Mathew the rewirer
Mayaparu (Hausa). Apologies for the delay of this new post, I have had a very long day and did not have the energy to go to the cyber café. It was a full and very interesting day; it is a long post today so prepare yourself.
My work day started at 7:00am. Owolabi (Mr Manager at Molaka waters) and I went on a field trip; he took me to Bodija market for to observe how Molaka waters staffs interact with their customers. I interviewed a few customers as part of my consultation work, after which we went to assess the rams my siblings and I will be purchasing for our father for the upcoming Eid Celebrations. For some reason when we got back to the factory at 10am, I was exhausted. I had not sat down for more than 10 mins when I heard the oga shout my name “Kabir!!!, oya o follow the manager and go and sort out the problem. Nepotism means nothing to Alhaji Kareem, he wanted to make sure I worked for my money (ironically, I am not getting paid for the consultation. Food and board is not free I suppose). Mr Manager filled me in on the current situation when I got into the car; a truck from the fleet (four trucks!!!!) had broken down on route to deliver to our customers so we had to pick up a mechanic to meet with them to fix the problem.
We met the mechanic at his office, (under a bridge) the manager told him the problem to which he responded “let me go and get my tools”. We waited for about 2 minutes and the mechanic, who was called Mathew the rewirer, entered the back seat. I looked back and was stunned to see he was only carrying 1 screwdriver, 1 pliers and one long strip of wiring. I was expecting a toolbox full of tools. I didn’t say anything and we were on our way. We met up with the broken truck and watched in amazement as Mathew fixed the truck within 10 mins with his basic tools. (Pic above). On the way back to the factory, we saw of the co another truck had broken down on the highway; the manager stopped the car and went to sort out the situation. We didn’t get back to the factory till 1pm. I was way behind on my work schedule and I getting irritated. I worked for on my scheduled work for approximately two hours when the oga told me to follow my manager to the bank and use the opportunity to open a bank account. This is where my day became really interesting.
Before going to the bank, we had to take a passport photograph; in Ibadan the process was considered short but for me it was too long. When taking a passport photograph involves turning on a generator, the process is too long!!!!!!. After taking the required photo, we made our way to the bank. I wanted to open a current account, the first employee we spoke to said we needed a passport photo, a formal ID, and proof of address. I had all the required paperwork, then he said I needed two people who had current accounts within the bank to vouch for me. I wanted to slap him in the face as I knew this was not possible, with that I said I would open up a savings account which would not require references. He directed me to another officer, when I reached his desk; he shoved an application form in front of me and left. I began to complete the form, at the section which asked for nationality, I automatically began to write “Bri” before I realised where I was, crossed it out and changed it to Nigerian. I called him over and gave him the completed form. As he reviewed the form, a hard faced soldier in full military fatigue entered the office and my attendant asked him if he required any assistance. I was annoyed but kept my patience. They began to have a full blown discussion about the extension of his overdraft limit, etc. I was getting annoyed by the minute, my entourage was due to pick me up from the factory at 5pm and these guys were wasting my time. I wanted to express my displeasure but the likelihood of receiving an ass whooping by a trained killer as a result wouldn’t brighten my day so I kept my mouth shut.
He finished reviewing the application form and required documents, and then he said I needed N2, 500 to open the account. At this point, I just wanted to punch him in his face and leave the bank. Mr Manager and I didn’t have enough on us so I began to argue. In my strongest British accent, I said “but the poster downstairs states that I can open a saving account with just a passport photograph”. “Yes I know” he replied “bet you need a minimum of 750 naira to open the account so that they can take the cost of producing the ATM card out of your account”. We both stood looking at each other for about a minute; I had things to do, so I relented. Mr Manager and I agreed that we should ask Alhaji Kareem to send one of the staff at the factory to the bank with the required funds to the bank. This took approximately 25 minutes and temper rose along with the heat wave which had descended on the city. When the staff member finally arrived, he and Mr Manager exchanged the money inside the bank compound but not the bank itself. The security guard who saw this promptly told them “you better enter oooo…”. His statement was short but the meaning was long. I took it took mean “if you get robbed, don’t expect me to come to your assistance. I don’t get paid enough to get shot for you ye ye boys ooo”. I finally opened my first bank account in Nigeria at 3:30 pm. On the way back to the factory we had to take a detour to collect money from a customer who hadn’t paid for good received.
But my day didn’t end there. My entourage picked me up at 5:15 pm. We had to make a few stops on the way to our final destination. On the way home from watching the Arsenal match at the local bar, we were asked to pull over to the side of the roads by the police. Kabiyesi rolled down the driver side window and this upstanding enforcer of the law shined his torch light into the car. As soon as the light hit my face, I could see his face light up like a predator that had just seen a weakened member of the heard. I made the mistake of saying “hello” and waved. He briskly made his way to my side of the car, and shined his torch directly in my face; he could see that my face was fresher than my compatriots. I suspected he wanted something but Kabiyesi said something which made him laugh, I shook his hand and sent us on our way.
This was just the 5th day of my trip, I wonder what the rest of the journey has in store for me, and I can’t wait to find out. Till tomorrow…………KKB out.
Mathew the rewirer