Taxi-driving in the city of Abuja can be a strenuous and unsafe job; one most men would not consider taking up. But to see a woman do it; that’s something special. S.I spoke to Mrs Mary-Jane ‘Mama G’ Nwabuokei.
Good-looking and soft-spoken Nwabuokei is a graduate of marketing from the Federal Polytechnic Auchi, Edo State and a native of Aniocha South local government area of Delta State.
She made a job out of taxi-driving because of her love for driving.
“For me, in the beginning, driving was fun, but when situations turned around, I didn’t think twice about taking it up as a job, because I already knew my itinerary.
“Starting was not so easy for me, because I worked with an insurance company before I decided to do this [driving]. My boss and friends tried to discourage me, because of the nature of the job, but my mind was made up.”
It was tough on the streets and, at some point, it got to her.
“Male taxi drivers, passengers, agberos, law enforcement agents, everyone tried to intimidate me. I would cry when harassed and bad-mouthed by any of them, but not anymore. It’s been two years since then and I think that was my grooming. I am now used to all those things.”
Many would have taken off when confronted by the stark realities of the job, but not Nwabuokei.
“What kept me going then was the cash I was making from the job because I had and still have goals to achieve. Apart from the income I make, I have fun doing the job. There are no dull moments and this is how I get busy and keep my mind off negative thoughts,” she said, airily.
However, Nwabuokei, who is a mother of three – two boys (aged 17 and 15), and a girl, 9 – and in her early 40s, was quick to concede that juggling the roles of a commercial driver and that of a mother can be challenging. Her balance code: she considers it the normal, nine-to-five job.
“I go to work early and close early too. Work is from Monday to Friday, but the weekends are for the family. Also, l go on holidays when the civil servants are on holidays and resume when they resume,” said, pointing out that it is the best way to appreciate a supportive, understanding family.
“I am so lucky to have them,” she gushed.
What about gender issues?
Nwabuokei soldiers on, as long as it is a means of livelihood.
“I no dey look Uche face o. The only challenge I have in this business is that, sometimes, some people doubt me and won’t enter my car, especially the female folk, because of insecurity issues. Some are so scared, because they think women do not drive well,” she said, almost bursting into laughter.
Man’s success is not defined only by the nature of job he does, but how committed and true he is to it. Nwabuokei concedes that tax-driving in the city is profitable –she should know, because she has constructed her own house within two years – but was quick to point out that she has no plans for the job, not thanks to its poorly organized union.
“If it were in an organised society, I would make the job a big one because it is very lucrative. See what I have done in two years in this situation. Imagine what I would do if things were a bit more organised. That’s how profitable the job can be,” she said.
She has a message for the women folk, too. In her opinion, every woman, irrespective of her age, needs to wake up, stop waiting for where her certificate can take her.
“Every woman must have a sabificate, something you have passion for. Think of how to turn that passion to income and be fast about it, because time waits for no man. No woman should be a liability to any man. Once you can believe in yourself, not being bitter about what people say, you will meet up,” she added with some finally and sternness in her voice.
Nwabuokei’s main route is the Area 1-Wuse route. She can be seen going about her business by the traffic light by Zenith Bank or Green Plate Restaurant, all in Wuse Market.