A bus ‘Ticketer’ Shocked the World

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I grew up with my mom and my grandma. My father was not always around. He was always out of the country. He was away seeking greener pastures in order to provide for the needs of the family. For the years that he was away, he’d send things to us to keep the family going and so we all grew up with the feeling that our dad was abroad. We were put in private schools and so everything looked good. However, after my J.S. 3, just before resuming into SS 1, my father had issues in the country that he was and had to return home. That meant no more money since he had no job to be doing here.

Due to the circumstances, my parents changed my school from a private school to a public school. My first day at school, I cried. I was used to being in class with few students – maybe twelve or fifteen – and then suddenly, I was in a crowd called class. I remember carrying my locker to school and crying that I never wanted this life.

In the first and second terms of my SS1 I was in the commercial class. I had an uncle who was working at the German embassy in Lagos. He encouraged my parents to take me back to my previous private school and that he’d pay my school fees till I finished. At the time, he was a young man with not too many responsibilities. He got me textbooks and all. It was when I returned to the private school that I joined the Sciences and that was third term.

As expected, in the school, they had gone a long way into the syllabus for SS1, that meant that I had a whole lot of catching up to do. All the rudimentary parts of chemistry and physics, I had to teach myself. In fact at some point, people thought I wouldn’t cope but, surprisingly, I did. By my SS2, I began to notice my uncle’s grumbles. Whenever I asked him for money for maybe school fees or books, he’d say “Ahn-anh! So ti se tan naa ni?!” and that did not make me very happy.

By WAEC standards, there is a minimal number of students that a school can present for the WAEC exams and because the population of the SS3 students did not meet up with the number, few people were handpicked from SS2 to join the SS3 students and write the exams. Luckily I was part of those picked. As God would have it, I made all my papers except for Chemistry. For me, that was the end of secondary school education. So I actually left Secondary school in SS2. I never did SS3 because there was no money for that.

For me, in that period – I had no one to hassle me or push me around to read but I had a passion to go to school. My father wasn’t in the country and my mother would have gone to the market with my grandma, leaving just me and my siblings in the house. My mother never came to see me in any of the schools I attended – not open days, not PTAs. She didn’t think those things were necessary. She believed all those meetings were all about money. So instead rather than come to school and hear talks about school fees and co, she’d just stay in the market with her mother-in-law, my grandmother. So, all I had were my books and no distractions. In 2007, I wrote the GCE and this time, I passed Chemistry and made my papers completely.

In 2008, I heard about University of Osun and so I applied. One day, while on my way to UNIOSUN, I had an accident at Egbeda. The accident was terrible and I almost died. It was after the accident that we found out that the school fees was far beyond what we could afford.

That was how UNIOSUN became a dead end.

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In 2009, I got admission into BUK in Kano to study Sociology and this time, I was determined to go even though my parents had no money to pay for my school fees and all. My parent didn’t want to disappoint me and so they let me go with the promise to hustle and scrap around to get whatever sum they could find and send it to me. I got on a night bus going to Kano and stood all through because I couldn’t afford to pay to sit down.

When I got to Kano, I stayed with my dad’s friend, a very rich man in Kano. I was going to school and taking lectures but I hadn’t paid my school fees and definitely hadn’t done the necessary registration. I needed N30,000 to sort myself out. I couldn’t explain things to my dad’s friend about how bad things had got at home and so when it dawned on me that nothing was forth coming, I didn’t even bother to wait for the semester exams. I came back home.

Before the admission to BUK came through, I was managing his private business for him and so when I told him about the admission, he had kicked against it saying that Kano was too far. I was particularly pained that my uncle did not support me and pay the N30,000 because I was sure that he could easily cough it out but he didn’t. His defence: he said he had been given a 7-day leave and that he had visa to Germany and was trying to raise money for his ticket.

When I came back from Kano, I sat myself down and gave myself a pep-talk; especially in the light of my uncle’s actions. The conclusion of my long thoughts was that I was on my own and that no one would help me if I didn’t help myself. It was with anger that I packed my things and left Ibadan and moved to Lagos.  

When I went back to Lagos this time, in 2009, I stayed with my grandma (my mom’s mother) at Ketu. I began to look for jobs and finally, I got a job at Alade market as a sales girl. My salary was N7000 and I spent N4000 on transportation every month. I worked in that store for over a year. Then someone got in touch with me and asked if I’d love to work as a ticket salesgirl for the Lag Bus. I was sweet talked into how juicy the job was and so I took it.

When I took the job – I took it because I wanted something better for myself. I didn’t feel ashamed that I was going to be selling tickets. I didn’t even care and I never felt ashamed like I was a bus ticketer. You see, even when my father was in the UK and we were forming abroad pikin, my grandma would make us hawk oguso. I also hawked pure water at some point. So, the idea of shame was strange to me.

 The pay as a ticketer wasn’t necessarily better – we were paid N6,000 per month and then we had commissions based on the number of tickets we sold. However, the system was rigged so that you can’t sell much. There were about 18-20 of us selling tickets at one station so how do you want to sell enough tickets to rake in commissions?! But I took it because – free transport anywhere I was going in Lagos. That was what made it better than working as a salesgirls in Alade market.

The BRT job wasn’t easy. Nowadays, you see people who sell tickets stay in a place and then commuters go to meet them. While I worked selling tickets, it was different – we had to hustle commuters and sell tickets to them. You will be shouting “Ikorodu – Yaba – Oshodi!!!” Sometimes sef, your tickets will be missing and the cost will be deducted from your salary.

All through the time I was doing this, I never forgot the fact that I still wanted to go back to school.

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The ticketing company I worked with had slots in Lag Bus (which is the big red bus) and also in the BRT bus (which is the blue bus). Out of the 18 people selling tickets at that Obalende station point, we were only 2 females and we were expected to hustle and compete with the men. Three months into the job as a ticket salesgirl for Lag Bus, the Manager approached me with an offer. He had realized that my numbers in sales were not bad and wanted to move me to the BRT slot of the company.

At First BRT, my pay was N18,000 per month and there was still commission. This space was easy to get commissions because BRT buses have their lanes and the ticket salespeople are few. So, you could actually make commission. When I collected my first salary, I used it to collect LASPOTECH form and I got admission into the school that same year – 2009.

The manager was impressed and created my work timetable to align with school timetable in such a way that they did not clash. I would work Mondays – Fridays and I had weekends to go to school. It was like this: working and schooling – that I sustained myself through school and got my ND in 2012.

I never wanted to go for my HND. For me, I was done with school with my ND. Immediately after my ND, I got a job with Axa-Mansard, it used to be GT Assure, before. I was working as an Archive Officer. I worked there from 2012-2013

In 2012, I met someone on Facebook – an elderly man. He put up a post and I commented underneath the post. The man then slid into my inbox and told me to reach out to another man who likes and always provide support for young people who were intelligent and sound. I did. The man was an engineer. We exchanged numbers and he would call me and we would talk.

Eventually, we decided to meet face-to-face. He took me to his club meeting with him and he introduced me to the club members as his newest friend. We ate and drank and talked. He asked me what I wanted to do next and I told him everything on my mind. When we got into his car, he then told me that he had nothing to give me as per money and told me that the only thing he could give me was the Bible. When I got to where I’d alight, he gave me N10,000. He advised me to get HND form and promised that if I choose to go for my HND, he’d give me N20,000 every month.

About the same time, another Facebook friend of mine who was in the UK came visiting and we met at the Ikeja Mall and we just talked about life and everything. When he returned to the UK, he sent me money and told me to go enroll for my HND. I met another man on Facebook who showed so much interest in my education and he also kept encouraging me to go further for my HND. At the time, I didn’t know that he was the former Rector of LASPOTECH.

By the time I enrolled for my HND, quite a number of people were keenly interested in making sure I saw the process through. All through HND, I never lacked. These people would send me money and buy me things and for me, so I had no excuse to fail – I had money, I had food, I had few luxuries I never had. I felt there was only one thing I could do to pay them back for all the things they were doing to support me and that was to excel. This desire pushed me to go the extra mile and focus on my studies. I shut out the distraction and focused on school.

At last, in 2016, I graduated with a CGPA of 4.0

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For those who have followed the story till now, the story gets a whole lot better. Adenike went on to take a conversion program, did school for a year schooling and wrote exams and finally, in 2018, she got her degree. Currently, she is a lecturer at her alma mata.

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