I grew up in a place of pain and hate. I was birthed in blood and pain that’s the way I grew up. I survived day to day purely on God’s grace and I am forever thankful to him. I am a survivor who hoped to make it big in this world despite all hindrances and challenges. I am Audu Otigba and here is my story.
I was the third born and only son of my parents I lost my dad when I was 16 years old and I didn’t really miss him or his impact on my life till years after and I hope he knows I’m sorry for not being ‘son’ enough for him. I grew up with my mom and sisters and it was a bittersweet experience. My mom and sisters always had the notion that I was the black sheep and the not so good one in the family although they tried hard hiding that but you know what they say about attitude and behaviour being like flame and you can’t cover or hide it. I mean maybe they were right and I was the idiot and the never do well of the family.
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I tried doing everything I can to become better for myself and family till I realized its better if I just let things be and I do what’s best for me always instead of the family. I attended the popular saint David high school and I was just one of the many average students. Life in Saint David’s was where I enjoyed life a bit because I was in an environment where I wasn’t judged on assumptions. I had friends that I constantly moved around with and we did everything together. Michael and Onome made sure I enjoyed my experience in Saint David’s. Michael was one brainy student and he was probably the most cunning student I ever came across and he made sure we passed all our exams and tests even without having a complete notebook.
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I proceeded to study sociology in one of the federal universities where I graduated with an okay result. I lost contact with Michael and Onome as they both went to different universities in different cities. Life in university was a bit different as I solely focused on getting a good result with the hope of securing a proper white collar job to fend for myself and my immediate family if I ever decide to have one. I had distanced myself from my immediate family and thankfully my late father’s family was never close to me so it was easy to navigate life without judgements from the always ‘self-righteous’ family.
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Three years after graduation I had no proper job I worked with an estate management company for two years and I had saved enough to start up a vacuum cleaning company. One random sunny afternoon I sat in the old four squared cubicle I call office when a prospective client walked in and alas it was an old friend from my beloved Saint David’s. Michael appeared so clean and expensive he wanted the service of my company to clean up a space he had gotten for business. We spoke for about two hours and all I could deduce was that he was a rich young man solely trying to invest his money into any legitimate business I even spent a couple of minutes trying to convince him to invest in my vacuum cleaning business but he wasn’t interested.
Michael wasn’t the brightest of students but he was one of the smartest and most streetwise people I have ever met. He drove me in his very clean and definitely expensive Mercedes benz and we went to one of the best lounge in town where we drank the finest of wine that was expensive enough to stand in as my annual earning. I begged Michael to introduce me to whatever he was doing to make money because I definitely knew it wasn’t legal given the amount of money he had spent and the kind of person I knew him to be and he agreed to let me in after much persuasion.
I hadn’t spoken to any of my nuclear family member in about seven years as they felt and thought I wouldn’t be successful as according to them I was the black sheep and unserious one and that was just the exact extra motivation I needed every morning I got up. I blended in with Michael and got to know the rest of his supposed ‘gang’. There was Chinedu,Lanre and John and we all got along quite easily. They were into printing of fake dollars and changing the fake bills into real naira notes from the money changers. Michael and Chinedu were the main brains behind it while Lanre supervised printing and I joined John in taking the dollars to the money changers. Our role was the most difficult because any mistake in the notes noticed by the money changers meant we will be beaten if not killed.
The whole team carried out each role with much dedication and we were making about twenty thousand dollars each every day. I had invested a lot in my vacuum cleaning business and also set up a restaurant.my restaurant quickly grew to be the most popular in the city. I lived as the life of the party turning up in every occasions in various fancy and fast cars. I moved to one of the most expensive parts of the city and drove the fastest and most expensive cars you could find around.
Despite all the money and enjoyment we had zero idea that the government had set up a task force to look into the rampant fake dollars in the money market and even the money changers were on our neck. After all we weren’t killing or stealing any money so we had absolutely no idea. Michael had issues with the police and financial crimes body once but he got away easily as they had nothing to nail him on but his little experience gave us the slight idea that we were being watched. Changing money became more difficult because the money changers started asking questions and trying to know more than they should but we weren’t worried as we had all the right answers to give to them because of John who was probably the best liar and light lipped person I have ever come across.
Everything changed for us one random Friday night, we had no idea we had people from the task force watching our every step. We had gone clubbing as we did usually every Friday and I passed a hundred dollar bill as a tip to one of the servers I had no idea that was the beginning of the end for us. The server got picked up by the task force and they seized the dollar bill from her upon verification they discovered it matched the exact dollar bills that had been all over the market and they knew it was from us now especially with a concrete evidence.
Michael and chinedu were picked at the same club the next Friday and they were duly interrogated and being humans under no oath of secrecy they gave up our names and pictures. Lanre and John were subsequently picked up while I was lucky to have had fever that exact day and it gave me the opportunity to flee from the pharmacy straight to Togo where I later travelled to Panama and I still can’t step a foot in Nigeria now but I’m a free man in Panama. I still haven’t spoken to my family all these years and I have absolutely no regrets about that. I’m writing this story to let you know my story on how I enjoyed the good and bad side of life and wealth. Lest you forget my name is Audu Otigba and this is my story.
Written by Sijibomi Juba