Help or Trap: The lure of free rent for an upmarket Lekki office has indebted a son to his father!
Coming home from National Youth Service was a “welcome to reality” phase of my life. Being the only child of the family, my father brought the idea that I join him in his business instead of looking for a job. He wanted me to take over from him due to his failing health. Before I came home, he convalesced for six months. But I told him I already have job.
“Photography is my passion and I want to set up a photography studio,” I said.
“Well, it is not a terrible idea, but you need money to finance your passion, and you need an apartment premises to house your dreams,” my father responded. “How do you intend to achieve this?” he questioned again.
After hours of deliberation my father said, “I will get you an apartment large enough to serve as a photography studio and your office. But on one condition. You must raise enough money to pay for your rent, next year, and if you are unable to pay your rent, you must come and join me in my business.”
It was a tempting offer to which I agreed.
The next morning, before I woke up my father had reached out to property agents and got a ground oor space in upmarket mall for me in
Lekki Phase One. It had a luxurious office space, a very inviting reception area, spacious studio and a small kitchenette as well. As it was on the ground floor, I could put my signage to attract more customers. It was easily the best space in the mall. I was delighted! This was the ideal take off location for a photography business. My father gave me an option to either get me a car or my office equipment. I went with the option of a car. He got me a Lexus E250.
Business started and all my friends came to see my lovely office and it seemed as if the place was very busy. But really, I was not making any sales. Then it took me four months to come up with the money to buy the equipment. One Saturday, a man walked into the studio. He introduced himself as the Estate Agent in charge of the property and that he came by to remind me that the rent would be due in a month.
I said oh! "That's right. I am fully aware, I will make the payment before my rent expires," I said in an assuring tone. On my way home, I kept brooding on how I have not made my expected sales for 11 months. However, I wasn't really troubled, it will be better I assured myself.
When I got home, I asked my father how much the rent was as the deadline for paying the rent was in a month’s time.
"How time fries," he responded. He went into his bedroom and came back with the receipt and handed it to me. I raised it up stared at it. Reflexively, I shouted, "Father Lord!" The annual rent was N7 million with the service charge of N2.5m
"Why are you shouting? Don’t tell me, you don't have enough money to pay for your rent after a whole year of doing business amidst the rich?" he questioned.
Instantly, I drew closer, and told my father the truth about how business has not been favourable. He shook his head and went indoors again and brought out our agreement, duly signed by me.
"Well son, we had an agreement. If you can't pay your rent, then you have to come and join me in my business," he said unapologetically.
Throughout the night, I lay on my bed asking myself, did he really help me or trap me into joining him in his business? Why did he rent such an expensive shop for a start-up?
I woke up, feeling very grouchy and rebellious towards my Dad. I was ready to tell him that I would nd the rent money no matter what. I went to meet him at the breakfast table. Before I could say a word, he showed me a lovely townhouse in Oniru and said "I can put the downpayment of N35m on this lovely at for you on the agreement that you will be meeting the N10m yearly balance for the next 5years from the generous salary I will be paying you .......
Well, it is not a terrible idea, but you need money to finance your passion, and you need an apartment premises to house your dreams