Ojo Gabriel hails from Akoko-North Local Government Area of Ondo state. He was born and brought up in Ondo and is the fifth of seven children.
What is your educational background?
I attended both primary and secondary school in Ondo state, Akoko Grammar School to be precise, where I obtained my secondary school certificate in 1986.
Why didn’t you use your certificate to look for a job?
Getting a job in Nigeria is hard, not to talk of someone with just a school certificate and the government was not willing to assist, therefore I opted for a vocational training job that I could earn my money in a “pay as you go” way.
How long have you been into business?
E don tey well well. I started with electrical repairs of house appliances. I learnt the job for three years as an apprentice in Jos and then practiced it for two years in Kano state. I stopped because my location at that time was not favourable; there was crisis and theft in the area where my shop was, though not in the elite parts of Kano. It was because of lack of funds my shop was in the suburbs. I then moved to Abuja to stay with my brother and in order to avoid idleness, I decided to learn the automobile repairs trade. I learnt it for three years and have been practicing it for close to nine years in Abuja.
How much capital did you use to start the business with?
The capital is not that expensive. I started with approximately N30, 000 I used to buy tools.
It depends on the customers that come to the workshop for repairs; maximum N4, 000 and sometimes nothing.
How do you manage your profit?
Due to the high standard of living in Abuja, I try so much to be prudent in spending. I’m a family man with three children, who are in school; because I believe education is the best legacy for any child brought into this world by sane parents. Therefore I save with our local cooperatives and give my wife to support her poultry business. I also try to invest in land properties, because land does not depreciate in value, so you can see that I’m a good manager (laughs).
What challenges do you face in the course of doing this business?
One of my major problems is the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB). They come here to disturb us and collect funds from us which I’m sure the government is not aware of. They seize our tools and our machines we use to repair the cars. After any major work that I do that I know may mess up the environment, myself and my boys clean it. The mechanics in this area pay some people to cut and fumigate this place, because we know if we don’t do it we are endangering our health as a result of hazardous substances. My other challenge is funds to upgrade and improve the quality of my services.
What efforts are you making to avoid constant harassment?
I am working on getting a land of my own where I can practice my trade without harassment from the so-called government parastatals.
What aspiration do you have for the future?
My aspirations for the future are in diverse ways. I want to have a modern workshop with modern machines that will able to diagnose faults electronically without touching the car. I also aspire to have computerized pulleys and other machineries. I want to have branches of my workshop nationwide and, God willing, globally.
What efforts are you making to realise your goals?
I have been fortunate to see some Chinese engines that came to my shop for repairs. I was asked to get about N800, 000 – N950, 000 to get those machines and also some of my customers have promised to support. I’m also getting a loan from cooperatives to get the machines and then I’ll pay back installmentaly.
Do you think the government is doing enough to assist average Nigerians?
No I don’t think so, because they fail to look into the rate of poverty in Nigeria and keep focusing on issues that are not important and ignore vocational workers and petty traders, who survive on the little earned. And they say government for the people by the people; this is a very big lie.
There is a saying in Nigeria that the rich will become richer, while the poor will remain poor. Is that true?
My brother, it is so true. Imagine being in the business for nine years and no major achievement to write home about. It’s only God that will help us.
Filed Under: Ordinary Living