By: Durodola Abiola
It is the sad truth that many Nigerian youth are gradually becoming comfortable with mediocrity, lack the capacity and willingness to champion struggles for change, and have become infamous for their penchant to under perform even in their natural role as the nation’s change agents. Nonetheless, there are still some who stick to their guns and strive relentlessly for prominence in their chosen fields.
Unlike many if not most of the same age bracket and gender, a young girl is setting pace by getting her hands on what many of her contemporaries would rather not do.A saying goes that life does not give you what you deserve; it gives you what you decide. It could be with this in mind that Chidinma Clement chose to follow her preferred path to success by doing what she is passionate about.
Not many have the nerve to go into such a profession, especially in this part of the world where women find it hard to get a strong footing in a profession largely dominated by men. However, spirited and dedicated Chidinma defied all odds and threw herself into what many believe is hard to handle especially by ladies.
The Transverse caught up with the young female Mechanic, third child in a family of nine and final-year student of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike. In this interview, she sheds light on certain things about herself, her family, education and how she got into the profession.
TT: In a family of nine, how was it like growing up?
Chidinma: It was not easy but we give God the glory; he has always been our provider.
TT: Can you tell us how you delved into Mechanical Engineering, something many people believe is for men?
Chidinma: When I was younger, I had this love for Mechanical Engineering. When people asked what I wanted to become in future, I would always say I want to become a Mechanical Engineer. This was because I loved it and, then, I helped my father in his workshop that people would laugh at me.After my secondary education, I was very happy to gain admission to study Mechanical Engineering at Micheal Okpara University.
TT: In this age where young people, especially ladies, detest the rigours of engineering and flood the internet with slaying pictures, rather than getting themselves dirty, what inspired you to pursue this career and achieve what you have at such a young age?
Chidinma: Actually, my father inspired me.I was always taught by my father to work hard. He told me to forget everything that will distract me and focus on what I’m doing. He will always tell me there is time for everything and that hard work pays. Slaying doesn’t pay, you rather pay for it. I have this feeling of becoming a great lady someday. Sometimes I will sit down and write my challenges down with tears in my eyes; for instance, losing my mother 11years ago. All these made me work harder.
TT: What challenges have you faced along the way to where you are now? Some people might feel a bit nervous about getting their bikes repaired by a young lady. How would you respond to that?
Chidinma: My father is a well-known mechanic in my area, so he taught me very well.People even prefer me to my father because I will always handle their bikes very well, and they believe, asI’m studying the course, I know better than my father. They see me as not only a mechanic but an engineer. Also, I pity people a lot and I will always reduce the service cost to make them happy.This makes them love to always come next time.
I faced challenges when they banned bikes in some areas, as many of our customers sold their bikes.
TT: Being a student and at the same time practising, how have you been able to manage your time?
Chidinma: Being a student, an engineering student at that, it has not been easy. I am always busy with one assignment or the other, but there is time for everything. Although it has not been easy, I combine the two to help myself.
TT: If you were not practising engineering, what other thing would you be doing?
Chidinma: Nothing; because that’s the only thing I understand. I feel happy and comfortable doing it. I am in love with engineering.
TT: Does that mean while growing up, you didn’t get yourself involved in extracurricular activities?
Chidinma: No, I was involved in other activities.I helped my stepmother with trading. And I also farm.I recently got my own farmland and will be harvesting cassava soon. I love agriculture. I can process palm fruits to get palm oil and palm kernel.
TT:So, who will Clement Chidinma be in few years to come?
Chidinma: An engineer, making impact in the engineering world.By his grace, I will have a bigger company working and dealing in automobiles. I want to work on my field. I will like to produce a motorcycle bearing my name NMATECH.
TT: What advice would you give to young ladies who are interested in becoming engineers?
Chidinma: Don’t be discouraged. Don’t believe those that will tell you that engineering is for the male gender. When you put your best to engineering, it must favour you. Together, we can become great. Hard working pays. Nothing good comes easily. You must face challenges, but also remember that they are there to make you stronger.The earlier you stand and face reality, the better for you. Trust in God, work hard, study and don’t be discouraged. You must surely make it.
TT: Asides your dad’s, have you worked with any other engineering workshop?
Chidinma: Yes, I did my industrial training at Lafarge Africa Plc. Ogun state. I learnt a lot from them. I have also worked with Dyke Generator repair workshop here in Aba, Abia state.
TT: What was your relationship life like? Do you have a boyfriend? If yes, why? If no, why not?
Chidinma: Please, I don’t want to talk about my relationship yet.
TT:What has been your greatest achievement and most memorable day since you started?
Chidinma: My greatest achievement is being a mechanic and my most memorable day was the day I was awarded and honored as a female mechanic by our amiable Governor, Dr Okezie Victor lkpeazu.
TT: Thank you very much for your time. We wish you all the best as you continue your pursuit of success in the engineering field.
Chidinma: Thank you so much.