I think every Nigerian living in Nigeria should be paid a monthly compensation allowance just for living in Nigeria; living in Nigeria is tough. You have to be thick skinned to survive in this country. Whether you are of the elite class, middle class or the lower class. Island living or Mainland living, we all drive on the same roads filled with potholes, causing our tires to swirl and disheveling our bumpers. Constant mechanic appointments. Potholes have eaten a large chunk of our roads, causing many road hazards. Traffic is nothing to write home about. Unfavorable economy. A few months ago, many questioned if Nigeria was close to hell fire because the heat was discombobulating. Rainy season came right on time to exonerate us from the heat misfortune.
Sometimes you can’t help but ponder whether there is hope for the common man in this quest for survival. Seems like we are all running a rat race in this country.
The lack of employment and opportunities has led many Nigerians, most especially youths, to jet out the country in search of greener pastures. Gone are the days when people were dependent on one source of income. Bills keep piling up every day. Car maintenance, home funding including food, electricity, water, rent—if you are not living in your own built house. Then you talk of school fees and hospital bills. Necessary home bills can capsize your pocket. And remember you’ve not complied the list for leisure, which can be deemed essential for balanced living.
I used to be a firm believer of staying in your lane when it comes to career or business. After all, whatever is worth doing is worth doing well. You can’t be here and there.
Growing up, there was a shop adjacent to our house owned by a man called Baba Duudu. Like most shop owners on a street, the shop was in front of his house. He sold food items, so it would be best described as a food store. On a certain day I went to buy something from him. I noticed that in a corner of his store lay clothes and shoes for sale. I was indifferent and went home wondering how one can be selling food stuffs and clothes in the same shop. When I went there the next day, I noticed that he had also stocked household appliances. Irritated, I bought what I wanted and left. When I got home I complained to whoever cared to listen to me that Baba Duudu was Jack of all trades who wouldn’t stay in his lane and mind a particular business.
To me, he wanted to sell everything sellable in the world and make others run out of business. And to my utmost disappointment, he stocked many commodities that were unrelated to food in his shop. Now, having changed my orientation on staying in one’s lane, I realise that I misjudged a man who was trying to expand in his business in many ways possible. I have since erased the stay in your lane mindset. To survive in this present situation, one needs different sources of income, because when you think of the never ending bills and some luxury you intend to enjoy, it doesn’t matter if you have nine to five job, you will source for a way of making extra income.
It’s not surprising that most professionals have side hustles, too. Na dem hustle pass sef. I ran into Kunle some months back, a lecturer in one of the federal universities. After we exchanged pleasantries he gave me his card and told me he was into cleaning services for offices and houses, and also informed me that if I needed eggs he could supply to me. Confused, I asked, “You still lecture?” “Of course,” was his reply, and his lips curved into a smile. I went home that day with the resolve to put my baking skills to good use, and any other side hustle I could lay my hands on.
A barrister friend of mine came to my house the other day with her bag full of wigs and hair products. I didn’t notice the bag, which was filled with make up products for sale. “When did you start this one?” I said, laughing. “My dear you won’t understand” was her candid reply.
Having been gingered enough, I posted some cupcakes samples on my WhatsApp status update, and that had some of my friends asking, “Oh, you bake?” While some made orders, others were indifferent. I won’t blame them, I felt same about Baba Duudu. Having seen a bit progress, I sourced for another means of income and updated pictures of clothes and shoes for sale. I got a comment on my status which made me laugh so hard. My cousin commented “General merchandise.” I hadn’t realised that I was trying to hustle like every other person. Later, I wondered whether it was really general merchandising, or it was a case of rat race, where we all have a common goal: to make extra income for the leisure we yearn for. Or maybe a question of desperate times calling for desperate actions.
Well, I have learned to fold my sleeves and dig in. Whether it’s general merchandising or rat race, whatever your hands find doing, get on with it without blinking. Don’t stay in your lane. Because you have a boutique doesn’t mean you can’t have a poultry. Because you are in academia doesn’t mean you can’t have a skill and earn an extra income or have a business that complements your profession. And for the unemployed youths, I know you might be frustrated, but don’t be. Learn a skill or try some businesses. You might fail in some, but that doesn’t mean you are a failure. You become a failure when you give up. Remember: don’t stay in your lane.