Monday motivation: Inspiring story of sweets seller turned lawyer

Nasiru Muazu Mato’s story is inspiring as
it is a challenge to those making excuses for not making their dreams
come true. After Mato lost his father at three, his grandmother
took over his upkeep. A few years after, he suffered the loss of his
great uncle, who paid his school fees for a short period. But he did not
sit idle and complain, he walked the long road to his goals. And on
Thursday July 13, 2017, Mato joined other successful candidates called
to the bar in Abuja.

Even with determination, hard work and
common sense, sticking out as the outstanding character traits of the
young lawyer, his humility and good manners were also easy to notice as
the 31-year-old graduate of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria,
told Abuja Metro his story.  
A poor primary school pupil
While thousands of Nigerian children are
chauffeured to school, coming from a poor home, Mato drifted between
Jigawa and his home state, Katsina, just to get through primary school.
He left for Abuja as a young kid after completing primary school in
“After my father’s uncle died, there was
nobody left to take me as his or her responsibility and life became very
difficult for me in the village in Katsina State. I had to look for
means of survival, so I came to Abuja because I heard so much about the
place. I settled in the Kabayi area of Karu LGA of Nasarawa State and
that’s where I met Yinusa Abdullahi and Andrew, two friends who
strengthened my desire to go to school,” he said.
It was hard for students to notice that
the sweets seller near their school could be in the same class with
them, but that was what happened in Mato’s case. Shedding  light on how
his friends helped keep his dreams alive, he said : “I really wanted to
school at that time though I  didn’t have the chance. But these two
friends didn’t stop encouraging me to return to school. And I kept
telling them, that they were asking me do something I couldn’t do at
that time as there was nobody to sponsor me. They never stopped
encouraging me, they would come to where I operated my cigarettes and
sweets business, which was near their school, and, sometimes, they would
give me lessons. At a point, Andy told me, it was time I returned to
school because my spoken English had really improved and I could read
and write. I still asked for enough time to plan and around 2002, I met
Andrew and I told him, that finally I was ready to go back to school. He
asked me for my primary school certificate, then we went to the
secondary school where I registered in JSS I.”
Inspired into secondary school by friends and teacher
Revealing how much he saved to have the
courage to tell his friends he was buoyant enough to return to the
classroom, Mato told Abuja Metro that he amassed N15,000 from his sweets
business and odd jobs before he declared that he was ready for
secondary school education.
“As a poor man, who has been through a
lot of challenges, I have learnt a lot. Before I left my village, I
learned how to eat twice a day. I also learnt how to save. Right from my
secondary school days, to when I gained admission, I never stopped
saving. In fact, after completing my registration in ABU, Zaria, I had
about five thousand naira left, which I managed for up to three months,”
he said.
On how he made it through secondary school with classmates
much younger than him, he said: “It wasn’t easy being in a school with
children, when I was already a young adult. So, I faced a lot of
challenges during that period. It was easy passing NECO and JAMB because
I considered myself an adult who knew what his target was. I always
went to the exam hall prepared. I also met a teacher in secondary
school, Mr. Kalu, who I call my motivational consultant because he
really motivated me. He told me, ‘Muazu, you can make it. But I will
advise that you to write JAMB after you have passed NECO or WAEC.’ He
said this because he believed that as a Hausaman, if I returned to the
village after completing secondary education, I might get married and
that could be the end of my dreams. For me, I wanted to study Mass
Communication, but Mr. Kalu told me to apply for Islamic Law. He told me
that I wouldn’t find it hard, that he as a Christian studied Islamic
Religious Knowledge and passed, so I could go for Islamic Law as a
Muslim. I gained admission through the Direct Entry process, having
received  a Diploma in Civil Law from the same university in 2010.”
Using water vending to pay tuition fees
When it was time to go to ABU, Mato
realised that he had to think outside the box to be able to pay for his
tuition. And he decided to work in a block-moulding factory, from where
he got the funds to start a water vending business.  
“As I completed secondary school, I knew
that I was in a very difficult situation financially, I knew at that
point that my capital for business was so small. So I joined people
moulding blocks, sometimes we loaded for buyers. From there, I gathered
some money to buy four carts which these mai ruwa (water vendors) use.
By the time I was ready to go to university, I had saved about N60,000.
It was from that money that I paid for my registration and, during my
Diploma, I didn’t find it hard financially because, before coming to
Abuja, I would have money kept for me from the (water) business,” he
Passing Law School exams on second attempt
Passing the bar exams is no mean feat,
with only 1,393 candidates out of 2,125, making it through in 2016/2017,
Mato was among those who succeeded. He had to wait for a second try, no
thanks to an eye ailment that required surgery. He said: “Actually, I
didn’t pass the Law School exams at my first attempt. For you to qualify
to apply for Law School, you must have completed the two semesters in
400 level, without any carryover. It was after I met this criterion
 that my mentor, Alhaji Jafaru Dan-Bauchi, who also housed me in Abuja,
paid for my Law School forms. Luckily, the Katsina State government gave
scholarship to its indigenes who were candidates for Law School that
year. It is the custom of the Katsina State Scholarship Board to pay
back students after they paid their fees, but during my time they paid
the scholarship before payment of tuition fees. My first time in Law
School was very difficult because, I had a problem with my eyes, which
resulted in my undergoing surgery on my right eye. I really found it
hard reading. So when the results were released, I discovered that I
didn’t make it. But I decided to come for my first re-sit in 2017 and I
made it. I didn’t find things difficult because I had everything in 
place, even financially, I was quite comfortable”.
Mato was teary-eyed when his name was
mentioned during the roll-call of new lawyers, on the day he was called
to the bar: “It was very happy day for me. I almost shed tears of joy
when my name was called as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme
Court of Nigeria.”
Both Andrew and Yinusa were on hand to celebrate with Mato on the day he was called to bar.   
I’ll fight for the poor, but won’t marry more than one wife
Getting personal, Mato said he would be the lawyer who
fights for the poor. He also admitted that, though he looks forward to
starting a family, he isn’t likely to practice polygamy, because it
takes a lot to send children to school. He laughed off the idea of up to
four wives as allowed in Islam: “I am yet to be married, though in our
custom as Hausas it is an abomination for someone above 30 to stay
unmarried. But for me, I don’t think I haven’t done right. This is
because I spent my youth doing things that are useful, I wasn’t just
playing around.
“I cannot predict the kind of woman I
will marry, because marriage is really about finding that woman who is
compatible. Someone who believes in the same things you do.”
I am not talking about us sharing the
exact similarities, but she has to be someone who truly understands me. I
don’t think marriage is about marrying a beautiful woman or tall or
short woman. It’s about finding the person that understands you. Looking
at the economic situation, in fact, if things don’t improve
drastically, I don’t see myself marrying more than one wife, despite
your reminding me, that Islam permits me to do so. But you know in life,
circumstances can make you take actions contrary to before held
“I love being in the court, so I see
myself becoming a well known human rights lawyer. Many poor people
suffer injustice in Nigeria. Several times, people who have the gun and
authority abuse the fundamental rights of poor people. I am one of those
adverse to policemen following the rich around, when there are many
places where crimes are being committed and the poor people get no

culled from SUN

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