Chizobam Okeke, 28, is one of the few women to break through the barriers of the online transportation platform in the Federal Capital Territory. A 2006 graduate of Imo State University, she spends every day happily driving people to their various destinations, oblivious to the fact that she is in an informal job.
The epitome of beauty from Imo State has ventured into several businesses and professions and is one of the few women who strongly believe that being a woman is not a hindrance in venturing into any which sector to carve out a niche for, whether it is perceived as male-dominated. . What is most important is the ability to find a source of income that you are passionate about. Contrary to popular belief that commercial driving is strictly for men, she notes that: “I don’t agree with the idea that transport is a man’s business; it’s a matter of passion if you ask me. I love everything that has to do with driving as I love traveling and being on the road.
Second, a job in the transport sector is what seems to me to be the most available right now. That’s what I can easily find right now to commit to and it doesn’t affect me in any way. Chizobam is one of millions of young Nigerians whose hope of landing a white-collar job immediately after graduation has turned out to be a mirage. Sadly, after years of training and retraining and struggling to find one, the harsh realities of the COVID-19 pandemic have taken a toll on her job as a physical therapist at a health and wellness center.
“After my graduation in 2016 and the National Youth Service, I couldn’t keep a job immediately. It was actually crazy to get one because you get into such a situation where everyone wants take advantage of you.” I was just carrying my files to Abuja. At some point, I fell into depression because I was sad about the whole situation and couldn’t even cope. Luckily for me, I got met a good person who was a source of encouragement to me, so I tried to broaden my scope by finding something like a skill to back up my qualification.
I found myself in physiotherapy, I followed professional training and before I even realized it, I was interested in physiotherapy massages. “It was the best decision because I couldn’t do anything, I found myself in such an environment where it sells very well once you are a professional. I have worked with health centers and that argued. “I applied for several government jobs, I passed the CBT exams which I did very well, but at the end of the day they just told me that I should know someone who knows someone. “I remember going to an agency and the receptionist asked me what tribe I was from, if I was on a minister’s list? I said no, I just want to try my luck. But I was advised to forget about getting the job even though my application will be submitted like the others unless my name was on the list of a minister or a high official.
“I didn’t take it so well, it’s daunting and so rather than sit idle during COVID, I got into hairdressing and whatever else I could get my hands on including fish farming and j was able to earn some money. Luckily for me, I was able to get a car and so when I was hit by the entrenchment, I decided that instead of being at home in praying or looking for better opportunities, I could just use my car to support myself and keep myself busy. After all, I love to drive. I registered my car with Bolt, then I realized that there was so much gain in that.
Some people may actually do a lot of trading but at the same time find that they have regrets for engaging in such trading, but this is not the case for Chizobam.
I like to drive
“Oh I love to fly so I don’t feel bad, I don’t regret becoming a pilot. I didn’t expect to enjoy it, but for a few months I’ve been a driver, having a good time and enjoying my new job. While she has faced any form of criticism from family, friends or clients because of her gender, the young Bolt driver said that was not the case, although ‘she faced many curious questions about her ability to cope with the race. all day picking and dropping off different customers with different personalities. “No one has criticized me so far. Usually those around me, my clients have been supportive of me. Some people will be like Whoa! This is my first time riding with a woman. For me, I see commercial driving as something anyone can do, it’s not based on gender.” Speaking very fluently, Chizobam is already planning to go into app hauling full time. She is his own boss; the challenges of living to please an employer, struggling to meet deadlines, racing in time to be at work every day and on time are now a thing of the past. Not to mention that it can generate as much income as she wants without waiting for the end of the month to access the money. “It’s a good thing when you realize you’re working for yourself. You can take a break whenever you want, I can pay my bills and I’m much better than some people who depend monthly income to support themselves,” she explained. On the risks associated with driving in the city as a woman in a country plagued by growing insecurities, she learned to put aside negative thoughts and focus on optimizing her time and work safely.
Chizobam tries as much as possible to refrain from driving to ‘prohibited’ places, resists the urge to pick or drop off customers at certain places at night by keeping its location in specific and secure areas. She did, however, reveal that she heard of co-drivers of the app, instances of people trying to harm them, snatch their cars or kidnap them, although she saw a case where a Bolt driver had died. work-related hazards. Undeterred by the sad events, she said: “The best thing for yourself is just to be careful because everything, every business has its own risks. We just need to learn how to mitigate it, tell the possible risks and, most importantly, accompany it with prayers. But on the other hand, the dynamic young driver no longer has time to socialize.
It’s all work, work, work. Although she tries to balance work and social life on weekends, it is no longer an easy task for her. Luckily for the 28-year-old, she has a supportive spouse who has been a source of inspiration and encouragement. With such a display of passion, one wonders if Chizobam would quit the driving profession if another better-paying job presented itself. “It depends on the nature of the job. If it’s worth it, I can try and give this one away, but so far I think I’m doing just fine. Having known how to stand up against winds and tides to meet her needs without sullying her dignity as a woman, she appealed to other young girls to acquire a skill allowing them not to leave the streets once an opportunity presents itself, whether or not they have a business idea or a valid contract. certificate.