By: Onifade Bello
The truism that ‘what a man can do, a woman can do better’ has been brought to the fore again in the southeastern part of Nigeria. Against popular norm, a woman, Mrs. Christiana Augustine, has demonstrated that it is not an exclusive realm for men to make a living from operating tricycles popularly known as ‘Keke NAPEP.’
A graduate of Project Management from the Federal University of Science and Technology Owerri (FUTO), Mrs. Augustine said her wish to be independent motivated her to becoming an operator of the tricycle.“I graduated with a degree in project management from the Federal University of Science and Technology Owerri but decided to engage in the business to be self-reliant.”
Speaking in Abakaliki, the capital city of Ebonyi State, the mother of three spurred the women folks to embrace the business, emphasizing that it is a lucrative way to support and keep their families running amidst this financial strait.
Mrs. Augustine, a mother of three, said “The tricycle was actually a birthday gift from my husband and I offered it to a young graduate for commercial purposes but he later returned it to me.”
“I leased it to another person and when he became insincere with returns, I decided to use it myself for the Keke business,” she added.
Her husband who hadearlier opposed her decision later consented to it after continuous persistence. “My husband initially objected my involvement in the venture but I persisted to be given a chance to engage in the venture and he was later convinced.We are presently happy with the decision because I complement his earnings and generally support in the family upkeep with proceeds from the keke business,” she said.
While encouraging women to go into the business, she stated that women only need self-confidence, discipline and zeal to work hard to make their mark in the society as tricycle operators.
According to her, the involvement of many more women in the venture is only a matter of time, expressing her determination to foster the profitability of the venture to women.“Gone was the era of relying on men for their basic requirements and getting white collar jobs on a platter of gold,” she said.
Meanwhile, she does not operate the tricycle during oddhours no matter the situation or the number of passengers available on the road. Upholding her role as a mother, “My business does not affect my responsibilities towards my family as I plan my daily activities not to clash with those of my business,” she said.
Influenced by Mrs. Augustine’s resolve, ausual commuter, Ms Ifeoma Ojigwe, extolled her initiative and zeal to eke out a living in the business in view of the escalating rate of unemployment in the nation.
“I will consider toeing this line if I don’t get employment after my National Youth Service in 2018,” she said.
Another operator, Mr. Abel Ijeaku, said Mrs. Augustine’s attitude of being self-reliant was impressing.Expressing his support for her move to attract more women to the business, he stated that the tricycle operators see themselves as one regardless of gender.
“We also ensure that she is not intimidated by unscrupulous males in the business as her involvement in the venture automatically makes her one of us,” he said.