A final-year student of the Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State, Cyprian Maduadichie, who recently completed his final examinations, became an Internet sensation after revealing that he took up several menial jobs to sponsor himself through school. He shares his triumphs with TOBI AWORINDE
Can you tell us about yourself?
I was born on September 17, 1995. I am from Ezeagu, Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra State. I am the third of seven children of my parents. I am a final year student of Mass Communication at the Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State. I just finished my final exams.
Why did you choose to study Mass Communication.?
The first career choice I made was becoming a priest. After my primary education, I took the entrance examination for St. Dominic Saviour Seminary, Akpu, passed and was granted admission. I entered JS1 in 2008 and continued with the seminary process and formation till 2014 when I took my West African Senior School Certificate Examination. According to the seminary programme, after secondary school education, one goes for a one-year apostolic service, which I did. But I couldn't make it into the spiritual year, which is another year of studying philosophy following the apostolic year.
What motivated you to go to the seminary?
As a child, I had joined the mass servers, that is, those that help the priest at the altar. From there, I nurtured the interest to go to the seminary. I just wanted to serve God by helping in ministry.
Do you think you can still do that after graduating?
At the time I was in ND1, the interest was still there. But now, I don't think so. Time is no longer on my side to return to the seminary. With my good behaviour and character, I can serve God without being a priest. Being a priest is not a prerequisite for somebody to serve God and minister to people.
You gained popularity online because you posted that you did some menial jobs as a student. What kind of menial jobs did you do?
I did many menial jobs like packing sand in bags and selling it. I also did palm oil processing. I wrote assignments for people in school and I was able to use that to pay my house rent. If I got N5,000, it would go for my house rent; I would give it to the landlord. With that, I was able to complete the rent. I used a hoe to make mud for people and got paid. I also worked at construction sites, carrying blocks and mixing concrete. That was very stressful, but it was for good.
Why was it important for you to take up those jobs?
My father is a farmer who doesn't have a trade. My mother is a civil servant and I'm not the only child she is training. My family basically survives on my mother's little salary, and when I asked my mother for money, she complained and then I would feel bad. So, I just had to do everything within my capability to ensure that I had something in my pocket to support my education.
Has your father always been a farmer?
When I was a child, my father was working with Orpet Nigeria Ltd. I was very young then, so I don't know exactly what happened. I think armed robbers attacked their company and he was the manager. With that, they stole some of the company's money. He lost his job and since then, he hasn't had a proper job.
When did you start doing the menial jobs?
I started doing menial jobs right from when I was in the seminary. During the holidays, I would come home, pick up my shovel and head pan, look for a building site and ask for labouring work. If they accepted me, I would work and collect my money at the end of the day. With time, it became a habit. On weekends, I would look for jobs, do them and use the money to support myself during the week. I started the menial jobs when I was in JS2 or JS3. I worked on weekends and during holidays. For those weeks or months before we start another semester, I would just go to the village to do some menial jobs.
How much were you paid for the jobs?
When I was in JS2 or JS3, being a labourer earned me N1,500 per day. Currently, I'm paid N2,500. For concrete jobs, it depends on how many floors the building has. There are some that pay N700 per bag. If it is German flooring, they pay N500 or N600 per bag, depending on how many bags you are able to mix.
How much was your tuition and other expenses in school?
In the polytechnic, my tuition was N22,000 per year. During my ND programme, I shared rooms. It wasn't a 'self-contained' apartment, but a single room, which I shared with someone. The rent was N50,000 per year, so we paid N25,000 each.
Were you able to save some money?
(Laughs) Save? I was not able to save. There were times when all I had for an entire week was only N100. I would trek from my lodge to school for lectures, and then back. But I had foodstuffs. If I could find garri, I would buy N20 sugar and eat it to sustain myself. That was the normal campus life. It was not easy.
What other sacrifices did you make?
I was not interested in wearing flashy or designer clothes. Some of my friends had them and wore them, but I kept cleaning up the few clothes that I had. The main thing I had on my mind was to make sure I dressed well and looked good.
It must have been difficult to balance your education with the menial jobs you were doing regularly. How did you manage to do it?
I read every day and did my assignments. I took quizzes and exams, and I was doing well. I studied myself and programmed myself to draw a reading timetable. With that, I was able to do well academically.
Do you think your performance would have been better if your education was fully sponsored and you were able to concentrate fully on your studies?
Yes, I think so, because there were textbooks I didn't buy and they had workbooks. But because I didn't have money for them, I would lose marks for those workbooks and assignments. If I had got those textbooks and workbooks, even if it was 30 marks, my scores would have been higher.
Did you struggle in your final year, considering you had to do your project in addition to your classes?
Honestly, I struggled. But I have this friend, Chibuzor Nnadi, who has turned into a brother. From my second semester of HND1 which started in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, we became very close. He started supporting me, buying textbooks for me along with his. Chibuzor, Ekene Okonkwo and I are best friends. Chibuzor is the one who caters for Ekene and me, even up till now. I have taken him as my blood, no longer just a friend.
Did you ever feel embarrassed because of the menial jobs?
If I had felt embarrassed, I would not have posted those pictures on my Facebook page. I am not ashamed of anything that I know I'm benefiting something from. I'm not ashamed of anything that puts food on the table or makes me grow financially.
Did people make fun of you?
Ah! Many people made fun of me. I was called village boy, local boy, and 'one week one clothe.' As someone who does cement work, my palms were callused, so if I shook a person's hand, they would laugh at me, saying, 'Your hand is not soft.' In fact, if I wanted to talk to some girls, they would say, 'This is not my class.' But all the same, we thank God.
What do you think about the notion that Nigerian youths are lazy?
Nigerian youths are not lazy. If you investigate, Nigerian youths, especially here in the East, are struggling to make it. If you go to Onitsha (Anambra) or other cities in Nigeria, including Enugu (Enugu State) and Owerri (Imo State), boys are struggling to make it. Some join construction companies and some are doing these menial jobs. I don't think Nigerian youths are lazy. It's just that most of them were not privileged to go to school, so people see them as people that don't have something to offer society. Most of them want to do things, but the capital to establish what they have in mind is not there. After all, they won't do it with their bare hands. When they don't have the money, they won't steal. Instead of stealing, they will just be on their own and people will think they are lazy. They are not lazy.
Did you ever feel tempted to go into crime to make easy money?
When I was doing my IT, seeing my fellow students driving flashy cars, I felt like asking them to teach me yahoo-yahoo. But I told myself that if I started doing yahoo-yahoo and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission picked me, would I not be in trouble? So, I decided against that. If I make money and don't live a forthright life, it will lead to an early journey to the grave. Imagine someone telling you to bring your mother's or sister's head. I believe it's best that one keep clean hands and be upright and with God's grace, no matter what happens, one will excel in life.
Your parents must be very proud of you. How did they react to the news that you had completed your final exams?
I didn't inform my mother beforehand about what day I would complete my final year exams. So, I called her on that day, but she was in church so she did not answer. Later, she returned my call and I told her that I had completed my exams. She and my younger siblings were very happy. She was saying, 'We will now have a graduate in this family.' I will be the first graduate in my family.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
In the next 10 years, I hope I will be married and will have attained some financial heights in life.