Opinion

33 Leaps Of Faith: Note To My Bosses By Sulaimon Mojeed-Sanni

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33 Leaps Of Faith: Note To My Bosses By Sulaimon Mojeed-Sanni

As a new year beckons, I know I have come a long way, in 33 years, I know within me I am a bit of many people who by virtue of my working with them have impacted in my life either as positive testimonies or counsel of how to do things better. It has never been rosy but I have push through the throng against all odds learning at a very age what it means to work for money but never to get controlled by money. As much as I wish I could celebrate this control over money, I cannot because I have never had it in abundance. 

Many people say money changes people, I pray it doesn’t change me when I have it in abundance. Yet it remains my second daunting fear, the first is the fear of failing. 

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In my 33 years of living, I have realized that the most important thing after protecting my life is to put it at risk again. Many see me as making too many dangerous moves but I see myself as a serial risk taker because I have realized that if I don’t take risks, I cannot progress. Something I learnt early in life from the first set of people I lived and worked for.

Alhaja Rafatu Jokomba-Olisa popularly called Alhaja Mile 12 or Iron Lady, was probably the first person to let me into the world of risk-taking. At around the age of 8 years, I practically followed Alhaja on most of her daredevil business trips to the Southeastern parts of Nigeria particularly Aba and Onitsha markets where we would purchase tailoring materials in large quantities to sell in Lagos. Alhaja’s daredevil attributes are extraordinary, we would travel by a luxury bus in the night with me sitting as an “attachee” between her legs on the floor of the bus to return the following day by night bus again. I remember vividly one incident of robbery on such trips when almost everyone in the bus was disposed of their belongings except us, Alhaja had hidden her bale of Naira notes in her panties! What we lost was just her faded hand bangles and few Naira notes in her purse, one would have expected that we return home after such close shave but we still proceeded to the market. Many thought Alhaja will die on one of such trips but she died peacefully in her sleep two days after returning from one of such trips in 2003.

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Each time we return from our trips, Alhaja will pay me my travelling allowances which I will invest in selling different sizes of nylon at the popular Aswani Market or to sell “ice water” in Mile 12 market (millennial children will not know what ice water looks like, they grew to know pure water). Those are the good old days and holidaying with grandma comes with earning wages!

The first accumulated wages I earned was with Brother Ganiu Morgan (Brother Ode meaning hunter) as a factory worker in his candle factory at the back of our house in Oluwakemi Street, Ireshe, Ikorodu. Here I learnt life is not about how much you earn but how you keep what you earned. After working for weeks cleaning, stacking and hawking candles at night, along with other staff we got paid and in my Pyrrhic victory dance slept off leaving my earnings in my pocket only to wake up to an empty pocket. So I told myself, ”When you earn, save your earnings before celebrating what you have earned.”

The greatest influence on my growing up years was Chief Halilulai Sanni. Chief Sanni was many things woven into one. In the beginning, he was a Tailor, then a cab driver, then manager of a fleet of cars, then rentals, then saw miller, then developer and many others. But of all what Chief Sanni is, I think it is in the Rental Business many of us groomed our tenacity skills and ability to deal with issues on the spot. With Chief Sanni, there is always a Plan B, Plan C and Plan D. No matter how much efforts you have invested in something when it’s not good enough, Chief Sanni will tell us to start all over. Then, we often think he was being wicked but today we know better. We started with transporting the chairs to clients by head, with Chief Sanni leading the pack. Before graduating to using wheelbarrows to move the chairs around and finally getting a truck. In all those years, Chief Sanni was dedicated to the business and was one of the pioneering Rentals to use the now conventional white chairs. Aside tenacity to work, Chief Sanni was a “the boy is good”, always wanting to help people solve their problem when he has many to attend to. We the children learnt well from him and with no regrets.

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One Boss, I will not forget is Baba Bunmi, an elderly bricklayer who worked for Chief Sanni in those days we were growing up. On different occasions, I sneak out to work with him on site as a labourer and earn my good pay. The one I remembered most was working for almost a week to pay for my WAEC. That year, Chief Sanni delayed in paying our school fee and there was a deadline on payment of WAEC so I took the bull by the horns to raised the money myself. Even though Chief Sanni eventually gave me the money, I cannot but be thankful to Baba Bunmi who allowed me to work with him in secrecy without telling Chief. Surprisingly, it was that year Lagos State Government started paying for WAEC fees and students monies were returned. I cannot remember returning Chief Sanni’s money to him… it entered voicemail!

Immediately after Secondary School, I worked with Alhaja Ganiyat Sanni as a sales representative in her makeshift shop on Allison Street opposite United High where we sell boiled potatoes to students in the morning and Brooms, vegetables and lime orange at the evening market. Here, it is earn what you eat. Sometimes I smile at myself when I remember speaking my tattered English to customers who are often themselves fascinated that a “learned fellow” is attending to them particularly when they are not Yoruba speaking customers. What a field day I had using part of the sales money to buy coloured boiled meats (suya) sold in pans by Abokis. Do they still sell such? 

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Then I was also in the stock business before the bubble burst as an intern with Mrs Bola Bamishigbin. It was in Mrs Bamishigbin’s office that my life had a turn around when she realized that despite being smart, I was not brilliant with disastrous mathematical and grammar knowledge. What startled her was my inability to pronounce one million in the figure. She started with getting me Brighter Grammar, Student’s Companion and Common Errors in English. The rest today is history, Mrs Bamishigbin was the no-nonsense Aunt that retooled my baring in Life while working as an intern with her at Lions Building on Ajele Street, Marina, CMS.

From CMS, I was seconded to Barrister Foluke Ayo’s Law Chamber in Maryland as a Litigation Officer with clear instruction that she should not speak Yoruba with me. Most of what I know in law, litigation and news writing was gathered in the years I worked in the Chambers of Barrister Foluke. Partly because she buys newspapers almost every day and gave me a free hand to read lots of books. I had the privilege of know what is happening in the country and started developing an interest in writing Letters to the Editor of Punch Newspaper and on the day my letter first got published, it was Eureka!

On gaining admission to Lagos State University to study political science, I joined  Junior Chambers International because I wanted to be different from my brothers who were all Rotarians. In JCI-LASU, I was appointed as a Public Relations Officer by Mayowa Kuti-Adegbile who was the Local Chapter President that year. Under Mayowa, I experienced what selfless service means. Many times, I will tell Mayowa I cannot handle the position of a PRO and she would say what is in it than to write notes. She was so supportive till we produced a JCI Newsletter, that singular push gave me the impetus to conceptualize doing a newsletter for the Political Science Department when I became the President, the idea metamorphosis into the BlackBox Nigeria (we have today, the story of how the name came to be is for another day).

After leaving LASU, I served in Kwara State before returning to Lagos to joined The News/PM News as a freelance reporter. I had lots of big Bosses like David Odey, Ademola Adegbamigbe, Bamidele Johnson (who for God knows why calls me  Mujahid Asari dokubo), Bayo Onanuga (who hardly notice people like us), Jamiu Isa, Funsho Arogundade amongst others. But amongst the list, I think it is David Odey and Isa Jamiu who had much impact in my career at PM News because they would always find a reason to give me news stories to write or cover. Mr Odey had a saying, ”with the population of Lagos State, a city of 16 million people, you cannot tell me there is no news, go and find.”

I did short stints with Accion Microfinance Bank as Loan Officer and with Bola Ajibode as  Liaison Officer for her Scrap Aluminum business. Though the business had a short lifespan, I learnt a lifelong lesson about emotional intelligence (until then I have never even heard of the word). I also realized in practical terms that our daily waste is a goldmine if considered as recyclables. I had gone to make a delivery of used aluminum cans to a factory in Agbara when the Israeli man in-charge technically rejected the goods saying it’s not clean. When I put a call across to her, she asked the man how clean cans picked from dumpsite can be? thus noting that he might be good at his job but not emotionally intelligent if he was he would have put the stress I went through into consideration before rejecting the products. Well, the factory accept the goods pronto!

In 2014, I journey to Abuja to join Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) under the directorship of Ms Idayat Hassan as Executive Assistant to the Director, a job that will bring me into direct contact of how Non-Governmental Organizations work. In CDD, I fine-tuned my researching skills because you cannot work with Ms Idayat and be complacent. She is just always on the game wanting you to be a better version of yourself. My stint in CDD made me realize the cost of running social works and the influence foreign Organisations do have in the entire architecture called Nigeria.

Following the outcome of the 2015 general election and the emergence of Honourable Babajimi Benson as the Representative for Ikorodu Federal Constituency, I switched to working with him with the hope to contribute my little quote to the development of Ikorodu albeit from behind the scene. In the last four years, I have seen at close quarters what the act of giving means. I have seen the challenges inherent in our democratic architecture, and the reason why democratic governance will remain quite expensive to run. I have seen a man loved by his people and am man hated for doing good things for his people then I wonder what the people actually want. In end, I concluded in the words of Sir Ebenezer Obey, ”there is no way one can satisfy the world.”

What I have tried to do in this long read is a chronology of people I have worked with and earn money while doing so. It isn’t exhaustive but an insight into people who have impacted my life knowingly or unknowingly. I chose this medium to appreciate every opportunity given, even though I might not have been at my best working with these people, the mistakes I made and the corrections given have sharped my current being and for that, I remain ever grateful.

As I mark 33 years, I thank you for being part of my life. And I look forward to featuring in other people’s life for good reasons.

Sulaimon Mojeed-Sanni @OmoMojeed, 2019

1 Comment

  1. OGIDAN

    April 7, 2019 at 12:42 pm

    May the Almighty God continue to be with you and lead you to a greater height with abundant wealth and wisdom.

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