300L Female EBSU Student Turns Okada Operator

By Okereke Wilson Ogbonnaya

A 25 year old Political Science student of Ebonyi State University (EBSU), Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, Miss Goodness Amarachukwu Onwumere, has joined the league of commercial motorcycle operators known as “okada riders” in Abakaliki.

The okada rider who hails from Okposi Okwu in Ohaozara LGA of Ebonyi State while interacting with Citizens’ Advocate reporter said that her choice of the business was stimulated by her desire to offset all outstanding school debts including the last semester fee at the end of the lockdown.

Miss Onwumere, the only daughter in a family of four children told us that they have been living from hand to mouth following the death of their father 13 years ago, describing her sponsorship during secondary education as a tug of war for her mother.

According to her, she had served as fuel attendant, sold recharge cards  and engaged herself in other petty businesses before gaining admission into higher institution and to enable her achieve her educational pursuit, okada work was  taken as the last option.

“I learnt how to ride motorcycle with my late father’s lady’s bike, though not for commercial purpose but it was stolen in January, 2020; by then I had already gathered little experience on how to operate within the metropolis.

“It is based on this note that I joined Okada work knowing well that I will make it”, she said.

“Before the pandemic, I was already indebted to the school and immediately I discovered that the end of the global health challenge is not forthcoming, I went and collected the motorcycle at the rate of three hundred and fifty thousand naira, so that before school would re-open, I might have made enough money for my education” she said.

Miss Onwumere further disclosed that before now, many people were scared of going with her but after they had seen her seriousness and persistence in the job and impressive mode of operation, they began to patronize her until she became a familiar face to all.

“When I started, people were reluctant to call for my service but after they  had studied my pattern and became convinced that I can do the work effectively, they began to board my motorcycle, at least, these days, I do not lack passengers as before” she said.

Miss Onwumere also advised other ladies to engage themselves meaningfully by joining one form of business or another rather than idling or indulging in illicit activities and also appealed for an assistance from the public to enable her complete her payment.

However, the girl’s mother Mrs. Roseline Onwumere whose means of livelihood lies on processing and selling of fufu (akpu) told us that her daughter’s choice of okada work was induced by the level of hardship in their home.

“When she got admission into University, rhetorically, I asked of the person who would train her, after I had flashed back on my struggle during her secondary school.

“But as God would have it, she has been pushing forward until the outbreak of Coronavirus that made her to join okada work, on the particular day that she brought the motorcycle, I cried over the development but since I could not help the situation, I resorted to prayer for her safety.”

The woman when asked, if the job would not scare men from approaching her daughter for serious relationship, answered No and cited cases of the first female pilot and other female uniform personnel whose professions could not stop them from getting married and thereby expressed optimism that the girl’s husband would surely come at the appointed time.

One of the girl’s customers, Mrs. Victoria Orji told us that initially, she was skeptical about Miss Onwumere’s choice of activity and ability until after some days that she summoned courage to join her.

“On our first encounter, l did not want to engage her service until she stopped for me even when I did not request but having observed her courage for taking up the job, I decided to join her.

“While we were going though on a short trip, I became worried on how I can assist the lady, it was based on this notion that I left a token of balance for her after my payment,” she said.

Mrs. Orji added  that after she  had engaged the girl three times and seen her calm nature, she decided to advance their contract by retaining her as the only cyclist who takes her to work to and fro daily with the arrangement where she pays the sum of N6,000 monthly.

“When I got the information that the girl bought the motorcycle on hire purchase, I then made up my mind to stick to her service as a way of encouragement and besides okada work, I do send her on other errands.

“In fact, had it been that I am one of the big shots in the town, I would have cleared her debts and establish her too,” she said.

The woman claimed that the activity is not ideal for women and thereby appealed for assistance from any quarter on behalf of the girl.

Another customer, Mrs. Ginika Ani told us that her interest was captured by the zeal found in the okada lady and to enable her (customer) encourage the girl, they exchanged contacts through which she engages Miss Onwumere regularly.

“It takes a woman with extra-ordinary courage to embark on this manly activity and this is the reason why I do call for her service often,” she said.

Mrs. Ani, having observed the enormous risks associated with the job called for assistance either from government or good spirited individuals for the okada lady.

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