Fibre-Glass Technician Shekarau Challenges Minister

Fibre-Glass Technician Shekarau Challenges Minister

Several decades before the birth of Christ, Nebuchadnezzar the King of Babylon besieged Jerusalem and forced the people of Israel into exile in Babylon. He selected a number of able-bodied Jewish young men to serve in his court; they were Daniel, Shedrach, Meshach and Abednego, who kept God’s commandment and distinguished themselves from the other young men of the court. They proposed to the eunuch in charge of their grooming to give them ten days to feed on vegetables and water rather than wine and meat, after which he can compare their health to that of the others.
Their request was granted at great risk. At the end of the required time, their health was better than the others, so they were given free rein to feast on the food of their choice Similarly, Naffy Shekarau, Fibre-glass and fibre products (car bumpers, garden and school chairs) manufacturer has propositioned the Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu to invest in her company for a period of one year.,
By turning her land into a vocational school that will assimilate federal government approved trainees for the duration of that year, she will train youths and build an industry that will export fibre-glass products across West Africa. Shekarau has been involved in fibre-glass manufacturing for 27 years.
Credit to her skills is visible in the number of successfully trained apprentices who operate in different parts of the country; in Nnewi, Kaduna, Port-Harcourt and Plateau State. She is the only fibre-glass technician in Jos, and all other 15 dealers of the product in Jos are directly linked to her.
As a young girl, Shekerau played with the boys. She snubbed the jobs and role reserved for women in the society and preferred more challenging activities. Unwillingly to acquire catering or hotel management skills like most young ladies at the time; Shekerau secured a scholarship to study in the UK to become a broadcaster. Her dream was cut short when upon arrival to the UK, her certificate proved inadequate to get her into a broadcasting college. Moreover, the three year period covered by the scholarship could not be extended to cover another certificate before attending a broadcast college. She finally settled for a beauty course. However, a chance meeting with a secretary at the beauty school during registration and a trip to a fibre-glass college laboratory sealed her fate.
She recalled admiring the chairs at the secretary’s office. “I stood, felt and turned the chairs about. I knew they weren’t made of rubber or metal, but I loved the look and feel of the chairs. I asked the secretary what they were made of and she said, ‘Fibre-glass. Don’t you know what that is?’ I shook my head.
She asked where I came from and I replied, ‘Nigeria’. Anyway, we became friends and she promised to take me to see where they were made. I was all set to begin my beauty course when she called and took me down to a college laboratory, where I saw women dressed in overalls and manning different stages of fibre-glass production. That was it.”
Although widowed, Shekarau puts her sons through school with her business, and taught them her skills too.
Her dreams to impact multiple lives are yet to be fulfilled owing to disappointments, communal clashes and capital.
After seven years of her education in the UK, she returned to work at the incubation Centre of the first Federal Ministry of Science of Technology in Kano in 1998.
She had to relocate a year later to Plateau State, owing to religious clashes.
Partnering with the Plateau State Chamber of Commerce, she featured at annual trade fairs. Further plans with the government and the chamber to industrialize fibre-glass making was affected by see-sawing policies.
Shekarau admits she has been unable to draw willing investors, owing to the capital-intensive nature of the business.
Fibre-glass production is a good business that can
Yield lots of profit,” she explains. “However, many people are unfamiliar with the product and its durability.”
Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Ibadan are rich in fibre resources. Shekarau’s research also uncovered local resources that aide in fibre production, which she says are cheaper and of higher quality than the imported fibre.
From all indications, she isn’t sorry for the path she chose to walk despite her unfulfilled dreams. “I have helped youths who are doing well today,” she informed. “If not doing so well, they do not starve.”
She is absolutely positive that with investors’ capital from the government in particular, she will build a West African fibre exporting company.
Not a bad innovation for a country whose mono-economy has crippled the GDP and flung average Nigerians into hunger and poverty.

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