Our correspondent has for a few months been noticing a dark slim man of above fifty years walking between the Academy Olomi Bus Stop and the NASFAT Bus Stop along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, in the large ancient city of Ibadan, vending vehicle stickers. But something was strange about the man: he has severe facial condition that appears to have affected his left eye which seems to be falling off! The left half of the face down to the neck looks to have been corroded; as if gradually being eaten away by a chemical. Yet, the man walked through the expressway, and the parallel streets, to hawk his scanty wares virtually daily. Our correspondent, for several months tried to engage him for an interview, but the man appeared to be elusive and wary of such, until a fateful evening when our correspondent met Mukaila on his way back home, a hundred meters from Academy Olomi Bus Stop and convinced him for a short interview. He said he tried to reach the beloved media entrepreneur and philanthropist, Yinka Ayefele on three occasions but was turned back by the security personnel at the radio station close to Challenge Bus Stop, Ibadan.
And even though our correspondent was not ready with the right tools and settings for an interview, he managed to get a short video and audio while speaking with the man.
Please excuse the grammar and lack of interpretation. Excerpts from the interview is as follows.
Correspondent: Good evening sir
Mukaila: Good evening!
Correspondent: Please what’s your name daddy?
Mukaila: Mukaila Karimu
Correspondent: When did this eye problem start?
Mukaila: Oh, it is long ago. I was born with the skin condition, but the eye, harmattan, and the sun, exacerbate the problem.
Correspondent: Okay. Daddy, do you have a wife at home?
Mukaila: No, I don’t.
Correspondent: But what about children?
Mukaila: I have a child, who lives with my mother. He attends school there.
Correspondent: How much do you sell per day? How much can you sell per day?
Mukaila: Sometimes I sell the worth of ₦350 or ₦400.
Correspondent: Three hundred and fifty Naira?!
Correspondent: But Daddy, do you make profit, do you gain?
Mukaila: Well there is gain; the more the sales the more the profit.
Correspondent: Daddy, have you been to the hospital to do (treat) this thing before?
Mukaila: Yes we have. The time I was little, my daddy took me to the UCH. Even when I grew up I went myself. The time of Obasanjo. I was asked to bring ₦50,000 to get treatment. I could not get the money. I recall that it was at the time the Tetmosol soap started being marketed widely and publicised.
Correspondent: What really caused it to become this way? What exactly caused it to become like this?
Mukaila: It is high blood pressure.
Correspondent: Daddy, what we are doing now is to see how people can contribute to help your plight. It appears that you don’t just want to stay home, that is why you are selling this. Am I right?
Mukaila: If I stay home what will I eat? Had it been I have enough money to start business that can warrant me to stay in one place, I would not be needing to be selling this way.
If I’m not exposing myself to the sun and heat thus, it won’t be getting worse like this.
I had been to the place of Ayefele about three times, but on each occasion I’ve been there the security personnel turned me away, each time claiming that Ayefele was not within.
I have to fend for myself through this hawking of stickers, as I have not gotten help anywhere. Until I get the fund to stay at a place and do business, I have to continue to manage with the hawking.
Correspondent: Daddy, where are you staying? Where are you staying in Ibadan?
Mukaila: Community Academy, near Oju-Odo, that is, Ibadan City Academy, after Owode.
Correspondent: Okay daddy. Thank you so much.
Mukaila: When I power on my mobile phone, I will get call credits and give you a call.
(The correspondent had given him his complimentary card a week before this interview)
Whoever has the intention to reach out to Mr Mukaila Karimu should message Switch Nigeria to collect his contact phone number.