I reside in a relatively small town compared to Lagos, Benin City, Ibadan, or Aba.
I spent most of my early life, from 1963, in cities like Warri, Benin City, Ibadan, and Aba. I visited several other cities in Nigeria too. However, when I was leaving Aba for Delta state, my heart settled for Ughelli. Ughelli, then, was a small town, but I knew development was going to come, and it fit the vision for the future plans which I had.
Twenty years ago, I knew that land was going to be very scarce and expensive, with population explosion. I also knew that living in a city, sometimes, can be self-deception. I have seen people in cities like Lagos, Warri, and Port Harcourt, who have nothing to show for the high rent, high school fees, expensive urban transport fares, and high cost of living.
One other revelation, I had, was to maximise my accommodation.
I was living in a three-bedroom flat, but my bedroom doubled as a recording studio. I had a cassette recorder that I used to record my cassettes then. I had a cassette duplicator sent to me from the US by my mentor. Rev Chuma Okorafor. He also sent a cassette cleaner that could wipe old messages from the cassette. I would record my messages, then duplicate them before my conferences. We would then sell them; we had great sales.
We had a personal computer, where my son typed my books, and it made it possible for me to publish more than 20 books within a few years. My wife and my three children would collate books till very early in the morning. While some were collating, someone else was stapling with the big stapler. Trimming was done in nearby printing presses then.
Today, we print a great percentage of our materials from our printing press within our school, Petra Christian Academy, Ughelli.
When CDs were introduced, we had a CD duplicator that duplicated my messages till date. Even in my office, I have equipment to publish my books. Most of what I make money from is just within my residence or school.
The secret is to make maximum use of your accommodation or compound. The rent I was paying was very small compared to what I was generating from my activities in that flat I was living in.
The advantage of living in small towns like Ughelli, then, was that land was quite cheap. So I bought the half-acre, where I built my house for 350,000 Naira (it’s worth 10 to 12 Million Naira now).
I usually encourage young people to buy land early in suburban areas. Buy large spaces that you can use for production. In the eastern part of Nigeria, where I resided, their homes have cottage industries or warehouses.
I know one retiree who has a plastic factory and a water factory in his country home. The generator that powers the factory provides regular electricity for him. The workers do shifts, and the same security guards take care of the factory and his home. It saves cost, and provides easy supervision. There’s no commuting to work; you can go on break or even take a nap, and come back to work.
My brother, Theo Mukoro, converted his country home at Ofuoma to a farm and resort, the Yoma Farm Resort. The indoor swimming pool was turned to a beautiful reception hall that can take up to 200 guests. When it is decorated, it’s just awesome. He had a bottled water plant, a bakery, poultry, fish pond, an eatery, and a beautiful hotel with well furnished rooms and suites.
He is always looking relaxed anytime I visit him. He does other businesses outside, but a lot takes place in his compound. Ofuoma is about eight kilometres from Ughelli, but the rooms are mostly fully-booked. People leave Ughelli to pay for his goods and services.
In the half an acre or four plots of 50ft by 100ft, where I reside, I do a lot of stuff too. I have plantains, from which we make plantain chips for our canteen in our school. In fact, we cook rice, make popcorn, potato chips, and coconut candy (from our coconuts) from our kitchen. We sell them in the school canteen.
I also sell plantain suckers from my plantains. There were times I sent suckers to Umuahia, Port Harcourt, Aba, and Owerri from the plantains in my compound. I have a species that bears two bunches at once. You can see it in one of the pictures.
I have a poultry farm in the same compound. You won’t smell anything; you won’t even know there is poultry in the compound. I sold broilers during Easter online in my compound during the lockdown.
We have not bought oranges this season. We have rarely bought avocados. In fact, I picked one as I was going to take these pictures. We had mangoes to eat. The fish we have been eating since December 2019 are from my fish tanks in the school.
I want to introduce a snailery because the snails I ate in my banga soup, this evening, were picked from amongst the plantains, at night, by my wife and I. I forgot to mention that I have bananas too. An interesting aspect to this issue is that I have regular electricity from my solar panels.
My king at Effurun-Otor, my maternal hometown, has several production units in his palace. He has fish ponds, poultry, goats, a garri factory, popcorn production unit, vegetable farm, snailery, and a grasscutter farm.
The suburban economy is going to be the new trend for wise people in this decade, particularly after this COVID-19 experience and the lockdown. Look for properties outside the big cities, where you can build a nice house within the large piece of land. If your community is close to a city, you can make money from your country home. Several country homes are desolate and unoccupied.
Don’t deceive yourself in the city or city centre, when you can produce food and goods from the suburbs, and take them to the city centre, and go back to your quiet, traffic-free, fresh-air home in the suburbs.
Olusegun Obasanjo knew this many years back when he went to Ota to establish his farm. People were leaving the capitals of the world to visit him at Ota.
Bishop David Oyedepo knew this; that’s why he left Kaduna, first to Iyana Ikpaja, then to Canaan Land. The list is long and goes on.