Harrison Okechukwu, an indigene of Ebonyi State, read Chemical Engineering at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) Enugu and later studied Political Science in the same university. After a futile search for job, he began to produce rodenticides for a living. He takes us into his struggles in this interview. Excerpts:
Daily Trust: When did you start production of rodenticides?
Harrison Okechukwu: Since two years ago.
Daily Trust: Why did you go into this business?
Okechukwu: I took to the business because there was a book I read in the university. The book says so many people graduate from the university but end up doing nothing because they are not architects of their lives. In 2013, I graduated after reading Chemical Engineering at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) Enugu. Then I later entered for Political Science but the flair for chemical science is in me. I started this business because I’m the architect of my life. When I graduated from the university and was searching for a job but couldn’t find any, I decided to stick to the little one I could find, and I’m doing it. Sometimes, I’m satisfied with it and use the proceeds for my daily meals. That is why I’m doing it while still searching for other things to do.
Daily Trust: How are you getting on with the job?
Okechukwu: I didn’t see other things to do, I applied for a job in a local government area of my state -Ebonyi State, but sometimes it is difficult to follow up such applications without money. So I do this little one I’ve got to keep living. At a point, there was a place I submitted an application and they asked me to bring N200,000 before they could employ me. I ran away from the place.
Daily Trust: How much do you make monthly?
Okechukwu: Well, it’s sustaining me because I’m getting my daily bread from it. But it doesn’t mean that if I want to embark on a N1million project it can take care of it. I’m just doing it to research into other things about chemicals.
Daily Trust: What are your challenges on the job?
Okechukwu: The main challenge is that sometimes, while carrying these products about in the market, people would be gossiping, they often talk against me. But financially, I am getting my daily bread.
Daily Trust: When you say you’re getting your daily bread, how much do you make in a month?
Okechukwu: There’s no much money in the business, in a month, I may get N15,000 or N20,000.
Daily Trust: Do you manufacture the chemicals or buy them?
Okechukwu: I manufacture chemicals that kill rodents. After manufacturing the chemicals, I distribute them to my customers.
Daily Trust: Do you really think your product can effectively clear rodents?
Okechukwu: I specialise in eliminating rodents in any environment. I have the chemical that when the rodents smell it they die. I have the chemical that kills rats and dry them instantly so they won’t smell. That’s why I call that particular chemical ‘Kill and Dry’, and that’s why I have rats killed by the chemical as samples for people to see.
Daily Trust: How many types of rodenticides have you produced?
Okechukwu: I have about three chemicals. I have the one that kills them and dries them. I have the one that only kills them and they smell in the house but the one that kills them and dries them is the best.
Daily Trust: What is the attitude of your customers towards your products?
Okechukwu: Sometimes, after buying it the second time or third time, people would buy without bargaining. But people who don’t know its efficacy would continue bargaining.
Daily Trust: You seem to have quite a number of dead rats, how did you get them?
Okechukwu: When customers buy the rodenticide and it kills rats, through my telephone number, they call me and waybill the dead rats to me from anywhere in Nigeria. My customers send me the dead rats to confirm that the chemicals are working.
Daily Trust: How many dead rats do you have already?
Okechukwu: They are innumerable. You can’t count them unless I count them myself because my customers are always bringing more everyday. They are more than 1,000, and these are just the ones I collected from customers within Nsukka.
Daily Trust: What would you tell members of the public on the menace of rodents?
Okechukwu: Rodents are destructive animals. They may enter your cupboard and destroy your belongings before you know it. The best thing for you to do is to attack and kill them with rodenticides. Moreover, rodents are major transmitters of Lassa fever which kills humans. But you know some rodents are useful in traditional medicine.
Daily Trust: Can your products also kill human beings?
Okechukwu: I usually caution my I always advise them against adding it to their food or whatever goes into their mouth. They should just drop the chemical at different corners of their rooms, and the odour is not harmful to human health. That’s it.
Daily Trust: Do you have NAFDAC approval for your products?
Okechukwu: It’s still local production and I told you earlier that Nigerian governments at all levels are not taking care of local producers. Assuming they were taking care of local producers like in other countries, when you produce, they would take it and test it, if they certify it, then they promote the producer or manufacturer.
Culled from Daily Trust