Working Lives: The Civil Servant Who Hides Her Side Hustle From Her Husband
“My husband must not know that I use the car he got me to carry passengers. But when he does, I hope I do not go back to jumping buses to work. “
What is your name?
My name is Idowu Jumoke and I am from Iseyin in Oyo State.
Tell us about your family.
My husband is a lecturer at the Lagos State University of Technology Ikorodu campus. We are blessed with four girls and two boys. I have two children in the university and the one who just finished senior secondary school is currently enrolled in a catering school while she seeks admission. I ensure that all my children gain extra skills to survive aside from going to school. My other kids are still in their secondary School level.
Tell us about your educational background.
I went to Baptist Primary and Secondary School in Iseyin for my primary and secondary Education. After this, I learned Fashion Designing for three years before gaining admission into Kwara State Polytechnic to study Office Technology and Management which I studied for both my National Diploma and Higher National Diploma.
How did you get into the civil service?
I did my NYSC in Jigawa State. I was posted to Babura Local Government in Jigawa, and during my stay, I met a lot of people from different ethnicities. I met some Yoruba’s who were based in Jigawa and can speak Hausa language fluently. After my service, one of my bosses introduced me to his friend in Lagos. He asked me to send my details to him, which I did. My boss’s friend promised me that I will resume in due time as a secretary in the department of Economy Planning and Budget. When I was called to resume, I had to quickly rush to Ibadan to inform my family. I had never been to Lagos before then, but lucky for me I had a friend who accommodated me. She stays in Gbagada. After some years, I got married and moved to my husband’s house. Now, I no longer work as a secretary but I spent more than 10 years in that position.
Which department do you work in?
I am working with the Ministry of Economy Planning and Budget.
How long have you been in the civil service?
I have been working with Lagos State for 41 years if I am not mistaken. It has been a long way coming, but I thank God for the gift of life, being alive is by his grace alone.
What prompted you to use your car for commercial purposes i.e., driving passengers to their destinations in exchange for money?
A friend in our department introduced me to this business and ever since I started stopping has been an issue because I have fallen in love with this quick and fast money. My husband must not know that I use the car he got me to carry passengers. But when he does, I hope I do not go back to jumping buses to work. The first day I carried passengers, the money they paid me made my day because I was so broke and my mum had been calling me for money. I use part of the money I get from my transport business to buy foodstuffs and when my husband asks where I got the money from, I tell him a lie. I am still planning on telling my husband about my business in the future, but not knowing the kind of man he is, I won’t tell him yet. To tell the truth, transportation is a good business, this is why you see plenty of people investing in it.
Which location(s) do you ply?
Most times I carried passengers from Alausa to Ikorodu and also from Agric to Ikorodu while coming to work in the morning.
How much do you charge for these location(s)?
There is a fixed amount which is N300 per trip
Do you work as a commercial driver daily? What time do you resume?
No, I only pick up passengers during the morning and evening hours.
How many hours do you work as a commercial driver?
I don’t see myself as a commercial driver; I only work during rush hours, in the morning around 6 am and around 4 pm when I close from work.
On average, how much do you earn daily?
I drive a Honda Pilot, which has two seats at the back, three in the middle seat, and one seat beside me in the front. Each person is to pay N300 per trip, the total amount I get per trip amounts to N1,800 and N3,600 a day. I hardly spend on fuel because my husband does that for me.
If tables were turned, would you rather not use your car for commercial purposes?
I won’t use it because I do not want to lose my marriage. My husband would not find it funny when he finds out I am using the jeep he bought for me for commercial purposes. He bought this car for me a few months ago, and the car is still new to him. He does not use the car as often because where he works is not far from where we live.
People argue that civil servants are not paid well, hence, the few who own cars use their cars for commercial purposes to earn more money. What is your take on that?
Yes, we are not paid well. We are not seeing the promise made to us. We have not seen an increment in our salary in years. The cost of living in Nigeria is high, the inflation in the country is very high and the government will not say they are not hearing or seeing this. Something needs to be done about this. When salary comes in, there is nothing to show for it. This is why you see people doing a lot of things to earn money. I still have a tailoring shop in my house where I work sometimes and I still have people working for me when I don’t have the opportunity to do my work. I am doing all these just to put food on our table.
In your opinion, how can the government make civil service more rewarding?
Government should give promotions in due time and create more job opportunities. This will stop having to know someone before you can secure a good job. The government should also increase the salaries of workers and stop making empty promises. The welfare of the people should be the government’s priority.
What are your retirement plans?
When I retire, I am going to invest in pig farming. Although many people have reservations about pork meat, this set of people does not account for 100% of the population. In Nigeria, plenty of people find pork more nutritious than beef. I hope to have a big pig farm so I can start exporting to foreign countries.