By Francesca Iwambe
Unongu Kelvin, a graduate of the Joseph Sarwaaun Tarka University Makurdi (JOSTUM) formerly known as Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi (FUAM) carries a basin of dried fishes on his head as he hawks daily around Makurdi metropolis.
Ordinarily, there's nothing new about his trade, but the fact that he wears a suit or dresses in neatly ironed shirts and ties to attract patronage distinguishes him from others doing the same business.
He also does so without being ashamed, which sets him as an example to young people languishing in self-pity over thriving unemployment in the country.
Kelvin in a chat with our correspondent in Makurdi disclosed that the unavailability of a white-collar job pushed him into the fish trade mostly considered a trade for females, while the idea to take after his mother's vocation rather than stay idle motivated him to become a professional fish monger.
“I'm from a humble polygamous background. I lost my dad in 2010 immediately after my secondary school education and since then, it's been my mother – a peasant farmer and local fish vendor, fending for me and the rest of my siblings. However, we are a big happy family.
“I have tried so hard in search of a white-collar job but none seem to be coming forth. I also have tried many things like laundry and dry cleaning services, baking and even a security job all combined, but wasn't having a quick turnover so I decided to go back to my roots, where I first belonged. This is a basic product every household makes use of – whether rich or poor – and I also know I was going to have the support of my mom, so I deduced it was going to be easier as a business for me,” he said.
For this 30-year-old.
“The idea was birthed this year and commenced in earnest by February. I have always liked to look corporately dressed from my university days till now because of the experience I got as a 100-level student.
“Also, in the fish business, people might think I'm not learned and that's why I'm selling fish so I decided to change the narrative and of course, this has attracted many clients, just like it also caught your (Daily Trust correspondent) attention.”
He said the need for a better life for himself and his family further propelled his decision to sell fish as the little stipends he was taking from his employers was barely enough for him to take care of his poor mother in the village.
The quest to earn better wages in his estimation formed the basis to quit job hunting for fish trading, especially as the challenges for him are not extreme because he has come a long way with that as a family business.