This story is as shared by the author with her permission. This is the final part of the story. If you missed part 1,2 and 3,please click here,here and here to read. We hope you all can draw strength and courage from her story. Stay tuned.
The Next Level –
Hustling continued. Home front fantastic. My children’s academic performance became very excellent, to the amazement of all. I tried my possible best to provide all their needs, and give them a comfortable life. I must confess I sometimes got weighed down, and for countless times, I would break down and cry at the thoughts of all I was passing through. But then, I have always masked it all with good smile, behaving as if everything was ok.
Being a big dreamer that I am, I have always wanted more than sustenance money. I would love my kids to have the best education. In fact, I had dreamt having them study abroad, even when I could hardly foot their bill. That dream, I had always kept alive. But then, I reasoned that it would be very difficult for me to break forth in alaba, because of the competitive nature of the market. And coupled with the fact that I was limited to just retailers from all parts of the country. The ”big boys” were the importers, and I didn’t have enough capital to join the ranks of the ”big boys’:
But then, there was this funny episode that took place someday. I had chartered a Keke to take my kids to an end of the year school party. As we got to the event venue, the keke man stoped, so I could settle the fare.
Like a magic, I discovered my kids had all disappeared – (they were possiblly ashamed of other kids belittling them, as many had come in luxurious cars🙂). At that very moment, I became obsessed with I getting us a small car, at least for easy mobility.
I travelled all by myself to Cotonu, and fell in love with a Honda Element😊that I saw there. The money I had, wasn’t enough, but I deposited it with the seller, and then eventually paid up the balance on a later date. For once, I felt really good. At least, I would now possibly stop jumping buses, and chartering Keke up and down.
Then, I decided to go on a survey visit in Abuja, to see if I could establish a new outlet there. But to do that, I found out it would require a huge capital. Again, I decided to check out lekki, considering that most of my customers from lekki were very successfully.
Eventually, I fell in love with lekki, even though the money to settle there, would be very big challenge. I fell for Lekki, at least it was close a bit closer to alaba, which was a big plus. So I began to search for a shop, and eventually, I got one at New Road opposite E ti-osa inbetween Chevron & Igbo Afo.
All my capital put together would only be enough to pay for the rent. How then would I stock the shop??
As a risk taker, and a woman of faith that I am, I put in everything I had, and secured the shop. Meanwhile, my shop in Alaba was still running, since much of my stocks, were gotten on credit, from people within the market. But this new lekki shop was going to be different, because of the area.
It was going to be oriented towards electricals, unlike the one in alaba, where I majored on just one particular item. How would I fully stock – stuffs like switches, pipes and boxes, Distribution boards, fittings,bulbs, etc to make it a full electrical shop?.
I would approach my line people, folks that sell different items other than wire, to give me some goods on credit. I begged them to give me 3 months grace, before I could commence repayment. And thankfully, they all obliged, and supplied all I had requested for the new shop. May good Lord bless the people of block 13 facing 14 and a few others from other lines
That was how I got myself established in lekki.
With that, came the challenge of having to shuttle to and from Agbara, to Lekki daily. These suburbs were two extremes. At the beginning, it was indeed tough, as I would leave Agbara by 5:am daily, and get to lekki by 9: 30 or 10:am . Then I would leave by 8: pm, and get home sometimes 11:30 or 12 pm.
I would drive my self daily,of course because I needed to carry out marketing and supply, in the new area. I did that for three weeks, shuttling between Lekki and Agbara, and I fell ill as a result.
I would have to move my house closer to lekki, as the area was very promising. I could see a brighter future, even when my shop wasn’t well stocked. At a point, people got to know and regard my shop as “buy today and pick up tomorrow ” shop😄. Of course, it was a norm for me to agree to have anything a customer asked for.
I would always tell them that it’s in my alaba shop, that they could always pick up the next day. And most of them would always excercise patience with me, either out of likeness, or amazement that a woman owns and runs an electrical shop – a male-dominated venture. Sometimes, they would even engage me, to find out what drives me.
While I kept falling ill constantly, I knew my stress level was much, and I needed help asap. I called up a very good friend – who lives in lekki with her family, to see if I could be passing the nights in her house on week days. And thankfully, she agreed. (God bless you and – her husband).
I would sleep in the couple’s house from Monday night to Tuesday night, and go back home on Wednesday night to see my kids, more so since we open by 10am on Thursdays, being time for environmental sanitation exercise. Again I would sleep in their house on Thursday night and Friday night, only to go home on Saturday night.
However, While I was struggling hard to build this Lekki shop, I had taken my Ex to high court, to see if they could get him to take care of his kids, because he had obstinately ignored the family court ruling . If I were to make them force him to pay, I would be spending a lot of money and my time, which I didn’t have.
I believed high court ruling would be stricter with enforcement. Besides, I had filled for divorce. The case kept dragging, the high court that the case was assigned to, was always jammed up with cases .
After I had stayed one month in my friend’s house, the kids vacated from school. Meanwhile, it was only the two last ones that were with me then. My first daughter was in a Fedral gov school in Abuja, and the second in Federal school in Ijanikin. They were both in the dormitory.
I desperately needed to relocate to lekki at this point. But then, I still hadn’t built enough capital, as I was only trading with other people’s money. And I was just two months gone, getting close to repayment time.
We finally went in search of a good apartment, and I fell in love with a 3 bedroom apartment, in my friend’s street.
The rent was not a child’s play. But being someone who loves good things😁, I wanted that house, or no other. We even saw some houses that were 200,000 cheaper, but in my heart, I was already living in that fine one.
I begged the house owner to allow me pay in two installments, and luckily, he agreed to take two cheques from me. I had half of the rent, and needed to borrow half. I then approached my cousin for a loan to rent house, and she gave me. I knew if I settled well in Lekki, that I was going to make it big so, I wasn’t afraid of not being able to pay back, because the area was quite promising.
That was how I moved in to United estates in Sangotedo area of lekki within three months that I opened the shop. Business got better as I was now more relaxed, and had less stress. I started building customer strength again. I employed a few staff, and took it upon myself to do a serious marketing in sites.
I would meet developers at sites, and they would first think I was one of those girls moving up and down to get contract for a business they had no knowledge about. But each time they engaged me, they would always be surprised to see a woman so vast in electrical field.
My kids were now doing great in school. The court case was dragging. Years passed, and the man still wouldn’t assist us. So I eventually got tired, and asked my lawyer to find a way to fast track the case, as I was already tired of going to court every time with no progress.
Somehow, we settled for ADR ( an arrangement where the two parties can reach an agreement and make the court sign it into law). At the ADR, he listed what he wanted:
- He won’t refund over 13 million naira school fees that I had paid so far.
He wouldn’t pay me alimony.
And 3, he didn’t have any property to share with me. But he agreed that he would thenceforth start paying subsequent school fees and upkeep, but with a clause that he would change school for anyone of them whose school fees was high.
Of course he suggested that I continue to have custody of the kids. He had no choice anyway, as none of them would agree to follow him in the first place.
I had the right to either agree to his terms or bargain for something better, or better still reject it, and continue the normal court proceedings. I presented it to my kids and my son asked me to agree to his terms. I remember how he looked into my eyes and promised he would build mightier and bigger houses. I also reasoned that I have passed the worst stage. Two of my kids were already in the university .
I had already moved closer to my office area. Life was much better , got a massive show room in Agungi Busstop . Got more cars and business bus. His contributions at that point wouldn’t make much difference as the worst was over. So I accented to all his terms. But when I sent him the children’s bills, he quickly applied to opt out of the agreement, as the fees were ”way beyond his capability”.
From that point, We ignored him, and continued with our lives.
I truly give God all the glory for his grace upon us. My life has been so full of testimonies that it will take me years to narrate. The point is that I was able to scale through, because I believed in my self. I was determined to work hard, and God stood tall for us all the way. I refused to bow to circumstances that were programmed to pull me down and depress me.
I thought of the best way to appreciate God at my 40th birthday and I said to my self ” Nonso its time to pen down your life as a testimony ”
I truly believe that it pays to have faith. And it pays to work hard. Above all, It pays to believe in yourself, and not give heed to what the world thinks.
I could’ve, out of shame of stigmatization, refused to enter alaba market to do business. The wagging tongues, the disdainful look you get, and the whispering that follows each time you pass by in especially a male-dominated market like Alaba.
Moreso, with my Ex’s smearing my name with lots of fabricated lies. I have never bothered to reply him, as my aim was to make it in life, and give my kids the life of my dream.
And today we are living that dream to the glory of God. Bigger testimonies are in the pipeline this year…..
Story as shared By Nonso N Obijiofor