In their little way the Hausa people touch the life of an average Bayelsan, especially in Yenagoa, the state capital where their presence are mostly felt.
Apart from those working in the formal sector in Bayelsa State, those in the multinational oil companies and of course, the usual itinerant Igbo entrepreneurs, the Hausa people constitute another segment that is ubiquitous at every nook and cranny of the state, rendering invaluable services to the residents. The unique attribute of the average Hausa business man is his humility and sense of moderation in ascribing prices to his commodities or services.
Most of them are very faithful to their customers, even to a fault. They would never give you silver for gold, or bronze for silver. They do straight forward business. If one is able to speak even an incoherent expression in Hausa language as a buyer, one is sure to get good patronage from a Hausa seller.
The general name given to them is Alhaji, Malam or Aboki depending on their age range. The elderly ones are often addressed as Alhaji, the middle aged, Malam, and the youths as Aboki, while Hajia goes for the women. It is curious to find that no Hausa man, boy or woman is idle or complains of unemployment here. As far as they are concerned, there is always something to do to earn a living. Even those who are physically challenged beg from others to keep life going.
Alhaji Abubakar Liman is a goat dealer at the popular Goat market along the Swali market road in Yenagoa. He told Weekly Trust that he has been in the business for more than 20 years; long before Bayelsa State was created. Although he complained of ‘’bad market’’ when our correspondent visited the market, he said he married, built his house, went to Mecca and is training his children, all from the business. According to him, prices of the goats range from N10,000, 12,000, 15,000 even to 20,000 depending on the size. He called on the government to support the low income earners like him with grants to boost their businesses.
He also disclosed that the Sarkin Hausawa (Leader of Hausa Community) in Bayelsa State, Alhaji Badamasi Salihu is one of them in the business. However, he was not available when Weekly Trust visited market. At the yam zone, adjacent the goat market, Alhaji Ado Garba Boza commended the government and people of Bayelsa State for their friendly dispositions towards non indigenes, particularly the Hausa people. He told Weekly Trust that he has been in the state for more than 15 years dealing in yam and nobody has ever molested him or threatened his life.
According to him, the yam business is lucrative. He, however, complained of poor sales, attributing it to the transition from the old to the new yam being expected from the end of June to early July. Abdullahi Magaji, a tailor is also making input to the growth of the Bayelsa economy. With about 12 workers and different kinds of sewing machines, he says in a day he makes about 15 pieces of the traditional Hausa Babanriga, both the plain and those with embroidery at varying costs. For the plain ones, he said he makes them at of N1,000, while those with embroidery go for N3,000, N3,500, N5,000,etc depending on the design.
Interestingly, Magaji says he makes cloth for all tribes so far it is traditional attire and only for males. Apart from sewing cloths, he said he also sells cloth materials he buys from Aba and Kano. According to him, he has been in the trade in the state for eight years. This year alone, he said he has paid N45,000 worth of tax to different agencies of Bayelsa State government and wondered why the tax has witnessed over 100 per cent increase.
In spite of all this, Magaji says he still breaks even. After all expenses including paying his workers, he said he goes home every day with not less than N3,000. Suleiman Ahmadu from Jigawa State, a water vendor – Mai ruwa is another hard working Hausa man contributing meaningfully to the growth and development of Bayelsa State. At night, he keeps guard for the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at their Yenagoa office.
But from morning till evening, Suleiman uses his trawler to supply water in 20 litre jerry cans to the people in need. Scarcity of water is one of the big challenges confronting the residents of not only Yenagoa, but the entire state owing to lack of pipe borne water in the state. Suleiman told Weekly Trust that his trawler can carry 15 jerry cans of 20 litres each, but while he pays about N80 to fill the 15 jerry cans with water at about five Naira per jerry can, he sells each can for N25, making N375 in each round.
He said he makes about 5, 8 to 10 rounds in a day depending on the demand, and goes home sometimes with about N4,000 ‘’on a good day’’. The Hausa people here are generally seen as those who make life easy for others with the kind of services they render. They are always at people’s beck and call.
From those moving about with their scissors and water, cutting and cleaning people’s finger nails to the cobblers who go about mending people’s foot wears and others pushing their trawlers along the streets selling their wares; and those who mount their small shops at strategic street corners selling kola nuts, cigarettes and a motley of other articles, they take life very easy, not bothering so much about what tomorrow holds. Many people are fascinated by this simple approach to life common with the Hausa people.
I like these Hausa people o, they believe in the dignity of labour and whenever they do something for you, you get value for your money,’’ a woman simply identified as Mama Preye told Weekly Trust at the Swali market in Yenagoa. A man who gave his name as Darlington Boma called on the youths of Bayelsa State to “refrain from dressing themselves on borrowed robes’’ and copy the life style of the Hausa people who he said believe that one must work in order to eat.