What do you do when the desirable is unavailable?
I had the privilege of learning from a graduate who turned a driver to make ends meet. In fact, I am really impressed with his mindset and understanding of life.
It is good to have you here. Can you introduce yourself briefly?
My name is IRO, UKA IBE. I hail from Akanu Ohafia, Ohafia LGA, Abia State.
I had my first degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (2013 set).
My second degree (M.Sc) in Electrical/Electronics Engineering from the University of Lagos (2016-2018).
I read your story about turning your passion into a profession on LinkedIn and it really got me. I hope you don’t mind sharing it one more time?
Yes, as I stated, driving is one of my hobbies.
It all started as a challenge when I was younger. I lived my early years with my late maternal grandmother. I have a younger cousin that had a small bicycle (we used to call the bicycle ’chopper’).
He’ll come home during xmas with the bicycle. Each time I attempt to ride, I’ll fall. Seeing that he was younger than I am and could do what I can’t do, I was angry at myself.
There was no one to teach me how to ride, so what I did was to wait till night when my younger cousin had gone to bed, then I’ll carry the bicycle and start struggling to ride.
In a few days, I was able to pedal once, twice, thrice and by one week, I could ride a bicycle, though with difficulty.
I later asked my uncle to get me a bicycle which he did, and that was how I started riding.
In no distant time, I saw my elder sister ride motorcycle and I was like, how could she do that? I then started eyeing to learn how to ride a motorcycle which I did learn.
In those days, there was a car owned by my dad that had a fault that he couldn’t fix, he left the car in the village.
I used the static car to teach myself how to start a car, hold down the clutch, change gears and so on. I became really familiar with the knowledge of how to drive.
Remember, all these were before I became an undergraduate.
So,when I got into UNN, I joined the pilot crew members of my fellowship (CASOR) in 2010. I started by watching our chief pilot and his assistant drive. From there, I was guided for some time before I started driving all by myself.
This is my ninth year in driving. I enjoy driving. So as the job is not forthcoming, I told my mum that I need to start uber or bolt so as to keep body and soul together.
She agreed and raised some amount of money for me to get a Toyota Camry 2009 which I have registered with a logistic company – Bolt.
I am 3weeks on bolt platform and I’ve completed 72 trips as of yesterday with 4.83 current ratings and 90% activity score.
I am happy for you. How did your mom feel like when you told her?
My mum is a risk taker. She knows that it is hard these days. She is a very kind and understanding woman.
She knows I need to get going, no matter how small. She actually made enquiries on her own from other uber drivers and she was convinced.
That’s excellent. How did you feel venturing into a profession everyone sees as a dirty job, and for low-class citizens?
That’s actually a misconception to think that being a Bolt or Uber driver is for low-class citizens.
Moreover, I don’t see any problem with it because I’ve washed plates in my mum’s restaurant, I’ve served people food in their shops and went back to pick plates and I’ve done least some things worse than it, so I don’t feel anything.
I love your mindset and the way you see life. Since you have joined Bolt, what can you say about the business?
Bolt is an excellent e-hailing service that connects drivers and passengers. It is a good invention and has created jobs.
Though, there are some things I would love the company to look into. The fares are sometimes ridiculously low compared to taking normal taxis.
Have you ever had an issue with a passenger?
I’ve met impossible people in my mum’s shop. I’ve seen customers that don’t want to pay after eating, I’ve seen impossible ladies and gentlemen. So, I always look forward to seeing them.
As a driver, I must have issues with some passengers, but I know how to be silent and let the matter go.
On Friday, I carried someone that couldn’t pay me complete after the ride.
What did I do? I dropped my account details with him and moved on. There are also wonderful passengers out there.
That’s emotional intelligence come into play. I do hope he does pay you. Would you swap your current job for a white collar job?
Well, if I see a good job, I’ll accept it and still do bolt as side hustle especially on weekends. Weekend trips, especially between Friday evening and Sunday evening are the best.
A smart Nigerian man. Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I am still growing in my field and I am looking forward to becoming an authority in it.
If I may ask, what field specifically?
With the rate of unemployment on the rise, what would be your advice to every graduate out there?
They should learn at least one skill while in school. That is what will keep them going within the time they are job hunting.
When I finished NYSC, I used my savings to buy a laptop and a printer. I attended a training on how to buy and print recharge cards. I even went to Glo head office at Abuja to become one of their distributors, but the finance needed was beyond me. Graduates should be ready to learn a skill and try out several opportunities.
In addition, they shouldn’t compare themselves with others else depression starts setting in because you’ll always believe that you are the only one behind. In any situation, they should know that they are not alone in it.
Thank you, Uka Iro, for the wonderful chat. May all your dreams come true.
Thank you so much, Tekedia, for the opportunity to tell my story.