2 August 2019

Hafiz Adewuyi

Lagos-based Toyota Corrola salon car goes into retirement

Recently, I read a blog post that I wrote in 2013. For me, apart from being a nostalgic and entertaining read, it made me remember the days when my writing was not all serious and targeted. I used to write just because I got a creative impulse and I thought it'd be interesting to put that to use. I was writing for myself and in a sense, the writing was an end in and of itself.

Along the line though, perhaps triggered by the success of some people around me in commercializing blogs, my attention gradually shifted to stuff like page visits and page rank. I became particularly interested in the potential reach of my writings, more than my enjoyment of writing as a hobby. Ever since then, most article ideas that flow through my head get discarded because "this doesn't help anyone else" or "no one is going to be interested in this".

With that mindset, my writing became less and less frequent, because of the sheer stress involved in the filtering process. Most times, by the time I'm done thinking about how to present an idea in the way most beneficial to the supposedly reading public, I've already lost the zeal to write it.

This evening, while I was doing a few dishes, my eyes picked up the sheen of my car under the dim compound lighting through the kitchen window. Seeing the car shine gave me joy in that I can lay total claim to such a beautiful object. I think the reason that I actually took notice was that it had actually been a while since I'd seen the car shine that way. Yes, until this past weekend, the car had not gotten a wash for at least, one month 😳😳😳.

In the few seconds that followed that moment, a few thoughts followed. How happy I was when I first lay my eyes on that car 3 years ago. I also considered how little use the thing now gets used since I moved within 4 miles of my workplace in June. And of course, at that moment, the idea for this article was born. And to my surprise, my helpful article filter allowed it to pass. Surely, the filtration process has relaxed since I read that 2013 article.

I'm excited about this development because it just might mean that I'll be able to achieve better consistency in my writing. I don't know if I've ever said it publicly but I feel a burning desire to blog consistently. To make it clear, this desire does not exist to fulfil an end which consistently blogging is bound to lead me to. No. Blogging, which in the style that I do, generally means documenting my own experiences in a way that is freely and widely accessible to other people is in itself, an end for me.

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My Green Toyota Corolla in a fine Lekki house
My car went into retirement in the last week of June 2019. This coincides with my relocating to a house which is 4 kilometres closer to my workplace than my previous place. The location of the new house means that I can get a Keke directly from the front of my house to the front of my workplace for 200 Naira (55 cents). On realizing this, I think it would have been silly for me on many levels to still keep driving my car to work on the regular.

Level 1: Transportation cost

My Toyota Corolla car is fuel economical. Hence, between my old place and my workplace, I used to spend between 500 and 600 Naira on petrol per day, which when you add the benefit of comfort of privacy you get in a car versus a Keke, it can't really be said to be expensive. That is until you remember that every day, yours sincerely had to shell out 360 Naira every day to pass through the Lekki Admiralty toll plaza. That takes my former daily transportation costs up to 900 Naira; more than twice what it now costs me for my daily work commute.

Level 2: Car maintenance

Beyond the running costings for using a car being more on a day-to-day basis, there's also the fact that the more use a car gets, the more frequently it has to be maintained. These days, I drive my car only on Saturdays and Sundays, mostly within my neighbourhood. In numbers, this means that my car now gets 71% more rest than it used to in the days when I drove it to work every day. Now, if that's not retirement, please tell me what is.

In terms of cost, using my car less than one-third the time that I used to means that instead of servicing it three or four times a year, I can now do that just once or if I'm being generous (or paranoid) twice a year. Similarly, the unexpected faults that tend to rear their heads every once in a while, leading to unanticipated spending are less likely to occur due to reduce wear and tear on the car.

Finally, if I was driving to work every day from my current house, I would be driving the car through some not-so-level roads. Every single day! That would take away a few more points from my well-maintained car scorecard.

Level 3: Commuting time

Beyond being a car spoiler, the poor state of the roads in the Lekki-VI alternative route (they're actually not that bad but I hate to drive on anything other than a paved road) between home and work means that a car can't be driven any much faster than a Keke can. The roads are quite bumpy, right from around Newmarket (Akiogun) road in Lekki until you get to Ligali Ayorinde street in VI.

Of course, the commuting time takes a leap at rush hour times. Again, at such times, I'd rather not be stuck in my car wasting away in traffic that I could breeze through using a Keke or Okada. When I used to drive to work every day, I regularly had to wait at the office till at least, 8 PM for rush-hour traffic to ease out enough to be tolerable for me.

However, since I started taking Keke to work with my car parked at home, I've been regularly leaving my work for home between 5 and 6 pm. In the worst traffic situations on my route, Kekes still manage to get through much faster than any car can. Also, if it's a total standstill, I'm free to walk or bike my way out of such before joining a Keke that has gone past the traffic.

Having said all that, I hereby wish my car a happy retirement.

PS

I think this article is lame. But what's wrong with being lame? Whenever I'm hesitant to do something because I might be seen as lame, I like to encourage myself by reminding myself that lameness is actually a positive trait in that it gives other people a reason to laugh. Hence, in as much as I manage to take the mockery light-heartedly, my lameness actually has a net positive effect in the world, so long as it does not involve directly causing damage to someone or something.
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24 June 2019

Hafiz Adewuyi

I took a GBoat from Lekki to Victoria Island last Monday. Here's how it went

Shameless admission: I stole the format for the title of this article from the first review of GBoat (at least according to Google). I'm trying to be the second review and also, I hope to have my article appear on the first page when anyone in Nigeria searches for GBoat.

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Gossy's giveaway tweet for GBoat Nigeria

After stumbling on a tweet from Gossy that was offering giving a free GBoat ride and drinks on Friday, I decided to be an early adopter by booking a Lekki to Victoria Island (V.I.) trip for the next Monday's work commute. What's the worst that could happen? It costs only 200 Naira. I don't know if I've ever looked forward to Monday morning like I did throughout the ensuing weekend. I shared my excitement via my Whatsapp statuses and before Monday, 4 of my contacts requested that they'd love to know how it goes. So here I am fulfilling that wish for all of them and hopefully, many other people.

My first GBoat booking. 7:00 on a Monday morning

I got to the jetty at 6:55 on Monday, barely five minutes before departure, even though the ticket e-mail had said to be at departure point 15 minutes ahead. I had to take an okada from Ikate roundabout bus-stop in Lekki all the way to the junction of Wole Olateju crescent and Admiralty way after waiting to no avail for a bus that would drop me at Lekki Phase 1 gate for about 5 minutes.

6:49 on Admiralty way; Luka couldn't go fast enough

I paid off the Okada guy (Luka - I know his name because I paid him via bank transfer) and hurried towards Marcopolo restaurant which is right in front of the jetty. Since it was that early, I had to explain to the gateman that I had a ride for 7 a.m. that morning before he allowed me to make my way around to the back. "By this time?", he'd said after I explained to him. Obviously, he was not aware of the arrangement. On getting to the jetty, there was no boat in sight. Also, the only humans in sight were some 'staffs' of Kingfisher restaurant who were fast asleep under the waterfront shed.

Kingfisher restaurant, Lekki

My thinking was that the booking website contained the wrong departure location. I thought that might be the case because in the pulse.ng article, the departure point was Pavilion Jetty, Lekki. So I consulted the ticket email that I got from "Lagos boats" after my booking to see if this might be the case. To my relief, the departure point on the ticket was also Kingfisher, Lekki. This surely was not my mistake.

I waited around for at most, 2 minutes before accepting that alas, I had to follow the boring route to work that morning. As I walked back towards the Marcopolo exit, I couldn't help but stew in anger. Just as I walked through the Marcopolo gate though, I heard my phone ring. It was Gossy, the founder of "Lagos boats". On the call, he confirmed my availability for the trip. I told him I was at the jetty already, after which he let me know the boat would be there shortly.

Back at the jetty, at 7:12, I saw a boat pull into the jetty. As soon as the driver was within earshot, I confirmed from him that it was a GBoat. So, las las, rush-hour traffic is not my portion this morning. He took about 4 minutes to dock the boat at the jetty, right after which he beckoned me to come through. The jetty gate was locked though, so I couldn't go through. Village people

GBoat boat approaching the Kingfisher Lekki Jetty

As soon as I told the GBoat driver about the locked gate, he had a conversation with the gateman guy who had let him in, of which that one just clear him, telling him the person with the jetty keys was not on duty 😱. Next, the driver made a call, after which he told me that feedback was on the way from the person on the other end of the line.

The GBoat driver making a call on my behalf for the gate to be unlocked
Not 5 minutes after that, Gossy arrived. Likely, he's the one the driver had been talking with over the phone. After we exchanged pleasantries, he told me that the person with the key was on the way. By now, it was at least, 7:30 and I feared I'd not make it to my office on time that morning. However, he allayed my fears by sharing the detail that the ride takes between 5 and 8 minutes. While waiting for the key-guy, we talked about different topics like:

  • my price sensitivity and how I might not be able to keep up if the GBoat fare increases
  • how the waterways in Lagos have a mixture of fresh and salt water and how these can be distinguished by the wave pattern on the surface (flat vs. rough)
  • the cost of importing a boat from Dubai and the boat he's building
After waiting for another 8 minutes, Gossy decided that we'd go through the gate. Cool!!! 😄. He led the way, and I followed as soon as he was over the gate. I mounted the boat right after him too and within a minute, off we went. Departure was at 7:42. I know because Gossy asked me to check the time so I'd know how long the trip takes.

What to say now about the ride? It went fast, really faster, faster than I wanted. I also enjoyed the fact that I had enough personal space to myself since it was just me, Gossy and the boat driver on board. During the ride, I busied myself with taking pictures and videos and in hindsight, I think that took away some enjoyment of the experience for me. We arrived at Paradise Jetty in V.I. at 7:50 (8-minutes after departure from Lekki).

I and Gossy; happy about takeoff I guess




The GBoat arrives at the Paradise Jetty, Victoria Island

Something beautiful about how the rays bounce off of these buildings, opposite the Paradise Jetty

The entrance of Paradise Jetty, Victoria Island

The walk from Paradise Jetty to Kofo Abayomi junction where I got a Keke Napep to drop me at work is a short one

Right now, it's 2:38 a.m. on Monday and my next GBoat ride is less than 5 hours away (7:35). Except there's something particularly striking, I'll keep my phone and its accompanying camera in my pocket and just enjoy the ride through my eyes and skin. My body tends to protest and pay deaf ears to alarm clocks when I get less than 5 hours of sleep though. Hopefully, that does not happen today because I don't want to miss my GBoat ride 🙏. That sure won't be a good way to start a week.
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16 June 2019

Hafiz Adewuyi

If you hate bank charges in Nigeria, you should know what I do about the Carbon wallet

If you, like me, hate Nigerian bank charges and you regularly pay/make more than two bills/transfers every month, you should definitely read this to the end. It will save you a few dimes every month and above that (if you're anything like me), give you the petty sense of gratification that you've been able to beat the establishment.

First things first, if you don't know about the Carbon wallet, here you go:

Carbon is the product formerly known as Paylater. It was rebranded recently (April 2019).
Asidedon't you just love the colour purple?

Now that you know what the Carbon wallet is, I'll just go right ahead to let you in on the important deets only. My Carbon wallet has become indispensable for my monthly bills - which are usually paid right after I receive that most exciting SMS message for employees the world over. For me, there's simply no better alternative today for my bill payments. Having said that, my only goal for writing this article is to show you how I arrived at that conclusion.

The table below compares the charges I pay when I use my Nigerian bank's mobile or internet banking app versus when I use the Carbon wallet for my monthly bill payments.

Bill name Bill amount Bank surcharge Carbon wallet surcharge
Mum's DSTV bill 4,000 Naira 100 Naira 0 Naira (free)
Lekki Concession company (LCC) toll gate 10,000 Naira 100 Naira 50 Naira
Interbank transfer of monthly allowance to Ms Foo 16,000 Naira 52.5 Naira 10 Naira
Interbank transfer of monthly allowance to Mr Bar 10,000 Naira 52.5 Naira 10 Naira
Total 305 Naira 70 Naira

Apart from being more than 300% cheaper than using my bank's USSD, mobile or internet banking applications, my Carbon wallet also helps me save time on these bill payments. The first time that I made each of these payments via the Carbon app, I had the option to flag each one as a recurring bill. A recurring bill on the Carbon app is automatically replayed on a certain day every month (for me, this is two days after payday, to accommodate any delays 😉😉).

Hence, with my Carbon wallet, instead of doing 4 different transactions one after the other (which on top of costing me more money, used to take me at least 20 minutes to complete), all I need to do on payday now is fund my Carbon wallet with the total of my bills (+ 70 Naira for surcharges) from my salary account and then, I can just go right back to the worthwhile business of earning the next month's pay.

Do you know what else is so cheap, it's free? Moving money from my Nigerian bank account to my Carbon wallet! It's hard to believe, but yes, it's true. Whether I'm funding my wallet with my card or directly with my bank account, the amount that reflects in my Carbon wallet is the exact same amount that left my bank account.


Funding my Carbon wallet is free of charge

Stoked? You can find out more about the Carbon wallet on the Carbon FAQs page. Ready to dive in? All you need to get started is to download the app to your Android phone.



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12 May 2019

Hafiz Adewuyi

Bad customer service example in Nigeria: Airpeace or Air Peace 🙄🙄

Foreword

I used to write a lot of bad reviews about Nigerian businesses in my younger years, on this blog. In my younger years, I had no chill on that matter. You're a business, you cross me, you're ending up in a no details spared rant on my blog. In a power-imbalanced situation like the one I'm in now, this is the easiest way I have to respond to getting bullied.

Over the years though, I started to understand that humans make mistakes and this necessarily extends to the businesses that they create. Also, a respected person in my network expressed their disappointment over an article I'd written about a small business which could potentially hurt its patronage. As a result, I decided that writing factually correct but defaming articles about organizations was not worth my time anymore. Besides, it's not like any of my articles had caused any observable change anyway. My life could do without some negativity.

Today though, I'm compelled to do it again. I can't see any reason why not to. This is more gratifying and easier than spending time trying to get redress from Airpeace for this annoyance.


Timeline of events

  1. Booked return flight ticket (search link here) from Lagos to Abuja with Airpeace (5th May)
  2. Got an email saying the flight time has been shifted by over an hour (6th May)
  3. Sent an email to Airpeace customer care to cancel and refund the Lagos to Abuja flight since the new schedule would not work for me. This was after I'd checked Arik and seen that they actually had a flight whose timing worked for me and at a good price too. (7th May)
  4. Booked Arik one-way ticket to replace the cancelled first leg of my Airpeace flight (7th May)
  5. Had Arik Air leave my Lagos to Abuja ticket open (for a future date) as I decided to backdate my flight by one day and none of their flight times for that day worked for me. I would have asked for a refund but I didn't want to trigger another 4-week long refund process. I also didn't know if I would get a full refund since their website is missing an FAQ page (Hyperlink: https://www.arikair.com/arik-air-faqs)(HTTP 404: NOT FOUND). Also, their terms and conditions page is a pop-up on the home page containing human-unreadable information (8th May)
  6. Booked another Lagos to Abuja one-way ticket with Airpeace with new money, even though I had money with them that I would only see again in 4 weeks' time. "This process cannot be reversed", they said when I reached out via email to ask if they cancel delay their 4-week long refund so I could use the money to buy another ticket, with them! (8th May)
  7. Travelled from Lagos to Abuja with Airpeace (10th May)
  8. Couple of hours to the end of the day before returning to Lagos, I decided to select a seat on my return flight (Abuja to Lagos). Only to discover that even though my instruction to Airpeace on 7th May was specific about which flight leg was to be cancelled and refunded (because they had re-scheduled it), they had also cancelled and 'initiated' refund for the return leg of my trip. They cancelled the entire ticket!

    The possibility of such stupidity didn't even cross my mind for once before that moment and I'd legit have gone to the airport the next day expecting to use a nullified ticket if not that I serendipitously got prompted by my Uber driver to select a seat in advance (11th May)
    Yes sir, we do quick refunds. Only that our own quick refund takes four weeks - Airpeace
     
  9. After panicking and successfully suppressing my panic, I sent Airpeace an email asking for a redress for their error as I had to be in Lagos 'tomorrow'. Then picked up my phone to call because 'this is urgent'! Was further infuriated by Airpeace's taking the liberty to play me an advert for one full minute before the IVR menu was presented to me. "Why can't this advert be delayed till the waiting period", I thought to myself. (11th May)
  10. Due to a combination of the delays and the wrongly positioned adverts (which I had to hear three times) and getting dropped off the call right after laying my complaint (and not getting a callback; cos who cares right?), I spent 25 minutes of airtime ($1) to get told that nothing could be done to redress their error and that my only option was to pay to book another ticket.  (11th May)
  11. I first tried to book my Abuja to Lagos flight with Arik using my open ticket from 8th May. The customer care agent I spoke to broke my heart by informing me that the only way I could activate my open ticket was to visit one of their offices. That, because I have to pay an administration fee of 2000, and a fare difference and it could not be done except in-person bet I booked this flight online mah!!?. (11th May)
  12. Left with few alternatives and no time to browse, I bought another Abuja to Lagos ticket from Airpeace at the same price as the original ticket, less than 24 hours to the flight time. A ray of light in the overwhelming darkness of the moment (I expected prices to have skyrocketed as usual). (11th May)
  13. I IMed the godsend Uber driver - that took me to the hotel on arrival - of my departure time. He's a godsend because he's the one who prompted me to select a seat early when he asked of my departure time 'tomorrow'. (11th May)

Why Airpeace shoulda coulda done better

  1. I've spent at least 200,000 Naira flying with Airpeace within the past 9 months (8 flights)

  2. This means something right? Wrong!
  3. A human deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. This includes trying to compensate to a paying customer when your own shortcoming causes them real negative consequences. Even if they're not relevant.

How Arik with a soul would have done better

This one is very simple. We're in a country where fund transfers are so seamless, they can be done mindlessly. Even if this ticket re-open feature is not built into your online ticketing system (understandable), there could be a process where the balance is paid off, either via online transfer or even at the airport, right before departure. But no, this customer is not relevant, so let him come to our office to activate a ticket he paid for online. I'm tired.

How Airpeace with a soul would have done better

  1. A four-week refund process. Seriously? In the age of Nigerian fintech? Poor people can't fly for sure. Right now, I have over 70k of my money in limbo, not to return to me until at least, 4 weeks' time. I can't see this as any other thing but a way to dissuade customers from asking for a refund. Big bad wolf Airpeace!
    Even the customer service number is a pain in the ass - 15 digits!
  2. Realizing that they made an error in over-executing my cancellation request, they would instantly rebook me on the same flight and put any fare differences on the house. Especially as the refund for the cancelled flight was sent via the Pigeon mobile banking app. Seeing as I've spent 200k patronizing them in less than a year, they would put a little faith in me to send them the balance as soon as the refunded amount reaches me.

    But no, the current Airpeace is a business, not a charity. Also, I am not relevant to have this kind of risky consideration made for me. We Nigerians take all we can get and I'll surely run away with 23k and use it to finalize my grand ploy to fly abroad, slipping masterfully out of their grasp.
  3. They would not have me involuntarily pay to hear an advert for a full minute except it's absolutely unavoidable e.g. no customer service agent to serve me at the moment
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15 December 2018

Hafiz Adewuyi

A good short-term investment that I made in 2018: PayVest by Paylater

In 2018, I invested money in at least, 5 short-term instruments. And of all of them, by all matrices that matter to me, PayVest by Paylater which I only discovered a few weeks to the end of the year is the best of them all. Now, let me support my opinion with some details.

Return on investment

I made an investment with a tenor of 6 months at 14.5% per annum. When you remove the policy-mandated withholding tax of 10%, you end up with a net return of 13.05%. Which is still better than 90% of the discount rates I got on treasury bills all year long.

Before 2018, I'd gotten quite comfortable with keeping my money in treasury bills because the rates throughout 2017 were decent - between 16% and 18% for a really long period. However, in 2018, the rates took a dip to between 10 and 13%, which quickly got me looking out for alternative investment opportunities with better return rates and similarly low-risk.

The best return rate from a similar solution to PayVest that I'd found earlier in the year was 10% per annum so you can appreciate why I'm excited about finding PayVest. 4.5% can be a lot depending on how much we're talking about.

Liquidity of funds

My biggest surprise after securing my fixed deposit with PayVest via the Paylater mobile app was that I could actually undo the transaction anytime I wanted without talking to anyone. On top of that, withdrawing prematurely does not come with any of the penalties you would get with similar short-term investment vehicles. I think that was such an impressive design choice because that degree of freedom just makes me want to leave my money in PayVest for even longer.

PayVest withdrawal before maturity screen

You know, the fact that I don't have to overthink before I make an investment, knowing that if I found a better investment opportunity tomorrow, I could easily pull out my money is something that really works for me. It just means that I'll never leave any significant amount of money in my Nigerian savings account again knowing that I could earn 4 times as much returns on my capital if I moved it to PayVest for any of the available tenors.


Payvest investment periods: 3 months, 6 months, 9 months and 1 year

I have just one prayer for the PayVest product team though. Perhaps if I was more knowledgeable in finance, it would be obvious to me how my recommendation is outrightly bad for business. But in my state of ignorance, I would like to recommend that the tenors be modified to allow customers invest their money in increments of one month. One month, two months, three months... up to 12 months.

I can't see why this wouldn't be a win-win for both parties. Repayments for Paylater loans which these investments are used to fund are on a monthly basis anyway. Also, it would be a first of its kind. I don't know of any short-term, low-risk investment vehicle in Nigeria apart from a bank account that gives you interest on a monthly basis. The minimum tenor is usually 90 days. To be able to earn withdrawable interest that is even as low as 8% per annum every month would surely attract more individual investors who can't tie down their money for as long as 90 days.

Ease of investment

I didn't have to add a card to the Paylater app to invest. As soon as I entered the deposit amount that I wanted to invest and confirmed the investment details, an account at One Finance bank was opened in my name - automatically. Next, the app showed me the account number and instructed me to make a transfer/deposit to that account. Once I did a transfer from my Access Bank internet banking, my fixed deposit was automatically booked on PayVest.




It wasn't even 30 seconds after I completed the transfer that I received an app notification + SMS from Paylater, congratulating me for taking one step closer to achieving my financial goals.

You can actually earn some interest before maturity

A few days after my first investment, I noticed that the app shows you the amount of interest you've earned so far. This value grows by a small amount each day. Naturally, I wanted to know whether or not I would get my accumulated interest if I withdrew my investment any day before maturity. Three days after creating the investment, I requested to withdraw it. Much to my disappointment, the money I got in my bank account was just my capital and nothing else.

Three months into the subsequent 6-month investment I booked, I repeated the experiment. This time, to my absolute surprise, I noticed that if I withdrew, I would be credited with the same amount I'd have gotten if I'd originally booked a 3-month investment with the same capital.

22050 is the pro-rated net return over 3 months on 700,000 invested at 14.0% per annum

For me, this was unexpected given the results of my initial experiment. It shows that a lot of thought went into designing the product in a way that favours both the customer and the company. PayVest could easily have implemented such as to pay you zero interest, as long as you didn't wait until your actual maturity date before terminating your investment. However, the design is such that as long as you keep your investment money up to one of the 4 milestones (3, 6, 9 or 12 months), you get the interest due to you, even if your original maturity date milestone has not been reached. 👍👍

A random experiment

Again, out of curiosity, I wanted to know what would happen if I disobeyed a clear rule on the app. The instruction when you are about to make a Payvest investment says to deposit the exact investment amount to the account opened for you in One Finance bank.

PayVest invest exact amount prompt

On this particular day, I was meant to invest 500,000 Naira. I felt like the system should be able to accept multiple transfers to make up the investment amount, as long as they were all done within the same day. Hence, I transferred 250,000 Naira to the stipulated account through my Access Bank internet banking profile.

The transfer failed! But my account was debited and the funds were not reversed instantly. On the PayVest app, there was also no indication that I'd sent any fraction of the money. I got slightly worried because it was someone else's money, but not so worried as to be panicked because I knew for sure that this money was far from being lost; just hung up in limbo for a day or two at worst. I was dealing with two renowned organizations who are also CBN regulated after all.

I placed a call to Paylater customer service to confirm if by any chance they had received the 50% of the investment amount that I sent. Within four minutes of being on the line, they had put any of the fears I had to rest. According to the customer service agent, there is a rule on the automatic One Finance bank investment account which ensures that any deposit to the account which is not exactly the investment amount you specified on PayVest will fail. 

He was sure that although the money had left my account, the money had not left my bank and that the money ideally should already have been reversed. And true to his word, the full amount was refunded to my account a little over 24 hours after I tried to send it. The reason why the funds could not have been reversed instantly is a discussion for another day.
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5 August 2018

Hafiz Adewuyi

Hafiz's Man of the year 2018

I've chosen the man of the year based on how much I've been inspired to become a better version of myself, mainly by observing and interacting with this person. His name is Lukman and he is my colleague at Access Bank. He's been on his annual vacation from work now for two weeks. And for someone that prides himself in not being one to miss people, there's been no working day that has passed in the past two weeks that I've not felt his absence.

I will now go ahead to talk in detail about some of the remarkable ways in which meeting Lukman has helped quicken my steps on the journey of self-growth, even though he's never really advised me.

Lukman gives so freely and says yes every time (well, almost every time)



I had a lot of horrible nicknames back when I was in secondary school. The one we'll be remembering today is "Stingo" (pronounced Stin-Joe). It's derived from the word: "Stingy". Yes, ending any word with the letter 'O' was a mainstream way of deriving nicknames back then. 

Even as I type that name now, I can hear Dolapo Abdul bellowing that name at me. It brings back bitter-sweet memories of that fateful evening in Ijanikin when I was publicly humiliated for refusing to allow a classmate get in-front of me on the queue for dinner - moin-moin and garri.

A classmate, who in my best guess was Dolapo Abdul had arrived at the queue a few minutes later than me. He must have studied the queue for at least, a few seconds before he noticed a familiar face (mine) who could help him shunt the humongous dinner queue. It was a frequent occurrence at the dining hall for food items to get exhausted prematurely and for no alternative arrangements to be made for the people left on the queue. His instinct to shunt the queue was one I could very much relate to.

Dolapo approached me and asked for a spot in front of me on the queue. Without thinking twice - in the manner in which I had become fairly infamous for - I said "No" to Dolapo with a straight face. From experience, he must have known there was little chance of him persuading me to change my mind about letting him into the queue. And so the vengeful kid that he was decided to go for shaming instead. He chanted at the top of his voice: "Stingo, stingo, stingo". And before I could say my name which is not that much of a mouthful, more than a handful of our classmates had joined in this chant.

The chant grew louder and louder and at one point, one of the boys decided to take it a step further. He hit me from behind with his hand, on what part of my body I cannot recall. This was all the encouragement the other kids around needed to teach me a long-overdue lesson. I received slaps and knocks from more directions than I could keep track of. I was massed for saying no. I think I might have cried.

My stinginess was a badge I had worn with honour for quite a while before that massing event. Stinginess was my way of responding to the scarcity of necessities I had to live with at that tender age. I instinctually wanted to have control over the depletion rate of my limited resources and sharing them freely with other people just created a degree of randomness that I either wasn't equipped to or ready to fit into my resource management framework. So, I made a deliberate decision that seemed fair at the time.

I looked to my Danfodio house roommate, Kamji, who never camped (begged for things - mostly food items - from other people) for inspiration. He's one of the earliest personifications of self-sufficiency that I ever encountered in life, if not the first. I decided I was going to be like Kamji, and that from that point on, I would never beg for stuff from any of my classmates ever again.

But no, this was not just about being self-sufficient like Kamji. Not at all. It just happened to be the crutch I would need to have handy when anyone attacks me for always saying no to their camping. After all, if I've never asked you for anything, I don't owe you anything and you can go and hug a transformer if you feel offended when I say no to you. Because I still won't ever need you anyway. My genius resource management masterplan was born.

I've grown several folds in all dimensions since the 15 years ago when I made the decision to be stingy so I could manage my resources effectively. But this well-practised scarcity mindset still has a strong network of roots in my psyche. Till date, it takes little effort for me to come up with a self-satisfying reason for why it's okay for me to say no to someone's request of me. I'm a 15-year request-declining expert, remember? A wariness of being taken advantage of is an ever-present component of my decision-making to this day.

Encountering a man like Lukman has encouraged me to start on a path to recovery from these deep wounds I unwittingly inflicted on my psyche. Almost every Monday morning since I resumed work at Access Bank, Lukman would bring in enough snacks to go round everyone in the office. I've never heard him ask for anything in return. And even though I currently earn significantly more than he does at work, it was a reality I struggled for a while to accept that someone could willingly decide to give this much value away so consistently without ever explicitly asking for it to be returned.

When Lukman is in the office, I always make a small trip to his desk to take a few delightful sips from the bottle of smoothie he brings to work every day. He never as much as flinches when I do this, and I know that I can go for as many sips as I want and he would allow me. I exercise restraint knowing that if I were to be in his shoes, I probably wouldn't allow anyone else a single sip of something I enjoy so much. It's almost as if he doesn't have a sense of possession, something I find it hard to relate to but deeply admire and aspire to.

I've told Lukman quite a number of times that I wish I could be like him. I wonder if he knew I was this serious about it. If I do something especially kind for you that means me parting with some financial value directly or indirectly, there's a good chance that I thought: "If Lukman can, why can't I" before allowing myself go ahead with that action.

Lukman has diverse interests and explores them actively, despite his full-time job

A few weeks after resuming in Access Bank in November 2017, I walked up to Lukman after a high-level meeting that ended at 8pm on a Monday evening. Being the new guy in the office, I was still just getting to know everyone. On reaching him, we exchanged greetings, after which I went ahead to ask him what he does for the bank. His response was pretty vague but being genuinely curious, I probed further. Before the end of our descent down the 16 flights of stairs to the ground floor of the Danmole office building that night, I got to know that he's into graphics, photography, videography, animations and all that jazz and that he's the go-to person for creative design tasks at the division we both work out of.

Over the next couple of weeks, I would come to learn that he's also into farming, writing, script-writing, cuisine, investment, fitness and fine-dining. And those are just the ones I'm aware of. How can one person have all these interests and actively pursue them on a regular basis? Does this dude live in the same world where some people won't stop complaining of boredom and limitations?

When I consider Lukman, I feel quite ashamed of my tendency to let my interests and ideas lie fallow. I see clearly than I ever have that there is still a lot more room to be deliberate about seeing what I can make out of my inclinations and ideas. To give my interests and ideas a better chance at life than I currently do.

Lukman is my non-relenting gym buddy

There's really not much to be said here. Plus I'm also tired of writing. Lukman has been my one and only consistent gym buddy since I returned to Lagos last October. If not for him, I don't think I would be as consistent as I am with my deliberate fitness activities today. Most of the exercises I do in the gym today, I learned them from him. He's like an infinite reservoir of knowledge who helps make working out a little easier for me by researching the exercises beforehand.

When I ask him what his goal is, he tells me he's training to run in the Olympics. Noble, innit? When he says this, I always go ahead to offer him without his asking that I'm only working to earn my invite into the exclusive pepper-dem club of muscle-wielding men. I am, after all, just a simple man.
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12 July 2018

Hafiz Adewuyi

And the man fell splat into the ground

Less than ten minutes into my run this night, close to the roundabout at the Ikoyi end of the Lekki-Ikoyi link bridge, I felt into a square-shaped manhole in the footpath. It's funny to think that as soon as I realized what had happened, my first feeling was embarrassment. A feeling which drove an instinctual reaction to try and pick me out of the hole as quickly as I could. Nobody should see me in this vulnerable state, I don't want any sorries. And indeed, no one stopped, leaving me feeling a few minutes later as I walked back to the car park like I could have used at least one 'sorry' from an empathetic stranger

Just a few seconds after the fall and I was out of the hole; back on my feet and on solid ground. I felt a dull ache in several parts of my body. I was hurt but not very badly hurt, that's the message my body sent to my brain. I couldn't help but think - as I walked away from the hole which had just half-swallowed me - that I was lucky, and that this fall could have been much worse, given the fact that I had no warning for what was coming until my left elbow and right knee hit the ground.

Bruised left lap

Wounded elbow
Falling is a truly humbling experience, sublime almost. For a fleeting moment, it takes away the illusion of control, and of importance that we humans love to cling so tightly to. "Your fate and existence are to a large extent, subject to time and chance", the universe seems to be trying to remind us when an accident like falling befalls us.

I've had three big falls this year and several other non-notable ones. Yes, I remember, because the injuries that came with each big fall all took time to heal. And beyond that, they left their scars.

The first one was totally pointless, to be honest. I was at a house party somewhere in VI. I decided I needed to get something from my car - can't recall what it was. So, I stepped out of the party for a few minutes to get it. And at that moment, I remembered what an honourable member of the Lagos fit-fam I am. Hence, I decided instead of walking to my car which wasn't even that far away from the party house, to jog instead. One two three four, I'm sure I had not taken the tenth forward leap before one of my feet hit a speed-bump, which sent all 6-feet of me crashing down and hard into the tarmac.

Two young men were just a few yards ahead of me, walking towards me. And just like tonight, all I wanted to do was to appear to them like what they just saw was nothing at all. That it was just a casual fall, and that I was not hurt. But the pain in both my knees sent me limping to one side of the road. I took a sit on the sidewalk, nursing the pains with a grimace until my brain got the memo that I was now aware of which parts of my body would need special attention for the next few weeks. On the bright side, this fall gave me my one and only ripped blue jeans.

The second time I fell this year was when I was in Sierra Leone, at the Aberdeen beach, in April. My host, John, had taken me to the beach on a sunny Sunday afternoon - my third day in the coastal Freetown city. I was enjoying the waves wash over my feet and striking different sexy poses for the photo-shoot which John was kind enough to grant me. And then it happened.

The algae covering the rocks on which I stood in the water gave way. And you know how it goes from here. Fresh red blood flowed freely out of several areas in my hindlimbs. John expressed how he felt bad about having taken this here JJC boy out of his drab hotel room in the first place. But I told him, that I couldn't be more grateful that he had gone out of his way to help make my experience in the city better than it would have been without him. And that this was all part of the experience and falling at Aberdeen beach would always be a dear memory for me. Indeed, I meant every word of what I told John from the bottom of my heart.

The face of a fallen man

Now I want to do something about the open manholes on that path. Just a few weeks ago, there used to be a car tyre in the hole I fell into this night. This was a hole I knew very well and this fact makes me feel rather silly that I still fell into it. My spidey senses should have at least tingled knowing that I was nearing this treacherous spot which has been on my path dozens of time before tonight.

Perhaps, if the tyre was still in the hole, the fall would not have been as serious as it was. I'll explore my options for trying to see to it that my fate does not befall anyone else using that same footpath anytime soon.

See you at the next fall.
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25 June 2018

Hafiz Adewuyi

One week without a car in Lagos

Is like a year without rain - channelling "A year without rain - Selena Gomez"

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My car has been at the panel beater's workshop for the past 6 days. It's due to be back with me on Tuesday (two days to go). That said, I thought I'd talk about my experience in the past week where I've been forced to go through life in a state that's comparable to missing a limb.

Uber splurge

As soon as I got home from the panel beater's workshop on Monday evening, I transferred 15000 Naira from my annual car maintenance budget to my current account. Narration: "Uber allowance". Without that, my lean-cut monthly budget could not have survived the blow from me taking an Uber to-and-fro work every day for a week.

Fortunately, Uber has been giving me 50% discount on up to 5-rides per week for the past two months (or longer). And this week was no exception. I had already used one of the 5 discounts on the journey back home from the workshop on Monday. The remain 4-trip discount definitely was not going to get me very far, what with two rides a day for a 5-day week (if you don't know maths like my friend, Ifeanyi, that's 2 *5 = 10). So I decided to address this limitation.

Before midweek, I had gotten my sister and a colleague (Lanre) to apply the same LAG-GOAL 50% discount to their own Uber accounts. It turns out I got to benefit from their each of their discounts only once though. The logistics of synchronizing information when someone else requests an Uber on your behalf can be quite tedious. Yes, I can be quite a pain in the ass but I also have my limits.

On the Uber experience itself, I'd rate it positively. Both my house and workplace areas are Uber hot-zones, so in most cases, my Uber arrived within 5 and 10 short minutes of me requesting the trip, despite my take-off times being really early and late respectively. Also, most of my drivers got a 5-star rating from me. The only annoyance was that for a few rides, the route I was charged for was literally impossible (except cars now swim through water); some bug with the GPS-tracking system on the app I guess. And I think this bug made my fare higher than it would have been otherwise, even though not inordinately so.


Ubering through the five-cowries creek

RIP fitness

For at least four weeks preceding this just past one, I've been going to the gym at least twice a week. Also, I'm trying to improve on my running endurance, so I've upped the frequency of my runs by at least, 100% in the past three weeks. But last week, my streak on all of that good stride was lost as it is simply harder to do all of this stuff without the mobile wardrobe and changing room that a car is.

My car will be back in two days and I trust that I can pick things up from right where I left them two weeks ago without much fuss; so help me God.

Ridesharing idea remembered

And because of the pain of having to spend more on transportation than I usually do, one ridesharing software idea that first popped into my mind in 2016 made its way back. I think I just might make good on it this time; come up with an MVP or something. If I don't end up getting crippled by overthinking, that is.
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24 June 2018

Hafiz Adewuyi

When you're not allowed to spend your e-money



This morning, after my 5km+ run, I decided to stop by the Tastee Fried Chicken (TFC) outlet within a walking distance of my house to get some nice chops. After all that hard work, I felt well-deserving of some self-pampering. All sweaty and pumped up, I stepped into the restaurant and within five minutes of being there, I had made my order and it was time to pay (2000 Naira; I thought it noteworthy that my order added up to a round figure).

I brought out my Access Bank Verve card and handed it to the lady who had treated my order. She inserted it into the POS, normal savings/current drama ensued, and then she asked me to enter my PIN. Cut to the chase, the transaction failed. And then it failed again. And then again. From the error on the POS screen, I knew it was likely to be a problem from the bank's system.

The sales attendant and her supervisor were quick to ask me to go get cash from the closest ATM. The TFC branch is in an Oando filling station which also has an Ecobank ATM lobby within its premises. I tried to explain to them that the problem was with the bank, so it was unlikely that I'd be able to get cash from the ATM with that same card. Maybe I didn't try hard enough to explain (I tried though), but they didn't understand why I thought it was going to be futile to try to withdraw cash with a card which wasn't working on the POS.

Because I didn't have much to lose and didn't really have a lot in alternatives, I decided to try the card at the ATM anyways. An "Issuer or Switch Inoperative" error message confirmed my intuition on the problem's root cause. I use my card to pay for over 80% of things I buy and I can't remember the last time it failed me. As a result, I've grown so confident in e-transactions that you'd be lucky to find me with cash of more than 1000 Naira at a time.

I felt hopeless, considering that the fastest way for me to get cash now was from my bag which was all the way at home. But because I believe in finding hidden options through enquiry, I decided to get back into TFC and ask if I could transfer the payment to an account. "We don't do transfer here", the bored-looking lady attendant responded, shattering my fragile heart into 1000 pieces.

I decided this wasn't worth the fight any longer. Perhaps, the powers that be wanted me to fast this morning or just eat Golden-Morn. However, as I stepped out of the TFC, I remembered there was another thing called "Cardless withdrawal". Yay!

But just as I was starting to celebrate my newly-found solution, my last experience trying to use Quickteller cardless withdrawal on an EcoBank ATM started to restore into my conscious mind. The machine did not support Quickteller! I forged ahead, praying that things would be different for these here Ecobank machines. Alas, they weren't. What a shame!

I started on my way home and just as I stepped into my estate gate, I decided I was going to do the trouble of walking back to TFC; this time, cash-in-hand. I had fantasized so much about munching on that crunchy chicken that it was like torture to not actually get to do it. I brisk-walked the rest of the street between the gate and my house, then rushed in and out after picking an exact 2000 Naira out of the mint 5000 Naira I had collected from the Suntrust ATM (always dispenses mint) around my office on Saturday (yesterday).

Not caring to lock the door to my apartment, I rushed back out and jogged through the distance between my house and TFC. The jogging was to pacify my ego for my absolute lack of respect for myself; crawling back on my knees to TFC after all the trouble that their lack of flexibility/innovation had put me through on this random Sunday morning. After all, if I could cut the time I spent sucking up to TFC in two, that meant we could get over it more quickly and forget all about it while orally dissecting the crunchy chicken that started it all.

As I walked back to my apartment one more time (with food in hand of course), I pondered on how much money TFC might be throwing away on a daily basis due to their extremely limited payment options (cash or POS). Just yesterday, for the first time ever, I had used mVisa QR app to pay for my brunch at The Place restaurant, VI (there was a 500 Naira discount on my meal). It was so freaking seamless and I was so impressed that I see myself actively using it henceforth.

For the rest of the journey back home, some thoughts that I found coursing through my mind are:

  • Why hasn't mVisa even gotten to these razz TFC guys?
  • Couldn't that bored-looking lady attendant have been more inventive at her job just to please a customer? Perhaps, have me transfer the payment to her personal account (I was ready to give a small tip, in addition to bearing a 72.5 Naira transfer cost).
  • Then I remembered Seth Godin (in his book, Linchpin) talking about how organizations increasingly need people who can do more than just do their job
  • Then I started to think about how I myself could be that kind of employee to my own employer, Access Bank whose failing system put me in all of this mess in the first place
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GIVE ME SOME ACCOLADES by commenting. It would mean a lot to me to read your thoughts and feelings from reading this.
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22 April 2018

Hafiz Adewuyi

Fidelity *770# Cardless withdrawal powered by Quickteller Paycode to my rescue at MM Intl. Airport Lagos

Two Fridays ago, I got to truly appreciate the fact that Nigeria (Lagos to be specific) is at a stage where there's is a proliferation of fintech solutions. In the past, I've been of the bias that why does one need so many methods/alternatives to perform the same basic banking transactions like funds transfers, bill payments, buying airtime, cash withdrawals and depositing cash. And more so why every other day, a new service or start-up pops up on my radar, claiming to offer these same services in a better way. At this point, I humbly dump all of that bias in the trash, thanks to my experience that fateful morning.

I was in the MM Lagos international airport departures lobby. My flight to Freetown Sierra Leone was going to take off in a little over two hours. After I had checked in and received my boarding pass, I needed to pay for my instant yellow fever vaccination card. Apart from that, I also needed to buy some dollars to be recovered as Leones at my final destination, since I didn't have any internationally viable (MasterCard/Visa) ATM card on me.

At this point, I remembered that all the cash I had on me was exactly 250 Naira only. No worries, I thought, before proceeding to the only ATM on the departures floor of the airport (First Bank). I swear, this thing was slow as fuck. It took like 5 minutes for one to get a single bundle of cash out of the machine. "I still have time anyway", I thought to myself, not in the least bit flustered by the situation at hand.

After what might have been 30 minutes, it was finally my turn to use the machine. At long last, I thought to myself, ignorant of what goodies mama fate had in stock for me. I put my card into the machine and after 30 seconds of absolute stillness, I thought I heard that very familiar sound that the machine is having issues reading your card. I quickly shrugged off the thought. After all, I had used the Verve card at a supermarket POS terminal successfully just last night.

Alas, it so turned out that two minutes after card insertion, my fears were proved valid. The ATM spat out my cardless with a very user-friendly message of "No Card App found" (if my memory serves me correctly). Ugh! Much to the chagrin of the queue of 6 persons which had now formed behind me, I remained in front of the laggardly machine for another consecutive turn. "No, machine. I'm not gonna give up on you that easily, not today", I thought to myself to justify my borderline selfish decision to take two turns at once. One more time, the machine rejected my card, probably with the same message (of which I can't be sure now since, at this point, I had started to worry).

Free stock photo from https://www.pexels.com/photo/adventure-beach-lost-man-6804/
To avoid getting mobbed, I decided to step aside for the guy behind me to use the machine, deciding to have another go when he was done. As soon I was aside from the ATM, I remembered the Cardless Withdrawal feature on Fidelity Bank *770# which has rescued me several times (click through to see the meaning of this oft misappropriated word. You might be shocked like I was a few months ago).

On the same spot, I swiftly logged on to my Fidelity Bank mobile app to do a self-transfer from my savings to my current account which is my default USSD account with the bank. Once done, I proceed to generate a cash withdrawal code of 20000 Naira by dialling the Fidelity USSD short-code for that feature: *770*8*20000#

Within a minute, and of course, before the guy behind me had even completed his transaction, I had received my Paycode, both on the Fidelity USSD display and also as an SMS message. Man, was I excited? For some reason, knowing intimately how these systems can be sometimes, I was afraid that I might not be able to generate a code due to a temporary glitch. Of which that one would probably have been what we colloquially call "ONE CHANCE" or "O-Y-O" around here.

Once the guy was done with the ATM, I proceeded to try and redeem my Paycode from the same First Bank ATM. Alas, this time, the problem was that the Quickteller Paycode button on the machine was not working. mschew. Thankfully, I'd overheard someone saying there were a lot more ATMs in the arrivals lobby, just one floor below the departures hall. Before going there, I confirmed this from one of the cleaners working in the hall.

Arriving at the arrivals terminal, I was borderline angry with myself for having wasted over half an hour on the sluggish First Bank ATM queue. At the very least, there were ATMs from UBA, EcoBank, Zenith Bank, GTBank in this hall. And none of them seemed to be particularly busy. Hurray!

I walked straight to the GTBank machine (because GTBank; actually no because it was totally vacant; actually yes, as it was neither the only free machine nor even the closest to my entry point. But honestly, you have to give it to GTBank's ATM application design and features).

And yes friend, in a fleeting minute, this here young man's hour-long challenge with withdrawing cash at the airport lobby was completely out of the way. I spent about 10 seconds after my card-free ATM cash hit my hand, waiting for the machine to produce my card. Until I realized my silliness, much to the acknowledgement of a bystander who told me politely when our eyes met that he had wondered, "is this one mad"?

So yes fintech and banks, let the proliferation of systems doing more or less the same thing continue in earnest. Everyone else might mess up and just right then, your system might save a life. Thank you!
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