NATA News: what motivated you into Auto repairs?
Joyce: I will say my Dad.
NATA News: Is your Dad a Mechanic?
Joyce: My Dad was a Driver with the Nigerian Police Force, and I usually followed him to the workshop. You know sometimes you have passion, but you need a guide in life. So, my Dad was the drive that really helped me, because during my I.T, my dad always checked my log-book to ensure that I was doing the right thing and he was giving me courage because during the training, people will be telling me ‘are you sure you can do this’, but my Dad was always the one saying ‘you can do it. Who say you cannot do it?.
So it was my Dad, because if he had not given me that push when people were saying can you really do it, I have somebody supporting me that was why.
NATA News: Like when you were in the Polytechnic, how many girls where into…..?
Joyce: When I was in the Polytechnic, like the Electrical Installation, we were only two females, then, for the Mechanical we have three ladies O.N.D, when I went for the H.N.D again three.
NATA News: So out of the three or five of you then, how many of you are into Auto repair?
Joyce: Am the only one practicing, everyone have diversified for reasons best known to them.
I will say I am lucky maybe with the help of the Federal Government.
NATA News: But there must be a kind of philosophy?
Joyce: Yes! It is really a calling for me sir, because before I even went for, maybe I should start again so that you will understand what am saying why I said it is a calling, because I have wanted to do something different even though I love cars, but loving cars doesn’t make you a Mechanic. So, after my Secondary School I met my neighbor and I asked him what could I do?
I needed to do something with my hands, something unique. So, he said ‘you can be an Engineer since you said you want to do handwork’ and I said like what?
Being a Civil Engineer might not be a handwork too, so he gave me Electrical Engineer or Mechanic Engineer, so I told him I would like to be an Electrical Engineer. That was why I went for Electrical Installation for the first year but due to the deficiency I had in Chemistry, I couldn’t get Mechanical Engineering Course.
That was when I started with the Electrical Installation with the hope that before I finish I would have made amendment on my Chemistry.
So, and the same I took was the same Department I took my Mechanical Engineering. So, I met the H.O.D and I said ‘Sir, can you help me to get this admission (that) I really want to be an Electrical Engineer’ and he told me then you can do Mechanical now since you are from Mechanical.
So, I told him ‘let me just,’ though when I started I will say it is a calling because I wanted to be an Electrical Engineer but I found myself doing Mechanical and before I finish my N.Y.S.C, I won a grant to start up my workshop.
NATA News: A lot of people see this Auto repair a sort of dirty Oily business, so how do you see it?
Joyce: I will say dirty handled money, yes, to me I don’t see it as a dirty job, because it is giving me money. It might be dirty to other people, but to me, maybe because I love it, so, am not seeing the effect.
NATA News: What was your feeling when you started the practical; probably you were discouraged at a stage?
Joyce: I was not at any point discouraged. I was not discouraged when I started, because I saw myself doing something unique, so, it gave me that push more. I didn’t see myself getting discouraged.
NATA News: So like how many workshops do you operate?
Joyce: I have just one; which is still in Abuja. For now; the Franchise has ended. It ended this year February. Yes, so Auto ladies is on her own.
NATA News: So how do you see the Profession?
Joyce: We need an upgrade in Nigeria. We need to upgrade because we are not the one producing the Cars, but don’t even know how to answer this question am still trying to think.
Can you ask me again?
NATA News: Do you think this Profession can maintain it’s standard in the next twenty years?
Joyce: Of Course! We can! With a collaborative idea we can.
NATA News: Collaborative idea; do you mean with the International, with the Foreign Countries?
Joyce: Not really, we can do it on our own. We have the N.A.D.D.C, we have the Association if we can put our hands together I think we can go a long way to achieve that.
NATA News: Have you encouraged any lady to go into Auto repairs?
Joyce: Oh yes. I have so many girls (that) am training, like presently I have Thirty-five girls in Abuja.
NATA News: Is this with the Federal Government?
Joyce: No. My Foundation. I have a Foundation: Auto Ladies Inspired Foundation. The whole idea is to balance the gender gap in the Automobile Industry, because we have more men than the women, so, we need to just balance the gender gap, and it is a Girls’ Auto Squad Project; a Mechanical Engineering Advocacy Project; to empower more girls.
NATA News: So, if I may ask, what has kept you going in this industry? Like what keeps motivating you, that you determined not to stop and to motivate other people, other young ladies to come into this industry?
Joyce: My passion is just what keeps motivating me. You know; if you don’t have passion; (it) is just your passion that can take you anywhere.
NATA News: And you talked about the Federal Government given you N10 Million to start up your own business. How do you think the Federal Government can do more in catching these people more?
Joyce: The Federal Government is there to give grant to people that are ready to start up their own enterprises.
NATA News: Are there challenges in the industry that you think should be addressed?
Joyce: Well; I think the basic challenge we have is the major challenge of spare parts. It is the major challenge that we have in Nigeria.
NATA News: From the angle of incubation?
Joyce: Not really getting the original equipment from the Manufacturer to fix Customers Car. These are the legal challenges we are having so we are working towards that.
NATA News: Where are you from?
Joyce: I am from Plateau State, Tanshin Local Government Area. My village is Kago.
NATA News: I want to believe you are the first Lady Mechanic in that State?
Joyce: Yes. So far (I) have not heard (of) anyone.
NATA News: Is your State Government aware?
Joyce: Yes. They are aware. I think they are working on it.
NATA News: Are you married?
Joyce: In 2012, the same year I was doing my N.Y.S.C. I got married and I have three lovely girls.
NATA News: I think you will encourage them to go into Automobile repairs?
Joyce: I usually took them on Cars. So, I won’t force them. One of my girls said she wants to be a Doctor, whether they want to be Doctor or any Profession; I still want to teach them because they will still own their Cars. So, they should be able to do it by themselves.
NATA News: In respect of your Foundation; what is the National Automotive Design and Development Council is doing to assist you?
Joyce: NADDC, they are in support of our project, though we invited them to our induction Ceremony. So, they came, the DG came to the Induction Ceremony. So, he supported me. I have the video. So, he is really in support of women empowerment in Nigeria.
NATA News: And the grant; is it repayable or dashed?
Joyce: The grant is ‘dashed’. It is only your tax you are paying them not any other thing.
NATA News: Women in Auto repairs like how many do you think you are now in Auto repairs?
Joyce: We should be more than Twenty or Fifty.
NATA News: Someone told us maybe 500 or 200?
Joyce: Am not aware. The one (that) am currently training are Thirty-Five in Abuja. I have trained Mechanics in Abuja. By my own Statistics; in Abuja I have Nine, because we did a training through Oando Plc through Automedics, so, I think in 2016 only three females. I did a statistics; all of them were Nine or Five in Abuja, then with my thirty- five, so, I don’t know for Lagos, but I know we have many of them in Lagos.
NATA News: And they are yet to graduate?
Joyce: My females? Yes, they are yet to graduate.
NATA News: How long are you going to take them on?
Joyce: I intend to take them for one year.
NATA News: And you think they can withstand that long period?
Joyce: Yes! They can; because am training them more on the Diagnosis then Preventive, Maintenance; not over-hauling of engine. Its the basic diagnostics, so we use our brain more.
NATA News: For the young female who are still in Secondary School, what will be your word for them?
Joyce: I used to say to myself that if I know, I would have been practicing these skills before I even graduated from School.
So, my advice to the young ones who want to acquire the skills and who also have the passion is for them to start now not waiting until they graduate. They can start getting their skills now, maybe during their holidays to start practicing their profession no. I used to wish (that) I started earlier.
NATA News: Now, what is your goal?
Joyce: My goal is to bring more women into the Automobile Industry and also to bring Professionalism into the Automedics Industry.
NATA News: And what has been your achievement so far? Maybe you’ve been called to talk on this particular topic to address thousands of people in the United States?
Joyce: Have not gotten to that level.
Interview conducted by: Samuel Oloyede Oriowo (Editor-in-Chief) & David Opeyemi Shodunke