Saying Ogechi Stella Njoku has had a rough life is an understatement. From losing her seven siblings and father at a very tender age to being raped twice at the age of 16 while hawking, she knows what it means to have life rough. She usually hawked 6am to 9am before she’ll go home; prepared for school and hit the road again immediately after school.
After her secondary education, she journeyed to Lagos where it seemed as though life became worse for her. She didn’t mind living in an uncompleted building for over a year provided it afforded her a place to just lay her head and the next day as early as 4am, she hit the road running series of jobs ranging from cleaning of offices to working in a pharmacy. But she was undeterred. She kept her hope of being a university graduate alive.
When she realized she needed some time to get herself equipped for the University, she changed her job to afford her the time to enrol for computer training.
She would have remained in the uncompleted building were it not for her friend at the computer school that was alarmed to hear she lived there and suggested that she come live with her family in the barracks.
Like every other young girl, she got caught in the web of carnality and went after a soldier who she had 2 children from. But the soldier’s sisters didn’t want her in their home so she became a single mum. While she was battling with catering for her 2 kids and the challenges involved, an opportunity opened up for her to be trained as a soldier and so she enrolled.
Her dream of having a good life came alive again but in the process of recruitment, she was discovered to be carrying another baby for the man and worst of all, HIV postive.
Upon discovering that she was HIV positive, she was rejected in the army recruitment. This shattered her hopes of becoming a graduate.
She was crushed. She took time to heal and returned to her hawking, cleaning and menial jobs, this time with more zeal than she did at first.
In her words, “I swept the barracks and washed the gutters from 4am – 5:30 am, moved straight to Oshodi market to buy my oranges before 6:30am, then prepared before 7:30am to Pacific Access Limited, to clean their office, by 9am, I am through with all cleaning work, I would go home, rest till 12pm, then wash my oranges, and hit the streets for my hawking business. Some days, I would make sales ranging from 3,000-5,000 per day, then get monthly salary of 5,000 for cleaning the barracks, also 5,000 from cleaning Pacific Access limited. In a month I have savings from incomes ranging from 30,000-40,000. My hope for school started rising.”
Few years after that, fate smiled on her. On one of the days she came to clean her boss’s office, she saw an interview for a job placement with Nigerian Society of Engineers in Abuja. Against most people’s advice, she applied and got the job. That was the turning point for her. She started working with the organization and was able to save up money for her education. Consequently she applied and got admission to study Financial Accounting at Fidie Polytechnic Gboko, Benue state. Her B. Sc. in Economics at University of Ibadan, Oyo state followed suit.
Ogechi’s life is a typical proof that with persistence, one can achieve her desired goals.
Hear her, “My dreams to become a graduate and take care of my mother came true against all odds, against all my failures and challenges, I conquered my fears and dismay.
“I became a mother at age 22, a single mother of four children at age 28, started higher institution at age 29, owned a car at age 31, became an Oracle Database Certified Expert at 32, a landlady in Abuja at age 33, a graduate of Economics 2015/2016 at 36, established BDMG Resources Limited on 5th April, 2017, before my 37th Birthday. Currently writing my ICAN and ACCA Professional Certification Exams. Above all, I am still gainfully employed with the Nigerian Society of Engineers, ‘the engine room of my breakthrough.’”
She surmounted the odds against her through persistence in the face of discouraging situations.