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Samson Usman: Inside the daily struggles of a Nigerian worker

As Nigeria celebrates workers day today, Daily Trust looks at the work life of Samson Usman, an office assistant in Adamawa State. He is hopeful…

As Nigeria celebrates workers day today, Daily Trust looks at the work life of Samson Usman, an office assistant in Adamawa State. He is hopeful that his condition will improve with the new minimum wage law.


Samson Usman has spent the last 30 years working as messenger at the Adamawa Press Limited (APL), publishers of The Scope newspaper in Yola, the capital of Adamawa State.

Usman, who is of average height, stands tall among his colleagues when it comes to punctuality, perseverance and dedication to his job, according to some of the pioneer staff at APL.

In a period of three decades, he served at least ten general managers, all of whom found his attitude to work so amazing. He was always at his work station as early as 7am, and sometimes closed at 9 pm

In an interview with Daily Trust in Yola, Samson said he was never found wanting by the authorities in spite of the fact that he worked under many bosses of different personalities and approach in handling of subordinates.

Originally from Koya in Borno State, Samson came to Yola in search of job after news reached him that a bridge was being constructed in Jimeta, the cosmopolitan part of Yola. Upon his arrival, he was employed as servant for some of the expatriate contractors and engineers. He worked as servant doing general housekeeping and serving their food.

After the completion of the bridge, Usman’s experience as steward to the white men qualified him for another job as steward with Bridge Hotel in Yola and then Yola Motel where he met a guest who eventually employed him as messenger in the newspaper company.

The guest was a renowned journalist, Abdulkareem Albashir (now late), who was appointed by the new military governor as the first managing director of the APL.

“After the completion of Jimeta Bridge, I got a job with Bridge Hotel and then with Yola Motel as steward, then a room was between N80 and N100. When Yohanna Madaki became military governor of the defunct Gongola State, he came with Abdulkareem Albashir from Kaduna and Albashir was accommodated at Yola Motel. Then I was the chief steward and I personally took care of his room, so we became close,” he said.

“Arewa Hotels later took over Yola Motel and there was retrenchment which affected me. At that time, Albashir was not around, so when he came back, he asked about me and was told I was sacked. He sent for me and employed me as a messenger at the APL. That was how I started work with this company in 1988,” Usman added.

He remembered the general managers he had worked with to include Albashir, Emmanuel Yawe, Joshua Abu, Asma’u Joda, Maxwell Tilo, Sahabo Mahadi, Saleh Buba, Yakubu Yakubu, Willie Zalwalai, Nina Pepe and Hassan Modibbo whom he worked with briefly before he was posted to the Editor’s office. When the present general manager, Jauro Sale Buba, came on board, Samson was already at the Editor’s office.

The 60-year-old father of 10 lives in Bajabure, a suburb of Yola, just across the bridge that attracted him to state three decades ago. He travels a distance of about 10 km every morning to reach his work place yet he remains the most punctual staff.

One of his children is currently seeking admission in to the Federal College of Education (FCE) Yola. One is a bricklayer and another is a motorcycle mechanic.

“All three of them have secondary certificate but there is no money to proceed to tertiary level,” he said.

Nothing makes him happy than reporting to work early and closing late. He believes his organisation and the state government cannot adequately pay him for his selfless services.

He recalled a time when his punctuality nearly landed him in trouble. “A night burglary caused tension in the organisation and security guards fingered me as prime suspect.

“The guards became suspicious of me because I came to work as early as 7:30 am, they reported the matter to the police. I was really terrified but I kept praying for God’s intervention to save me and my reputation,” he said.

“As soon as we entered in to the police office, I saw the stolen type writers with the police. Unknown to our office security guards, the police had arrested the thieves and recovered the stolen items. I felt relieved and thanked God for his intervention,” Usman added.

He said the security guards apologised to him for the embarrassment they caused him.


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