From a labourer at the popular Mararaba market in Nasarawa state, Amaechi Onyia is gradually building a slow but steady income amounting to about N200,000 every month, selling Cray fish, Mellon and Stock fish also called Oproko. Seun Akioye met him at Kurudu market, Abuja
It is impossible to miss Amaechi Onyia, especially amongst women. Usually, on a good day when “ market is moving” as he said, there are usually about 10 women in front of his small shed which houses his small scale business for now.
“My name is Amaechi Onyia,” he tried to raise his voice above the noise of the market and especially of the women complaining about how small “ cray fish of N100 is nowadays”. You see, Amaechi is the most popular cray fish, mellon and stock fish seller in Kurudu market, Abuja Municipal Area Council FCT.
Though his business could be categorised as small scale, life, he said is easy and stable. “ I feed my family from here, pay my rent and my three beautiful daughter’s school fees,” he said with pride.
“ Have you seen his wife?” a short, stout woman asked. Her purchase of melon and cray fish had just disappeared into a huge bag she was dragging behind her.
“ Ah, his wife fine well, well. If you see her like this,” she stopped mid-sentence and clasped her two hands in front of her using it to draw a circle then returned the hands folded to her breasts.
Amaechi smiled. Truly such complements about his wife has become commonplace. It is now a thing of pride, a source of joy for him.
“ If a man is working hard, you should see it in his wife and children, they should look good,” he said.
Everyone agreed, by a shake of their heads.
But Amaechi’s hard work did not start yesterday, his story began in Orile Iganmu in Lagos. In the year, 2001, the year after he finished secondary school.
“In 2001, I went to serve someone, an Igbo man, I learnt stationery business for seven years, because I could not further my education. He settled me but the money was not enough,” Amaechi began.
Two women came by, Amaechi stopped everything and said, “ This is my wife and her mother.”
His wife Loveth had been undervalued by the woman who had described her. She is fair and rounded, looking as if she had endured only the soft side of life. She greeted everyone and took her seat, next to her husband.
“I started business from the money my boss gave me but it vanished from my hands. After stationeries, I went to sell clothes, before you know it, I didn’t see the money again, because the money he gave me was small,” he said.
Kicked out in a week
Left with no money and prospects, he came to Abuja in 2012. “ I landed in Mararaba, with my bag and I didn’t know anyone except one friend. I stayed with him for a week and then, he kicked me out.
“I started to hustle, I was carrying floor tiles and after loading they will pay me, so in a day I used to make N1,500 sometimes N2000, that was how I was living. Then I joined networking business, selling China drugs, that one didn’t favour me, then I entered into cray fish.”
I told my wife my intentions on the first day
Amaechi began his cray fish business which today nets him at least N200,000 monthly. But long before then, he had met his wife, at a church vigil.
“I met her in the church when I went for night vigil, the first day I met her, I knew she will be my wife and I told her immediately. When you look at somebody, you will know this is the person you want in your life, there is no need to start story, he said and smiled.
Loveth smiled too, for her, Amaechi is the most wonderful husband and father.
“ My husband is wonderful,” she said, at first very shyly but then she opened up and became more confident. “ In terms of providing for his family, loving and caring for us, he’s the best.
“ And he’s very patient, I am not very patient so I was looking for the person that will complement me. And he’s the perfect husband and we have been married for eight years now,” she said.
Loveth is not involved in the running of the crayfish business even though that job traditionally belongs to women. Amaechi said he prefers to hustle and do the dirty work while his wife stays at home and takes care of his children.
” Can’t you see as she’s very light in skin colour that my money is showing on her, can’t you see how I’m taking care of her?” he asked.
Beyond his beautiful family, Amaechi is looking forward to a time when he will become an “Odogwu” in business circle in Nigeria.
“ It is God that has been helping me, I don’t know but there’s something mysterious about the way I live, sometimes I asked if I’m the only person God loves.
“I want to be known as one of the most successful business man in Nigeria, I may look small now but that is what I want, that is how I feel,” he said.