My name is Ejike Benjamin Ohaekwe.
I am from Urualla in the Ideato North Local Government Area of Imo State.
I was born there on 3 November 1971 as the second of the nine children - six boys and three girls - of Mr Wilfred and Mrs Monica Ohanekwe. My mother is from Ezinifite in Anambra State.
Our eldest is a female; so, among the boys, I am the first.
I was also raised in Urualla.
I attended Alandu Primary School where I finished Primary Six and stopped schooling.
I began there in 1982, precisely. Yes, that was when I was eleven years old, because before going to primary school then, you had to go the ọta akara school, which you can equate with nursery schooling. It was where parents sent their children to learn this and that and generally play with their peers and get to eat akara before being sent home or collected by their parents or guardians. I was in ọta akara school in 1978 or 1979.
Not only that, in those days, if you stretched your right hand and it did not touch your left ear you were not considered to be of school age. So, that was why I started school at the age of eleven.
I also stopped after Primary Six, around 1989, because my parents were not well-to-do and they had many people to cater for.
My father was a well-known bicycle repairman. He had his shop in the market square in Urualla. He had many customers from here and there. I grew up and saw him doing it. But it was not a vocation that crossed my mind that I would ever do.
My father did not also teach any of the children. But, we saw him doing whatever he did to the bicycles which were brought to his shop. In any case, we were schooling and our attention was focused there.
In fact, as a young boy, I believed that when I grew up, I would be a doctor.
In those days, when I saw someone who was ill, I felt some compassion towards such a person and I always thought about what could be given to make him or her well again.
In fact, I remember on one occasion when one of my mates in primary school was ill and I went into the bush, plucked some leaves and gave him and I said he would be fine if he took it. I still remember that episode till today.
It was indeed settled in my mind that I would be a doctor.
But that was not to be.
As I needed to get on with my life, I came to Lagos in 1991 to learn a trade.
This place where we are now - 11 Samuel Omotara Street, Aguda - was where I learnt how to sell cut-and-sew fabrics or clothing materials under a man called Mike. That is why the shop was called "Micky Fancy."
He, it was, who invited me to Lagos.
I served him for about nine years.
But when I got my "freedom" in 1998/1999 or thereabouts, I decided to go into the business of commercial motorcycle riding or okada, as it is commonly known. The reason that I changed course was that the business of selling fabrics was slow then. Okada was otherwise a thriving business. At some point, I had six motorcycles. While I rode one, I had people delivering returns to me.
However, when the then Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, banned the use of okada on some roads, that affected my business. I sold the motorcycles and moved over to selling parts for commercial tricycles or Keke Marwa. Then again, Gov Fashola banned Keke Marwa from plying some parts of Lagos. I auctioned off those parts and moved into the sale of generator parts.
I joined it with the sale of bicycle parts and since I had some knowledge of the repair of bicycles, I had to get into that fully. So, finally, I started doing the business that I was born into. I started about ten years ago.
I also sell bicycles as many people now find the need to exercise by riding bicycles. Not only that, more and more people are also using bicycles as the Lagos State Government has banned the use of okada on so many roads now. Besides the health benefits, a bicycle will even get you faster to wherever you want to go, instead of spending long hours in a traffic hold-up.
I, however, am not into bicycle rental. It was popular in those days because people had the fear of God then; they would rent and return the bicycles to their owners.
My master had invited me to take this shop as he said he was relocating to another part of town. In fact, he is no longer selling fabrics; he is now a pastor. I am also a gospel minister; that is why you can hear them calling me Pastor.
I have customers from around Lagos but, of course, I will be happy to have more. I can be reached on +2348034257252.
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Taiwo Obe, FNGE
Commonwealth Professional Fellow
Founder/Director, The Journalism Clinic
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