Taking a look at Nigerian youths and their newly found love with material things which they are willing to get at all cost, one is forced to conclude that Nigeria has a hopeless and terribly terrifying future. Youths are into all sorts of crimes to make quick money. This, in some extreme cases, has led to ritual money making. I don’t know where the so-called ritual moneys are from but I do know that some youths become extremely rich overnight.
To worsen the situation, some parents, after trampling upon cultural values, giving integrity a bad name, and kicking religious teachings aside, become strong supportive pillars to their children’s sickening desire to make money by all means. The most hated and ridiculed person in our society today is one who sees integrity as value. To put it differently, a man of integrity in our overly polluted society is considered the most stupid person whose imbecility has no cure.
Yet, a Keke NAPEP operator, last week in Kano, took all of us by surprise. Apparently, he doesn’t look religious though he is a Muslim. I mean, he doesn’t keep pietistic beard, nor puts on a monkish cap. His clothing does not depict him as a man of God (or youth of God). It is true that we are people carried away by physical appearance even when those who appear to be religious are, at times, snakes under the grass. Not all those who appear Godly are Godly and vice versa. Though it is good to look Godly, yet, one has to be careful.
Auwalu Salisu, a twenty-two year old tricycle rider, winked at N15million that a passenger left inside his NAPEP just because it does not belong to him. Can any Nigerian imagine that!? Many a Nigerian youth will be mad at it. A stream of dishonest thoughts would have overtaken some youths if they were in Auwalu’s shoe. Many would soliloquy: “Yes, I don hit am”, “I am now a big boy”, “My life don better”, “Those girls are in trouble”, “Na now gyration go come start”, “Ọmọ, this one no be small thing o, na God blessing.” They will be pre-occupied with the thought of buying this and that. Of buying iPhone, sport car, expensive watches, shoes and clothes, and other ostentatious items.
But Auwalu remained calm. He was determined to return the money to its owner. He sought his parents’ advice. His parents, though poor and in dire need, urged him to do the right thing. The “right thing” to many Nigerians is not to dull oneself. But the right thing to Auwalu’s parents is that the money should be returned to its rightful owner—a Chadian. This is a rare display of honestly and integrity. It is not integrity by mouth. It is by action. Auwalu should not just be celebrated because he returned the money but because he was determined to return it.
How did it happen? According to him, “I conveyed three passengers in my tricycle…I dropped them and left after they paid me. I stopped to clean my tricyle at Yankaba roundabout when I noticed a sack in my tricycle. Upon touching it, I noticed something soft. I opened and discovered it was money.
“So I proceeded home to show my mom the money.” What does one expect from a woman? Women are generally believed to sickeningly love money. But Auwalu’s mother is different. He continued; “She asked me to take it to my Dad. I went to meet my dad who sells meat around the roundabout. He (my Dad) also called his elder brother to brief him about the development. So they said I should go back to the spot where I dropped the passengers maybe I could trace and find them. We got there and waited for several hours but couldn’t find them. So I suggested we go to radio house to make announcement but he suggested that we wait until owners make announcement of the missing money then we return it through the number made available.”
Get me right, I am not narrating a fiction nor writing a didactic story. A son, his father, mother, and even the uncle (let’s just say the entire family) stand tall in the midst of Nigerian poverty to say NO to ill-gotten money. Recall that Nigerian poverty isn’t just an ordinary one to joke with, it is a mysterious poverty that crushes the poor to death or bury them alive if they refuse to die.
Auwalu continued “Since on Thursday, it was on Saturday they made announcement about the missing money. Already, my mum is an ardent listner of the radio station. So when the announcement was made she recorded it and called me to give me the numbers that could be reached to return the missing money.” What a mother! Do virtuous mothers still exist. May God grant this woman success. Many mothers are out there taking their yahoo sons to ritualists in desperate search for unlost money. What is also amazingly captivating was that there was enough time lapse between the lost-and-found-money and the announcement on the radio (from Thursday to Saturday). Let’s say forty-eight (48) hours. Even Satan could not convince the entire family to unlawfully keep the money.
In a nutshell, Auwalu continued; “I picked one of the numbers. I called five times they didn’t pick. So I thought of trying the second line and that was when the call was picked. When he answered the call, he was sounding harsh but when I told him am a tricyclist, so we exchanged pleasantries and he asked me where am I? So that they could come, collect the money and reward me. So I told him no, that since the announcement was made through a radio station, we should meet at the station… They thanked me and rewarded me with N400,000.”
N400, 000 out of N15, 000, 000? This is approximately 2.7 percent. “This is ‘smallishly’ ridiculous”, I lamented. Why not half of the money or at least ten percent of it. My wife argued; “What if the money does not actually belong to the Chadian? Perhaps he was commissioned with the money to trade on behalf of others.” I agreed with her, that makes sense.
But even if Auwalu was not giving a dime, that is apparently not his problem. He has displayed to the world that even in the midst of mercilessly contrived Nigeria’s poverty, one can be honest. Two weeks ago, I wrote about a young man (also in Kano) who returned some money—paid to his late father’s account—to the government. Some said he was only seeking attention as if they split his mind to read his intention. Now, what would they say about Auwalu (this tricycle rider)?
The point is: there are still good people, no matter what. Many have reached out to Auwalu to celebrate him. He deserves celebration. This is my own way of celebrating him. Good to know also that members of the Kano State House of Assembly promised to contribute some percentage of their salaries to Auwalu. He has also received many mouthwatering gifts from good Samaritans.
Why should we all celebrate Auwalu? No one should mistakenly think he is too young and does not know money yet. Someone younger than Auwalu, a twenty- year-old boy, killed his father in Ogun State few weeks ago for money ritual.
Parents who teach their children honesty, contentment, and moral values are likely to have someone to be proud of like Auwalu. Other parents who abandon their children roaming aimlessly in the society may have themselves reared like sheep to ritual den for money ritual. With Auwalu and his likes, there is hope that all hopes is not lost in Nigeria.