Working Lives

Working Lives: The Bricklayer Who Wants To Teach Every Nigerian a Skill For Free

Working Lives: The Bricklayer Who Wants To Teach Every Nigerians Skill For Free

“The people need to stop waiting for the government to create jobs and take their lives into their own hands by learning at least one hand skill so they can be useful to themselves and society at large.”

What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Abdulwasiru Atanda and I am from Ido local Government area of Oyo State.

Where did you grow up?

I was born and brought up in Oyo state.

Tell me about your education.

I attended Ijokodo Community Primary School then I proceeded to Ijokodo High School for my secondary education. When my SSCE results came out, I failed woefully but I wasn’t sad because I already knew my result won’t be useful to me since my parents cannot fund my education and I was already in love with bricklaying. All my father wanted was for me to know how to read and write and he was satisfied that I was able to do that.

Tell me about your family.

My father is a hardworking man who wants the best for his children, he tried all his best to make us happy, we are 5 in numbers, 3 girls and 2 boys, I am the 4th child, my father is a transporter plying Apete to Eleyele and my mother is a full housewife, she is from Osun State. None of us children went to university, once we are through with our O-level my father will ensure that we learned a skill.

Are you married?

Yes, I am married and we are blessed with a child, my wife is from Iseyin and she works in a restaurant in Ibadan.

When and why did you come to Lagos?

I came to Lagos in 2017, in search of a job. Getting a job where I stay in Apete, Ibadan was difficult. Sometimes in a month, I will be at home sleeping because there is no work to do. I decided to come to Lagos and stay with my sister who is married at Gberigbe at Ikorodu. I was happy because when I came the area was yet to be fully developed and there were lots of work opportunities. Within a short period, I became popular, people started calling me for work, sometimes I will go to the site and I won’t go back home to reduce expenses on transportation and for me to save money. I stayed with my sister for 3 years before I could rent my apartment at Gberigbe. Then I relocated my wife and kid to Lagos but before then I visited them often in Ibadan.

How did you become a bricklayer?

I started working as a laborer when I was in secondary school because I was from a poor home. I did the manual job on-site like fetching water and carrying blocks to get money for basic school needs like sandals, books, bags, shorts, etc. When I finished schooling, I had to continue with them, from carrying blocks I graduated to mixing sand and that was how I fell in love with the job. My master knows my family story because he was like a family friend, he taught me for 1 year after which I bought my tools and I started working with him as a joint man for me to gain more experience.  

Also Read: Working Lives: The Bricklayer with No Bank Account

Did you go through training before you started working as a bricklayer? How many years did you train?

Nobody can become a bricklayer without training to become one. I learned bricklaying for one year but before then I had spent years working alongside bricklayers as a laborer. This made my training years short because I was very observant while I was working as a laborer.

How much do you earn daily/monthly?

I earn daily and payment often depends on your negotiating skills. Some clients will be happy if you spend all day working for them for free. At times I negotiate for N5,000 and more but I do not work for anything less than N4,000.

Do you have savings and how much do you save?

I save my money in the bank. I sometimes save up to N5,000 in a week after deducting my expenses.

How many hours do you work in a day and how many days of the week?

I work from 9am to 5pm on a normal day and at times I close by 4pm because if the site is far and there is no place to spend the night. Some clients come with jobs with a close deadline and we have to do a marathon on their work, in this case, the working hour is not fixed because we have to get the job done as fast as we can.

Where do you live and how much do you pay for rent?

I stay at Gberigbe in Ikorodu. I pay a monthly rent of N2500.

How long have you been working as a bricklayer and for how much longer do you see yourself in it?

This is my eleventh year as a bricklayer. I started working as a bricklayer in Ibadan before moving to Lagos in 2017. I do not have any plan to stop working as a bricklayer. When I am old and cannot do site work again, I will start training people to be bricklayers.

Do you enjoy working as a bricklayer?

Yes, I enjoy my profession. It puts food on my table, clothes my children, and put a roof over our heads. I thank God every day for making me wise enough to choose this path and I also thank the person who taught me. I am quite popular among my colleagues because everybody knows I do my job with due diligence. If I were not a bricklayer, I would have been nobody.

How much do you spend in a day?

I budget N1,000 for my daily expenses and at times I spend less. I have to be frugal in spending on myself because I have a family to cater for.

Also Read: Working Lives: The Kogi Man Who Chose Bricklaying Over Becoming a Medical Doctor

Would you want to further your education?

No, I do not have any desire to further my education

What are your future plans?

I plan to run an advocacy program to create awareness about hand skills. If I have enough money, I would open an institution where people can come and learn skills such as tailoring, barbing, bricklaying, etc for free. The people need to stop waiting for the government to create jobs and take their lives into their own hands by learning at least one hand skill so they can be useful to themselves and society at large. I am not saying University is bad, my children will also attend the university but they will also have a sustaining hand skill they can fall back on later in life. If I have to walk from one door to another to spread this awareness, I will. My life would be a case study.

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