Although, I am a graduate of chemical engineering from the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, I am also an artist – a fact I discovered about myself due to the need to survive. It happened this way. During my final year in school, I sourced for fund for my final year project and design work from generous uncles and aunts. They complied. However, my financial demands surpassed the supply I was able to gather. So, I had to look inward for the green note. First, I started out by typing my course mates’ projects for them since I was about 90% through with mine by then. Soon, other students heard about what I was doing and started patronizing me. The money realized from this was not encouraging considering the amount of time I put into each work. So, I started scouting for something else to do to raise money as I was determined not to ask my parents for any form of assistance except it was absolutely necessary.
I am the younger of a set of twins born to my parents – their first children – with three younger ones after me. I felt dad and mum had spent a lot on me already and it’s now the turn of my younger ones to “enjoy” mum and dad. I would be the last person to stand in their way. In reality, my parents had just enough to go round. No provision for luxuries. Only necessities were affordable. My dad, an engineer with the defunct national carrier, Nigeria Airways is now a trader, dealing in electronics. And if I say dealing, you may think it is one large scale stuff. No ooh. It is just a small shop. A fat person may even have trouble entering it. So you can imagine how much was made from it to cater for a family of seven. And my mum? Well, she is a teacher in a private secondary school with a motto that seems to read “work like an elephant for an ant sized pay”. But, anything is better than nothing, right? Actually, even tea is a luxury at home, allowed only when any big brother, (my twin brother or me) is returning home from school. Reason? So that we will not feel that things are so bad at home after managing ourselves at school. This is what my mother would tell us. We understood. Therefore, at school, we raised the notch of our belt a hole higher and seldom rang home for money except it was……. a necessity. So, I was determined not to ring home and it was in that moment while I was searching for a new means to raise money to fund my project that it suddenly struck me that I could draw. One thing led to another and students started requesting my services, for a fee. All in all, the money I realized was enough to see me through my final year school days. Better still is the realization that art never left me. So, when I became a corps member posted to Ekiti state to serve my fatherland, I decided that one of my first works will be an image of the governor of the state – Governor Kayode Fayemi.
I set out to work. First, I went online to download his picture. Then, after about 9 hours of careful shading with different grades of pencils and painstaking rubbing off of mistakes, I stood back to admire the product of my sweat. It was a masterpiece. I took it to my PPA and was really delirious when one teacher said that the only thing remaining for the image is for it to start talking. Everyone who saw it was pleased and right there and then the teacher I was working with in my PPA promised to link me with the governor so I can present it to him. Fast forward to today – this special day.
It was the day I was to meet with the governor of the state to present my work to him. I woke up early, called my teacher, just to remind her of our appointment by 11:00 that morning. She told me she remembered and would even call me when she was ready. I trusted her and set out to my daily routine. I had my bath, brushed my teeth and had my breakfast, relaxed a little before setting out to my PPA, Ansar Ud Deen Comprehensive High School, Ado Ekiti. I stayed there for some minutes before returning home to prepare for my appointment. The call came. 29 minutes later than the scheduled time. We agreed on where to meet and I went there. She arrived a few minutes later and together, we proceeded to the governor’s office in her car. When we arrived, we asked to see the Chief of Staff but were told he was not around. My teacher tried his number, but it was switched off. Maybe he was in a meeting. Anyway, we had come too far to just go back like that. The Chief of Staff was supposed to present the gift to the governor on our behalf. In his absence, we met his secretary and dropped the gift with her, with a note as she requested. On my way out, I ran into a fellow corps member who works there in the governor’s office. We exchanged pleasantries and I was on my way home. En route my house, my teacher offered to take me to an eatery along the way. I accepted. We had a good time in there, we ate, discussed, relaxed and just cooled off. When we were done, we left. Just before we entered the car to continue our journey back home, she gave me “change” for bike home. I gladly accepted the N1,000 and carefully pocketed it, with a heart full of thanks. Considering that this was around the end of the month when the account of most corps members are in code red, I am sure you will understand why I carefully pocketed the “change”, as she called it. Mind you, she gave me this “change” for “bike home” even though she was to drop me at a junction, a walking distance from my house. So, the largesse followed me home, intact.
I got home that day elated. For one, I had successfully delivered a gift to the governor (with a very great potential for a feedback from “my oga at the top”), two, my lunch was taken care of at a critical period for most corps members and to crown it all, my “allowee” was upgraded by N1,000. All these in one day? Wow! If this is not a special day, then I wonder which is.