When you pass by Mike Akhigbe Way in Jabi, Abuja, you are bound to see Aliyu Muhammed calmly sitting, sometimes with earphones plugged, on his wheelchair which doubles as his mobile shop. As cars and pedestrians pass, some stop to buy stationery and petty household items from him.
“People have no choice but to stop at traffic lights, that way I don’t have to chase after cars. Anyone willing to buy anything from me, beckons on me and I wheel towards them to sell,” Muhammed told HumAngle.
Born in 1988 in Zamfara State, Northwest Nigeria, Muhammed had an accident that claimed both legs. Since then, he has struggled to fend for himself and his family.
“I attended only Islamic schools because my dad died when I and my two sisters were still very young, so there was no one to send us to conventional schools,” he said.
Muhammed later moved from Zamfara State to Zaria where he completed his Islamic education before relocating to Abuja about 20 years ago.
When he first came to Abuja after finishing arabic school in Zaria, he sold herbal medicine at Utako. When he realised that the turnover was not enough to cater for his family, he started his petty trade at Jabi.
Muhammed uses his wheelchair because he has no money to rent a shop. However, before he could afford a wheelchair to enable him to sell his items, he sat on the floor and crawled while at his herbs business.
“Even when growing up, I never wanted to ask for favours from anyone. I prefer to hustle and suffer for my needs,” he explained.
According to him, his selling spot at Jabi is both strategic and calculated. He makes between N1,000 and N2,000 daily.
Muhammed bought his wheelchair over 10 years ago for N30,000. The price has since tripled and he cannot afford to replace it. Yet, he goes about his day with a smile, focused on his business.
“I know the government is supposed to have beneficial programs for persons living with disability, but maybe I’ve not been lucky enough to be a beneficiary,” he said.
From his weekly sales, Muhammed sends N5000 or more to his family in Zamfara every week.
At the Utako mosque, Muhammed is popularly known as Aliyu me keke; Aliyu the wheelchair owner.
But Muhammed wants to do more for his family, especially getting his children formal education aside from the Islamic school they attend.
“What will give me the utmost fulfilment in life is being able to give two or three of my kids (he has six) formal education, but with my present earnings, I can’t afford that,” Muhammed told HumAngle.
In 2018, Muhammed brought Shafi’u, his eldest son who was 13 years old at the time, to Abuja and tried to enroll him in a primary school. However, Shafi’u had to go back to Zamfara and continue his Islamic studies since his father could not continue paying his school fees and other educational needs.
Muhammed, however, believes he can do more and be able to send his children to school if his business is expanded beyond his wheelchair to a proper shop. He also desires to relocate his family to Abuja if his business takes a more promising turn.
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