The first time I visited Yola, Adamawa state, was when I went for my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in October, 2012. It was the first time in my life that I went far from home…
and for me, it was my final escape from all I knew.
I was crowned the #MissNYSC for my batch even though I protested my involvement in the beauty pageant. In camp, I met my homie of life, Dr. Hameed Olawale, who is such a good man and an awesome friend!
Yola is a simple town in comparison to towns like Kaduna, Kano and Abuja; the only other towns I had been to at that time. Though simple, I fell in love with the town.
I had so many activities that defined my stay; I was teaching at Government Girls Secondary School, Yola, I attended almost every House of Refuge church activity and I spent time playing basketball. Don’t hate! I know I suck at it.
On the 7th day of February, 2013, my Head of Department in church, Frama Ambrose, told me to get dressed as he was coming to pick me up. He told me I was to be on radio and though I was nervous, I hurriedly dressed up. That was the day I started #Campus360 (airing on FM GOTEL, 91.1). I met the man behind the #Campus360 idea – Stanley Innocent – and I grew to respect him and jump on many other projects with him.
Few weeks later, the state coordinator of NYSC sent word to me that I would be crowning the Batch ‘A’ #MissNYSC. I went to the NYSC variety night and that was where I met my bestie and darling, Oluwashadeayo Opeyemi. As fate would have it, she was posted to the same school where I served and our friendship stuck! Shade is the reason I learned to bake cakes and till tomorrow, she is one of my best friends! Soon enough, we were both hosting #Campus360.
In March of 2013, Frama married his heartthrob, Aesha Yanuti and he couldn’t have married a better woman! She became our mama and she loved us like we were her family; which we are! Together, they showed us that marriage can be awesome and beautiful and fulfilling; in spite of its many challenges.
In May, the supervisor of the FM unit, Madam Chika Ngalome, called me and Shade and asked us to start a program on fashion and lifestyle. We started #Standout in the third week of May. From that moment, Madam Chika fought for me like I was her daughter. Many people thought I was; her daughter. And just as she would fight for me, she would chastise me from here to England if I did wrong. She is a true definition of a mother!
By September, Peter Cheman Koti or the #RadioCaptain as he is fondly referred to, asked me to join the #Lunchbox team. He gave me a day and I made it fun! LOL! After some time again, Peter asked me to join the #MorningSplash team and I jumped at the opportunity. Madam Chika got us to do something centered on women and children and YOU KNOW I WILL LITERALLY GIVE MYSELF FOR THAT! That was how the ladies edition of #MorningSplash was born.
I met Charles Emuze or as many call him, DaVinci. We actually became friends after Charles gave me an IQ test and the result was above average. LOL! Many would think that is condescending but for me, it was thrilling! I loved that he was confident enough to surround himself with people who shared his intelligence and while many men walked on egg shells around me, he was cocky and confident! If you still feel some type of way, I am sure you wouldn’t understand why I love Sheldon Cooper.
And if you don’t know who Sheldon is, then I cannot help you. Charles was the one who urged me to start my blog and aspire for more with my writing.
Now to my darling Abdullahi Ahmed! What started out as us being colleagues became the creation of a friendship that will stand the test of time! We were a dynamic team because we truly enjoyed each other’s company and listened to each other about improving our craft. Stanley told me once that I was beginning to sound like Abdul and I laughed! Of course! Abdul is one of the finest presenters I know! He is witty, intelligent, well-spoken and a master of his craft! If you know me, you know that I am sapiosexual and a person’s IQ is my biggest attraction! Abdul would force me to read articles out loud to help with my breathing and news presentation skills and for that, I would always remain grateful. Plus, I saw a side to him most people didn’t know! LOL.
I got to meet other really great people like my baby Ololade Hassanat Abdul Kareem who had been my partner on #Lunchbox and #Standout for almost two years, the most elegantly dressed lawyer North of the Niger, Barrister Tochukwu Eziukwu, who is about to launch his book, Ibrahim Gwalem who is my ever pragmatic friend and Kaliat Innocent, my darling of life!
By February 2015, I was invited by the Head of Programmes, TV GOTEL, Mr. Victor, to a meeting. In that meeting, Yetunde Oshunbiyi (Aunty Yetty) and Aaron Isaac (Uncle Aaron) were in attendance and the agenda? They wanted me on #Safiya #BreakfastShow. I was flattered but worried as hell! I knew I had the talent but I get VERY worried when people look at me. Abdul convinced me to do it and I did! I guess I was good at it, if the viewers’ comments were anything to go by. And because I ain’t no backside kisser, one particular episode got the Governor of Adamawa state so mad, I got kicked off the show. LOL! That is a story for another day!
I ran a cake business and not to blow my own trumpets but, MY CAKES WERE LIT! My mother taught me to never sacrifice quality for quantity. So I made cakes that were rich, delicious and fresh! My toppings were so good, someone came to the office one day to appreciate me because he had had a bite from a birthday party.
It is not all good news though.
I was in a relationship with a guy whom I thought was responsible and a good man. Turned out I was a fool to hold that opinion. Though I was sad when I found out I had been deceived, the deception led me to me a great guy whom I love dearly. Don’t ask me who is because I will not tell you! LOL!
I was also set upon by hoodlums who had a mind to rape me. GOD saved me from that drama but it messed up my head. For months, I was unable to go out at night, sleep properly or even be brave. I would get scared of my shadow and force my heart to stop racing when I passed by men I didn’t know. The attack nearly broke my spirit but friends and family and my KING kept me from going nuts.
I had to grapple with poor finances for almost my entire stay in Yola. There were many a night when I would go to bed hungrier than a church mouse. I ate a lot of bread because bread is cheap and can hold your belly! When my mother found out how much I earned, she was beyond livid! She didn’t understand what I was doing in a
backwater town when I was not making a lot of money. I had to convince her that I knew what I was doing before the pressure about returning home reduced. Heck! Whom am I kidding?! It didn’t reduce jare! My sisters (Enigbe and Sadiya) had to vouch for my sanity to make my mum calm down.
I also had to deal with such horrible neighbors that I eventually became a philosopher; from dirty people, to lazy neighbors, to those with their I-pass-my-neighbor-generator pointed at my room and ultimately, to one who thought that, because I worked in a Radio/TV company, I had all the money in the world and as such, should take care of ALL OUR UTILITY BILLS! It was hellish for me!
I am a perfectionist and that, in most cases, makes me very caustic. I had major blowouts with people at my house, work and church. The anger issues I thought I had put behind me came back with great force! After a while, I had this F it moment where I just didn’t care about the routines that made my life!
Eventually, I came to a plateau where almost nothing was working. My cake business had crumpled because people refused to pay premium price for premium quality. Everyone wanted CHEAP STUFF and since I couldn’t bring the quality of the cakes I made down, I stopped altogether. Imagine making just ₦25-₦50 for each cake delivery; and that was on a GOOD DAY! The end was not worthy of the means.
So being on that plateau made me bitter and unhappy. For the first time in my life, I tasted what true depression was. In time, the love I had for this town began to morph into something less appealing; HATE! I gradually hated waking up to go to work or to church or to the market. That was when I made up my mind to leave. I should have left in June 2015, but I waited because I wanted to give her another chance. Thing is, she likes remaining the same.
A friend recently told me that Yola was a good learning place for me. Truth is, it has been. Yola has been a place where good, bad and horrible things have happened to me. Am I thankful for all the lessons? Hell yes!
Though sad that I have left Yola, I cannot help appreciate the people that made it happen for me.
Thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Frama Ambrose, the entire leadership and members of House of Refuge International, the staff of Gotel Communications especially Madam Chika, Mr. Victor, Aunty Yetty, Uncle Aaron and the entire TV programs unit, the FM Unit, Stanley Innocent, Peter Cheman Koti, Ololade Hassanat Abdul Kareem and most especially, my darling Abdullahi Ahmed!. Thanks also to my friends – Ibrahim Gwalem and Tochukwu Eziukwu.
I want to send a special shout out to a fan who became a friend and one of my biggest suppoters, Ite Thomas. Big shout out to Sanusi Yahya, Annabel Alto Offah, Bint M. H. Sheikh and Abraham Ngbale for being super fans. Thanks to everyone who listened to me on radio and watched me on television! You are the real MVPs!
I wish my stay in Yola worked out for the best but in the end, you have to know when it is time to move on or risk mediocrity. My decision is the former and I must say, I will miss my little town. I will miss the Fura da Nono seller in my office who contributed to my weight gain
and whom I am totally blaming and I will miss the camaraderie I had with my listeners and viewers. I will NOT miss that restaurant with the blackened stew and horrible service. I will however miss that my jollof and salad joint and my grilled fish corner.
Most of all, I will miss the people who, knowingly or unknowingly, inspired me to know better, to do better, TO BE BETTER! You have, collectively, improved my world view and made me a better version of myself.
I am grateful beyond words! Thanks a million!
Good bye Yola! Thank you for all the hard knocks and the soft landings! I will miss you!
In Jay Z’s voice, I am unto the next town!