President Bola Tinubu revealed that during his time as a taxi driver in the United States, he once unintentionally overcharged a naval officer, who subsequently slapped him.
This anecdote was shared by President Tinubu in a biography titled “Tinubu: My Life as a Gypsy Cab Driver in the US,” authored by renowned Nigerian journalist, Mike Awoyinfa.
The biography, featured on the back page of a national daily, highlights President Tinubu’s humble beginnings. It portrays how he worked as an unlicensed taxi driver in Chicago, picking up passengers from the airport and transporting them to their destinations.
President Tinubu took on this driving job as a means to support himself financially before pursuing further education.
He said, “We got an unregistered used car commonly called Gypsy, which we ran as a taxi. We operated at the airport where we picked passengers, and not anywhere else, like the hotel because it was forbidden for unlicensed cab drivers to do so.
“We did that for a while to raise some money. Bolaji went to Tennessee, while I headed for Chicago.
“I was supposed to have started schooling in April. I deferred it till September in order to have more money. Immediately I got to Chicago, I went straight to Richard Daley College. It was very interesting.
“I was able to pay for my apartment and tuition fees at Chicago State University. I supplemented that by doing different menial jobs like door guard and security man.”
Speaking further about the incident, he said the naval officer he picked at the airport slapped him because he overcharged him, as his destination was nearby.
“As a cab driver, one experience I will never forget was when I over-charged a naval officer who was returning to the country. It was not intentional,” Tinubu said.
“Apparently, I didn’t know the direction. There was no GPRS in those days to locate directions. So, he gave me the direction to his house in a Virginia suburb.
“I gave him the price and the man responded with a slap to my face. He said I should know the correct price to charge to the location he mentioned. He slapped me and gave me the money.”