Endurance Ikponmwosa, the 25-year-old indigene of Orhionwon Local Government Area of Edo State does not believe certain professions are exclusively for men. The first child in a family of four had wanted to become a lawyer. But as fate would have it, she veered into a profession that requires both mental and physical stamina to pull through, spending almost seven years now fixing cars.
Recalling her journey into the strange terrain for women, she said that it all started in 2011 when she received a flier from her mother upon returning from a drama rehearsal in Benin.
When she was told that the flier was from female mechanics recruited and trained by Sandra Aguebor, Nigeria’s first female mechanic, just like the biblical Thomas, she vehemently doubted, and wanted to see for herself.
To satisfy her curiosity, she headed to the office and when she saw ladies repairing cars, her passion grew. She told herself that if her female folks can do the job peopled by men despite the strenuous nature, she also could even do better:
“I was not at home after participating in a drama rehearsal. So when I got back my mum gave me a flier and explained to me that she saw female mechanics and I was surprised when she told me.
“I said to myself that if those girls could do it, I could also do it. It started like a joke. Before then, I was planning to read Law. So, when I heard about the initiative I took the flier and went to their headquarters in Benin and I was registered. By His Grace, we are doing it today. I started 2011 and graduated in 2014.
“We are four in the family. I am the first child. I will not study Law again; this is the real deal for me. I am proud of it and people are proud of me. In fact, my parents were and are still very supportive. If not for them, it would have been difficult coping.”
She said after graduating from the technical college and working in Benin for a while, she decided to break new grounds by moving to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Fortunes smiled on her as she got a job at Auto33.9 before moving to another mechanic shop at Lokogoma axis, where she is excelling.
Due to her professionalism and knack for the job, she has become one of the most sort after hands especially by male customers to fix their cars just as women equally patronise her.
She said a female customer once told her that if a male colleague bills her to fix her car or pay for any spare parts, she would not accept but if she (Endurance) should tell her, she would not bargain. The more she fixes cars, the more tips she gets.
Despite the plethora of reported cases on sexual harassment, the dark-skinned lady said she had never experienced it; explaining that she tries not to give any man the chance to even initiate it:
“I am mostly patronised by men but women are always surprise seeing me do the job. Some women used to tell me that if I tell them what to pay they will not bargain but if my male colleagues tell them they wouldn’t pay.
“I get a lot of tips from my customers because of my professionalism. I have never experienced sexual harassment because I try not to give randy guys the chance to even initiate it.”
Just like any other job with its own hazards, hers is poor pay. Although she refused to disclose her monthly take home, she made it clear that the salary is not commensurate with the job. She insisted that her least salary should be within the range of N100,000 and N200,000.
She said her male colleagues receive more money than her because of the hard work they do like lifting of engines and other heavy parts and going for outside jobs.
The passion for the job and the support she gets from her boss have been pushing her to work harder with the hope of establishing her own firm someday with the help of her boyfriend whom she met in the cause of her training:
“I cannot tell you my salary but I am not comfortable with what I am being paid. It is very poor. The job is tasking. I do diagnosis. I do servicing and work on engines, so the pay should be better. I have plans to return to school to study mechanical engineering. I met my boyfriend when I was in school and he has been encouraging. He is even planning to open our shop as soon we generate the money.
“My worst day was when my colleague got blind. I was the person doing the job, he came to help me. He was slacking a part and the handle socket hit one of his eyes and fell out. Aside that, I have never had any bad moment.”
On her plans, she said she wants to have foundation to cater for the needs of people especially ladies torn apart by the vicissitudes of life and are into prostitution.
But before that happens, she made a passionate appeal to young ladies not to indulge in illicit activities, particularly commercialising their bodies:
“I want to have an foundation to train women because it is through an initiative established by Sandra Aguebor, the first female mechanic in Nigeria that I acquired this skill. I really appreciate her. If not for her, I do not know what I would have been doing today.
“Those girls who are into prostitution should have a rethink because those things are not good. Besides, those men will not respect you. You will be trampled upon thinking that they are your saviour. Like me, I cherish my reduction and I am proud of my job which put food on my table.”