Monday, December 10, 2007

Nigerian Mobile Toilet Pioneer Speaks

I’m praying for more problems in Nigeria

Published: Sunday, 9 Dec 2007

Isaac Durojaiye, (a.k.a) Otunba Gadaffi, pioneered the mobile toilet idea in Nigeria. He stands at 7ft one inch, and was Chief Security Officer to late Chief M.K.O. Abiola. He talks to ADAEZE AMOS about the ‘shit’ business My motivation for founding Dignified Mobile Toilet Like I have always said, if God really wants to bless you, He does three things. And that is what I call the International Finance Corporation of God. We all know that IFC is the private sector arm of the World Bank. But when you get the IFC of God, you are even greater than the World Bank. The “I” stands for ideas, God will give you an idea of what to do. The F stands for favour, God will favour you, and the C stands for contact, God will give you contacts everywhere. So, if you can have the three, you will be on top of whatever you do. It was an idea I received when I was still in the security service in the United States. Later, I was the Chief Bodyguard and the Chief Security Officer to late Chief MKO Abiola. When Kola Abiola was about to get married, I was in charge of security for the wedding and we were expecting 10,000 guests at the venue. While taking care of the security at the place, I noticed that there were only two toilets meant for 10,000 people and I realised that would constitute nuisance to the venue. And for the first time ever in my life, I did graphics, I never saw mobile toilets before, I didn‘t even know how one looked like. But the word mobile toilet just came to my mind and immediately, I said to myself why don‘t we have mobile toilets. Others agreed with me. We conducted a research across the country for four weeks and there was no single mobile toilet. It was even a strange word to some people. I went to some rental companies to ask them whether they had mobile toilets and they asked me how it looked like. That was when I took my idea seriously and designed mobile toilets using canopies. That was how the first mobile toilet in Nigeria came to be. Years after, I began to see what mobile toilets looked like abroad, I said to myself, so these things actually exist.

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Adaeze Amos

Isaac Durojaiye, (a.k.a) Otunba Gadaffi

The initial challenges

It was tough. People would come and look at my idea; they would only tell me, this is a good idea and turned back. In fact, they could not just imagine themselves, permit me to use the words, ‘shitting inside the canopy’ (laughs). But four years after, a friend of mine was getting married. I told him it was high time we broke the jinx; just give us money to transport the toilets to the party venue and we will take care of the rest. And we did, yes, but because we hadn‘t perfected the technology, the tank that was holding the waste fell off on the road when we were coming back (laughs). The landlord association locked its gate and said we should pack the ‘shit’ off the road. And we had to pack it for six hours. The three guys that started with me resigned the following day. They said, oga, we didn‘t know it was like this. But then, for anything good to come out, there must be some challenges. I was able to overcome the challenges and today I can see the result. I was persistent enough about it and I overcame. I started with just N60,000 and no bank was there for me, and that was in 1992.

What kept me going then

The only thing that kept me going was that I was able to use my security experience. I did a research, I realised that Nigerians could go as far as hiring tables, cutleries and chairs for their parties. They would hire everything including good music. But where are the toilets? And where you have good music, good food, there will be royal rumble, especially where the food is so much and is free; you will see people eating as if tomorrow will not come; as if that is the end of their lives. Some people will forget that after a few hours, they would have to go and ‘off load‘ and it is necessary to do it in a decent way. The toilet must be decent and comfortable enough wherever you are.

My boyhood

I attended a public school in Lagos. There is a school called Jehovah Jireh African Church School at Idi-Oro, Mushin. Can you imagine that something good can come out of Mushin? (laughs). Later on, I travelled out of the country, first to Ghana, then to London. But I always have it in mind that wherever I go, home is home. After staying abroad for a while, I discovered that we have more opportunities in Nigeria, in Africa. People are saying that there are problems in Africa, in Nigeria, and I‘m praying for more problems in Nigeria because for every problem you are able to find a solution to, you are on your way to success. Problems beget riches. The Europe that we normally go to enjoy their facilities, those facilities were problems to them until they found solutions. So, for all the problems we think we have here let us sit back and think of providing a solution. Problems should be seen as stepping stones to achieving greatness.

My unforgetable experience in life

The thing that changed my perception about life that I will never forget was the day MKO Abiola was being buried. I looked at him from where he was laid in his bedroom and I tried to look at his hands to see if he was holding some money. But he was holding nothing. And I said to myself, so we came with nothing, we would go with nothing. Why all the craze about doing all sorts of stupid things that some people do, rituals and all sorts to amass wealth for themselves and at the end of the day, they would just leave it? Even his close associates in those days couldn‘t go close to his body. I said to myself, is that all to life? Since that day, my perception about life changed completely. It has changed my attitude at least to be happy in life, my life must be positive and it must affect my immediate environment, it must affect my society positively and it must affect the nation positively. I must be seen as somebody contributing something good to the nation.

4 comments:

t said...

Lively man, s-weet interview. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Very Inspiring, you should get a facebook icon so we can post your article on to other website. Remain Fvaoured. ILO ONYEKWELU

t said...

You're right, I do covet those "share" icons, just too ...something... to already have one. I'll check now how to get it.

You want to help out? This is a group blog so you're verrry welcome to.

t said...

Re: Sharing on Facebook.
Guess what? There's a "Share" link at the top of this page. I never noticed it before - thanks. It's on all blogspot blogs.

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