I may marry four women offered me for returning missing N19m – Kano man
A commercial tricycle operator in Kano State, Salisu Auwal, who returned the sum of N19m he found in his vehicle to the owner, tells ABDULLATEEF FOWEWE why he chose to do so
For how long have you been riding a tricycle for a living?
My name is Salisu Auwal. I am from the Nassarawa Local Government Area of Kano State, and I am 21 years old. I ride a tricycle for commercial purposes. I have been riding a tricycle for a living for about three years.
Are you married?
No. I am not married.
Are you also a student?
No. I will focus on my business for now.
Was it your intention to become a commercial rider instead of going to school?
Is there anyone in the world who would prefer to be illiterate instead of being educated? It was never my intention to halt my educational journey. It was due to financial difficulties. I discontinued schooling when I was in Senior Secondary School Two because my parents couldn’t afford to sponsor my third year at school. If I received sponsorship at that time, I would have returned to school. However, I have already found a sponsor. The individual whose money I returned promised to sponsor my education from SSS One to Three in a private school and has also pledged to support all my endeavours in a higher institution.
Was your return of the N19m the first time you ever returned missing money or property to the owner?
I think it was the first time I found something that didn’t belong to me.
How did you discover that such a large amount of money was misplaced in your tricycle by one of your passengers?
That day, I carried four passengers who accidentally left a box behind when they disembarked. I did not immediately realise that they had forgotten something until I parked my tricycle to pray. Upon discovering the box, I realised it was filled with money. I tried to locate the passengers to return it, but unfortunately, I was unable to find them. I immediately returned home without informing anyone, including my friends whom I encountered on my way home. When I got home, I was greeted by my mother.
Did you tell her?
I told her about the situation, and she instructed me to contact my father and relay the incident to him, which I did immediately. He requested that I await his arrival at home. When he returned, he inquired whether I could still identify the passengers and I said I could. He proceeded to inquire whether I knew the precise location where they disembarked from the tricycle and I said I knew. He then proposed that we should trace them back to the drop-off point and investigate further. Despite our efforts, we were unable to locate them and subsequently returned home. My father advised me to refrain from disclosing the details of the incident and instructed me to keep the money confidential.
What happened after that?
After three days, my mother heard an announcement on a prominent Kano radio station about individuals who misplaced their funds. They earnestly appealed for the finder to contact them through the phone number provided. My mother diligently noted the phone number and asked my father and I to return home. When we got home, we contacted the passengers five times but they did not pick up. It was when we contacted them the next day that they picked up the call. I told them that I was the tricycle rider and that they left their money in my tricycle. They were very happy and asked for my residential address, but I told them I would like to meet them at the radio station that made the announcement. We met at the radio station that day, and I handed their money over to them.
Did they count the money in your presence?
They counted it, confirmed it was complete, and gave me N400,000.
Did you see the currency of the money?
I didn’t even touch the money, let alone count it. However, the owners said that it totalled N19m, as some of it was in naira and some in CFA.
There were claims that the money was only N15m. Can you confirm the exact amount?
Indeed, there were such rumours, but according to the owner, the money was more than N15m because there was still some in foreign currency that had not been converted to naira. If everything was eventually converted, it would have amounted to N19m.
Did you not have any negative thoughts when you first saw the money?
No. Anything that doesn’t belong to me doesn’t attract me, and I think that was what worked for me when I first saw the money in the box. I believe if this also works for our leaders, there would not be corruption in the country.
Of course, I have numerous plans that require financial resources as the sole means to accomplish them. The money I saw would have been sufficient to execute most, if not all, of my plans. For instance, I do not own the tricycle I currently ride, and I aspire to have my own. There are many similar aspirations on my list. But what doesn’t belong to me doesn’t attract me, as I said earlier. So I returned the money because I was content with the small I had, and I followed God’s wish. God would not have been happy with me if I didn’t return it.
What can the youth learn from that?
I will advise my fellow Nigerians not to be attracted to anything that doesn’t belong to them. They should be satisfied with whatever they have, no matter how ridiculous it is. By doing so, they will remain happy and blessed forever. Nigerians should love their neighbours the way they love themselves. Doing so would help them avoid desiring forbidden things. This is also seen as the moral imperative for individuals to exercise control over the thoughts of their minds and the desires of their hearts, and they should not be faster than their destiny. Whatever God planned for us will surely come to reality and I believe God has perfect plans for those who obey him.
If your parents didn’t advise you to return the money, would you have returned it to the owner?
I would have. I have complete trust in my parents, as they would never advise me to keep something that does not belong to us or our family. I purposely approached them to seek advice on how to safely return the money.
What did your family tell you when you returned the money?
My family was very happy and proud of me. They appreciated my actions and were delighted by the positive attitude I displayed to the world.
You became a social media sensation following your act of honesty. How did that make you feel?
I feel incredibly happy and special, and I am grateful for this recognition. I attribute it to the grace of God.
Apart from the N400,000 given to you by the owner, did you receive any other gifts or awards from anyone?
Yes, I received additional gifts from some individuals. One person generously gave me a new tricycle and a point-of-sale machine when the person discovered I was not the owner of the tricycle I was riding. Another person gifted me N100,000 and someone has promised to sponsor my education from SS1 to the tertiary level. Furthermore, the Kano anti-corruption agency rewarded me with money and designated me as their ambassador.
Is it true that a group in Kano offered four women to you to marry in recognition of your action?
Yes, it is true. They offered me four women to marry, even the chairman of the association said his two daughters were included. However, I am not prepared for that commitment. Despite appreciating their gesture, I am not ready at this moment. But I may reconsider it in the future.
Were you ridiculed by individuals for returning the money to its rightful owner?
Indeed, individuals who are related and unrelated to me ridiculed and insulted me for returning such a large amount of money. Some even went as far as declaring that I would never regain the wealth and that it was my only opportunity to become prosperous. However, I disregard their opinions as long as I am content with my actions and have a clear conscience. Their criticisms have no power over me. Nevertheless, some appreciated and admired my integrity. Some even visited me in my house to congratulate me and my parents for my virtuous act. Some stakeholders from the Kano State Government commended me for my bravery and integrity. Of course, my siblings are learning to be trustworthy after seeing my actions and the rewards and praise I have been receiving from people. I am not rich, and I don’t have a rich background. I came from a poor family with contentment.
Many people appointed or elected to serve have stolen funds belonging to the masses. As the latest Kano anti-corruption ambassador, what do you think can be done to ensure they return what they stole?
I have less to say in response to this question. But what I think should be done is for people to stay loyal despite the maltreatment and corruption. If you are selfless and loyal to yourself and the people, you will surely progress in life.
If the federal or state government offers to reward you for your action, what would be your desire?
I would prefer and plead with them to provide me and my fellow Nigerian youths with job opportunities and vocational centres, and to eradicate selfishness, hatred, and tribalism. (Punch)