What stirred your interest in Olajumoke the Bread Seller?
The Olajumoke story could be any Lagosian’s story. Lagos has a population of about 21 million people. Only 15-20% of these people are the actual indigenes of Lagos. The remaining majority left their comfort zones to come look for opportunities in Lagos. My mother came to Lagos when she was just like Olajumoke, selling Bread and Bournvita.
Can you tell us about the luxury accommodation you gave her?
It is very important for people not to misinterpret our true intentions. We did not buy Olajumoke an apartment. We have paid for rent for a few years. We are in the process of furnishing it tastefully. Someone might say after furnishing it, what next? What if she cannot renew her rent? Should in three or four years the rent expire and God forbid she has no capacity to renew her rent, are we going to leave her? Of course not, we have an obligation to extend it until she finds her feet. The Olajumoke story is a lifetime project for us at Sujimoto. It is our intention to help her discover her true potential and translate them into success. It is our intention to give educational scholarships to her children. We will also help empower her husband to find employment. But first, we will send him for proper training to enhance his existing skills, because an aluminum fabricator in Osun state may not have the same level of expertise as the one in Lagos. We are not going to let Olajumoke be a celebrity just in the news. She will be an empowered Celebrity. All this promises we shall achieve before the end of 2016.
What can Nigerians do for Olajumoke?
As a nation, it is our dreams that unite us and it is its opportunities that empower us. The patriotic spirit telling us we are our brothers’ keepers, is what makes this nation the greatest in Africa. If a man is in Borno state cannot afford food, that matters to me, even if he is not my biological brother. If a lady in Enugu finds it difficult to pay for her daughter’s school fees. It pains me because her daughter might as well be my sister. If there is a bread hawker from Osun who has no education or accommodation but has hope that the great city of Lagos can give her the opportunity to achieve her dreams, why should I not want to be the first to provide these basic needs for her? I can’t solve all of her problems, but I will do my bit and hope society takes it up from there.
The Thomases and the Pessimists: What’s your opinion?
We need to get rid of the Thomases among us who only see the bad in every situation. In today’s world with all the need for prayer in this nation, there is no room for pessimism. The only way this nation can move forward is to start being optimistic and have faith in the unknown; to have courage in the existing and show appreciation to the few, instead of condemnation. People are more attracted to unrewarding conversations. What did you give her? What did you do for her? Where did you send her? It is important for us as a nation to start appreciating the good done by a few people who care enough to do them. An average Nigerian is a giver, that is why people give so much to churches and other religious organisations. I want to believe that the greatness of this nation derives from its peoples’ ability to be appreciative of the very little things or the kind gestures of the good Samaritans.