k to my mum and told her someone who wanted to marry me sent the money so she wouldn’t ask too many questions.

The COVID lockdown happened immediately after I moved in, but it was an amazing time for me. The senator’s wife was stuck in the UK, and I spent most of the time with him. He gave me ₦300k monthly and would sometimes send more when he wanted me to cook for him. He liked food, so that happened a lot.

What’s the highest amount of money he gave you?

₦9 million. I visited my parents for Christmas in 2020 and didn’t like the state of the house. So, I told him I wanted to build them a house, and he gave me the money a few months later.

Also, forget that thing he said about me not sleeping with other people. I occasionally had one-night stands with people I met in town or through friends I met at the salon or where I shopped. My friends would tell me about one actor or someone coming to town who needed girls, and those usually brought in $200 or about ₦100k.

The senator was my stable relationship and income source, though. But things fizzled out between us in 2021 when he started dating my friend.

Your friend?

Yeah. We met at a salon and became friends. They both met for the first time at my house. Sometime later, he asked about her and told me he was interested. To be fair, he asked if I didn’t mind, and I honestly didn’t. The girl asked me too, and I was like, “Girl, eat his money”. 

The guy was married with kids. I wasn’t under any impression the relationship would go any further.

I think he felt guilty about “dumping” me, though. He sent me money more frequently towards the end of our relationship and even renewed my rent for two years. We still talk today, and I’m friends with both of them.

Did that affect your income stability?

There was no longer a particular amount guaranteed to come at the end of the month. So, I focused on getting one-off clients. I’d meet guys in clubs, we’d have sex, and they’d pay me. It wasn’t a great model, though. I didn’t discuss money with them before sleeping with them, and there were situations where I’d ride someone like a bicycle for hours and only get ₦50k after. 

Why didn’t you talk about payment, though?

It was an awkward conversation for me. My friends always told me to discuss payment before the deed, but I just expected guys popping bottles in the club to have sense and do the right thing. By this time, my average income was about ₦200k – ₦300k/month.

I worked with this model for about two years, and it often didn’t turn out well. I even had a pregnancy scare in 2022. Technically, I only found out I was pregnant after I had a miscarriage. My period is never regular, and I’d missed it for about three months when I started getting really bad cramps. I was rushed to the hospital, and that’s how I found out. Ironically, I always use condoms. I got pregnant the one time I didn’t use one. It was crazy.

I’m sorry you went through that

Thanks. It’s not even the most unpleasant thing that’s happened to me in this job. One time, I was having sex with a guy, and his friend walked in. Then the guy I was with went, “Well, with the amount I plan to pay you, it makes sense if my friend gets a go, too. It’s the same one night.” 

I was so pissed. I called my cab guy and left without collecting my money. See, having a cab guy is very necessary in this job. Online cabs don’t work all night, and sometimes I just need someone to come get me.

Anyway, my job became easier after a pimp approached me in 2023. He’d seen me hang out at a lounge a couple of times. He offered to hook me up with clients for 30% of whatever I make. It sounded good to me and we tried it for some time to see how it’d work. It worked out great and we still work together.

How does having a pimp make your job better?

He tells me how much I’d get before I even accept a job. So, I don’t have to worry about doing the work and receiving peanuts later. Also, he doesn’t demand for more money. For instance, we can agree he’d take ₦150k for a ₦500k weekend job. If, for whatever reason, I get paid ₦700k instead, he never asks for more. It also helps that I’m very transparent with him, so we just work well together.

Earlier this year, he hooked me up with two Arab guys who wanted to do intense BDSM with a black woman. He was clear they were going to beat me, but I’d get $20k. The money wasn’t bad at all, so I agreed to it and the conditions they set — getting tested for STIs.

I was with them for three days, and it was intense. That thing they did in “Fifty Shades of Grey” isn’t BDSM at all. These guys used real iron handcuffs and beat me ehn. I used a whole week to recover. I’ll never do it again.

Damn. That’s a lot

I’ve not done any major job since that time. Right now, I’m just resting and catching my breath. My pimp still hooks me up with ₦200k one-night jobs once in a while, but it’s nowhere close to the weekly jobs I’m used to.

What was your average weekly income when you were working regularly?

2023 was a good year for me. I had many clients who came into town because of the general elections. Plus, due to my pimp’s actual job, he was in close contact with a lot of them. Sometimes I could get up to ₦2m in a week. The weekend of democracy day, there was a private party and I went home with $1k. 

Do you worry about running out of clients at some point?

I do. It’s why I’m focused on saving for my siblings’ education and my family. I fear becoming old and ugly and suddenly being unable to land clients. Everyone in my family depends on me now, and I subconsciously save almost everything I earn in a month. Before January, I used to save like ₦800k/month.

I have three savings accounts: one has ₦1.7m in it, and it’s for health bills and emergencies. Another has ₦610k for rent savings — it’s not much because I don’t have to worry about rent for another year — and I have ₦9.6m in the third one for savings sake. It’s usually where the money for groceries, food and flexing comes from. A large part of this money came from the January job. It brought me ₦18m after my pimp got his cut, and I used part of it to get some wigs, pay my rent in advance, got phones for my siblings and a generator for my parents. There were other expenses, too. When I was done, I was left with about ₦10m. But it’s the account I spend from, which is why it’s around ₦9m now.

Let’s break down these expenses in a typical month

Nairalife #268 monthly expenses

My feeding expenses are high because my siblings moved in with me in 2022, and they’re teenagers who eat a lot. I’m glad they’re here, though. Every time I look at them, I’m reminded that I’m on the right track. Nothing I’m doing is in vain. They’re so intelligent, and I’m honestly in awe of them. 

They’re still in secondary school, and the plan is to send them to the best universities possible. The schools I’m eyeing cost millions, so I need to get my money up. I’ve also thought about returning to school, but I don’t think it’ll work out. It’d be too awkward sitting with small children. So I’ll let my siblings do it.

You said something about black tax from extended family

Yes. There’s always one cousin asking me for money or one thing I need to pay for in the village. I just came back from a burial in my village in March because, apparently, it was an important person who died, and if we weren’t involved, they’d look down on my family. I had to buy a goat, crates of beer and even cook for people. I spent like ₦150k on that matter. 

Just the other day, I got another call that another person died, and we had to buy another goat and crates of beer. As how?

How would you describe your relationship with money?

I feel like I’m at a point where I can finally breathe. I’m not tense about money anymore, because I have most of my responsibilities covered. Even if I don’t get a client in a month — which isn’t possible — I’ll be fine. I haven’t worked actively since January, and I still get ₦300k/month at the least.

Have you considered getting an additional income source?

The thought of starting a business has crossed my mind. The senator promised to give me money if I ever need to set up anything, but nothing concrete has come to mind yet. 

I’m very comfortable where I am right now. I earn more than most civil servants, and I never get stranded; my pimp makes sure of that. I even reject clients sometimes when the requests get too bizarre.

What are some of the bizarre requests you’ve gotten?

Someone wanted me to eat his shit for ₦10m. Good money but omo, shit? Nah. Another one offered me ₦800k to wear a dildo and peg him, but I wasn’t comfortable with that. Then there are the ones who want to pee on you. People have weird fantasies. Maybe I’d have jumped at these requests in my early days when I was still trying to find my feet. But I’m comfortable enough to reject jobs now.

What’s one misconception about sex work that you’re tired of hearing?

People think sex workers always stand on the road. I’ve never had to do that to find a client. They’re also always shocked that I speak so well. It’s usually the first thing new clients say. Stuff like, “You’re so intelligent”. I don’t get it. Should I be stupid?

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

7. It’ll be a complete 10 when I send my siblings to the universities I want them to go to and comfortably cover all their bills. 

I’m curious. Do you have any financial regrets?

Yes. I opened a charging centre for a cousin in 2023 because his mum — my mum’s younger sister — came to me crying about how he wasn’t doing anything in the village. It cost me about ₦250k to set up the place and buy a generator. 

Two months later, he left the shop unattended to go and drink, and all the phones were stolen. I had to pay about ₦450k to the customers who lost their phones and bail him from jail. I’ll never set up a business for a family member again. I’d rather give them money and keep it moving.

If you’re interested in talking about your Naira Life story, this is a good place to start.

Find all the past Naira Life stories here.



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