From looks, carriage and dressing, 32-year-old Saheed Lawal cuts the picture of a pitiable, low-income artisan.
And that exactly was what he was until a few days ago when he climbed the rungs of the ladder to join the club of millionaires.
Lawal, on 18 November, 2016 won the N42m-worth star prize land in an ongoing Imperial City Promo, powered by the Elegushi of Ikate land.
Ten of such lands are to be given away. Tickets are being sold for N500 on the platform of Golden Chance Lotto and Winners Golden Bet (WGB).
Clad in a faded, threadbare, blue shirt and an equally frayed striped black pair of trousers, on Tuesday this week at his bed-sitter located at Egbe Alagun Quarters, Oke Sopin, a remote area of Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State, Lawal could not contain his emotions as he narrated how he almost missed buying the ticket.
Lawal said he had gone to the Lotto kiosk manned by his younger brother, Ahmed, to play another game. But as he was familiar with the machine, he decided to operate it himself as he usually did.
While doing this, he pressed a button different from the one he meant to.
Apparently contemplating his new status, Lawal sitting on the neatly made king-sized bed which occupied the most space in the room, which also contained a cupboard on which lay some scuffed pairs of shoes, starred at Funmilayo, his wife.
She was sitting on a sofa placed before the un-plastered wall where angry cement blocks starred angrily at onlookers in protest of the scrawls painted on them in while chalk by children practising their newly acquired writing skill.
Dangling over her head was a medium-sized photo frame where the couple was smiling at each other.
The house painter-turned-millionaire heaved a deep sigh and said, “I was not buoyant that fateful day. I only had N500 on me and I was feeling low. I decided to go to my brother’s shop to catch some fun. At the shop, I decided to use N200 out of the N500 with me to play a game. As I am familiar with the machine, I decided to operate it as I usually do. It was a mistake. I pressed the wrong button. To make matters worse, the fee for the game was N500 as against the one of N200 I intended playing. I was angry with myself. I wanted to stop playing the game but I could not anymore as I had pressed the button, so most reluctantly I continued. After the ticket came out, out of annoyance, I just kept it in a bag in the kiosk and went home angrily.
“I was very angry with myself as my plan was to spend only N200 on the game, give N200 to my wife for dinner and keep the remaining N100.”
The father of two continued in the Yoruba language heavily laced with the Ijebu accent, “Getting home, I regretfully told my wife what happened. Of course, she was livid with anger berating me for spending the money for the family upkeep on gambling.”
Funmilayo, a mother of two, who met Lawal at the Abraham Adesanya Polytechnic where they were both years ago, said she always knew he would make it in life as he was hardworking and focused.
Asked if she knew riches would come the way of playing Lotto, she replied in the negative.
“I never liked gambling or game playing as they call it but I just allow my husband to do it since he likes it. But despite the fact that I knew he would be something, I never thought it would come through this way. We missed our supper the day he played the game.
“It is a way God has designed to put away my shame. I have suffered. I have really suffered. But now, I thank God that it has ended in praise, Funmilayo, a teacher at a privately-owned primary school, said in polished Queens English.
But, how did Lawal end up being a house painter having successfully pursued a diploma in accounting?
“I attended Molusi College, Ijebu-Igbo after which I proceeded to the Abraham Adesanya Polytechnic where did a diploma course in Accounting. Due to the prevailing economic situation in the country, I felt someone should have a trade hence I learnt house painting for one and a half years. I was actually on a job in Ibadan, Oyo State when I had the call from my wife to produce the ticket of the game I played with Golden Chance the previous week and I had to rush back to Jibe Igbo because of it.
“I never had any hope of winning. I didn’t even know what the star prize was. I just played it.”
Married in 2009 Lawal and his wife live with his aunt, Mrs. Kuburat Ososanya and are next-door neighbours to his parents, Mr. Adekunle Lawal, a civil servant ad mother, Adenike, a teacher at a government owned primary school.
Lawal, the first of his parents’ five children, as a house painter earns about N15, 000 for a week’s job which according to him comes once in a while.
He said, “As a painter, I earn about N15,000 for a week’s job but business is has been quite dull for a while. The peak period of house painting is usually at the end of the year when people mostly move to their new houses or renovate their current ones.
“Actually, I was in Ibadan for a job when I received a call that I should produce the ticket of the game I played the previous week. My partner had insisted on paying me N1,200 a day instead of the N3,000 we usually collect for an out-of-town job. This was even after the intervention of the owner of the house because he had initially insisted that there was no job for me.”
His aunt, Kuburat Ososanwo, described Lawal as a kind and understanding fellow, who came to live with her despite the condition of her house after she had appealed to his parents to allow him come as she needed someone as neighbour in her apartment.
“He is my nephew and a good neighbour. I pray for him every time because I know he has good leadership qualities,” she said.
As our reporter departed from his modest apartment, Lawal increased the volume of his beat-up stereo which blared a tune, “Ore ti o common.”
To the Lawals and neighbours who had shed tears of joy with him during his chat with our media team, winning a N52m plot of land through a N500 lotto ticket was really an uncommon favour.