Ladies are doing wonders at the mechanic workshop of Edo State Government House, following the decision of Governor Godwin Obaseki to hand over the repairs and maintenance of government vehicles to them.This was one of the first decisions of the governor after he was sworn-in on November 12, 2016.
Obaseki, who was the Chairman of Edo State Economic Team under Governor Adams Oshiomhole, already knew some of the areas government should cut waste. As a result, he inspected the mechanic workshop at the Government House shortly after he was inaugurated and found several government vehicles abandoned over the years by successive administrations in the state.
The governor, who today is generally referred to as “Wake Up and See Governor”, due his penchant for carrying out his urban renewal project and sanitation exercise in Benin-City at mid night, had attended the graduation ceremony of some female mechanics under the auspices of the Lady Mechanics Initiatives, a non-governmental organization led by Edo State born Sandra Aguebor, on November 29, 2017, and announced that he will engage them in the repairs of government vehicles.
Obaseki had said at the occasion, “I want to throw an offer to you today. In Government House, we have a workshop. We would like you to come and take a look at it and also see if you can take over maintenance of the vehicles there. We are going to partner with the Lady Mechanic Initiative, a non-governmental organization, to promote youth employment in line with our electioneering campaign promises.
I commend this initiative because this is in line with my agenda for job creation and youth empowerment. The challenges we face today; the challenge of unemployment, the challenge of rebuilding our communities and society are not the challenges that rest on one arm of government or one institution alone. They are challenges that all of us must combine together to deal with – whether you are government, whether you are civil society, whether you are private sector”.
Since then, mechanical tools have been dancing round the Government House with determined female faces tackling abandoned vehicles. And, according to the initiator of the scheme, Aguebor Sandra, over 100 vehicles have been fixed at a cost which the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie, said was less expensive to government.
Aguebor, believed to be the first female mechanic in Nigeria, has not stopped expressing her gratitude to the Obaseki administration for empowering women in the state. “This is a God-sent governor because he has looked the faces of women in this state and decided to empower us. Now we are in-charge of the maintenance of government vehicles and repairs and that has given women hope in this country,” she said. “As the founder of this initiative, this has really encouraged me to do more.
The drive in me is more than it used to be because, as we speak today, we have more women coming to join the Lady Mechanics Initiative. Obaseki has brought dignity back to the womenfolk. He may not know what he has done for women and God will continue to bless him. I have over 1,000 female mechanics nationwide. We are getting more in Benin and, with this support from Obaseki, who has given us this opportunity to be fixing government vehicles, we are going to have more women now. The governor also visits us in the workshop to know how we are doing, the encouragement alone, is great motivation for us. Many girls are today registering to become electrical mechanics, car upholsterers, vulcanizers, sprayers of vehicles , experts in wheel balancing and alignment. Even married women want to acquire skills so they can support their husbands. I have travelled to several countries including the US and I have never seen a government that has supported women like that of Obaseki. We fix the governor’s vehicle here and God has been wonderful. We have fixed over 100 vehicles belonging to the judiciary, the Civil Defence Corps, ministries and several others. Thank God we have the manpower to meet up with the demands and that is why you see us always busy”.
On what motivated her to become a mechanic, she narrated: “I have been a mechanic for 33 years. I started when I was 13 years old. I had a dream where I saw somebody like Jesus Christ teaching me how to fix cars. I went to my father and told him I wanted to be a mechanic. My father was then the President of Bendel State Farmers Council. He was a rich farmer.
Luckily, he encouraged me. But my mother was not too sure I will be able to do the job wondering how I will be carrying car engines. Even when people started intimidating and humiliating me, my father said I should ignore them, that they may laugh at me today but tomorrow they will not laugh at me. And, today, my name is among the names in the centenary book, my name is among the world’s first 100 women. I am an alumnus of Lagos Business School, Pan African University. I have empowered a lot of women. I did not envisage this success.
My thinking was just to make money with the idea God gave to me so that I can feed myself but today the initiative has grown beyond me. We have been on CNN four times, Aljazera, we have been all over the world. I don’t run away from responsibilities and I enjoy tough times because I will always excel”.
She expressed the optimism that female mechanics will build Nigerian made car. “Yes, we are going to make it (Nigerian made car) in Benin. With the support of Governor Obaseki, we will achieve a lot. And I want to urge our girls that were repatriated from Europe to come and join us and we will help them. They have a future here. They should come, we will help train them, we will give them hope when they have lost hope. There is nothing good in Europe; we have better opportunities to succeed here in Nigeria with hard work”.