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…Woman explains how she abandoned PhD programme, quit UCH job to sell ‘pure’ water
From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
It was a rude shock when an unassuming career woman resigned her appointment from the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State, some years ago. She was a doctorate degree student of the University of Ibadan then. All the same, she resigned to sell water by the roadside with a view to pursuing her life ambition.
Today, the woman, Mrs. Abiodun Obakin, is the Chief Executive Officer of Biobak Kitchen and Luxury Apartments, Bodija, Ibadan. The Biobak Kitchen actually started in Abuja a few years ago. Having been successful in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), she decided to return her hometown to “bring Abuja to Ibadan.”
All roads therefore led to Bodija, Ibadan, recently when Biobak Kitchen and Luxury Apartments, was commissioned. Gospel artiste, Evangelist Tope Alabi, dazzled fans at the ceremony. Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Toye Arulogun, represented Governor Abiola Ajimobi. He said:
“When people come to Ibadan and said ‘I was in University of Ibadan in 1960, but Ibadan has not changed.’ It is not a compliment. But now when people come to Ibadan, they say they missed their ways because of the massive infrastructural development of the state.
“This building here represents a change and modernisation in the architecture of Ibadan. We will like to commend Biobak for embracing the call for our people to invest in Oyo State. Nobody needs to tell me that there is job creation here, and Internally Generated Revenue here, if they pay their taxes. So, we are here to lend government support to what is going on here. We need to grow and develop.”
In the same vein, General Overseer of Gethsemane Prayer Ministries, Ibadan, Pastor Moses Aransiola, in his exhortation acknowledged the virtue that went out of him on the day he gave a prophecy concerning Obakin:
“All glory belongs to the Almighty God, nothing happens without a divine sanction, endorsement and approval. You can prophesy all you want, if God does not endorse it, it is a futility. So, it is God that made it to happen. The scripture says, ‘if Paul plants and Apollo waters, but who gives the increase?’ Jehovah God gives the increase.”
But what actually prompted Obakin to resign her appointment with UCH? How did she learn her culinary skills? What was her background? How did she move from Ibadan to Abuja to start cooking business? Why did she bring the kitchen to Ibadan? These are some of the questions agitating the minds of many people
Her response: “I came from a polygamous set up and a typical Muslim parents. My mother was the first wife. Of course, when money started coming in, she was pushed out of the house. And women started coming home. My mother had three children for my father. My sister, who happens to be the first child, was pampered. She went to a boarding house right from primary school.
“I went to public primary and secondary schools. I was always in the house, helping the other women to cook. My younger sister, who happens to be the last, went with my mother. So, she was with her for many years. So, being left alone in the house, I had to help other women to cook, not knowing that God was preparing me for my destiny.
“My father had more than 10 wives. At a point in time, it would be the turn of a woman to cook and I had to help her. When it is the turn of another woman to cook, I would also help her in cooking. So, this really helped me.
“By the time I left UCH, I was doing my PhD in Virology, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan. I have Masters in Hematology and Blood Transfusion.
“But the passion to cook kept on in my life. God helped me to make up my mind by showing me a vision. So, I voluntarily retired from UCH and I started with nothing, selling ‘ice water,’ not the ‘pure water’ (sachet water) of today. Ice water refers to water that you would put small quantity in a white nylon and tie. Then you would sell by the roadside.
“I had a shop at Bodija Market, near the motor park. How can a PhD student venture into that? Had it been that I was born with silver spoon, though my father was very rich, but he did not spoil us. So, I was selling ice water and was still cooking by the way. I just love to cook. In the church, I help them to cook, with my sisters and her friends. When I got married, I continued to cook, and God helped me.
“In 2003, there was this prayer ministry by Pastor Moses Aransiola, of Gethsemane Prayer Ministry, every Thursday, to seek the face of God for issues. I had been going there for about four years, before prophecy came that very day by Pastor Moses Aransiola that ‘there is a lady here, before the end of this week, you will have a message, and that message will lead you to your destiny.’ I was very attentive that day.
“The following day, which was Friday, somebody phoned me from Abuja, Mrs. Obanure, she said: ‘Sister, there is a friend that said I should look for you. She loves your jollof rice. Can you come and take part in COJA Games, where they are going to give jollof rice and beef, or jollof rice and chicken for 4,000 participants for three days?’
“I asked when I supposed to come to Abuja and she said the following day. The following day was a Saturday. How would I get to Abuja the following day if I took a vehicle from Ibadan? The meeting would hold by 12noon on Saturday. She said I should come by flight. I told her I did not have money to take a flight, I only had money for transport by road, and she said I should borrow. So, I went to Lagos and borrowed some money. I took the flight and got to the venue of the meeting by 11:50a.m.
“Of course, I was very new in Abuja, no kitchen, no office, nothing to work with, but I was given the job. God helped me through my host. I made their home my first kitchen. So, that was how the story started. Fortunately, my children also helped me. My children are well-read, but they still joined me and we made it a family business.”
Then, Obakin got in touch with Aransiola and told him about the prophecy he gave about a woman. She reminded him of it. The cleric was happy and also prayed for her.
She continued: “God gave me a message three years ago that I should get back home. Sister Toun Soetan (a gospel artiste) was using this place as her office many years ago. She called me one day and told me that the owner of the property wanted to sell it.
“She said she was not interested and asked if I would like to buy it. I said yes if the owner would collect the money instalmentally. She said I should not worry that she would talk to the woman. So, we bought this place and we did not do anything on it for many years.
“But three to four years back, I got the message that I should get back to Ibadan. I told my family, and they agreed that we have to find a way of getting back home so that we would go and bless the home that we started from.
“I know government has been encouraging entrepreneurship. I thank the governor of Oyo State for creating the conducive atmosphere for our business. So, this is Abuja in Ibadan.”